Emma Williams (actress)

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This article is about the British actress. For other uses, see Emma Williams (disambiguation).

Emma Williams (born 20 May 1983 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England) is a British actress of stage, screen, TV and radio. She has received three Olivier nominations for Best Actress/Best Supporting Actress in a musical and was a recipient of the Arts Correspondent Group Best Newcomer Award.

Personal life [1][edit]

Williams was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire on 20 May 1983. Her mother, Joan is English and her father, Gordon is Welsh. She has one older brother, called John. Williams attended North Halifax Grammar School and left in 2001 with 5 A-levels. Her first film came out shortly before she received her A-level results, so she deferred university for a year in order to pursue a career as an actress. Only a few months later in November, she was announced as the leading lady of multimillion-pound musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, playing opposite household favourite, Michael Ball.

Williams speaks several languages including French, German and Spanish. She has been a member of Mensa, the society for people of a high-IQ.

Williams also attended evening classes at Stage '84, school of performing arts in Idle, Bradford where she was the Student of the Year in 2001 and is now a patron of the school. She trained as a singer to Grade 8 (with Distinction) with Michael Hampshire and regularly competed in nationwide music competitions and festivals. In her teens, Williams was a prolific winner in classes for Unaccompanied Folk Music, Musical Theatre and Opera on this circuit until she turned professional.

Williams is also a songwriter, musician and writer. She has written theatre programme articles for Delfont Mackintosh Theatres and is currently writing her first novel. She also regularly reviews books for online literary magazine and website, www.welovethisbook.com, under the name Emma Henaughan.[2]

In 2012 Williams graduated from the Open University with a BA Honours degree in English Literature, which she studied part-time whilst simultaneously working as an actress.

Biography [3][edit]

TV & film[edit]

Williams began her professional acting career as a teenager, appearing in various ITV dramas including Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is and the 4-part drama premiere Four Fathers.

Her first big break came at the age of 17 when she was chosen, after a nationwide search, to play the role of Kirsty in Steve Coogan's first feature film The Parole Officer. It was this role that lead to her postponing university in the hopes of becoming an actress.

Further television credits include leading roles in Agatha Christie's Marple (Ruby Keene in The Body in the Library), Doctors (Jenny Jones/Tamara and Sally Winters) and playing Rosa Cartwright in BBC's Bafta Award winning TV adaptation of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson.

Her second leading feature film role was as opera singer Tamsin Ford in the movie First Night (a.k.a. Cosi), which was released in UK cinemas in 2011 and US cinemas in 2013. The cast also included Richard E. Grant, Mia Maestro, Julian Ovenden and Sarah Brightman.

Williams' latest film venture, 10 Arenas of Marwood is in post-production and she most recently guested as Claire Thompson on long-running BBC prime-time drama Casualty and as Fiona Goswell in "Silent Witness". She is also one of the faces of Leo Vegas for 2016.


Williams made her professional stage debut in 2002, aged 18, playing leading lady Truly Scrumptious in the original cast of the West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, winning the Arts Correspondent Award for Best Newcomer.[4]

She has originated a further five roles in the West End; in 2004 she played Shelley Parker in the European premiere of Bat Boy: The Musical, first at the "West Yorkshire Playhouse" and then at London's Shaftesbury Theatre. In 2007 Williams played the title role of Susan in the World Premiere of musical "Desperately Seeking Susan" at the Novello Theatre and then in 2008 she created the role of Luisa in "Zorro" at the Garrick Theatre, after the character was rewritten following its UK Tour tryout. This role garnered Williams her first Olivier nomination and her following West End role as Jenny in "Love Story" brought about her second. This World Premiere production began at the Chichester Festival Theatre and transferred to London's Duchess Theatre in the West End after Williams's former co-star, Michael Ball, became a co-producer, and brought Williams much critical praise. Most recently Williams created the role of Maureen in Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noël Coward Theatre, following a season at Theatre Royal Bath. This earned her a third Olivier nomination, this time as Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

Further leading stage roles include Scarlett Rhodes in the World premiere of Playing for Reward (Edinburgh Gilded Balloon), Betty Schaeffer in Sunset Boulevard (BBC Radio 2), Ellie Brookes in the World premiere of Sex, Chips & Rock n' Roll (Manchester Royal Exchange), Fran Kubelik in (Promises, Promises) (Sheffield Crucible), Kat in the World premiere of Tomorrow Morning (new British musical by composer/lyricist Laurence Mark Wythe; (New End Theatre, London) and Christine Keeler in the World premiere of (A Model Girl).

