Sheila McCarthy

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Sheila McCarthy
McCarthy at the 2012 Genie Awards
Born (1956-01-01) January 1, 1956 (age 68)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active1982–present

Sheila McCarthy (born January 1,[a] 1956)[1][2][3] is a Canadian actress and singer. She has worked in film, television, and on stage. McCarthy is one of Canada's most honoured actors, having won two Genie Awards (film), two Gemini Awards (television), an ACTRA Award, and two Dora Awards (theatre), along with multiple nominations.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

McCarthy was born in Toronto, Ontario.[2] She attended Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill in her youth. Her first appearance on stage was at Toronto's Elgin Theatre in Peter Pan when she was age six.[1] She later attended the University of Victoria and spent a year studying with Uta Hagen at her HB Studio in New York City, and also workshopped with the Second City troupe in Toronto.[6]


After several years of television work under her belt, McCarthy secured a role in the made-for-television movie A Nest of Singing Birds (1987), receiving early recognition for her talent with a Gemini Award nomination for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Dramatic Program. That year, she made her first notable impression on the Canadian movie scene as Polly, the quirky, "organizationally impaired girl" in Patricia Rozema's I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. For this role, McCarthy won the Genie Award for Best Actress. The film became wildly popular in Canada, earning many international and domestic awards and critical acclaim.[1][7][8]

McCarthy has since become one of Canada's more honoured actors, having won two Genie Awards (film), two Gemini Awards (television), and two Dora Awards (theatre) along with multiple nominations.[4][5]

She played Sarah Hamoudi in the Canadian television series Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012), a role for which she was nominated for a Gemini award. One of her more recognized big-screen roles is Samantha, the news reporter in the movie Die Hard 2 with Bruce Willis. Her most recent roles are Connie Hendrix, mother of the clone Alison in series Orphan Black and Agnes Rofa in the series The Umbrella Academy.

She is also an accomplished voice-over actress, having performed characters voices in Free Willy, Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, The Neverending Story, Bad Dog and Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse.

On stage, McCarthy has appeared in Little Shop of Horrors, Hamlet, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes and Love Letters.[9]

Personal life[edit]

McCarthy was married to actor Peter Donaldson, who died January 8, 2011, two years after being diagnosed with cancer.[10] McCarthy has two daughters with Donaldson, Drew[2] and Mackenzie Donaldson, who is also in show business (producer of Whatever, Linda and Orphan Black).[11]

