Jessica Rose Brown Findlay is an English actress who was born on September 14, 1987. She portrayed Lady Sybil Crawley in ITV's Downton Abbey and Emelia Conan Doyle in the 2011 British comedy-drama feature film Albatross.
She played Beverly Penn in the 2014 film adaptation of Mark Helprin's novel Winter's Tale. She co-starred as Lorelei, the Esmerelda-like acrobat, in Paul McGuigan's Victor Frankenstein in 2015. In 2016, she joined the cast of the biopic feature film, England is Mine, about the early life and career of English singer Morrissey, who co-founded the indie rock band The Smiths.
Brown Findlay played Charlotte Wells, a madam's daughter and sex worker, in Harlots (2017-2019), a period drama television series that premiered on ITV Encore in the UK and Hulu Plus in the US. She was in the main cast of the series Brave New World in 2020.
Brown Findlay grew up in the Berkshire town of Cookham. Her father works as a financial adviser, and her mother is a teacher's aide. In 2012, she told Vanity Fair, "My mother and I both grew up there. My grandmother and grandfather are just around the corner. It's a very familiar place to me, and it holds a special place in my heart. It's quiet, but it's wonderful quiet."
She trained with the National Youth Ballet and the Royal Ballet Associates before being invited to dance with the Kirov at the Royal Opera House for a summer season at the age of 15. She went to Maidenhead's Furze Platt Senior School. She was accepted to a number of ballet schools after finishing her GCSEs, but she chose the Arts Educational School for the A-level courses and pastoral care. She stayed for two years. In the second, she underwent three ankle surgeries, the last of which failed and prevented her from continuing as a dancer.
She completed her education at Arts Educational School, Tring Park, and then went on to a fine art course at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, thanks to the encouragement of an art teacher. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2012, she stated, "Ballet was something I was completely enamoured with as a child. Ballet was my entire life." She then went to university in London, where she discovered the stage. "Acting was the element of ballet that I actually loved and missed the most," she said.
Brown Findlay played Emilia Conan Doyle, a 17-year-old girl, in Albatross, a 2011 British coming-of-age comedy drama film directed by Niall MacCormick and co-starring Julia Ormond, Felicity Jones, and Sebastian Koch. Its premise revolves around a teenage aspiring writer who enters the lives of a dysfunctional family on England's south coast, with bookish young women meeting up with a peer who lacks any boundaries or inhibitions. She was then cast in two episodes of the British science fiction comedy-drama television show Misfits, where she played a wholesome religious girl whose superpower is convincing everyone to abandon their delinquent behaviour in favour of celibacy in the first season finale.
Brown Findlay was cast as Lady Sybil Crawley, the youngest and most forward-thinking of the Grantham daughters, in the ITV period drama television series Downton Abbey almost immediately after her work in Albatross. "I thought this character of Sybil was fascinating, and I liked her modern attitude to life," she told Vanity Fair in 2012. When her character died from eclampsia after giving birth in the third series, she became the second major cast member to leave the show. Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, discussed the plot twist in a 2015 interview: "Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Sybil, had stated that she would be leaving from the start. 'I'm doing three years, then I'm leaving,' she said. So everything worked out."
She then starred as Abi in the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits," alongside English actor Daniel Kaluuya. The episode imagined a dystopian future where people earn merits on exercise bikes and the only way to escape their slave-like existence is to audition for reality TV judges.
Brown Findlay was named the face of the Dominic Jones jewellery line in 2012. She played Alas Pelletier in John McKay's Not Another Happy Ending and in the miniseries Labyrinth, based on Kate Mosse's novel of the same name. She was cast as Beverly Penn in the film adaptation of the novel Winter's Tale (2014), which starred Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe, in 2012.
She portrayed emotionally conflicted stepmother Alice Aldridge in The Outcast, the BBC's two-part television adaptation of Sadie Jones' novel, in July 2015.
In May 2015, Brown Findlay made her professional theatre debut at the Almeida Theatre, London, as Electra in a new adaptation of The Oresteia, to positive reviews. The production was later transferred to the Trafalgar Theatre in London's West End. In February of the following year, writer/director Robert Icke cast Brown Findlay in his production of Uncle Vanya at the same venue.
