April 27, 1986
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While considering attending drama school in 2005, Jenna Coleman (at the time going by her full name Jenna-Louise Coleman) had a lucky break landing a part in "Emmerdale" (ITV 1972-) one of the UK's biggest soap operas. She played the feisty Jasmine Thomas and became a fan favorite, nominated for best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards in 2006 and Most Popular Newcomer at the National Television Awards in 2007. She stayed with "Emmerdale" for almost four years before leaving with a particularly juicy storyline after her character was sent to prison for killing a corrupt cop. She still never found time to enroll at drama school, as she was almost immediately snapped up to play pupil Lindsay James in school-based drama "Waterloo Road" (BBC 2006-) in 2009; and filmed the BBC adaptation of John Bairne's novel "Room at the Top" in 2010 (although it didn't air until 2012 due to various legal wrangles concerning the rights). To match her high profile TV debut in "Emmerdale," Coleman landed a huge project for her first feature film, starring in superhero movie "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011). After the phenomenal success of "Downton Abbey," it was a coup to be cast in Julian Fellowes' next project, a new miniseries based on the sinking of the iconic passenger liner "Titanic" (ITV 2012). Despite all this success it was her role in "Doctor Who" (BBC 1963-1989, 2005-) that would make her a household name in the U.K. and bring her recognition around the world. The BBC announced she was to become the new companion to the Doctor (now played by Matt Smith) before she made her debut in 2012 in the episode "Asylum of the Daleks." However it left many viewers puzzled as her character died by the end of the episode. She made her first appearance as Clara in the Christmas special ("The Snowmen") the same year but once again was dead by the time the credits rolled. Her place in the Doctor Who mythos was as confusing for the viewers as the Doctor himself, who christened her "the impossible girl." She also appeared in acclaimed writer Stephen Poliakoff's Golden Globe winning jazz-era drama "Dancing on the Edge" (BBC/Starz 2013), starring alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode and John Goodman, as well as the lavish adaptation of PD James' "Pride and Prejudice" sequel "Death Comes to Pemberley" (BBC 2013). One of the joys of "Doctor Who" is that while the actor may change every few years the Doctor never dies, regenerating time and time again. So when Matt Smith left in 2013, Coleman stayed with the show as companion to the latest Doctor, Scottish actor Peter Capaldi. At the start of the rebooted show's ninth season in September 2015, Coleman announced her departure from the series.