Barks at the 85th Academy Awards
|Born||Samantha Jane Barks
(1990-10-02) 2 October 1990 
Laxey, Isle of Man
|Other names||Sam Barks|
Samantha Jane Barks (born 2 October 1990) is a Manx actress and singer who has performed on stage and screen as well as television. She rose to fame after coming in third in the BBC talent show–themed television series I’d Do Anything in 2008. In 2012, she starred alongside Jonathan Bailey in the Disney Channel series Groove High, and made her film debut as Éponine in the film version of the musical Les Misérables.
Her performance in Les Misérables was widely acclaimed, and earned nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble, won the Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer and shared the National Board of Review Award for Best Cast.
Barks was born and brought up in Laxey, on the Isle of Man, to Ann, a teaching assistant, and Richard Barks, a building surveyor. She attended Laxey Primary School in Laxey and St Ninian’s High School, Douglas before moving to London to study A levels at The Arts Educational Schools (ArtsEd) in Chiswick. Barks began dancing at the age of 3, training in Ballet, Modern and Tap with Dancers Barre, then Stagecoach Isle of Man, Theatrix, Stage One Drama School and the Manx Ballet Company.
2007–08: Early work
In April 2007, Barks released her debut album, Looking in Your Eyes, which sold around 600 copies. The album featured several songs which she co-wrote and was released on the independent label Brunswick Studios. She performed at the Peel Bay Festival in June 2007 supporting Matt Willis and the Sugababes, which also saw appearances by Madness and The Who. In December 2007, Barks represented the Isle of Man in the Maltese International Song Competition where she won the main prize of €2000 and the title of Best Foreign Singer. She sang the song “Nothing Else” from her album and “Play On”, a hit song in Malta.
2008: I’d Do Anything
In 2008, Barks competed in I’d Do Anything in which she was one of the finalists in a search for a new, unknown lead to play Nancy in a West End revival of the British musical Oliver!. She reached the final where she finished third.
On 29 April 2008, at the midpoint of the competition, Tourism Minister Adrian Earnshaw renamed the Isle of Man to be the “Isle of Sam” as a sign of support. Welcoming signs at Ronaldsway Airport and Douglas Sea Terminal were changed after a renaming ceremony.
In week eight of the show, Barks performed “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked and in the week leading up to the show she received support from American actress Idina Menzel, who achieved fame for her performance of the song as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked.
In week nine, Barks received the lowest number of public votes and so had to participate in the sing-off with Rachel Tucker. They sang “Memory” from the musical Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to save Barks and eliminate Tucker saying, “Last night Cameron and I were both saying that we thought both of you would be fantastic Nancys and now here am I faced with this. But I’ve got to make a decision and I’ve got to think of where the show ultimately for Cameron is going to go and I think I have to go with you, Samantha.”
In the week leading up to the two part final on 31 May, the Nancy finalists posed for publicity pictures recreating some of Madonna‘s iconic images. Barks was dressed in hotpants copying the pose from the cover of the 2008 album, Hard Candy. Each Nancy also had a “Master Class” with Liza Minnelli in London.
At the end of part one of the final, Barks was announced as finishing third with Andrew Lloyd Webber saying, “Do you know what, I did think this would happen. But you’ve done so well to have got this far, Samantha.” Barks said, “It’s been the most amazing experience of my life. Thanks to everyone and the panel for making it so incredible.”
Performances on I’d Do Anything
|Week one||“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll“||Safe|
|Week two||“See the Day“||Safe|
|Week three||“Somewhere” from the musical West Side Story||Safe|
|Week five||“Since U Been Gone“||Safe|
|Week eight (quarter-final)||“Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked||Safe|
|Week nine (semi-final)||“When You Believe” from the film The Prince of Egypt
“Memory” from the musical Cats
|Week ten (final)||“Anyone Who Had a Heart“||Third Place|
In June 2008, one month after I’d Do Anything ended, Barks sang the Isle of Man National Anthem “O Land Of Our Birth” on Senior Race day of the Isle of Man TT to begin the races. Barks was then announced to play the lead role of Sally Bowles in the UK tour of Cabaret from 29 August 2008 to 11 July 2009. Barks performed alongside her I’d Do Anything cast-mates Sarah Lark and Jodie Prenger at the Theatregoers Choice Awards in February 2009. Toward the end of her run with Cabaret, Barks put on her own concert, An Audience with Sam Barks, at the Villa Marina on the Isle of Man on 3 January 2009 to thank those that supported her during her time on I’d Do Anything and to thank those that have continued to support her.
