Olivia Colman Once Worked as a Cleaner and More Surprising Facts About the Oscar Winner

Colman won the Academy Award for Best Actress in The Favourite 

Olivia Colman made quite the impression in accepting her Best Actress Oscar at Sunday’s 91st Academy Awards.

The 45-year-old was visibly surprised about her victory for her performance in The Favourite, delivering an emotional and humorous speech to the star-packed audience.

“It’s genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious. I got an Oscar,” Colman said while holding her trophy.

Beyond her Oscar win, which marked her first nomination, the actress has had a lengthy career in film, getting her start in several British shows.

Here are five things to know about the most recent Best Actress Oscar champion.


1. She used to work as a cleaner

Colman has undoubtedly come a long way through her journey of winning an Oscar, having been a cleaner after she graduated theater school in 1999.

During her acceptance speech, she mentioned her cleaning days, saying, ” I used to work as a cleaner, I loved that job. I used to spend quite a lot of my time practicing.”

2. She starred in the sitcom Peep Show

In 2003, she became a part of the British sitcom Peep Show, where she played Sophie Chapman.

PEEP SHOW, Olivia Colman, 'Kid Farm', (Season 9, ep. 905, aired Dec. 9, 2015). photo: Angus Young /
Olivia Colman. Angus Young/Channel 4/Courtesy Everett Collection

Her role lasted for the first seven seasons when she decided to depart the show. However, she returned as a guest for the ninth and final season. The show received critical acclaim was a hit with viewers in Britain.

3. She met her husband in a student theater production

Colman met her eventual husband, Ed Sinclair, when the two were cast in a student theatre production of Alan Ayckbourn’s Table Manners. At the time, Sinclair was a third-year law student.

91st Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
Ed Sinclar, Olivia Colman. Frazer Harrison/Getty

Over time, Sinclair began to transition to writing only, leaving behind his life of acting — unlike his wife. They were married in August 2001 and currently have three children together.

4. She is very involved in charity and activism

Along with being a great actress, Colman also keeps busy working with charities and activism groups. In 2013, she presented two awards at the Mind Media Awards, which celebrate positive portrayals of mental health in the media.

In 2014, she became a patron of the UK charity group Tender, which teaches young people how to prevent sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Additional charity work Colman has worked on includes Alzheimer’s Society and Anthony Nolan, a blood cancer charity, which she became Patron of in 2018.

5. She is the next star of Netflix’s The Crown


As previously announced, Colman will star in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix historical drama The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II.

The Oscar winner will succeed Claire Foy, who won an Emmy for her portrayal of the Queen. Filming began in July of 2018.

With Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, the third season will continue from 1964, covering Harold Wilson’s two periods as prime minister until 1976. It is set to air in 2019.

The 91st Academy Awards were broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 24 on ABC.

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