Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not yet watched the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale.
While Game of Thrones has its fair share of badass female characters, one newcomer stood out from the rest as Season 6 drew to a close. Cersei burned her enemies alive, Daenerys finally set sail for Westeros, and Arya avenged the Red Wedding, but young Lyanna Mormont created a special place in our hearts.
The 10-year-old ruler of Bear Island was a routine scene-stealer as Jon Snow attempted to rally troops for an epic “Battle of the Bastards” and later succeeded in uniting the North under his leadership. Lyanna, who was named after Jon’s mother (!) Lyanna Stark, backed Jon in battle and was the igniting force that got the other lords of the North accept him as their ruler.
“We know no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark,” she confidently said. “I don’t care if he’s a bastard. Ned Stark’s blood runs through his veins. He’s my king, from this day until his last day.”
The 12-year-old actress behind the character, Bella Ramsey, spoke to HBO about what it was like to portray the kick-butt leader in her first-ever acting role—and she’s just as endearing as the character she plays. Here are six reasons we’re keeping an eye on the young star.
1. She loves Lady Lyanna Mormont for the same reasons as us.
“Lyanna is strong about what she believes, and wants to keep her family and island protected; she wants to be treated like an adult. She's strong, and firm when she needs to be, and wants the best for her house and the North.”
2. She didn’t anticipate the fanfare over her character.
“It's crazy really. I didn't expect anything like it. I am very, very happy that people like Lyanna Mormont. We had to keep it quiet that I had a part in GoT so now it's out, my family have had lots of people they know contacting them, really excited they have seen me.”
3. She gave such a strong performance without watching Game of Thrones.
“When I knew I got the part, I was allowed to watch a few suitable snippets. I was interested to see the bit in Season 5 when Stannis [Baratheon] received Lyanna's letter."
4. She was excellent at getting into character.
“It was good, really good, being fierce. It all kind of comes naturally when I become Lyanna because it's in her nature; it's just who she is. I loved the script for Episode 10 ["The Winds of Winter"]—how she doesn't care that she is the youngest person in the room, and proceeds to shame the three leaders.”
5. She nicknamed a part of her GoT costume.
“I would wear Lyanna's costume every day. The bear around her neck just made it. I called him Boris.”
6. She has some Targaryen fire in her. Her ideal Game of Thrones pet?
“Dragon, by a mile.”