Barks launched the new Manx Ship, the Caly Manx, in Shanghai, China on 30 September 2009. Barks, along with Wendy Craig and Jess Conrad, switched on the Christmas Lights in Windsor’s town centre on 21 November 2009. Barks officially launched BreastHealth UK’s new clinic at the Spire Thames Valley Hospital in Wexham on 27 November 2009. She played the title role in Aladdin during the Christmas Pantomime Season 2009/10 at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.
Barks starred as Éponine in the London production of Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre from 21 June 2010 to 18 June 2011. Barks was chosen to play Éponine in the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables at the O2 Arena on 3 October 2010 by Cameron Mackintosh, after he saw her play the role in her opening night at the Queens Theatre, in London’s West End.
Also in 2010, Barks resumed her music career by releasing a song called “Let Go”, which she co-wrote with Garry Lake. The single debuted in 2010, but received an official release in 2011 through the independent label Flour Records. Barks promoted the song with a live performance on SB.TV. Barks performed the song at Stuart Matthew Price and James Yeoburn‘s benefit concert for Dress Circle, the Dress Circle Benefit Gala, on 7 August 2011 at Her Majesty’s Theatre and the song was later included on the tribute compilation album Standing Ovation: A CD Tribute to Dress Circle which was released on 17 August 2011.
Barks began 2011 with a starring role in the concert Direct From the West End. Run by a company called “Musical Ovation Ltd” set up by Scott Garnham and Martin Neely, the concert was performed for three nights—23 January in York, 6 February in Oxford and 13 February 2011 in Windsor. The concert featured two hours of songs from popular West End musicals. On 27 February 2011, Barks performed in the concert The Songs of Bobby Cronin at the New Players Theatre.
On 20 March, Barks performed in Stars of the West End Sing the Songs of Steven Luke Walker at Charing Cross Theatre. Barks performed “On My Own” at the Classical Brits 2011 at The Royal Albert Hall on 12 May 2011.
Barks performed in a concert at the Battersea Barge in London on 21 August 2011, singing works by British composer/lyricists Laurence Mark Wythe, Grant Olding, Dougal Irvine and Tim Sutton. She performed with fellow West End stars Stephen Ashfield, Annalene Beechey and George Ure. Barks performed the Grand Final anthem “Jerusalem” for the Engage Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on 8 October 2011.
Barks starred as Zoe in Disney‘s television series Groove High, a mixture of live action and animation, which premiered on the Disney Channel UK 10 November 2012. The first season lasted 26 episodes and has been sold to broadcasters across the world. Barks recorded her voice for the series in April 2010, with live action filming completed in Ireland a year and a half later in October 2011. During an interview in January 2011 Samantha said this of Groove High: “I play Zoe one of the leads who is really sweet, but also a little feisty, she tells it like it is and doesn’t take any rubbish from anybody. It’s great because I also get to do a lot of singing for the show.”
Barks starred as Nancy in the UK tour of Oliver! from 10 December 2011 to 1 April 2012. Barks had planned to perform the entire tour, but temporarily left the tour on 1 April to film Les Miserables. She was replaced on the tour by Cat Simmons.
Barks reprised her role as Éponine and made her film debut in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables. She learned the news from Cameron Mackintosh during an Oliver! curtain call. During filming for Les Misérables, Barks recorded the song “Defective” for the album Scott Alan Live which was released in December 2012. In June 2012, just days after completing Les Misérables, Barks returned to the UK tour of Oliver! for two weeks at the Edinburgh Playhouse. On 24 June 2012, Barks performed in a Little Women charity concert at the Playhouse Theatre in London.
On 13 October 2012, Barks performed at the Indoor Garden Party concert in New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. The concert was part of a concert series created by Russell Crowe and Alan Doyle. Barks performed at another Indoor Garden Party concert at New York City’s Joe’s Pub on 8 December. In early November 2012, Barks briefly returned to the Oliver! UK tour at the Grand Theatre, Leeds. Barks permanently returned to the Oliver! on 12 December at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Ireland and continued with the tour until 20 February 2013 at the Bristol Hippodrome. She left the show early in order to head to Los Angeles for rehearsals with fellow Les Mis co-stars for their cast performance at the Oscars on 24 February 2013. Her rendition of “On My Own” from Les Miserables reached number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 43 in the UK, being her first entry on each chart.
