Jessica Henwick

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Jessica Henwick
Jessica Henwick by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Henwick at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Jessica Yu Li Henwick

(1992-08-30) 30 August 1992 (age 28)
Surrey, England, UK
OccupationActress & Writer
Years active2010–present

Jessica Yu Li Henwick (Chinese: 李玉; born 30 August 1992) is an English actress and writer. She is the first British Chinese actress to play the lead role in a British television series, having starred in the children's show Spirit Warriors (2010).[1] She is also known for her roles as Nymeria Sand in HBO series Game of Thrones (2015–2017), X-wing pilot Jessika Pava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and the character Colleen Wing in Iron Fist (2017–2018), The Defenders (2017) and the second season of Luke Cage (2018). She also starred in the movie Underwater (2020) as Emily Haversham.

Early life[edit]

Henwick was born and raised in Surrey, England, the daughter of a Chinese mother and English father.[2][3][4] Her father, Mark, is an author and her mother is retired from the retail business. She is the middle child and has two brothers.[5] She trained at Redroofs Theatre School and the National Youth Theatre.[6]


In June 2009, it was announced that Henwick had been cast in the lead role of Bo for the BBC show Spirit Warriors,[7] 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.[8] The show was nominated for several awards, including the Broadcast Awards 2011.[9]

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, 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."[10] Theatre critic Joyce McMillan wrote that Henwick was "outstanding as Leo".[11]

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.[12] Henwick also joined the cast of Silk as new barrister pupil Amy. The series brought in an average of 5 million viewers per episode.[13] She reprised her role for the spin-off radio series Silk: The Clerks' Room[14] and 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.[15] She continued performing the role until Season 7, when Sand was killed off in that season's second episode, "Stormborn".[16]

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.[17][18] Despite her limited screen time, the character of Pava has become a fan favorite.[19] Pava later appeared as a supporting character in the comic book series Star Wars: Poe Dameron, which ran from 2016 to 2018. Henwick expressed interest in reprising the role for the 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,[20] but her character did not make an appearance in the film.

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.[21] She reprised the role for the series The Defenders, as well as the second season of Luke Cage.[22]

At the end of 2017, Henwick was listed as one of Variety's Top Breakout Stars.[23] In 2020, she co-starred in the Fox science fiction thriller Underwater,[24] and appeared in the films Love and Monsters and Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks.[25] That same year she was listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter's Rising Stars[26] and won the Brit to Watch award at the Newport Beach Film Festival.[27] In 2020, she was cast in The Gray Man.[28]


In 2020, it was announced Amazon had picked up Nancy Wu Done It, a young adult series that Henwick co-wrote.[29] She also has a miniseries in development with Emu Films.[30]

She has previously written and produced several short films including Baliko which premiered at the Goteborg Film Festival in 2019,[31] and The Heart of the Forest which won Best Original Script at Asians on Film Festival[32] and the Award of Excellence at the Accolade Film Festival. [33] It was also nominated for Best Film at Copenhagen Film Festival.[34]



Year Title Role Notes
2014 Balsa Wood Scotty Short film
Dr Liebenstein Rachel
2015 Dragonfly Paula Reid
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Jessika Pava[35][36]
2016 The Heart of the Forest Akira Short film, also writer
The Head Hunter Aiko Koo
2017 Rice on White Elena
Newness Joanne
2018 Yo! My Saint Muse Short film with Kenzo
2019 Baliko Mara Short film, also writer
2020 Underwater Emily Haversham
On the Rocks Fiona Saunders
Love and Monsters Aimee
2021 The Matrix 4 Post-production
TBA The Gray Man Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Spirit Warriors Bo Main role; 10 episodes
2012 The Thick of It Charlotte Episode: #4.1
2014 Obsession: Dark Desires Jane Jeong Trenka Episode: "Silent Scream"
Silk Amy Lang Main role; 5 episodes
Lewis Chloe Ilson Guest role; 2 episodes
2015–2017 Game of Thrones Nymeria Sand Recurring role; 8 episodes
2017 Fortitude Bianca Mankyo Episode: #2.1
2017–2018 Iron Fist Colleen Wing Main role; 23 episodes
2017 The Defenders Main role; 6 episodes
2018 Luke Cage Episode: "Wig Out"
2020–2021 Blood of Zeus[37] Alexia Voice

