Olivia Colman

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2 mins read

Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman was born 30 January 1974 in Norwich, Norfolk; she is an English actress. She is the daughter of Mary (Leakey), a nurse, and Keith Colman, a chartered surveyor.

She was privately educated at Norwich High School for Girls and Gresham’s School, Holt. Her first role was at the age of 16. She cites her mother’s interrupted career as a ballet dancer as an inspiration to pursue acting professionally. 

Colman spent a term studying primary teaching at Homerton College, Cambridge, before studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School from which she graduated in 1999. During her time at Cambridge, she auditioned for the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club.

Colman met her future husband, Ed Sinclair, then a third-year law student who had become disillusioned with law and preferred to write, at Footlights; they married in August 2001 and have three children together. In 2013, Colman presented two awards at the Mind Media Awards, which celebrate accurate, responsible and sensitive portrayals of mental health across all areas of the media. Colman believes that “the media industry has huge influence and with that comes a responsibility to contest the stigma that sadly still exists, through accurate representation.” Colman has spoken openly to the Big Issue about her experience of postnatal depression after the birth of her first child. Inspired by her research for the film Tyrannosaur, in 2014, Colman became the patron of the UK charity Tender, which uses theatre and the arts to educate young people about how to prevent violence and sexual abuse. Colman says that domestic violence prevention can make a real difference in the lives of young people.

Other charity work included participating in the Alzheimer’s Society’s Holkham Hall Memory Walk in September 2013. Colman’s great-grandmother suffered from dementia and her mother was involved in running a nursing home for sufferers.

Colman has also added her voice to charity campaigns for Marie Curie Daffodil Day (care for the terminally ill) . Colman became Patron of blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan in 2018, which Colman says helped a friend of hers.In August 2014, Colman was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September 2014’s referendum on the issue. 

In December 2014, Colman was involved in a radio documentary about the plight of women in Afghanistan on behalf of Amnesty International for the BBC. Several women who told their stories to journalist Lyse Doucet were unable to appear because their lives might have been at risk. Colman read their stories as part of the documentary. In response to the work, Colman warned that the UK must not abandon Afghan women to the Taliban. She said, “Being a teacher, a doctor, a politician–these are important jobs but they shouldn’t be dangerous ones. The brave women whose words I’ve voiced risk so much to educate, to care and to shape the future of their country. Women like these are the hope for Afghanistan’s future and the UK must not abandon them to the Taliban now.”