9 Things You Need to Know About 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Leading Lady Daisy Ridley

by Emily Krauser 4:35 PM PST, November 12, 2015
Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Burberry

For both die-hard Star Wars fans and the uninitiated among us alike, the casting of Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens initially caused a bit of head-scratching. This was mainly due to the one simple question on everyone's mind after it was announced that she would be playing Rey, the first female protagonist in Star Wars franchise history: Daisy who?

Well, if you haven't heard of the 23-year-old actress before, there' a good chance it's likely because The Force Awakens is her first major movie -- ever. Ridley's previous acting appearances were entirely across the pond and included short films; one-off spots on the British television shows Youngers, Silent Witness, Toast of London and Casualty; and a role opposite Jeremy Piven in the ITV drama Mr. Selfridge.

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Given how the next round of Star Wars films will most likely make Ridley a household name, here are nine things to know about this new face you're certainly going to be seeing a whole lot more of in a galaxy not so far, far away.

1. Her name is the most British -- and so is her family.

The London native's full name is Daisy Jazz Isobel Ridley. As if that wasn't magical enough, her siblings also have names fit for English roses -- one quite literally. Her two older sisters are Kika-Rose and Poppy Sophia, a model and aspiring musician, respectively, and she has two half-sisters from her father's first marriage. Ridley grew up in an exclusive community in central London, and her great-grandfather, William Victor Fawkner-Corbett, served as a colonel in World War I.

Her large family, whom she still lives with, is very supportive and loyal but, unfortunately, few of her relatives can keep a secret. "I couldn't tell any of my friends," Elle's December cover girl told the magazineย of finding out she scored the role of Rey. "I told my mum and my sisters -- then my sister told her boyfriend, and my mum told her friend. I was like, 'Great, guys -- you are great.'"

2. Sheโ€™s trained in musical theater.

Ridley attended Tring Park Theatre School, a performing arts school about 40 miles northeast of London in the county of Hertfordshire, for five years until 2010. "She is a hard-working, bright young girl and very talented," the school's marketing director, Miriam Juviler, told the U.K.'s Daily Mail in May 2014. "There are always a few students who have a bit of an extra spark in them. She was very much star material when she was here." Her last role at Tring Park was in the musical, The Boy Friend, a genre that happened to be her specialty while enrolled at the school.

According to Ridley, however, her acting career is no "fairy tale," as she never had an a-ha moment about wanting to be an actress. In fact, after school, she immediately started traveling. "I went to India for a few months, and then I started auditioning," she told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. "My sister asked me, 'Why do people want to be actors?' I had no answer. I'm not totally sure of my capabilities. I felt like a total novice compared to everyone I worked with."

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3. She has a backup plan.

In case things donโ€™t go well after Episode IXย wraps up (have a little faith, girl!), Ridley has a game plan: She's already begun taking courses towards a psychology degree. "To touch someone who's going through something would be very fulfilling," she told THR, noting that she would be a psychologist or counselor if she wasn't an actress. "Then again, I get very emotional, so I don't know whether I would get too involved in things and be able to separate."

4. She's made an Instagram holiday for her dog.

#muffinmondays (I made that up) cause LOOK HOW GORGEOUS SHE IS ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

A photo posted by @daisyridley on

Ridley invented a hashtag to show off her love for her pup, Muffin, who is deaf and blind. "#muffinmondays (I made that up) cause LOOK HOW GORGEOUS SHE IS," she wrote on Instagram on Nov. 2.

5. She's a drag queen fiend.

Ridley is obsessed with RuPaul's Drag Race. For Halloween this year, she dressed up as season six competitor, Trinity K. Bonet. "Therefore I've done all that contouring stuff and am titled, for tonight only, 'drag queen of the zombies,'" she captioned an Instagram snap on Oct. 31. The selfie really did show off some fine contouring skills -- and a tiara, naturally.

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6. She can pull off many U.K. accents.

While she is no longer listed on his site, Ridley's former agent, Jonathan Arun, stated that his one-time client was proficient in Cockney, Dublin, London and Northern accents and Received Pronunciation, the most recognizable and standard form of British-English pronunciation that has commonly been referred to as "The Queen's English" and "Oxford English." At the time she was cast in Star Wars, her playing age was also listed as 16 to 20. Now if only she'll share her skin care regimenโ€ฆ

7. Her upcoming roles are very fun.

While her most major role on the horizon is continuing to play Rey in the upcoming Star Wars movies, Ridley is also voicing the role of Taeko in Studio Ghibli's English dub release of Only Yesterday. "I am completely in love with Japan, and with Ghibli films, so can hardly believe I get to be a small part of this wonderful film!" she revealed on Instagram on Aug. 24.

Studio Ghibli is a big deal in the animation world and has its own share of mega fans, as eight of the Tokyo-based company's projects are listed in the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan. So, you know, the Star Wars of anime.

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8. Exercise is now her therapy.

After landing the role of Rey, Ridley became dedicated to an intense exercise and diet regimen. She worked out five hours a day, five days a week on top of stunt practice, and her diet consisted of "lots of fish, legumes, and spirulina shakes," Ridley told Elle.

All of that training -- which she's still doing in order to stay in shape for reshoots and filming for Episode VIII, which will begin in January -- has helped both the actress' body and mind. "It became my solace," she said. "Because it's the only thing structured in my life right now. Training is sort of a therapy session, I guess."

9. She knows who Rey's parents are.

And she won't be revealing them to you.

Assume she doesn't want to ruin the new Star Warsย experience for you. After all, she's got a lot riding on this movie. She's a toy now, you know.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on Dec. 18.