Coleman at the MagicCity ComicCon, 16 January 2016
(1986-04-27) 27 April 1986
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Jenna-Louise Coleman (born 27 April 1986), known as Jenna Coleman, is an English actress. Her notable roles are Clara Oswald in the British television series Doctor Who, Jasmine Thomas in the British soap opera Emmerdale, and Queen Victoria in the ITV drama series Victoria.
Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, and began her acting career at an early age as a member of a theatre company called In Yer Space. While auditioning for drama schools in 2005, she was chosen to play Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale. She received critical acclaim for her performance and was nominated for the Most Popular Newcomer award at the 2006 National Television Awards.
Coleman went on to play “hard girl” Lindsay James in the BBC school-based drama series Waterloo Road, Susan Brown in a BBC Four television adaptation of the John Braine novel Room at the Top, Annie Desmond in Julian Fellowes‘ four part mini-series Titanic, and Rosie in Stephen Poliakoff’s original drama series Dancing on the Edge.
From 2012 to 2015, Coleman portrayed Clara Oswald, companion to the eleventh and twelfth incarnations of the Doctor in the science fiction series Doctor Who. She appeared as Lydia Wickham in the BBC drama Death Comes to Pemberley.
Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, the daughter of Karen and Keith Coleman. She has an older brother named Ben. She attended Arnold School, where she was head girl. She has stated that she regrets not having a conventional university experience. While at school, Coleman was a member of the theatre company In Yer Space, with which she performed in the play Crystal Clear at the Edinburgh Festival. She won an award for her performance, and the play was also received favourably. In an interview with the Radio Times in 2015 she revealed that her grandmother had named her Jenna after the character of Jenna Wade played by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley in the 80’s hit American drama series Dallas.
While auditioning for drama schools, Coleman landed the part of Jasmine Thomas in Emmerdale in 2005. At the 2007 British Soap Awards, she was nominated for the Best Newcomer award, and at the 2006 National Television Awards, she was nominated for the Most Popular Newcomer award. At the 2009 British Soap Awards, she was nominated for the Best Actress, Sexiest Female, and Best Dramatic Performance awards. She received a nomination for the Best Actress award from the TV Choice Awards. In May 2009, it was announced that Coleman would be joining BBC drama series Waterloo Road as “hard girl” Lindsay James. As she was 23 at the time of her casting, Coleman found the experience of playing a schoolgirl “surreal”.
In December 2010, it was announced that Coleman would be playing Susan Brown in a BBC Four television adaptation of the John Braine novel Room at the Top. The adaptation was originally intended to air in April 2011, but this was cancelled due to a rights dispute between the production company and Braine’s estate. The dispute was resolved by 2012, and the show aired in two parts on 26 and 27 September 2012. In 2011, she made her feature film debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. She also landed the part of Annie Desmond in Julian Fellowes‘ four part mini-series Titanic, describing her character as a “cheeky little Cockney” and “the Eliza Doolittle of the ship”.
Coleman provided the voice for the character Melia in the English dub of the 2011 video game Xenoblade Chronicles. In 2012, Coleman was cast as Rosie in Stephen Poliakoff‘s original drama series Dancing on the Edge, which follows the fortunes of a black jazz band in the 1930s. The show aired on BBC Two in February 2013. She starred as Lydia Wickham in the adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley. The three episodes were shown on BBC One during Christmas 2013.
On 21 March 2012, Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat confirmed at a press conference that Coleman would play the companion of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith). Moffat chose her for the role because she worked the best alongside Smith and could talk faster than he could. She auditioned for the role in secret, under the pretense of auditioning for Men on Waves (an anagram for “Woman Seven”: she would first appear in the show’s seventh series).
Although originally announced as beginning her run as companion in the Christmas special in 2012, Coleman made a surprise appearance on 1 September 2012 in the first episode of the seventh series as Oswin Oswald, a guest character who dies at the conclusion of the episode. Coleman subsequently debuted as a series regular in the Christmas special episode “The Snowmen” as Victorian governess and barmaid Clara Oswin Oswald; like Oswin Oswald, she died. At the end of that episode, Coleman is seen playing a third version of the character, a resident of contemporary London named simply Clara Oswald. Beginning in “The Bells of Saint John“, this version begins her travels as the Doctor’s regular companion, including after his regeneration into the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, in the 2013 Christmas special episode “The Time of the Doctor.” In the 2014 Christmas special episode “Last Christmas”, it was revealed that Coleman would remain in the role of Clara for Series 9. However, the ninth series was her last, as Coleman had decided to leave the show to take on a role as Queen Victoria in an ITV production.
As of 12 May 2013, she began using the name Jenna Coleman professionally, with the shorter credit being first used when she appeared as a presenter for the 2013 BAFTA Television Awards, and it was made official on 7 June 2013 when she was introduced with the shorter name during a visit to BBC Broadcasting House by Queen Elizabeth II. She was first credited on screen as Jenna Coleman in Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, which aired on 4 August 2013.
In 2016 Coleman starred in ITV’s eight-part drama following the reign of the British monarch and Empress of India, Queen Victoria. The actress confessed that she was not totally informed about Victorian history, but researched the role. When interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Coleman expressed her admiration for the monarch.
She argues that this role meant she was able to break out of her supposed ‘box’ as a northern working-class character that Emmerdale put her in. Victoria premiered on 28 August 2016 on ITV, and in September 2016, ITV renewed Victoria for a second series.
|2005–09||Emmerdale||Jasmine Thomas||168 episodes|
|2009||Waterloo Road||Lindsay James||9 episodes|
|2012||Titanic||Annie Desmond||4 episodes|
|2012||Room at the Top||Susan Brown||2 episodes|
|2012–15||Doctor Who||Clara Oswald||37 episodes (Series 7–Series 9)|
|2013||Dancing on the Edge||Rosie Williams||5 episodes|
|2013||The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot||Herself||Comedy spoof of Doctor Who, released on the BBC Red Button|
|2013||Death Comes to Pemberley||Lydia Wickham||3 episodes|
|2016, 2017||Victoria||Queen Victoria||8 episodes|
|2016||Thunderbirds Are Go||Baines (voice)||1 episode|
|2011||Captain America: The First Avenger||Connie|
|2012||Imaginary Forces||Ellen||Short film|
|2016||Me Before You||Katrina Clark|
|2010||Xenoblade Chronicles||Princess Melia Antiqua||English dub of Japanese game|
|2015||Lego Dimensions||Clara Oswald|
Awards and nominations
|2006||National Television Award||Most Popular Newcomer||Emmerdale||Nominated|
|The British Soap Awards||Best Newcomer||Nominated|
|2009||Best Dramatic Performance||Nominated|
|2013||Behind the Voice Actors Award||Best Female Vocal Performance in a Video Game||Xenoblade Chronicles||Nominated|
|Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon UK Kids’ Choice Awards||Favourite UK Actress||Doctor Who||Nominated|
|TV Choice Award||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2014||Glamour Awards||UK TV Actress||Won|
|2015||Saturn Award||Best Supporting Actress on Television||Nominated|
|TV Choice Award||Best Actress||Nominated|
|BAFTA Cymru||Best Actress||Nominated|