Sheila McCarthy is active as a spokesperson for The Quilt Project, a support group for families affected by breast cancer, and Canadian Feed the Children.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1987 A Nest of Singing Birds Anna
1987 I've Heard the Mermaids Singing Polly Vandersma won the Genie Award for Best Actress
1988 Gandahar Council Spokeswoman (voice)
1989 Friends, Lovers, & Lunatics Kathy
1989 George's Island Miss Birdwood
1990 Beautiful Dreamers Molly Jessop
1990 Die Hard 2 Samantha 'Sam' Coleman
1990 Pacific Heights Liz Hamilton
1990 Bright Angel Nina
1991 White Room Zelda
1991 Paradise Sally Pike
1991 Stepping Out Andy
1991 Montréal vu par... Ann Stuart segment: "Desperanto"
1993 Journey to the Planets Oracle (voice) short film
1993 The Lotus Eaters Diane Kingswood won the Genie Award for Best Actress
1994 The Biggest Little Ticket The Troll
1996 House Arrest Gwenna Krupp
1997 Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework Mrs. Hackett
2001 Rare Birds Claire
2002 Duct Tape Forever Easterbrook (uncredited)
2004 Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Mrs. Gerard
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Judith
2004 Being Julia Grace Dexter
2004 Geraldine's Fortune Tina Larose
2005 Bailey's Billion$ Peggy Delaney
2005 The Multiple Selves of Hannah Maynard Hannah Maynard short film
2006 Small Avalanches Nancy's Mother short film
2007 Breakfast with Scot Miss Patterson
2007 The Stone Angel Doris Shipley
2009 Year of the Carnivore Mrs. Smalls
2014 A Fighting Man Rose
2016 Considering Love and Other Magic Veronica Guest
2016 Milton's Secret
2017 Cardinals Valerie Walker
2018 Level 16 Mrs. Denison (cameo)
2020 Stroke of Fate Shirley short film
2020 Happy Place Joyce
2020 Anything for Jackson Audrey
2021 Like a House on Fire Katherine
2021 The Middle Man Mrs. Stout
2022 Christmas in Rockwell Juniper
Women Talking Greta Loewen
TBA Love is the Monster Margaret Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Hangin' In episode: "The Princess and the Pea"
1983 Today's Special Sourpuss Sal episode: "Smiles"
1984 The Littlest Hobo Murielle episode: "Three Monkeys of Bah Roghar: Part 1"
episode: "Three Monkeys of Bah Roghar: Part 2"
1985 Love and Larceny Mary Bigley TV movie
1985 Tucker and the Horse Thief TV movie
1986 9B Heather TV movie
1986 The Marriage Bed Lynn Reilly TV movie
1986 Hot Shots Jenny episode: "Cut Off in His Prime"
1986 The Frantics: Four on the Floor Various Characters 6 episodes
1987 Much Ado About Nothing Margaret TV movie
1987 Really Weird Tales Ellie Hutchins episode: "Cursed with Charisma"
1988 Mount Royal Luise Blaikie episode: "Still Life"
1989 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Sarah Hollister episode: "For Art's Sake"
1989 Trying Times Jenny Amber episode: "A Good Life"
1990 Labour of Love TV movie
1990 E.N.G. Carol Barton episode: "Till Death Us Do Part"
1990 Back to the Beanstalk Garbanza TV movie
1990 Steel Magnolias Annelle Dupuy-Desoto TV pilot (unsold)
1990 Street Legal Stephanie Coleman episode: "The Psychic"
1991 The Soulmates: The Gift of Light (voice) TV movie
1991 Rupert Additional Voices 13 episodes
1991 The Hidden Room episode: "Rogue in the Bathroom"
1992 Beethoven Lives Upstairs Sophie TV movie
1992 A Private Matter Diane Callaghan TV movie
1992 The Ray Bradbury Theater Francine episode: "The Lonely One"
1994 Free Willy Annie TV series
1994 Dan Redican Comedy Hour Various TV movie
1994 Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills Jill Lansing TV movie
1995 A Woman of Independent Means Totsie TV movie
1995 The Awakening Nancy TV movie
1995–1996 Picket Fences Sue Walsh 4 episodes
1996 Road to Avonlea Betty Blaine episode: "King of the Great White Way"
1996 The Care and Handling of Roses Carol Doster TV movie
1998 Bad Dog (voice) TV series
1998 More Tales of the City Mildred TV miniseries
1998 Dead Husbands Jane Armitage TV movie
1998–2000 Emily of New Moon Laura Murray 46 episodes
1999 You Know My Name Mrs. Lynn TV movie
1999 Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke Tammy TV movie
1999 Mythic Warriors Clotho (voice) episode: "Damon and Pythias"
2000 Virtual Mom Holly TV movie, also writer
2000 Super Rupert Aunt Rhonda TV series
2000 Marvin The Tap-Dancing Horse Elizabeth the Emotional Pig (voice)
2001 Haven Eva TV movie
2001 Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series Mrs. King (voice) episode: "Oh, Brother!"
2001 Royal Canadian Air Farce Anne Robinson/Dr. Joy Thomas episode: "9.2"
2001 I Was a Rat Mrs. Tapscrew TV movie
2001 The Endless Grind Various TV series
2002 Lathe of Heaven Penny TV movie
2002 The Rats Miss Paige TV movie
2003 Custody of the Heart Alice TV movie
2003 Full-Court Miracle Mrs. Klein TV movie
2004 The Shields Stories Hazel episode: "Hazel"
2005 Puppets Who Kill Miss Wickham episode: "Cuddles the Artist"
2005 Missing Dr. Eleanor Reese episode: "Analysis"
2006 Roxana Amy TV movie
2006 Cow Belles Fran Walker TV movie
2007–2012 Little Mosque on the Prairie Sarah Hamoudi 80+ episodes
2009 The Ron James Show episode: "1.5"
2010 Love Letters Melissa TV movie
2013 Murdoch Mysteries Felicity Dawes episode: "Lovers in a Murderous Time"
2014 Saving Hope Violet episode: "Breathless"
2014 Dear Viola Peggy TV movie[12]
2015 Orphan Black Connie Hendrix episode: "Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate"
2016 Ice Girls Auntie Ginger TV movie
2016 Brace for Impact Faradee Gilchrist TV movie
2018 The Detail
2019 Star Trek: Discovery Amesha episode: "New Eden"
2019 The Umbrella Academy Agnes Recurring role
2020 Nurses Phillis Bruner episode: "Friday Night Legend"
2021 The Good Doctor Rose Babcock episode: "Lim"
2022 Zombies 3 Grandma Angie/Alien Scout TV movie


