Emerald Fennell's Career in Photos
A relative newcomer, the actress directed the critically acclaimed Promising Young Woman
Born to jewelry designer Theo Fennell and author Louise Fennell in 1985, Emerald Fennell grew up in London, running in interesting social circles and attending Marlborough College, alma mater of Kate Middleton. Also an author (and actress and director), she's written horror books for adults and kids.
But her name is in the news these days for her feature directorial debut, Promising Young Woman, a dark comedy starring Carey Mulligan and getting lots of awards season buzz. Here, a look at the 35-year-old's skyrocketing career.
Murder She Wrote
After a stint in theater and some small parts on TV shows, Fennell appeared in 2012's Anna Karenina and in the 2013 TV movie Murder on the Home Front (right), in which she played crime scene photographer Issy Quennell.
Girl on the Move
In 2015, she appeared in the acclaimed film The Danish Girl, stunning at the film's U.K. premiere.
More recently, Fennell has gained praise for her role on Call the Midwife, playing a nurse with a secret, Patsy Mount.
"Playing someone who feels they can never really show their true self is heartbreaking at times," she told The Mirror of her part. "It means a lot to me that we have a storyline like this."
A close friend of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fennell did some writing on Waller-Bridge's series Killing Eve before taking over as showrunner in 2019. "I didn’t think that I’d have the opportunity to work on something at such a big scale," she told the New York Times that year. "It’s life-changing, really." Her writing and producing work earned her two Emmy nominations in 2019.
Waller-Bridge called her pal a "badass" in a 2019 chat with Harper's Bazaar. "Her roar is very evident in [her work] and that's what gives it its energy."
Fennell joined stars including Isabella Rossellini and Gemma Arterton in 2018's Vita & Virginia, about the relationship between writers Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf.
Fennell most recently appeared on The Crown, playing Prince Charles' infamous love interest and future wife, Camilla Parker Bowles. The cast is up for a 2021 Screen Actors Guild Award.
"What’s really great about it ... is that there’s absolutely nothing about young Camilla. There’s two pictures," Fennell told the Times of playing the duchess. "She was very private, and what we’re dealing with in the new season is her relationship with Charles that predated her marriage."
A Promising Future
Fennell was seven months pregnant while directing this season's breakout, Promising Young Woman, starring Carey Mulligan.
"I was so pregnant and I think that really helped, because in general, I care deeply, pathetically what people think about me," she told Deadline. "But luckily, when you're carting around a massive baby and you're about to give birth, you don't have the time to be anxious. I was like a literal ticking time bomb, which I think gave me this weird power for myself."
Fennell also wrote the screenplay, and earned Golden Globe Award and Oscar nominations for both her writing and directing. At the Oscars, her film is up for Best Picture and Mulligan is up for Best Actress.
Her Oscar nod is historic: it's the first time two women have been nominated in the category, as Nomadland's Chloé Zhao is up, too. Only five women have ever been nominated, and only one has won: Kathryn Bigelow, for 2010's The Hurt Locker.