On 11 February 2013, Barks won Best Breakthrough Performance at the Elle Style Awards. Barks performed with her co-stars from the film Les Miserables at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony on 24 February 2013. Immediately after the Oscars, Barks flew to the Isle of Man to begin work on her second film, The Christmas Candle. In March 2013, Barks took part in the television special Andrew Lloyd Webber: 40 Musical Years for ITV, performing “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” in honor of Andrew Lloyd Webber. In June 2013, Barks performed at The Recording Academy Honors. The same month, Barks took part in the one-night only 24 Hour Plays at the Broad Stage Theater in Santa Monica, California.
Barks played the role of Velma Kelly in the 2013 production of Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl from 26–28 July 2013. In late 2013, Barks starred as the romantic lead in The Devil’s Harvest, a film scheduled to be released in 2014, and co-starring Max Irons and Barry Pepper. In October 2013, Barks played the part of “Jules” in the private workshop production of a potential musical of Bend It Like Beckham with a score by Howard Goodall, lyrics by Charles Hart, and book by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges.
Barks had a role in Universal’s film Dracula Untold, which was released on 10 October 2014. She portrayed Baba Yaga, an angelic woman who turns into an atrocious evil witch; however, her scenes were cut from the film.
In 2014, Barks was cast in the ensemble drama A Hundred Streets and announced she would be returning to West End theatre in the revival of City of Angels directed by Josie Rourke with musical direction by Gareth Valentine and choreography by Stephen Mear.
In July 2015 Barks began rehearsing for the world premiere of Amélie, A New Musical at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California. The show opened on 29 August and had its run extended to 18 October.
Barks performed as the lead role of Cathy in the Off-West End production of The Last Five Years at the St. James Theatre from 27 October to 3 December 2016. She recently joined director Jason Robert Brown again for a one-off concert of his musical, Honeymoon In Vegas, at the London Palladium on 12 March 2017, starring alongside Arthur Darvill.
Barks has continued her music career playing at various venues around the UK since her album release. Following her self-titled album release on 10 June 2016, she launched her first solo tour around the UK to promote and perform songs from her album at 13 venues. She performed live in concert at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton alongside guest singer Kerry Eliis on 20 May 2017.
Barks made her American solo concert debut in the summer of 2017 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City with four exclusive concert dates 18–22 July.
In September 2017, it was announced that Barks will be playing the role of Vivian (originated by Julia Roberts) in the stage musical Pretty Woman. The musical will premiere at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre in March 2018, before transfering to Broadway in July 2018. Pretty Woman will mark her Broadway debut.
|2008||I’d Do Anything||Herself||Contestant; third place|
|2012||Groove High||Zoe Myer||Disney Channel series|
|2016||Bear Grylls: Mission Survive||Herself|
|2008–2009||Cabaret||Sally Bowles||UK Tour|
|2010–2011||Les Misérables||Éponine||Queen’s Theatre|
|2010||Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert||Éponine||The O2|
|2013||Chicago||Velma Kelly||Hollywood Bowl|
|2014||City of Angels||Mallory / Avril||Donmar Warehouse|
|2015||Amelie||Amelie||Berkeley Repertory Theatre|
|2016||The Last Five Years||Cathy Hiatt||St. James Theatre, London|
|2017||Honeymoon in Vegas||Betsy Nolan||London Palladium|
|2018||Pretty Woman: The Musical||Vivian||Oriental Theatre, Chicago|
|Nederlander Theatre, Broadway|
|2007||Looking In Your Eyes||Debut album||Brunswick Studios|
|2010||“Strong Without You”||Song from the album Move With Every Line: The Music of Tim Prottey-Jones||My Protégé Records|
|2011||“Let Go”||Single||Flour Records|
|“Tir Na N’og”||Song from Acoustic Overtures: The Songs of Dougal Irvine||Simon Greiff/SimG Records|
|2012||“Defective”||Song from the album Scott Alan Live||Billy-Boo Records|
|Les Misérables: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack||Cast recording of the film||Universal Republic Records|
|2013||Les Misérables: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|2014||“You Fixed My Broken Wings”||Song from the album Love on 42nd Street||DLC Records|
|2016||“Love in a Place Like This” (with Marc Devigne)||Single||Danny Schur Records|
|Samantha Barks||Self-titled album||United Agents Records|