Fans are still figuring out how to feel about Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas' daughter's name, Willa, and some are speculating that it might be a deep-cut reference to Game of Thrones. Turner made a name for herself playing Sansa Stark on the HBO series, and while it does not have any obvious connection to her character, the name Willa is an important one in the story.
Turner and Jonas have kept mostly to themselves throughout her pregnancy, avoiding the public eye and saying little in the press about their newborn. They have not even officially confirmed that the baby girl's name is Willa, though sources have vouched for the name after TMZ first reported it. Fans on social media seemed to be split over the name, though die-hard Game of Thrones fans perked up upon hearing it. In both the show and the books it was based on — A Song of Ice and Fire — Willa is a name for some important figures.
Fans of the show only saw one "Willa" on-screen — a very young girl living among the wildlings in the city of Hardhome, north of The Wall. In Season 5, Willa is introduced during Jon Snow's efforts to evacuate Hardhome and move all the Wildlings to new home south of The Wall. When the White Walkers descended on Hardhome, Willa was shown being loaded into a boat by her mother, Karsi, who then fell to their icy blades. Willa was shown living among the wildling refugees in Castle Black later on in the season, spending time with Tormund.
It could be that Turner liked this name, and the story of the resilient little girl in Season 5. However, some fans speculate that she reached even deeper into the book lore for naming inspiration. In the early books, a woman named Wylla (with the same pronunciation) is often rumored to be Jon Snow's biological mother. She is at the center of some elaborate fan theories, and may come to feature more heavily in revelations made in the last two books.
Willa? Seriously? Wylla was the name of Edric Dayne and Jon Snows wet nurse in the ASOIAF series 👀— On The Front Foot (@OTFFPodcast) August 2, 2020
There are at least three other Wyllas named in George R.R. Martin's books, and all of them seem like plausible inspiration for Turner naming her real-life daughter. One is Wylla Manderly, the granddaughter of Lord Wyman Manderly of White Harbor. Wylla Manderly gets plays a pivotal role in the most recent book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, where she speaks out during a meeting between Davos Seaworth and some northern lords at White Harbor. The 14-year-old girl is already a survivor or war, yet she insists on continuing to fight for what is right, openly defying her grandfather in front of his entire court until she is dragged out by force. Wylla is also memorable for her appearance — she is described as having her hair dyed gree, but her eyebrows still blonde.
There is also a Westerosi heroine named Wylla of Wyl mentioned in Martin's fictional encyclopedia, The World of Ice & Fire. Thousands of years before the main story, this Wylla is said to have commanded armies in the semi-mythical Battle by the Bloody Pool. Turner could conceivably have picked the name based on this story, or another obscure reference in Martin's writing — Wylla Fenn.
Although never mentioned in the show, Wylla Fenn was a noblewoman from The Neck who lived several generations before the main series. She had a bastard son named Lonnel Snow with the lord of Winterfell at the time, Brandon Stark. This is especially notable because this Wylla would have been alive during the time when HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon will be set. Turner may have gotten ahead of the curve on the latest Game of Thrones naming trend.
Whatever the inspiration was, there is no doubt that Turner loves Game of Thrones, as evidenced by its impact on other parts of her personal life. Whether she meant it that way or not, naming her daughter Willa Jonas is yet another nod to the fandom that she stands with them.