We’re calling it now, Maisie Richardson-Sellers is the best part of The Kissing Booth 2.
The film is the second instalment in the juggernaut Netflix phenomenon The Kissing Booth, based on a series of YA novels about a quirky—and sometimes questionable—highschool romance. Richardson-Sellers tackles the role of Chloe, a chic, well-travelled and incredibly charismatic Harvard student. To the film’s main gal Elle, played by Joey King, even her very presence in a room seems like it could spell the end of her relationship with her boyfriend Noah, played by Jacob Elordi.
In another film, or in less thoughtful hands, Chloe would be a blip. The stereotypical, uber-beautiful romantic rival who flickers dangerously for a moment before ultimately being extinguished by True Love™. Richardson-Sellers however, defies that completely. As her fellow Kissing Booth co-star, Taylor Zakhar Perez, explains to Syrup, “with Chloe and with Marco, they were very authentic and weren’t slimy whatsoever. Usually, I think in a YA film, you kind of have a little salaciousness to the opposing character the opposing view.” Even though Chloe and Marco are supporting characters, they feel like some of the most authentic in the film. Instead of hating them, by the end of the film, you’re rooting for them wholeheartedly.
Since diving into the world of acting after graduating from Oxford, Richardson-Sellers has become pretty familiar with heavyweight franchises and complex characters that defy convention. After a hectic first appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, she went on to roles in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, including two seasons as the pansexual shapeshifter Charlie.
On top of her acting work, Richardson-Sellers is a keen advocate for women and the queer community. In 2018 she initiated Shethority, a global collective “to discuss and conquer the unique challenges of the female experience.” Not content staying still, she’s also launching her own film company. Barefaced Productions takes its name from her Guyanese background, in which “barefaced” describes being a little cheeky, rebellious and challenging. It’s fitting given her aims with the company are to tell the stories she didn’t see growing up as a young queer Black women in the UK.
Syrup caught up with Richardson-Sellers to chat about her entry into the Netflix family and how she created a whole person out of what could have been a token side character.
What is it like playing Chloe, someone who has everything figured out and has everything completely under control?
There is this amazing thing that happens when you’re really prepared. I’ve created this character from scratch and I have all her deepest, darkest fears in my mind. All her triumphs and struggles. I know her inside out. So then, when you put that outfit on, those heels on, you got the makeup on, and you step out, it just happens. It’s this weird moment where it just happens. And that’s me. Like, “this is it. I’m ready.” And you just become this person.
She [Chloe] sort of just blows through you and embodies you. And then, at the end of the day, after it’s all over, I feel like I miss it. It was really fun. And I think since then, I’ve found ways to try and bring Chloe into my life. Everyday. Because she inspires me. I love that confidence and that sort of effortless ease that she has. I love the way she’ll bolster everyone around her but still be cheeky and playful. I learned a lot from her. And I hope other people will be inspired by what a strong, independent woman she is.
Can you tell us about your backstory for Chloe?
Definitely. So for Chloe, one of her biggest fears is being vulnerable. And being alone, you know, she’s spent a lot of time travelling. I think she’s terrified of what that means to not have people, she feeds off the energy of others. She’s constantly absorbing from the interaction that she’s around. In terms of being vulnerable, I think she’s been taught to just keep calm and carry on her whole life.
Everywhere she’s gone every situation she’s always just like, just get through it, just get through it. Vulnerability is something which Noah sort of manages to start to bring out in her little bit and through watching Noah, she begins to be vulnerable. I think she learns a lot from him about the power of that and how being vulnerable and being truthful can actually bolster relationships. Through watching him I think she really actually goes on her own inner journey as well.
How did you want Chloe to first come across in The Kissing Booth 2, especially since we first see her from Elle’s perspective?
It’s interesting! It’s such a delicate line with Chloe, between wanting the audience to feel that threat which is a very valid sense of threat but also, you know, you kind of hate that you like her, but also like that you hate her. I love playing with that for as long as we can.
You can catch Richardson-Sellers in The Kissing Booth 2 on Netflix. Keep an eye out as well for her directorial debut with a female-led crew, Sunday’s Child, a short film which follows a biracial woman struggling with her identity and sexuality, eventually moving toward self-acceptance.
Lead image via Instagram @maisiersellers.