Who is Jenna Coleman?

From swapping the Dales to the Daleks, here’s everything you need to know about Victoria star Jenna Coleman

Jenna Coleman

She’s a long way from Emmerdale now, as Jenna Coleman’s career continues to climb higher and higher.

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The Blackpool-born actor, born on 27 April 1986, has received critical acclaim for her performances in a slew of well-loved dramas – achieving international recognition when she landed the part of Clara Oswald in Doctor Who alongside both Matt Smith and then Peter Capaldi.

Jenna Coleman in The Cry, BBC One, 30th Sept 9pm

Since stepping away from the TARDIS in 2015, Coleman has landed herself a number of leading roles – including her revealing portrayal of a young Queen Victoria in ITV’s flagship period drama of the same name, and grieving mother Joanna in BBC’s Bodyguard replacement, The Cry.

But what else has Coleman starred in?

Here’s everything you need to know…

Who did Jenna Coleman play in Emmerdale?

After leaving Arnold School (where she was head girl), Jenna started auditioning for drama schools – where she found herself landing the part of bolshie Jasmine Thomas on Emmerdale in 2005, aged just 19.

Beating Roxanne Pallett (of eventual Celebrity Big Brother infamy) to the role, Coleman said to the Sunday Mirror at the time, “It was a big decision but I put drama school on the back burner to join the show. I might go back at some point but for now I just thank my lucky stars I’ve started off in this industry with such a fantastic break.”

Playing chaste vicar Ashley’s niece, soap siren Jasmine was launched in the centre of several storylines when she found herself in a father-daughter love triangle – seducing both Debbie and Cain Dingle, and having to abort Cain’s baby when she learned she was pregnant.

Jasmine’s exit storyline was equally dramatic, being taken to prison for manslaughter after she killed policeman Shane Doyle in self-defence.

Following her performance as Jasmine over four years, Coleman was nominated for five gongs, including a National Television Award.

Speaking about her time on the show, she explained, “I’ve made such good friends and I’m loving every minute. It’s like I’ve found my second family.”

Was Jenna Coleman in Waterloo Road?

Shortly after departing the Dales, Jenna was cast as the vicious Linsday James in school-based drama Waterloo Road – a role Coleman found “surreal”, having been 23 at the time of casting.

The fifth series of Waterloo Road saw posh private school John Fosters merged with scrappier Waterloo Road, with Lindsay rebelling at her state school by starting several feuds with the girls in her year.

However, it quickly comes to light that Lindsay is hiding something, having murdered her father on the first day of school – which her mother went on trial for.

Admitting everything in court, Coleman saw her character carted off to prison once more.

Who did Jenna Coleman play in Titanic?

There was a three year gap before we saw Coleman back on the small screen, with Jenna popping over to America to play the small role of Connie in Captain America and voicing Princess Melia Antiqua in Wii game Xenoblade Chronicles.

Talking about her time between roles, Coleman told The Guardian, “I’m northern, and working class, so people put you in a box. It’s crazy. I’d be pointing out different parts, saying, ‘I think I can do that.’ It took a long time to get any meetings. I had to take a job at a pub in Hampstead.”

But Coleman’s luck changed when she was cast in Julian Fellowes’s Titanic in 2012, which was at the time dubbed “The New Downton Abbey”.

Playing the gobby Annie Desmond, a stewardess that falls in love on the ship, Coleman described her character as “a cheeky little Cockney.”

“Fellowes has given me a gift,” she told The Observer. “I’m the Eliza Doolittle of the ship.”

Was Jenna Coleman in Room at the Top?

A departure from her previous roles, Coleman then starred as privileged Susan Brown, daughter of an industrial magnate in the BBC adaptation of John Braine’s 1957 novel, Room at the Top.

Coleman was attracted to a role in the two-part series as it was so hugely different to her own upbringing.

“I don’t really enjoy playing myself at all,” she told The Guardian. “I love anything that feels more removed from myself. I have a lot more freedom… But using my own voice and being me? I feel self-conscious. If people ask me to do a speech or something, it’s like my worst nightmare. I can’t bear it.”