Williams has also appeared as Johanna in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Royal Festival Hall with Bryn Terfel

According to the British tabloid newspaper the Sunday Mirror, Williams was signed to play Maria von Trapp under a 6-month contract. However, the winner of the BBC reality TV show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? would still get a 6-month contract and perform 4 of the shows a week.[5] On the 22 September 2006, Williams in a joint statement with Andrew Lloyd Webber pulled out of The Sound of Music, by mutual agreement.[6]

At the end of 2013 Emma appeared in her first play, as Melinda in The Recruiting Officer at the Salisbury Playhouse. In 2014 she appeared in A Spoonful of Sherman (a cabaret celebrating 90 years of Sherman songwriting) at the St. James Theatre in London and toured the UK as "Annie Oakley" in Annie Get Your Gun.

She recently played Maureen in a new musical production of Mrs Henderson Presents which debuted at the Theatre Royal, Bath in August 2015, before transferring to the West End's Noël Coward Theatre in February 2016, to which she received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

Williams is currently appearing in the new Stiles & Drewe adaptation of 'Half A Sixpence' for Cameron Mackintosh and Chichester Festival Theatres, with a new book by Downton creator Julian Fellowes.


Williams has featured on the Original Cast recordings of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,[7] Tomorrow Morning,[8] Zorro [9] and Love Story.[10] She also features on the Original London Cast Recording of Bat Boy [11] which features 'Mine All Mine', written specifically for the UK production. Williams can also be heard singing 'Leap' on Lance Horne's album 'First Things Last',[12]several guest tracks on the 'Momentous Musicals' album of 2012[13] and the original London cast album of A Spoonful of Sherman.[14]

Concerts and Radio[edit]

Emma Williams has taken part in many concerts as a musical theatre performer. Most notably she has played Betty Schaeffer in a semi-staged version of Sunset Boulevard for BBC Radio 2, starring Petula Clark and Michael Ball. She also appeared as a guest vocalist on Michael Ball's 'Past and Present' Concert Tour, which was filmed for DVD at the Royal Albert Hall.[15] Emma appeared as a guest artist on 'Friday Night is Music Night' for BBC Radio 2 in 2009, singing 'Time to Say Goodbye' and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'.[16]


Williams has worked predominantly on new musicals, often during the workshop stage of the creative process. She has also played several roles in production, after workshopping them.

Workshops include; Emma and Kelly in Country Music (Royal Court workshop), Julie Waller in Come Dancing), Ellie Brookes in Sex, Chips & Rock n' Roll (Manchester Royal Exchange), Maria Von Trapp (workshops of The Sound of Music), The Female in the Damon Albarn musical (National Theatre), Susan in Desperately Seeking Susan, Jenny Cavilleri in Love Story, Cathy and Annie in Up the Junction, Miss Honey in Matilda (RSC), Rosy in Liberation Day (National Theatre), Faith in "The Lucky Man", Bernice in "Bernice Bobs Her Hair", Maud Marshmoreton in "Damsel in Distress" (Chichester Festival Theatre), Dido in "Dido - Queen of Carthage" (a one-woman show), Mia in "Girlfriends" (Pitch Perfect), Maureen in "Mrs Henderson Presents" (based on the movie of the same name) and Meg in "The Last Ship", the new musical project from Sting (Jeffrey Seller/Kathryn Schenker).


Year Title Role Notes
2001 The Parole Officer Kirsty
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple Ruby Keene TV film
2010 First Night Tamsin Ford a.k.a. Cosi
2011 10 Arenas of Marwood Helen Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
1999 Four Fathers Justine Clancy Unknown episodes
2000 Where the Heart Is Kelly Armitage Episode: "Shifting Sands"
1997—2001 Heartbeat Susie Cope / Lucy 2 episodes
2005 Bleak House Rosa 7 episodes
2006—2009 Doctors Jenny Jones / Sally Winters 2 episodes


  1. ^ "Half price and discounted theatre tickets in London's West End, In Conversation with Emma Williams". Hit The Theatre. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  2. ^ "Profile of Emma Henaughan". We Love This Book. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  3. ^ "Emma Williams". Spotlight. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  4. ^ Marmion, Patrick. "Rising star: Emma Williams". justball.net. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  5. ^ Exclusive: Pro Singer Emma Lined Up For Maria Despite Hunt - Sunday Mirror
  6. ^ Maria..we have a problem | the Daily Mail
  7. ^ "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Original London Cast Recording) Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  8. ^ "ORIGINAL CAST RECORDING CD UK DRESS CIRCLE 2006: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  9. ^ "Zorro: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  10. ^ "Love Story: Original Cast Recording: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  11. ^ "Bat Boy > Original London Cast". CastAlbums.org. 2005-02-21. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Momentous Musicals: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  14. ^ http://www.bwaytunes.com/album/847910/A-Spoonful-of-Sherman-Original-London-Cast-Recording
  15. ^ "Michael Ball: Past And Present Tour - Live (DVD): Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 
  16. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Friday Night is Music Night, 12/06/2009". Bbc.co.uk. 2009-06-12. Retrieved 2014-01-25. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sally Ann Howes
Actress to portray Truly Scrumptious
Succeeded by
Caroline Sheen