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She was born in the hamlet of Littlebeck near Whitby, Yorkshire on 23rd August 1980 and left home at the age of thirteen to attend the Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, Berkshire. At the age of sixteen she made her television debut in The Bill and the part of Zoe came soon afterwards. She has since gone on to have a distinguished career, earning herself a BAFTA nomination for her lead role in the 2003 drama Danielle Cable: Eyewitness and winning in the Most Promising Newcomer category at the British Independent Film Awards for her role in her 2010 movie debut In Our Name.
Her many other roles for television include Bad Girls, Paradise Heights, Spooks, Island At War, Moving On, The Street and Downton Abbey - in which she plays Anna, Lady Mary Crawley's private maid and for which she won a Golden Globe in 2015; while on stage she has appeared in All About Mother at the Old Vic and The Knowledge at the Bush Theatre. She has also gained acclaim for her radio work in productions such as I am Emma Humphreys, The Von Trapps and Me and The Disappearance by Peter Whalley.