Small-town girl Joanne Froggatt left home at the age of 13 to attend the Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, England. At 16, she made her television debut as a teenage prostitute in The Bill. However, uncertain about pursuing an acting career, Joanne took on a regular nine-to-five job and was considering abandoning her acting dreams. It was shortly after this that she was invited to audition for the part of a runaway teen in Coronation Street.
Joanne played Zoe Tattersall, a troubled teen mum who came to the cobbles in 1997. Her character was caught up in a number of storylines involving Zoe selling her baby to Judy Mallet and then eventually taking her back. When she lost the baby to cot death, she was devastated and ended up turning to a religious cult for comfort. The actress said the role was only meant to be for a few episodes, but kept her occupied for 18 months. She says she didn’t choose to leave the soap, but was written out of the script when Zoe ran off to live with the cult. While her time on the show was comparatively brief, Coronation Street paved the way for a very successful acting career.
A number of smaller television roles followed her time as Zoe, then in 2003 Joanne landed the leading role in the controversial one-off drama, Danielle Cable: Eyewitness. This told the true story of a teenage girl who witnessed the murder of her boyfriend in a road rage attack. Joanne was later commended on her portrayal by Danielle Cable herself. In 2006, Joanne played the sister of Myra Hindley in the television drama See No Evil: The Moors Murders and then had another controversial role as the lead in Joanne Lees: Murder in the Outback. The 36-year-old has also had a number of theatrical roles, including appearing on the London stage as Sister Rosa in the adaptation of All About My Mother at the Old Vic Theatre in 2007. A few years and a few roles later, Joanne garnered critical acclaim for her performance as Suzy, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in her film debut In Our Name, winning Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards. But perhaps her most memorable role to date has been as lady’s maid Anna Bates in Downton Abbey, for which she has received three Emmy nominations. In 2014 she was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film for this portrayal. In the midst of her busy career, the award-winner married her long-time boyfriend James Cannon in 2012. After almost two decades of acting, Joanne is showing no signs of slowing down, appearing this year on TV screens as Britain’s first female serial killer, Victorian murderer Mary Ann Cotton.