Brown Findlay was cast as Ophelia in a new Hamlet production at the Almeida Theatre in London in September 2016. The production received critical acclaim and was later transferred to the West End, where it ran until September 2017 and starred award-winning "Sherlock" and "Fleabag" actor Andrew Scott as Hamlet.
Brown Findlay joined the cast of Steven, a biopic feature film about the early life and career of English singer Morrissey, who co-founded the indie rock band The Smiths, in 2016. The film, retitled England is Mine, premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2017, starring Dunkirk actor Jack Lowden.
Brown Findlay starred as Bella Brown in This Beautiful Fantastic, a 2016 British romantic drama film directed and written by Simon Aboud about a repressed foundling who forges a new life through her relationships with a snobbish neighbour (Tom Wilkinson), a talented cook (Andrew Scott), and an eccentric inventor (Jeremy Irvine).
In 2017, Brown Findlay portrayed Charlotte Wells, a brothel owner's daughter and famed courtesan, in Harlots, a period drama television series created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, and inspired by "The Covent Garden Ladies" by Hallie Rubenhold. It debuted on ITV Encore in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2017, and on Hulu Plus in the United States on March 29, 2017. It focuses on Margaret Wells, who runs a brothel in 18th century England and struggles to raise her daughters in a chaotic household. Brown Findlay also provided the voice of Fay in the 2017 animated film Monster Family.
She played Elizabeth McKenna in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in 2018.
In May 2019, it was announced that she would play Lenina Crowne in the NBCUniversal series Brave New World, based on Aldous Huxley's classic 1932 novel of the same name. It was later relocated to the Peacock network.
In 2021, she played Pamela Legat in the Netflix film Munich: The Edge of War, which depicted events in Britain and Germany prior to World War II.
In late 2016, Brown Findlay began dating actor Ziggy Heath. They married on 12 September 2020. Their twin sons were born on November 5, 2022.
|2009||Man on a Motorcycle||Girl in Bed||Short film|
|2011||Albatross||Emelia Conan Doyle|
|2014||Winter's Tale||Beverly Penn|
|The Riot Club||Rachel|
|2016||This Beautiful Fantastic||Bella Brown|
|2017||England Is Mine||Linder Sterling|
|Monster Family||Fay (voice)|
|2018||The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society||Elizabeth McKenna|
|2021||Munich: The Edge of War||Pamela Legat|
|Monster Family 2||Fay (voice)|
|2022||Iris Warriors||Miss Shaw|
|The Hanging Sun||Lea||Post-production|
|2009, 2011||Misfits||Rachel||E4||2 episodes|
|2010–2012||Downton Abbey||Lady Sybil Branson||ITV||Main role; 20 episodes (Seasons 1–3)|
|2011||Black Mirror||Abi Khan||Channel 4||Episode: "Fifteen Million Merits"|
|2012||Labyrinth||Alaïs Pelletier du Mas||Sat 1||Miniseries (2 episodes)|
|2014||Jamaica Inn||Mary Yellan||BBC One||Miniseries (3 episodes)|
|2015||The Outcast||Alice Aldridge||BBC One||2 episodes|
|2017–2019||Harlots||Charlotte Wells||ITV Encore||Main role (Seasons 1–3)|
|2020–2021||Castlevania||Lenore (voice)||Netflix||Main role; 12 episodes (Season 3–4)|
|2020||Brave New World||Lenina Crowne||Peacock||Main role|
|2022||Life After Life||Izzie Todd||BBC Two||Miniseries (3 episodes)|
|Flatshare||Tiffany "Tiffy" Moore||Paramount||Main role|
|2016||Uncle Vanya||Sonya||Almeida Theatre|
|Harold Pinter Theatre|
|2011||British Independent Film Awards||Most Promising Newcomer||Albatross||Nominated|
|2012||Evening Standard British Film Awards||Most Promising Newcomer||Albatross||Nominated|
|2015||Ian Charleson Awards||Special Commendation||Oresteia||Nominated|
|2016||Ian Charleson Awards||Second Prize||Uncle Vanya||Won|