  • 2006: "All Good Now" – from the movie Cow Belles

Awards and nominations[edit]

This section needs to be expanded to include further awards and nominations.
Year Nominated Work Organization Award Result
1983 Really Rosie Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding performance in a revue or musical Won[1][2]
1985 Little Shop of Horrors Dora Mavor Moore Award Female performance Won[13][14]
1988 I've Heard the Mermaids Singing 9th Genie Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Won[citation needed]
A Nest of Singing Birds 3rd Gemini Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Nominated[citation needed]
Mount Royal 3rd Gemini Awards Best Guest Performance in a Series by an Actor or Actress Nominated[citation needed]
1992 Bright Angel Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Nominated[citation needed]
1993 The Lotus Eaters 14th Genie Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Won[citation needed]
1998 Emily of New Moon 13th Gemini Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Won[citation needed]
1999 Emily of New Moon 14th Gemini Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Nominated[citation needed]
2000 Sesame Park 15th Gemini Awards Best Performance in a Pre-School Program or Series Won[citation needed]
The City 15th Gemini Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic Series Nominated[citation needed]
2018 Cardinals ACTRA Toronto Award Outstanding Performance, Female Won[15]
2023 Women Talking Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated[16]


a. ^ Some sources say the 27th


  1. ^ a b c d e Townend, Paul (March 4, 2015). "Sheila McCarthy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Riggs, Thomas, ed. (2009). "McCarthy, Sheila, 1956-". Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Vol. 90. Detroit, MI: Gale. pp. 181–183. ISBN 978-1-4144-3465-0. OCLC 733291253. CX3069900115.
  3. ^ "Sheila McCarthy". AllMovie. 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Little Mosque on the Prairie Cast: Sheila McCarthy". CBC Television. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. n.d. Archived from the original on July 22, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Ben Kaplan (31 January 2013). "Sheila McCarthy: the star on collaborating with Liza Minnelli and why she loves life at Yonge & St. Clair". Post City Toronto. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Alumni". HB Studio. 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 4, 1988). "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing". Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  8. ^ "I've Heard the Mermaids Singing". Toronto International Film Festival. n.d. Archived from the original on May 7, 2015. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  9. ^ Aksich, Caroline (October 31, 2013). "Cover story: A profile of Sheila McCarthy". Post City Toronto. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  10. ^ "Peter Donaldson was 'finest actor's actor'". MSN CA. CBC News. January 9, 2011. Archived from the original on January 12, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  11. ^ Barnard, Elissa (January 26, 2012). "Actress finds inspiration even in sadness of death". Herald Arts & Life. Archived from the original on January 31, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "Dear Viola". Dear Viola Cast. February 19, 2014. Archived from the original on March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Cardinals: World Premiere, Toronto International Film Festival, 2017" (PDF) (Press release). Toronto, Ontario: Wildling Pictures. 2017. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  14. ^ Mietkiewicz, Henry (September 5, 1985). "Cats leads pack of Dora nominees". The Toronto Star. Toronto, Ontario. p. C3.
  15. ^ "Winners: The 16th annual ACTRA Awards in Toronto" (Press release). ACTRA Toronto. CNW Group. February 26, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  16. ^ Moreau, Jordan (January 11, 2023). "SAG Awards 2023 Nominations: The Complete List". Variety. Retrieved January 11, 2023.

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