Who did Jenna Coleman play in Doctor Who?

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Coleman’s break-out role was in hugely popular sci-fi series Doctor Who, when she was anointed as the sparky Clara Oswald – instantly becoming a household name in the process.

While Clara was initially placed as a love interest to Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, things changed when he regenerated into Capaldi’s older and sterner Twelfth Doctor – with their intitally fraught relationship eventually smoothing over.

Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman

The way Doctor Who straddles so many genres kept Coleman at the show until 2015.

“It moves from comedy to action film to farce; it’s domestic and epic,” she said. “Peter and Matt do takes in so many ways, throw so many balls in the air – it’s an invaluable experience.”

“Fans always ask which Doctor I prefer, but it’s a question I can’t answer,” she added. “I usually say David Tennant.”

Was Jenna Coleman in Dancing on the Edge?

Stephen Poliakoff-penned BBC Two drama Dancing on the Edge followed a black jazz band’s experiences in 1930’s London – which saw 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor feature as Louis Lester.

Coleman starred as Rosie Williams, an assistant to cunning music journalist Stanley Mitchell, played by Matthew Goode.

Well worth a watch if you can find it online, this gem was nominated for three Golden Globes in 2014.

Who did Jenna Coleman play in Death Comes to Pemberley?

The three-part BBC drama series aired over Christmas in 2013, seeing Coleman play the hysterical Lydia Wickham in P.D. James sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Described as a mash-up between the Austen classic and Poirot, Coleman was praised for playing the impetuous Lydia, with Huffington Post praising her for doing a “creditable job making the flighty and selfish character amusing and understandable.”

When was Jenna Coleman cast in Victoria?

tv-100-jenna-coleman

Following her successful stints in popular period-dramas, Coleman took the helm of Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, which offered new insight into the famous queen by looking through her diaries as a young woman.

Upon taking the role in 2016, Coleman admitted that she didn’t know a great deal about the monarch.
“I knew she was spirited and passionate and temperamental, and that was really it,” she admitted on BBC Woman’s Hour. “She’s really very passionate and emotionally led. It’s interesting to try and get a handle on. I kind of really admire that in her.”

Victoria and Albert Victoria baby

Victoria’s on-screen romance with Prince Albert transpired into a genuine love affair away from the cameras, with Coleman now dating Tom Hughes, who plays Prince Albert.

Receiving critical acclaim in her portrayal of the young queen, Coleman will be back on our screens as Victoria in the third series – which documents the third birth of her seventh child, “which is just ridiculous”, Coleman notes.

Who did Jenna Coleman play in Me Before You?

Between filming series of Victoria, Coleman starred as Katrina ‘Treena’ Clark in the Emilia Clarke-led film Me Before You.

The film, which is based on Jojo Moyes’ best-selling novel, focuses on happy-go-luckygirl Louisa, (played by Clarke) who is tasked as a companion for the now paralysed Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). Coleman supported Clarke in playing Louisa’s sister.

What’s Jenna Coleman’s role in The Cry?

Jenna Coleman and Noah in The Cry

The heart-stopping BBC One four-parter, which fills the Sunday night drama gap left hollow by Bodyguard, sees Coleman play Joanna Lindsay who sees her baby son Noah go missing when visiting Australia with her husband Alistair.

Being placed under vast public scrutiny, her marriage to spin doctor Alistair quickly collapses and Joanna’s psychological wellbeing rapidly suffers.

Fuelled with twists and red herrings that have left gripped viewers guessing what will happen next, Coleman initially confessed to feeling miscast in the difficult role.

Ewen Leslie and Jenna Coleman in The Cry

“Why on Earth me? I’m not a mother!” she told The Observer. “I’ve really struggled with that.”

To prepare for the psychologically demanding storyline, she found herself contacting friends with children for help.

“There are so many pressures on women,” she explained. I think everyone needs to be a little bit more forgiving of mothers who don’t feel guilty for wanting a bit of independence.”

Victoria returns to ITV soon; season three starts on PBS Masterpiece in the US, Sunday 13 January, 9/8c

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This article was originally published on 19 October 2018


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