Blair Taliya McDaniel
birthdate & age
7 August, 1993 (24)
Camden, London, England
Guilt Ridden Catholic
James McDaniel (father, 60), Elizabeth McDaniel (mother, 58), Remy McDaniel (28, brother), Marlon McDaniel (26, brother)
Blair Taliya McDaniel (born 26 February 1993) is a British actress best known for her role as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Elizabeth of York in the British television drama series The White Queen (2013).
Blair McDaniel was born on 7 August, 1993, and raised in the established area of Putney in London, England. She is the youngest child and only daughter of James McDaniel, an Anthropology Professor from University College London. Mitchell attended St. Paul's Girls' School until 2006.
At the age of six, McDaniel began studying dance and would later on be accepted into the Royal Ballet School. Due to her exceptional skill, Mitchell was invited to participate in The Royal Ballet and Paris Opera’s Summer Schools. McDaniel’s goals were to eventually dance professionally, but a serious foot injury sidelined her goals indefinitely.
McDaniel recalled being severely upset about her injury, and she withdrew from the Royal Ballet School as a result. She enrolled at The Brit School with a focus in theatre. McDaniel thoroughly enjoyed the rush she got from her lessons and promptly applied to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied and graduated in 2014.
McDaniel appeared as Elizabeth of York, in the 2013 British television drama series The White Queen. The show received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Miniseries or Television Film, which gave the actress more exposure and audition opportunities for upcoming projects. The following year, McDaniel was cast in another British project The Riot Club as Lauren. The film wasn’t as well-received as The White Queen, but McDaniel’s name continued to circulate in the casting market.
McDaniel attended the cattle call for Star Wars: The Force Awakens hoping to gain exposure and experience with more grueling audition processes, but McDaniel was continually asked back for additional screen tests.
In February 2014, McDaniel was officially cast as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Knowing that the star power and reunion of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer would generate enough interest, Disney Studio execs encouraged J.J. Abrams to cast whomever he felt right for the new trio. As a relative unknown, McDaniel won the role after a handful of auditions and screen tests.
In December 2015, McDaniel was confirmed to return as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. She played the leading role of Elizabeth Bennett in the February 2016 film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was in all senses a box office failure. Mirroring her first film project, McDaniel was one of the unknown actresses considered for the lead role and had been cast prior to news of her association with the Star Wars franchise. After a grueling audition process, McDaniel won the lead role in Greta Gerwig's directorial debut with Lady Bird. The film received a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival and is set to premiere in November 2017.
McDaniel’s mother is British and her father is Scottish. She was raised Roman Catholic and continues to practice the religion. McDaniel has been to the Vatican City twice and cites both visits as therapeutic.
McDaniel is also a self-proclaimed polyglot. She is fluent in English, Scottish Gaelic, French and Spanish. This information was picked up during the Star Wars press haul when McDaniel would speak the native language of interviewers from different countries.
Despite retiring from her ballet career, McDaniel continues to take ballet classes when time permits, and her family is a patron of the Royal Opera House.
McDaniel has an overwhelmingly positive repuation in the media, particularly in the social media realms of Twitter and Tumblr. Due to keeping a rather sparse online presence, the Star Wars fandom has seemed to curate a sweetheart persona of McDaniel; the perfect person to use as a self-insert. There are spheres where McDaniel is not so beloved, particularly on Reddit, after she voiced her slight disdain over fanboy culture which deems the character of Rey as a Mary Sue.
(2018) Mary Queen of Scots
... as Mary, Queen of Scots
(2017) Lady Bird
... as Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson
(2017) Star Wars: The Last Jedi
... as Rey
(2017) Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (VG)
... as Rey
(2016) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
... as Elizabeth Bennett
(2015) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
... as Rey
(2015) "Saturday Night Live"
... as Herself (segment "Star Wars Auditions)
(2014) The Riot Club
... as Lauren
(2013) "The White Queen"
... as Elizabeth of York