Santa Monica-born Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, 19, plays Tyene Sand on “Game of Thrones” in season five – and will reprise the role in season six. She grew up in New York and Rome where her acting career flourished in film and TV, including the lead on tween show “Mia and Me” where she plays a boarding school girl who morphs into a fairy-like elf in a land of dragons and unicorns. At 16 Laurenti Sellers was featured as an International Star You Need To Know in Variety. She spoke about how playing the youngest of the Sand Snakes marks a transitional time in her life and career.
This has been a big year for you, Rosabell. Going from high-school life in Rome and your acting career in Italy to playing Tyene Sand on “Game of Thrones” – on which you’ve now re-upped for season six – and moving to London to attend acting school.
Yes, it’s been a year of big changes. Now that I’m the U.K. I feel a different attitude towards actors and acting. I feel that acting here is considered a serious and respected craft, whereas in Italy it’s still often seen as a shallow, anti-intellectual aspiration, reserved for pretty boys and girls. Kind of like modelling with dialogue. There are lots of serious and talented Italian actors, but I believe there is also still a a general attitude left over from the “get someone pretty and dub them” era of Italian cinema. So I feel refreshed and inspired to be surrounded by serious actors and taken seriously.
What has struck you the most about your “Game of Thrones” experience?
What I like about working on GoT is what I’m learning from other actors. Luckily we get on really well. I could have felt intimidated on such a mega set; but instead I didn’t at all. I bonded with the Sand Snakes on day one of stunt training, when we nearly killed each other by accident. Jess [Jessica Henwick] and Keisha [Castle-Hughes] are super fun, crazy and talented women and we had loads of fun together in Belfast, Croatia and Seville. It’s been great working with Indira Varma too; I learned a lot by watching her work. I had the opportunity to see her in [George Bernard Shaw’s] “Man and Superman” with Ralph Fiennes at the National Theatre, which was one of the best plays I’ve seen in a while. I really respect her.
Varma is an actress who relishes sexy roles. In episode seven of season five of GoT there is a prison scene in which Tyene Sand takes her top off. It created some controversy in the U.S. about whether it may have been gratuitous and made rather crude headlines in Italy. How did you feel about it?
The only comment I’m going to make about that scene is that I trust my agent, Roger Charteris of The Artists Partnership in London.
Do you have a general philosophy about the entertainment industry?
I don’t want it to take over my life. I don’t like celebrity culture and the idea of spending loads of time and energy promoting oneself on social media and things like that. In general I aspire to be a normal human being with a normal life.
How do you see you career going forward?
Right now I am enrolled in an intense, three year British drama school. I am intellectually, physically and emotionally stimulated and challenged every day. I’m studying Shakespeare, Chekhov, Beckett and many more playwrights of that caliber. The school is so intense, I’ve had to turn down interesting film and TV jobs back home. But I barely have time to do my laundry, let alone think about my future career!