Jessica Henwick

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Jessica Henwick
Jessica Henwick by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Henwick at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born Jessica Yu Li Henwick
(1992-08-30) 30 August 1992 (age 25)
Surrey, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 2010–present

Jessica Yu Li Henwick (玉李; born 30 August 1992) is an English actress. She was the first actress of East Asian descent to play the lead role in a British television series, having starred in the children's show Spirit Warriors.[1] She is also known for her roles as Nymeria Sand in HBO series Game of Thrones, X-wing pilot Jessika Pava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Colleen Wing in Iron Fist, The Defenders and the second season of Luke Cage.

Early life[edit]

Henwick was born and raised in Surrey, the daughter of a Singaporean Chinese mother and a Zambian-English father, Mark Henwick, author of the Bite Back series of novels.[2][3] She trained at Redroofs Theatre School and the National Youth Theatre.[4]


In June 2009, it was announced that Henwick had been cast in the lead role of Bo for the BBC show Spirit Warriors,[5] making her the first actress of East Asian descent to play the lead role in a British television series.[1] For the role, Henwick trained in wushu with martial arts choreographer Jude Poyer.[6] The show was nominated for several awards, including the Broadcast Awards 2011.[7]

In early 2013, Henwick made her professional theatre debut in the international premiere of Running on the Cracks, based on the book by Julia Donaldson. Allan Radcliffe of The Times praised her "excellent" and "understated" performance,[8] while the Guardian wrote, "with tremendous physical presence, Henwick captures the sense of adolescent righteousness, passion and confusion of a girl trying to create order in an unfair universe."[9] Theatre critic Joyce McMillan wrote that Henwick was "outstanding as Leo".[10]

Later that year she was cast as Jane Jeong Trenka in the drama Obsession: Dark Desires, which aired January 2014. The adaptation details Trenka's stalking in Minnesota, 1991, which she details in her book The Language of Blood.[11] Henwick also joined the cast of Silk as new barrister pupil Amy. The series brought in an average of 5 million viewers per episode.[12] She reprised her role for the spin-off radio series Silk: The Clerks' Room[13] and later that year went on to play a young Oxford University student in Inspector Lewis.

In 2015 Henwick joined the cast of the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 5 as Nymeria Sand, with Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers playing her sisters. The process included six months of training to use a traditional bullwhip.[14] She continued performing the role until Season 7.[15]

Henwick played the X-wing pilot Jess Pava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The character's full name is established as Jessika "Testor" Pava in the spin-off novel The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure, which establishes her as an admirer of Luke Skywalker.[16][17] Despite her limited screen time, the character of Pava has become a fan favorite.[18] Since the release of the film, Pava has appeared as a supporting character in the comic book series Star Wars: Poe Dameron.

In 2017, Henwick appeared in the second season of drama series Fortitude, as well as Colleen Wing in the Netflix television series Iron Fist. Although critical reception of Iron Fist was generally negative, Henwick's performance in the series was well received.[19] She reprises the role for the series The Defenders, as well as the second season of Luke Cage.[20]

At the end of 2017, Henwick was listed as one of Variety's Top Breakout Stars of 2017.[21] Henwick's next role will be in Fox feature film Underwater.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
2009–2010 Spirit Warriors Bo TV series, 10 episodes
2012 The Thick of It Charlotte TV series, 1 episode
2014 Balsa Wood Scotty Short film
2014 Obsession: Dark Desires Jane Jeong Trenka TV series, 1 episode
2014 Silk Amy Lang TV series, 5 episodes
2014 Lewis Chloe Ilson TV series, 2 episodes
2015 Dragonfly Paula Reid Film
2015 The Heart of the Forest Akira Short Film
2015–2016 Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey Enu / Hanna Roth Video game
2015–2017 Game of Thrones Nymeria Sand TV series, 8 episodes
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Jessika Pava[23][24] Film
2016 The Headhunter Aiko Koo Film
2017 Fortitude Bianca TV series, 1 episode
2017 Rice on White Elena Film
2017–present Iron Fist Colleen Wing TV series, 13 episodes
2017 Newness Joanne Film
2017 The Defenders Colleen Wing TV series, 6 episodes
2018 Yo! My Saint Muse Short film with Kenzo
2018 Baliko Mara Short film
2018 Luke Cage Colleen Wing In post-production
2018 Underwater Emily In post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2013 Running on the Cracks Leo National tour


Year Title Role Notes
2011–2012 North by Northamptonshire Helen BBC Radio Four
Sony Radio Award Nomination
2013 Monday to Friday Julie BBC Radio Scotland
2014–2015 Silk: The Clerks Room Amy Lang Seasons 1 & 2


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Shane (30 September 2013). "Actors of Colour". Media Diversified. 
  2. ^ "Where exactly are my British Chinese role models?". New States Man. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Mark Henwick | Author of the Bite Back Series". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  4. ^ "BBC One - Silk - Amy Lang". BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Bo and the Spirit World casting news". ScreenTerrier. 3 June 2009. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Press Office – Spirit Warriors press pack: cast interviews". BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Broadcast Awards 2011: shortlist announced | News | Broadcast". 30 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  8. ^ helen cadbury [@helencadbury] (8 February 2013). "Hurray! @katieposner @JHenwick & cast of @pilot_theatre @TronTheatre's show Running On the Cracks. 4*s in TheTimes" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  9. ^ Mark Fisher (18 February 2013). "Running on the Cracks – review | Stage". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Theatre review: Running On The Cracks, Tron, Glasgow". The Scotsman. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Shows". Crime and Investigation. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Dowell, Ben (2014-03-20). "Will Silk get a fourth series?". Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  13. ^ "TV drama Silk in radio spin-off". BBC News. 20 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Daggers drawn: The Sand sisters vs Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones Season 5", The Telegraph, Calcutta, India, 29 March 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  15. ^ "'Game of Thrones': Sand Snake Actress on That Brutal Episode ending". Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  16. ^ "Meet Star Wars: The Force Awakens' new female hotshot pilot! – Making Star Wars". 2015-07-09. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  17. ^ "New TV spot reveals Jessika Pava and Nien Nunb in Star Wars: The Force Awakens! – Making Star Wars". 2015-11-21. Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  18. ^ Erickson, Christine (2016-03-13). "'Star Wars' fandom is in love with Jessika Pava, the female X-wing pilot from 'The Force Awakens'". Retrieved 2016-03-20. 
  19. ^ Patten, Dominic (8 March 2017). "'Iron Fist' Review: Jessica Henwick & Rosario Dawson Are Real Muscle In Marvel Series". Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  20. ^ Hibberd, James (April 1, 2016). "Marvel's Iron Fist casts The Force Awakens actress in lead role". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  21. ^ Otterson, Joe (18 December 2017). "Top Breakout TV Stars of 2017". Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  22. ^ McNary, Dave (7 March 2017). "T.J. Miller, Jessica Henwick Join Kristen Stewart in Thriller 'Underwater' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  23. ^ Lovett, Jamie (November 26, 2014). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adds Jessica Henwick To Cast". 
  24. ^ "It's the Resistance!". 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 

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