Samantha Womack

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Samantha Womack
Born Samantha Zoe Janus
(1972-11-02) 2 November 1972 (age 42)
Brighton, East Sussex, England
Residence Cardington, Bedfordshire, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Sylvia Young Theatre School
Occupation Actress, singer, director
Years active 1990–present
Spouse(s) Junfan Mantovani (m. 1997–98)
Mark Womack (m. 2009)
Children 2
Parents Noel Janus (deceased)
Diana O'Hanlon
Relatives Angie Best (aunt)
Calum Best (cousin)
Musical career
Genres Pop
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1991
Labels Sony Music Entertainment
Website Official website

Samantha Zoe Womack[1] (née Janus; born 2 November 1972) is a British actress, singer and director, both on television and stage. In recent years she has been best known for playing the role of Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, but made her name in the mid-1990s as Mandy Wilkins in Game On. She also represented the United Kingdom in the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest.

Early life[edit]

Womack was born in Brighton, East Sussex. Her singer-songwriter father Noel Janus (born Janes [2]) left the family when she was six, and soon after her model-actress mother Diane married a doctor and the family moved to Edinburgh. Janus lived on the QE2 with her choreographer grandmother Sheila Holt (former actress and choreographer to magician David Nixon for a short time.) Womack has a younger half sister Zoe. During an appearance on Big Star's Little Star in 2014, it was revealed that she attended the same school as members of All Saints.

Aged fifteen, she left home for a life in squats, drinking, smoking and taking drugs. She eventually turned her life around, and attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London.

Womack is the niece of Angie Best, former wife of footballer George Best.[3] Her cousin on her father's side is Calum Best.

Career[edit]

The actress first came to prominence in March 1991, when still only 18, when she won the annual A Song for Europe competition to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest.[4] She finished joint tenth[5] and the song, "A Message to Your Heart", peaked at number 30 on the UK Singles Chart.[6]

Womack developed her first love of acting, appearing in episodes of The Bill and Press Gang; in 1993 she appeared in Demob with Griff Rhys Jones and Martin Clunes; and took to the West End stage, replacing Debbie Gibson as Sandy in Grease.

From 1994 to 1998, Womack played Mandy in the BBC Two sitcom Game On opposite Ben Chaplin (later replaced by Neil Stuke). She remained on the show until its end in 1998. In between series of Game On, she had a part in the BBC One drama Pie in the Sky from 1995 to 1996.

Womack then starred in the pilot for The Grimleys with Jack Dee, and the film Up 'n' Under with Neil Morrissey. In 1998 she starred in the ITV1 series Liverpool 1 with her future husband Mark Womack. She then returned to comedy in the sitcom Babes in the Wood co-starring another Sylvia Young Theatre School student, Denise van Outen, it was critically panned despite respectable ratings, and Womack left after the first series.

In 1999, Womack starred as Cinderella in the ITV Christmas pantomime, with Harry Hill, Alexander Armstrong, Frank Skinner, Paul Merton, Ronnie Corbett and many more. In 2002, she returned to TV in BBC One drama Strange and she appeared in films The Baby Juice Express and Dead Man's Cards.

In 2005, she directed an anti-bullying music video for Liverpool band Just 3, entitled Stand Tall. The video starred Liverpool F.C. footballer Jamie Carragher and herself. The video was heavily backed by Childline ambassador Esther Rantzen. A popular choice for photo shoots in men's magazines such as FHM, she came 21st in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll in 1998 and 41st in 1999.

In 2006, she starred in the BBC One comedy Home Again as Ingrid, and as Miss Adelaide in the West End production of the musical Guys and Dolls at London's Piccadilly Theatre, initially with Patrick Swayze and then Miami Vice star Don Johnson. She reprised the role at the Sunderland Empire opposite Alex Ferns in 2007.

On 11 May 2007, it was announced that she would be joining EastEnders as Ronnie Mitchell, a cousin of the Mitchell brothers.[7] She had previously appeared in the soap in a minor role as a girlfriend of Simon Wicks.[8] In April 2008, several scenes featuring Ronnie had to be scrapped after Womack broke her shoulder when she tripped and fell down the stairs at her home while rushing to get ready for work. In January 2011, The Sun reported that Womack had resigned from EastEnders.[9]

Since appearing on EastEnders, she has made regular television appearances on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, The Paul O'Grady Show, Richard & Judy and Loose Women. In November 2007, she sang with EastEnders co-stars in the 2007 Children in Need charity appeal.

