Laura Carmichael was born in Southampton, England, in 1986. She attended Peter Symonds College and later studied acting at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England, graduating in 2007. Carmichael supported herself as an office receptionist, teaching assistant and nanny while pursuing acting, and she made her first TV appearance in 2008 in the movie The Heart of Thomas Hardy. In 2010, her career would take a turn when she was cast as Lady Edith Crawley on the hit series Downton Abbey.
Born in Southampton, England, in 1986, to a radiologist mother and software-consultant father, Laura Carmichael attended Peter Symonds College and studied acting at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. After graduating in 2007, Carmichael supported herself as an office receptionist, teaching assistant and nanny while auditioning for acting parts, making her television debut in 2008 in the TV movie The Heart of Thomas Hardy. She appeared in another TV movie, House at the End of Our Street, before making it to the big screen in the Gary Oldman film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).
She worked various day jobs while appearing on the stage as well, in productions of As You Like It, Stags and Hens, The President's Holiday and Plenty, among others.
'Downton Abbey' and Beyond
Carmichael's big break represented a crossroads for the young actress. She was working as a receptionist in a physician's office in 2010 when she landed a part in a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that was about to travel to Dubai. Before the time came to leave for the Middle East, Carmichael was asked to read for a role in the upcoming series Downton Abbey.
The auditioning was narrowed down to Carmichael and one other actress for the role of Lady Edith Crawley, and the Shakespeare production was leaving town. Carmichael made the decision to hold out for Downton Abbey and let Twelfth Night go on without her. When she landed the part, her career took a turn into the limelight: Downton Abbey would launch into the hearts and minds of the viewing public on a grand scale, becoming an international sensation.
For her portrayal of Lady Edith Crawley, the often-overlooked Crawley sister, Carmichael joined the rest of the cast in winning the 2013 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Downton Abbey also likely launched Laura Carmichael to greater heights on the stage, and she made her West End debut in a new production of Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre in late 2012. She has also made guest appearances with the Fitzrovia Radio Hour, a British troupe of comedy writer/performers.
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