Emerald Fennell: what roles is British Oscar-winning director best known for - from Call the Midwife to The Crown

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Fennell won best original screenplay for her debut film Promising Young Woman at the Academy Awards 2021

There were plenty of moments of triumph for Britain during the 2021 Academy Awards.

While drama Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao, cleaned up at the Los Angeles ceremony, three Brits took home Oscar wins.

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Anthony Hopkins won best actor for his lead role in dementia drama The Father, and Daniel Kaluuya accepted best supporting actor for Judas and the Black Messiah.

Emerald Fennell starred in Call the Midwife as Patsy before she went on to direct Promising Young Woman (PA Media/BBC)Emerald Fennell starred in Call the Midwife as Patsy before she went on to direct Promising Young Woman (PA Media/BBC)
Emerald Fennell starred in Call the Midwife as Patsy before she went on to direct Promising Young Woman (PA Media/BBC)

But all eyes were on actor-turned-writer-and-director Emerald Fennell, who scooped an Oscar for her debut film Promising Young Woman, becoming the first British woman to win the best original screenplay award.

Yet Fennell hasn’t always been behind the camera, and many people will recognise her from big on-screen roles.

So who is Emerald Fennell and what has she starred in before?

Here is everything you need to know.

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Who is Emerald Fennell?

Fennell, 35, was born in Hammersmith in London, to famous jewellery designer Theo Fennell and author Louise Fennell.

She is from a family of creatives, as her sister is fashion designer Coco Fennell.

Fennell’s husband is advertising director Chris Vernon, and the pair are currently expecting their second child.

Before she became well-known, Fennell attended the prestigious Marlborough College - the same £39,000-a-year school as Kate Middleton went to.

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She was then accepted to study English at Oxford University.

It was there that she found a passion for acting, performing in student plays.

Her talent must have been obvious, as an acting agent spotted her during one such play.

What roles is she known for?

After she was talent-spotted, Fennell acted in a handful of TV shows, from Trial and Retribution to Channel 4 comedy Chickens.

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But she landed her breakout role as nurse Patsy in Call the Midwife in 2014.

Notably, she starred in the last season of Netflix drama The Crown as Camilla Parker Bowles, which is perhaps what fans best know her from.

She also played Vanessa in Vita & Victoria, and has starred in films The Danish Girl and Anna Karenina.

Before she wrote and directed Promising Young Woman, Fennell directed the three-part 2018 short film Careful How You Go starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

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And she was head writer and executive producer for season two of comedy-drama series Killing Eve, receiving two Emmy nominations for her work.

Fennell is now looking to the West End, having written the book for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical of Cinderella.

It was set to debut in London last summer, but was pushed back due to the pandemic.

As well as a successful acting and directing career, Fennell also followed her mother into writing, penning two horror stories - Shiverton Hall and The Creeper - for older children.

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Her third book, Monsters, is about two children investigating a murder.

What is Promising Young Woman about?

Revenge thriller Promising Young Woman, which stars Carey Mulligan, is Fennell’s first feature-length film.

The plot follows Cassie, a promising young medical student, who is forced to drop out of university when one of her best friends takes her own life after being assaulted.

During the day, she works in a coffee shop, but at night she fakes becoming blackout drunk in bars, waiting for men to take advantage of her so she can wreak sober vengeance on them.

Fennell filmed the movie in only 23 days while she was pregnant. Three weeks later, she gave birth to her first son in 2019.