Some viewers have said they can’t warm to her, calling her “cocky” and “arrogant”.
But the EastEnders star said her appearance is down to nerves and has appealed for more understanding.
Despite her success on TV – Maisie has played Tiffany Butcher in the BBC soap since she was six – she has revealed she is actually very shy.
Maisie said: “People forget I am a 19-year-old girl. I’d ask people maybe not to judge my character on certain faces I pull when I’m dancing and maybe don’t be too quick to guess who someone is.
“I’m not confident in myself at all and I’m trying to be more confident, let’s not hate.
“When I was asked to do Strictly, as much as I was so excited, part of me thought it wasn’t the best idea for me because I’m too shy. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve put on a confident front to cover up my nerves and maybe that came across in a different light than what I intended.
“I wish I was that confident person – that’s the most amazing thing for someone so young to have confidence and that’s what I strive for.
“I do find it quite crazy that people would use that against someone.
“The person I am, I’ve struggled to bring that across when I’m under pressure on live TV. I can sometimes put this face on, for example, if I’m nervous I’ll just stay quiet. You can’t do that on Strictly so I try to find this confident, bubbly person and I think it does get misconstrued as arrogance.
“I think sometimes, with young girls in particular, maybe people don’t like to see such a confident, outgoing young girl. Maybe someone a bit older or a boy might get looked at differently.”
Maisie is the youngest competitor in this year’s Strictly.
As well as support from her dance partner Gorka Marquez and former pro Kevin Clifton, Maisie has been backed by Coronation Street ’s Catherine Tyldesley, who took part in the show last year. She got in touch after seeing Maisie in the dance-off for the second time.
Maisie said: “Catherine messaged me after the bottom two and said, ‘Don’t you dare let this affect you as a person. From what I can see, you’re lovely and this doesn’t define who you are. This is just part of the show, it happens to everyone. Stay strong and keep going, you’re smashing it’.
“I’ve never even met her, but it was so nice for her to go out of her way to comfort me.”
Maisie’s Walford co-stars have also been out in force to support her. Jake Wood said the cast were all behind her and her on-screen mum Patsy Palmer, who left the soap last year, has also been rooting for her.
Maisie said: “She put a video of me doing my samba on her Instagram story and said, ‘Maisie I can’t believe you’re doing it’. I haven’t really seen her that much since I was quite young. She sees me as her little girl. I think she’s as proud as my mum is.”
Maisie, who grew up in Southend, landed her first acting role aged five in the 2006 film The Other Boleyn Girl, alongside A-listers Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman.
She went to stage school, which critics also said put her at an “advantage” in Strictly, before landing the role of Tiffany in 2008. This week Maisie will be dancing the quickstep to When You’re Smiling, but hopes she can keep her nerves in check.
She said: “On a Saturday, we get to the studio for 9am for make-up and sitting there all day, the nerves creep up on you. It’s so scary. When I get nervous I just feel like I’ve forgotten everything, but when I’m out there, my body does remember it. It’s just a case of trusting myself.”
While Maisie said she is having a blast on Strictly, she admitted it has been a struggle living alone for the first time.
This year’s contestants are in bubbles with their dance partners and have to follow strict restrictions.
Maisie said: “It can be quite lonely, especially on a Sunday after the news of being in the bottom two. I’ve never lived on my own for this long. It’s weird to get home from rehearsals and no one’s there.
“All you want to do is see your family and friends… give them a cuddle.”
Maisie is really missing her mum Julie – especially when it comes to her washing. She said: “I didn’t realise how much I needed her in my life. My first week of living on my own, I had to FaceTime her and ask her how to use the washing machine.”
But Maisie said she is fuming her family did not wait for her to put the Christmas decorations up at their home in Westcliff, where she lives with Julie, dad Stephen and older sister Scarlett.
She said: “I just found out. I’m so jealous, it’s such a tradition for us.
“I said, ‘I can’t believe you’ve done it without me’. I’m excited to go home – it’ll be all festive in the house and we’ll have a family Christmas.”
This year’s Strictly cast have not been allowed to have their usual Saturday after-parties due to Covid-19, but Caroline Quentin is thought to be planning something for when things are back to normal.
Maisie said: “Caroline was saying she’s going to host a little party of freedom at some point, so I’m down for that. Everyone just has to go home on Saturdays so I can’t wait until we can go out and go mental.
“We’re already a crazy bunch but put us in a club… that would be a good night out.”
There have, of course, been rumours about Maisie and her 21-year-old Strictly co-star HRVY.
But she insisted they are “just friends” and added: “We’re having a good time and we get on so well. I see him once a week but I feel like we know each other quite well.”
Maisie said despite her critics and crisis of confidence, she will hold her head up high after appearing on one of Britain’s most popular TV shows.
She added: “I’m dancing on live TV… I never thought I’d do that. I’m so proud. I don’t care who wins.
I’m rooting for Bill to win.”
Maisie appears in this week’s OK! magazine, which is out now.