St James’s/MSJ, 2007 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Jen Kirby

I am an unlikely actor but my stubbornness won out…! I was raised near Malvern and attended St James’s and then Malvern St James. I was the first Deputy Head Girl of Malvern St James. I have an English and Drama degree from the University of East Anglia.

From there I went on to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), and before I graduated gained the role of Elizabeth Bennet at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. This role won me many award nominations, including a place on the long list of The Evening Standard Award for Best Newcomer.

Among my copious and varied stage roles I was widely praised for my work at the Royal Shakespeare Company (gaining a nomination for an Ian Charleson Award). Whilst performing with the RSC in New York, I auditioned via self-tape for the role of Nurse Valerie Dyer in Call the Midwife, and within a week of returning to the UK, I began playing this role. I have recently completed my third series as Valerie, and have been long listed for a National Television Award for 'Best Dramatic Performance' for my work on the programme.

What does success look like?

Someone who knows there can be no happiness without sadness, no achievement without a journey, and no success without failure along the way.

What is your best piece of advice?

Remember, nobody ever really knows what they’re doing. Feel the fear, count to ten, and then leap in headfirst.