Who Is Jodie Whittaker?
Born in 1982, actress Jodie Auckland Whittaker is the first woman ever to assume the title role of Doctor Who, the long-running British TV series about a time-traveling alien that is a hit both in the U.K. and around the world. Her Doctor Who is the series’ 13 incarnation of the character, who has been played by a succession of male actors ever since the show started in 1963.
When she won the Doctor Who role, Whittaker was already well-known in the United Kingdom for her roles in a succession of British TV shows — her most recent being Broadchurch and Trust Me (both in 2017).
Movies and TV Shows
Starting in her 20s, Whittaker found herself acting with some of Britain’s best. She first landed a role in the farcical play The Storm starring Mark Rylance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in 2005. A year later, she won a part in her first movie – Venus (2006), starring Peter O’Toole and Vanessa Redgrave.
Whittaker’s other movies include White Wedding (2009), The Kid (2010), Attack the Block, One Day (with Anne Hathaway), both in 2011, along with Good Vibrations (2012), Hello Carter (2013) and Get Santa (2014).
By the time Whittaker won the Doctor Who role, she had appeared in a variety of hit British television shows such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Wired (both in 2008), Marchlands (2011), Black Mirror (2011), The Assets, The Smoke (both in 2014), Broadchurch and Trust Me (both in 2017). Broadchurch, in which Whittaker played the bereaved mother, Beth Latimer, is considered by many to be her best-known role.
After the BBC announced Whittaker’s casting in Doctor Who in July 2017, some fans complained on social media about the casting of a woman in an iconic role that had always been played by a male actor. But Whittaker has pointed out that the character, an alien capable of “regenerating” himself (and, as of 2017, herself) every so often into a new persona, is in fact genderless.
“I’m playing an alien and gender is not a part of that,” she said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “A moment like this, of being the first woman cast as something, it makes you really think about your sex, whereas actually what you want to do is play a part where your gender is irrelevant."
She added: “I am a woman, so I don’t need to play that. And so for me, this was the most freeing experience because there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The rules went out the window.”
How Whittaker Became ‘Doctor Who’
The current executive producer of Doctor Who, Chris Chibnall, was also the creator of Broadchurch. He knew Whittaker and her work, and it was he who made the final decision to cast her in the formerly all-male lead role in Doctor Who.
“I always knew I wanted the 13 Doctor to be a woman,” Chibnall said after the casting of Whittaker was announced. “Jodie is an in-demand, funny, inspiring, super-smart force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength and warmth to the role,” he said.
Despite her pre-existing professional relationship with Chibnall, Whittaker says she had to audition for Doctor Who, in competition with other hopefuls. The new Doctor Who featuring Whittaker is scheduled to premiere some time in 2018.
First Female ‘Doctor Who’ Demands Gender-Pay Equality
When she accepted the role, Whittaker took a stand for pay-equality for women, insisting that she be paid the same amount of money per episode as her male predecessor, Peter Capaldi. “It’s an incredibly important time and the notion [of equal pay] should be supported,” she said in an interview in January 2018.
According to published reports, she is being paid between £200,000 and £249,000 per episode for Doctor Who, the same as Capaldi. (In U.S. dollars, the figures are $283,000-352,000, according to the British pound-U.S. dollar exchange rate in January 2018).
No Social Media for Whittaker
Although Doctor Who enjoys a large international following, including on social media, Whittaker has no Instagram or Twitter accounts, preferring to maintain privacy in her personal life. “I don’t really want to talk about relationships because it lets people into stuff,” she said in one interview. “I’m not on Facebook for that reason.”
Whittaker has been married to Christian Contreras, an actor she met while in drama school, since 2008. The two have one child, a daughter, born in April 2015.
Whittaker was born on June 3, 1982, in the village of Skelmanthorpe, West Yorkshire, England. Her father had a business selling windows and her mother was a nurse.
Educated in London
Whittaker’s acting career didn’t start in earnest until she was in her 20s. She graduated from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005 when she was 23. Guild Hall is a well-known performing arts academy whose acting alumni include Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig, Michelle Dockery, Joseph Fiennes, Damian Lewis, Lily James, Ewan McGregor, and Dominic West and others.
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