Jenna Coleman is a British actress. She portrays Queen Alexandrina Victoria in ITV's Victoria. She is known for her role as Clara Oswald in the British television series Doctor Who and also her portrayal of Jasmine Thomas in the soap opera Emmerdale.
Prior to May 2013, she was credited as Jenna-Louise Coleman, but chose to shorten her professional name prior to appearing in the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who.
Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. She is the daughter of Karen and Keith Coleman. She has an older brother named Ben. She attended Arnold School, where she was head girl. She has stated that she regrets not having a conventional university experience. While at school, Coleman was a member of the theatre company In Yer Space, with which she performed in the play Crystal Clear at the Edinburgh Festival. She won an award for her performance, and the play was also received favourably. In an interview with the Radio Times in 2015 she revealed that her grandmother had named her Jenna after the character Jenna Wade played by Priscilla Beaulieu Presley in the 80's hit American drama series Dallas.
Coleman's TV acting debut came in 2005 when she joined the cast of the long-running soap opera Emmerdale as Jasmine Thomas and soon became a fan favourite, appearing in close to 180 episodes over four years. In 2009 she moved on to the teen drama series Waterloo Road for a story arc (prior to Tommy Knight joining the cast), after which she temporarily relocated to the United States in hopes of launching an acting career there. Numerous screen test auditions have been posted to YouTube featuring her trying out for shows ranging from the sitcom 2 Broke Girls (for the role played by Kat Dennings) and the cable drama Magic City, to the character on the legal drama Suits eventually played by Meghan Markle. According to Coleman, the closest she got to success was filming a pilot (never released publicly) for a sitcom in which she played an Australian character. She also picked up a role in a short horror film called Imaginary Forces which, other than a trailer, has as of 2018 yet to be released.
Returning to the UK after a year, she swiftly began picking up parts including a small role in Captain America: The First Avenger, and major supporting roles in the miniseries Room at the Top, Dancing on the Edge and Titanic and also provided the English vocal dub for a character in the video game The Xenoblade Chronicles. In March 2012 it was announced that she would be joining Doctor Who as the new companion (later identified as Clara Oswald), with her first episode being the 2012 Christmas special; in fact, this was an intentional deception and Coleman actually debuted in the fall of 2012 as a surprise guest star in the Series 7 premier episode, "Asylum of the Daleks".
Partnered initially with Matt Smith, and later Peter Capaldi, Coleman would go on to become the longest-serving companion of the modern era of the series, in terms of number of episodes, appearing across two and a half seasons between 2012 and 2015, plus one more appearance for Capaldi's final episode in 2017. During her time on the show, she also filmed a supporting role in the 2016 romantic film Me Before You and also appeared in the 2013 miniseries Death Comes to Pemberley, playing Lydia Bennet-Wyckham; in one scene of the latter, she is shown wearing a riding costume identical to one later worn by her during an early episode of Victoria.
Coleman filmed her final regular appearance on Doctor Who two months before commencing work on Victoria in the fall of 2015. She also recorded a guest voice for an episode of the animated children's series Thunderbirds Are Go that aired in the UK the same weekend in August 2016 that Victoria premiered.
In between production of Series 2 and 3 of Victoria, Coleman was signed to star in a BBC crime-thriller miniseries, The Cry, with production scheduled to begin in February 2018; on 31 January 2018, Coleman revealed in an Instagram post that she had coloured her hair blonde for the role.
Outside of TV and film work, Coleman is also in demand as a voiceover artist, lending her voice to numerous commercials and campaigns (in late 2017 it was announced that she was the new voice of Royal Caribbean UK cruise lines). She recorded two audio books in 2012: a reading of the children's classic The Secret Garden and a Doctor Who audio story, The Time Machine in which she got to portray the Doctor. In 2016, she also recorded a role in an Audible audio drama version of A Christmas Carol.
Although more than two years away from her Doctor Who role, Coleman continues to find herself much in demand at science fiction conventions, which she tries to attend when production of Victoria and other work allows.