Game of Thrones’ first Asian actress Jessica Henwick talks whips, nudity and kway teow

Game of Thrones’ first Asian actress Jessica Henwick talks whips, nudity and kway teow

 "The whip represents who Nymeria is," Henwick says of her character in the hit series.

Jessica Henwick, who was born in Britain to a Singaporean-Chinese mother and a British father, joins the cast of Game of Thrones in season five as Nymeria Sand, the second of Prince Oberyn Martell’s eight illegitimate daughters. She talks about being the first Asian actress to star in the show and on-screen nudity.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? “Yes. I was watching the series a year or so ago, thinking, ‘I wish I could be on that – but that’s not gonna happen.’ Now here I am. After the audition, my agent called me at 7pm saying, ‘You got the role.’ At 7.15pm, I had a call from the production team saying, ‘Can you fly out at the crack of dawn tomorrow to start training?’ It didn’t really hit me until they announced it at Comic Con. My phone started vibrating like crazy with all these messages from random people, so that was pretty cool.”

How does it feel to be the first Asian on the show? “It’s overwhelming and scary. I hope I can live up to that responsibility. It’s hard to be an Asian actress in London; opportunities are [few]. I got lucky and I have to thank my mum, because we saw the poster for auditions for Spirit Warriors [Henwick’s debut television show] one day and I signed my brother up. He didn’t want to act, though, so they asked if I wanted to and they rewrote the role for me.”

Your character in Game of Thrones is portrayed as being beautiful but deadly. Tell us about the visual elements to your role. “The costumes, made by designer Michele Clapton, are incredible. With all the chiffon, gauze, leather and suede, I think the three sisters [Martell’s oldest daughters] are going to look amazing. My character, Nymeria, uses an eight-metre bullwhip and that’s deadly. It could blind you if you’re not careful.”

How did you prepare for your role in Game of Thrones? “I had already read the books, so I went back over them, especially the scenes with the Sand Snakes [the name given to Nymeria and her sisters]. The biggest thing was the bullwhip. I did five months of training and I had a lot of dialogue sessions. The whip represents who Nymeria is. It’s not about force and strength but precision and balance. Another TV series contacted me recently, asking me to audition for a character that also had a whip. I turned it down. The only character I’ll ever use a whip for is Nymeria … or Indiana Jones.”

Game of Thrones has a lot of sex and nudity in it. Was that a concern when you auditioned? “When I got the role, it was very clear that there was no nudity in my contract. It’s one thing to see it on screen and another to be doing it.”

Can you give us some insight into season five? “HBO would murder me if I gave away any secrets. In this season, the three sisters come in with a plot to kill the Lannisters. Obara wants to charge in there and Tyene is not thinking at all. She just wants to prove herself worthy. Nymeria keeps thinking how she can hurt them the way they hurt her.”

Tell us about your childhood. “I was always going back and forth between Singapore and the UK. In Singapore, I’d spend the majority of my time at hawker centres because the food there is incredible. I used to go to the Newton hawker centre every other day. Singaporean curry crab, kway teow, Hainanese chicken rice – my best memories of Singapore are eating. The seafood in England is sad. Asian food is amazing. I love a good Milo Dinosaur, bubble tea and things like that.”

Season 5 of Game of Thrones will premiere on HBO tomorrow at 9pm. Don’t miss SCMP’s series preview on Friday

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 April, 2015, 11:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 April, 2015, 11:11am

#JessicaHenwick  #GameofThrones  #NewtonHawkerCentre

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Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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