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015–2016 Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey Enu
Hanna Roth


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
2020 Harrow Lake Narrator
2020 The Long Way Home Narrator


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Shane (30 September 2013). "Actors of Colour". Media Diversified.
  2. ^ "Where exactly are my British Chinese role models?". New Statesman. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Jessica Henwick is the new face in 'Game of Thrones' - News | the Star Online".
  5. ^ Yip Wai Yee (7 May 2015). "Game Of Thrones newbie Jessica Henwick on her Singapore roots". The Straits Times. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  6. ^ "BBC One - Silk - Amy Lang". BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Bo and the Spirit World casting news". ScreenTerrier. 3 June 2009. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Press Office – Spirit Warriors press pack: cast interviews". BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Broadcast Awards 2011: shortlist announced | News | Broadcast". 30 November 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  10. ^ Mark Fisher (18 February 2013). "Running on the Cracks – review | Stage". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Theatre review: Running On The Cracks, Tron, Glasgow". The Scotsman. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Shows". Crime and Investigation. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  13. ^ Dowell, Ben (20 March 2014). "Will Silk get a fourth series?". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  14. ^ "TV drama Silk in radio spin-off". BBC News. 20 March 2014.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "'Game of Thrones': Sand Snake Actress on That Brutal Episode ending". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Meet Star Wars: The Force Awakens' new female hotshot pilot! – Making Star Wars". 9 July 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  18. ^ "New TV spot reveals Jessika Pava and Nien Nunb in Star Wars: The Force Awakens! – Making Star Wars". 21 November 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  19. ^ Erickson, Christine (13 March 2016). "'Star Wars' fandom is in love with Jessika Pava, the female X-wing pilot from 'The Force Awakens'". Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  20. ^ "'Iron Fist' star Jessica Henwick waiting to suit back up for J.J. Abrams in 'Star Wars: Episode IX' - Entertainment News - ABC News Radio".
  21. ^ Patten, Dominic (8 March 2017). "'Iron Fist' Review: Jessica Henwick & Rosario Dawson Are Real Muscle In Marvel Series". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  22. ^ Hibberd, James (1 April 2016). "Marvel's Iron Fist casts The Force Awakens actress in lead role". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  23. ^ Otterson, Joe (18 December 2017). "Top Breakout TV Stars of 2017". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  24. ^ McNary, Dave (7 March 2017). "T.J. Miller, Jessica Henwick Join Kristen Stewart in Thriller 'Underwater' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (5 June 2019). "'Game Of Thrones' Jessica Henwick Joins Sofia Coppola's 'On The Rocks'".
  26. ^ "Next Gen Talent 2020: The Hollywood Reporter's Rising Young Stars Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 18 November 2020.
  27. ^ Lyus, Jon (30 January 2020). "Newport Beach Film Festival Red Carpet Interviews - Asa Butterfield, Alice Eve, Richard E. Grant, Gugu Mbatha-Raw & many more".
  28. ^ Kroll, Justin; Kroll, Justin (17 December 2020). "Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Dhanush And Julia Butters Join The Russo Brothers' 'Gray Man' Starring Ryan Gosling".
  29. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (23 June 2020). "Amazon Sets Mystery-Comedy 'Nancy Wu Done It' From Kai Yu Wu And Jessica Henwick".
  30. ^ "Jessica Henwick: The Hapa Franchise Queen on Growing Up Between Two Cultures". Hapa Mag.
  31. ^ "Jessica Henwick Takes Aims at Being Your Next Genre Movie Fave". Film School Rejects. 5 April 2019.
  32. ^ "Asians on Film Festival of Shorts 2017 AWARD NOMINEES". Asians on Film. 22 December 2016.
  33. ^ "Winners November 2016 |".
  34. ^ Peoples, Lindsay. "Jessica Henwick Is the Heroine We Deserve". The Cut.
  35. ^ Lovett, Jamie (26 November 2014). "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adds Jessica Henwick To Cast".
  36. ^ "It's the Resistance!". 2 May 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  37. ^ "Netflix Orders 'Gods & Heroes' Greek Mythology Anime Series". 12 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.

External links[edit]