In January 2011, she appeared as one of the celebrity contestants on the BBC show The Magicians, working with magician Chris Korn. For her "celebrity's choice" trick, she chose being sawn in half by Korn in an illusion called Clearly Impossible. In March 2011, she appeared with Lenny Henry, Angela Rippon and Reggie Yates in the BBC fundraising documentary for Comic Relief called Famous, Rich and in the Slums, where the four celebrities were sent to Kibera in Kenya, Africa's largest slum.[10]

In 2011 Womack played the lead role, Ensign Nellie Forbush, a US Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, in the Lincoln Center production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical South Pacific at the Barbican Theatre in London.[11]

In 2012, Womack appeared in series nine of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? The episode revealed her descent on her father's side from two musicians, her great grandfather Alexander Cunningham Ryan, his partner's father Pierre François Odilon Garraud, & Pierre's partner, an actress, Jessie Ryder.[2][12]

In September 2013, Womack played the recurring role of Tanya in series three of Sky Living's Mount Pleasant. In March 2013, Womack starred opposite her husband on stage in the world premiere of Hope at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool.[13] In May 2013, it was confirmed that Womack would return to EastEnders.

Personal life[edit]

Womack married Italian Junfan Mantovani in 1997 after a long relationship. The relationship broke down and the couple divorced in 1998.[14]

In 2007, Womack won "substantial" damages from the Sunday Sport newspaper over a story headlined "Sam's sex and drugs shame". She sued the Sport over an article published on 22 July, which claimed she had "coke fuelled threesomes" and took part in a "three-hour drug fuelled lesbian orgy"[15]

She then starred in Liverpool 1, and started a relationship with Mark Womack while she was still married to Mantovani. The couple married on 16 May 2009[16] and have two children (both born in Westminster, London):[17] son Benjamin Thomas Womack (born February 2001) (after having him Janus took two years off to enjoy motherhood) and their daughter Lily-Rose Womack (born 17 March 2005), while Mark has another son from a previous marriage, Michael Womack.[18][19] Womack has stated that she would like more children but her husband is not so keen.[20]

In 2009, Womack took her husband's surname and began to use it professionally in her role on EastEnders.[21]

On 23 August 2009, her 60-year-old estranged father was found hanged in the bathroom of his council flat in Brighton,[22] where he lived alone.[23] He had committed suicide.[24]

Womack and her husband are best friends with Scott Maslen and his wife Estelle Rubio. They have known each other since they were teenagers. Maslen is godfather to Womack's two children and she is godmother to Maslen's son, Zak. They often go on holiday together with their children, which Womack revealed during an appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in January 2008. Womack is also best friends with co-star Rita Simons, who plays her sister Roxy Mitchell.[25]

In the autumn of 2007, Maslen joined the cast of EastEnders as Jack Branning, the brother of Max Branning, who quickly takes a shine to Ronnie. This was something that both Maslen and Womack were initially uncomfortable with when they read it in the scripts, Maslen commenting in various interviews that having to kiss Womack was like having to kiss his sister.[18][26] The characters have since married, and had a baby (James Branning) who died of cot death on New Year's Eve 2010, sparking a controversial storyline and eventually leading to her departure.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Result Award Category Film or series Character
2008 Won Soaper Star Awards Best Newcomer[27] EastEnders Ronnie Mitchell
Nominated All About Soap Bubble Awards Fatal Attraction (with Scott Maslen)[28]
Nominated British Soap Awards Best On-Screen Partnership (with Rita Simons)[29]
Nominated British Soap Awards Sexiest Female
Won Digital Spy Soap Awards Best On-Screen Partnership (with Rita Simons)[30]
2009 Nominated British Soap Awards Best Actress[31]
Shortlisted* TV Quick and Choice Awards Best Soap Actress[32]
2010 Nominated All About Soap Bubble Awards I'm A Survivor[33]
Nominated British Soap Awards Sexiest Female[34]
Shortlisted* Inside Soap Awards Sexiest Female[35]
2011 Won All About Soap Bubble Awards Best Baby Drama (with Jessie Wallace)[36]
Nominated* British Soap Awards Sexiest Female[37]
2012 Nominated Shorty Awards Best Actress[38] N/A N/A
Nominated Shorty Awards Best Fansite[39][40] N/A N/A

(*) There were two main rounds of nominations for asterisked categories. The "Result" indicates Womack's progress: if shown as "Nominated", she only achieved the first round of the nominations; if "Shortlisted", she advanced to the second and final round of nominations, the outcome to be decided by either a public vote or by a judging panel.

