The fresh-faced British actress notable for her sprightly, feisty edge was born Daisy Jazz Isobel Ridley on April 10, 1992, to a banker mother and a photographer father living in the posh Maida Vale district in West London. The youngest of five sisters and step-sisters (her look-alike sister Kika-Rose is a model), Ridley was sent to study dance and acting at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire as a way to channel her mischievous streak into something constructive. (Acting runs in the family: her great-uncle Arnold Ridley was in the ensemble of the beloved British cult TV show Dad's Army.)
After graduating in 2010, Ridley accumulated a cluster of bit parts on British TV, appeared in a sci-fi short film, played a party-goer in a video for rapper Wiley, and appeared in a BAFTA-nominated educational short about how to prevent choking deaths. But none of these roles brought her into the limelight, a turn of events that proved fortuitous after J.J. Abrams announced he would be casting unknowns for the Star Wars reboot. After hearing this news, Ridley pushed her agent to wrangle an audition for her and eventually returned to read for Abrams five times before being cast as lead character Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While her first day on set was rocky (Abrams chastised her for being "wooden", a criticism that made her redouble her efforts), she eventually earned the praise and respect of her co-stars, going out for coffee with Harrison Ford and being counseled by Carrie Fisher to not allow herself to be turned into a sex symbol ("You should fight for your outfit."). Once home from the ultra-secretive shoot, Ridley returned to a quiet life of taking college classes towards a psychology degree and dating her actor boyfriend Charles Hamblett while preparing for future film roles.