Born: September 25, 1964
Date of Birth: September 25, 1964
Rarely do actors land their first roles in Oscar-nominated films, but that's exactly how Maria Doyle Kennedy launched her career.
Born Maria Josephine Doyle in a suburb of Dublin, the actress had her first taste of stardom when she was cast as a backup singer in Alan Parker's 1991 hit film The Commitments, about a rock band that decides to transition into soul music. The film was nominated for Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards and the soundtrack to the film sold 12 million copies.
Ever since her debut, Maria has been hitting the right notes and playing the right parts.
Maria's first passion wasn't acting, but singing. She took a liking to the craft as a child and first stepped up to the mike when she attended Dublin's Trinity College, where she graduated with honors in political science and business. It was here where Maria met musicians and fronted the band Hothouse Flowers, which she named.
She would later join and record two albums with the Black Velvet Band, which eventually broke up in 1996.
Following The Commitments, Maria took roles in the films Moll Flanders (1996) alongside Robin Wright and Morgan Freeman, The General (1998) with Brendan Gleeson and Jon Voight and in Mike Figgis' Miss Julie (1999).
It wasn't until her role as Queen Catherine of Aragon on the television series The Tudors, however, that she began picking up awards herself.
Maria won two IFTAs (International Film and Television Awards) in 2008 and 2009, as well as a Canadian Screen Award and Gemini for her performance in the series.
She returned to the silver screen in the 2011 Oscar-nominated film Albert Nobbs, for which she earned a Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination at the Irish Film and Television Awards.
In 2013, Maria went back to television to play a starring role in the Toronto-filmed series Orphan Black, as the adoptive mother of the lead character, played by Tatiana Maslany. The show has enjoyed four successful seasons to date and Maria's role in the program won her a Canadian Screen Award in 2016.
Her other television credits include Queer as Folk, Dexter and Downton Abbey, in which she portrays one of the show's most hated charactersthe cold and manipulative Vera Bates.
Maria is married to Kieran Kennedy, who also appeared in Orphan Black. The couple wed in 1988 and have four sons, one of whom has Down's syndrome and inspired her song "The Most Beautiful People are Broken."
She has her own record label, Mermaid Records, and has 10 albums to her name, with Mütter (2007) and Sing (2012) the most notable.
In Sing Street, a film that is centered in the musical foundations of 1980s British bands and explores the theme of teenage self-discovery, Maria plays Penny, the mother of the lead character.
She is also scheduled to hit theaters in June 2016 as Peggy Nottingham in the horror sequel The Conjuring 2.
Filmography:The Conjuring 2 (2016)