Acting roles[edit]

Year Title Role
2015 Kingsman: The Secret Service Michelle
2013– Mount Pleasant Tanya
2012 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself
2007–11, 2013– EastEnders Ronnie Mitchell
2007 Wild at Heart Tessa
2006 Dead Man's Cards Kris
Where the Heart Is Marla
Home Again Ingrid
2005 The Afternoon Play Emma Priestley
2004 The Baby Juice Express Trixie
Short Tall Woman
2003 Strange Jude Atkins
Undercover Sex Jake
2002 Judge John Deed Mel Powell
Strange Jude Atkins
2000 Cinderella Cinderella Pantomime
1998 Babes in the Wood Ruth Froud
Liverpool 1 DC Isobel de Pauli
Imogen's Face Imogen
Breeders Louise
Up 'n' Under Hazel Scott
Pie in the Sky Nicola
1997 Men Behaving Badly Tina
1997 The Grimleys Geraldine Titley
1995–98 Game On Mandy Wilkins
1996 Sharman
1994 Minder Marian
1993 Health and Efficiency Charmaine
Demob Hedda
1992 The Bill Annie Carlisle
1991 Press Gang Waitress
El C.I.D. Waitress
A Murder of Quality Alice Lawry
1990 Spatz Toni
Jekyll & Hyde Young Maid (Margaret)

Discography[edit]

Eurovision Score Sheet[edit]

Country Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Iceland Malta Greece Switzerland Austria Luxembourg Sweden France Turkey Republic of Ireland Portugal Denmark Norway Israel Finland Germany Belgium Spain United Kingdom Cyprus Italy Total
United Kingdom 10 3 5 6 3 1 1 3 5 3 1 6 47
  • Samantha Janus finished in tenth position out of twenty two artists
  • Samantha Janus was the twentieth entry.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Soaps – Soap Scoop – Jack's proposal, Jason and Tina's romp, E'dale secret". Digital Spy. 14 June 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Who Do You Think You Are? Samantha Womack". thegenealogist.co.uk. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "UKTV G2 Stars – Profile: Samantha Janus". Uktv.co.uk. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "The unlikely stars of Eurovision". Metro.co.uk. 9 January 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Spanton, Tim (25 February 2008). "Seen the bird on Eurovision?". London: Thesun.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "Samantha Janus Chart discography". Chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Samantha Janus lands EastEnders role". Digitalspy.co.uk. 11 May 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  8. ^ "BBC One – EastEnders – Characters". Bbc.co.uk. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Smart, Gordon (6 January 2011). "Samantha Womack quits EastEnders over cot death". The Sun (London). Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  10. ^ Mangan, L. (4 March 2011). "The Guardian, TV Review". London. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Barbican programme for South Pacific, 2011
  12. ^ "BBC One – Who Do You Think You Are?, Series 9, Samantha Womack". Bbc.co.uk. 5 January 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "NEWS: Samantha Womack joins cast of ‘Hope’ for Royal Court Premiere – Liverpool Live". Liverpool-live.info. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Chris Johnson (1 February 2009). "Samantha Janus plays happy families at glitzy film premiere after announcing engagement | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Samantha Janus wins payout over lesbian orgy claim". Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "Sam and Bianca are Bolt babes". London: Thesun.co.uk. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  17. ^ "United Kingdom". findmypast.co.uk. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "EastEnders' wife-swap? | Metro.co.uk". Metro.co.uk. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  19. ^ "Samantha Womack profile: news, photos, style, videos and more â€" HELLO! Online". Hellomagazine.com. 2 November 1972. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "Samantha Womack's baby ban". STV. STV. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "EastEnders – Characters & Cast – Samantha Womack". BBC. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Heartbroken Samantha Janus leads mourners at father's funeral | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. 11 September 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  23. ^ [1][dead link]
  24. ^ Smart, Gordon (24 August 2009). "Father of EastEnders star Samantha Janus found hanged". London: The Sun. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  25. ^ "Rita Simons and Samantha Janus – Digital Spy Soap Awards 2008 – Digital Spy". Digital Spy<!. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Soaps – News – Walford actress struggled with kissing scene – Digital Spy". Digital Spy<!. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  27. ^ "Soaper Star Awards". dailystar.co.uk. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "All About Soap Bubble Awards". web.archive.org. 19 February 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "The British Soap Awards 2008: The Winners". digitalspy.co.uk. 4 May 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "Digital Spy Soap Awards 2008: The Winners". digitalspy.co.uk. 21 March 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "British Soap Awards 2009: The Winners". digitalspy.co.uk. 10 May 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  32. ^ "TV Quick and TV Choice Awards Shortlist". msntvuk.wordpress.com. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  33. ^ "Vote in the All About Soap 'Bubble' Awards". digitalspy.co.uk. 16 February 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  34. ^ "British Soap Awards 2010: The Winners". digitalspy.co.uk. 9 May 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  35. ^ "Inside Soap Awards Shortlist". digitalspy.co.uk. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  36. ^ "In Full: All About Soap Bubble winners". digitalspy.co.uk. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "British Soap Award nominations revealed". 3 May 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  38. ^ "The Best Actress in Social Media". shortyawards.com. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  39. ^ "Samantha Womack was nominated for a Shorty Award!". shortyawards.com. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  40. ^ "The Best Fansite in Social Media". shortyawards.com. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  41. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 279. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Emma
with "Give a Little Love Back to the World"
UK in the Eurovision Song Contest
1991
Succeeded by
Michael Ball
with "One Step Out of Time"