Elizabeth McGovern was born on 18th July 1961 in Evanston Illinois. She is an American film, theatre and television actor and a musician. Her mother, Katherine Wolcott was a high school teacher, and her father, William Montgomery McGovern Jr. was a University professor of law. Her younger sister, Cammie McGovern is a novelist. Her brother, William McGovern is also a professor. She is of Scottish, English and distant German ancestry and comes from an illustrious family. Elizabeth graduated from The Oakwood School and studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and then at The Julliard School in New York City. She is married to British film director and producer Simon Curtis and has two daughters Matilda and Grace. Previously she was engaged to actor Sean Penn when she was just 23 years old. McGovern was offered her first film while she was at Julliard, Ordinary People (1980) starring opposite Timothy Hutton. For the role in Ordinary People, she dropped out of college briefly. After she had completed her college education, she began to appear in plays, and later major theatre productions. In 1981, she did the film Ragtime for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Other movies of hers include Once Upon a Time in America, Racing With the Moon and Lovesick, all of which she did in 1984. In 1989, she acted in Johnny Handsome and The Handmaid’s Tale in which she played the role of a rebellious lesbian. Other films she has acted in include She’s Having a Baby, The Bedroom Window, A Shock to the System, etc. Elizabeth is a versatile actress and has covered many genres throughout her career. She is famous as Cora, Countess of Grantham in the British TV series Downton Abbey. Other TV shows that she appeared in include Tales from the Crypt: The Changeling, Freezing, Law & Order, Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, etc. She claims that acting on stage is much more challenging than on screen. “By definition, an actor’s life is a recipe for regret. There are always roads you could have taken. But I’ve lived long enough to realise that each road has its rewards”, says Elizabeth.

Although she has a very busy schedule, working on important film projects throughout the year, she tries to take out time to do theatre. McGovern was also the lead singer in the band Sadie and the Hotheads since 2008. Her band performs at The Castle pub venue at Portobello Road, London. The band plays music of kinds, most of which are written by McGovern herself. Their second album – HOW NOT TO LOOSE THINGS featured McGovern’s Downton Abbey co-star Michelle Dockery. The band collaborates with a lot of artists for their songs, many of which are contacts that McGovern made during her work on films. In an interview, McGovern mentioned how she never planned to have children and that when she moved to London, she found it very difficult to adjust to marriage, having kids and work at the same time. But she identified more with the nature of work in the British entertainment industry rather than Hollywood. She calls life in Hollywood very fast. She currently lives in London with her family, loves travelling by the Tube and claims that her favourite authors are Henry James and Edith Wharton. She fondly talks about her younger days as an actress and what it was like to be ‘hot and happening’ in Hollywood. She uses her experience over the years to put life into her characters and attempts to work hard each year. Although she is hitting 54 years now, she can still give the younger actress a good run for their money when it comes to looks and great figure. Her latest film Showing Roots is due for release later this year.

Noma Dumezweni

Noma Dumezweni is a British theatre actor and was born in 1969 in Swaziland, Africa. Dumezweni moved to the UK, with her mother and sister when she was a child, around 7 or 8 years old. Before moving to the UK, they moved base to different African nations. They were refugees. In the UK, her family initially lived in Suffolk, where she attended school before moving to London. She attended acting classes at the Wolsey Youth Theatre during her school summer holidays as a child. From there on she became acutely interested in theatre. She is motivated more by the quality of work rather than the quantity. “It boils down to participating in a great bit of storytelling. It has been a real pleasure; I have been so lucky. My idea of hell is doing one play for ever; (because) you get stuck and bored; it is not satisfying.” As quoted in an interview she gave to The New Black Magazine. As a result of such beliefs, Dumezweni has been able to deliver an impactful performance, every time, and leave the audience thinking. Her first break arrived in 2001 when she acted in a TV film titled Macbeth. Other TV films that she starred in include Mysterious Creatures, After Thomas, The Grey Man and The Colour of Magic. These were national shows and were aired only in Britain. She considers herself privileged for having the opportunity to pursue her dreams, always having the support of her family, unlike the many other refugee girls who had to face atrocious trials and tribulations growing up. She proceeded to do guest appearances in episodes of various other TV shows such as Holby City, Silent Witness, The Bill, Little Miss Jocelyn, Shameless, etc. It was in single episodes of these series that Dumezweni acted. Despite these projects, her forte remains the theatre. She received critical fame for her performance in Linda, a play by Penelope Skinner. She was part of the Royal Shakespeare Society in London and acted in The Winter’s Tale and Rome and Juliet. Throughout her career, Dumezweni has done a lot of Shakespearean drama. So much that they’ve become a sort of speciality of hers. She won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for her role as Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansby. The story speaks of a black family, staying in Chicago, their struggle against an insurance payout after the death of the father and their attempts to better their lives. It was first performed in 1959 on Broadway and was declared the best play by the New York Drama Critic’s Circle. For her acting in the play titled The Bogus Woman, she received the Fringe First Award and the Manchester Evening News Award. She has worked with many illustrious theatre groups – Royal Court Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Society, the National Theatre, the Young Vic, Chichester Festival Theatre, the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, amongst others. For her outstanding work Dominic Cavendish, who is the Chief Theatre Critic at the Daily Telegraph newspaper, was quoted as having written, “If they can bottle and mass-produce whatever it is that Noma Dumezweni has got, then please, I want to order a life-time’s supply.” While preparing for a new play, Noma always brings along her 4-year-old daughter to the sets and loves to share the experiences with her. She is popular as UNIT Captain Erisa Magambo from the Doctor Who series. She has also done radio shows. Some of these are Jambula Tree, Seven Wonders of the Undivided World, Handprint and The Farming of Bones. She is now preparing for her role as Hermione Granger, the famous character of the Harry Potter series, in a theatre adaptation of the world famous story book, alongside Jamie Parker and Paul Thornley as Harry and Ron respectively. The play, which was given the title Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany and is opening in May this year. Reactions to the news of Demuzweni playing Granger in the theatre adaptation were not all positive. Some were openly mean and racist. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, later tweeted that the books don’t specify the ethnicity of Hermione and that she was excited to see Demuzweni play the part. Emma Watson, who did the role of Hermione Granger in the movies, also tweeted her excitement about seeing Demuzweni revamp the role she had played for ten years. Amidst all the rage, Noma also stated that this all stems from ignorance. “They don’t want to be a part of the creative act. To say that it's not as it was intended is so unimaginative.” Although she is impressed by the improving situation of Blacks in Britain, regarding the quality of work they are doing, she sees more scope for women’s participation. She likes to live in the moment while at the same time hoping for having an HBO TV series of her one day. Noma Demuzweni will join the director’s rink with the play I See You, written by Mongiwekhaya. The play opened in February 2016 at the Royal Court Theatre.

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Noma Dumezweni English Actress