By Kate Smith
29th January 2017

If you’ve ever watched an episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ then you'll be familiar with the distinctive tones of Oscar nominee Vanessa Redgrave. A veteran of the industry, the British actress turns 80 this week.

As many a Brit performer does, Redgrave got her start on the stage in the Royal Shakespeare company. She maintains her contact with the stage (which is both physically and mentally demanding) to this day, interspersing thespian pursuits with her appearances on the screen. She appeared last year in ‘Richard III’ in London. Her film career spans dozens of movies and TV appearances, resulting in six Oscar nominations. Redgrave has won or has been nominated for all the major film and television awards, including SAGs, BAFTAs and Emmys.

And well she should, when you consider her family tree. The Redgrave family are certainly evidence to support the idea that talent is genetic. Vanessa’s parents were both actors, as are her siblings. Both her daughters and her niece are also actors, and in 2004 Redgrave joined her real-life daughter Joely Richardson to play her on-screen mother in ‘Nip/Tuck’.

Her film work has earned her the respect of her colleagues and a kind of ethereal reputation. Her voice is as distinctive as any in the industry, and according to Jane Fonda in 2005, “seems to come from some deep place that knows all suffering and all secrets.” A diverse actress, Redgrave has played heroes and villains, including a crime boss in ‘Mission: Impossible’ and a mourning lover in ‘In These Walls Could Talk 2’.

Her voice “seems to come from some deep place that knows all suffering and all secrets.”

Somehow, between all her working commitments, Redgrave still finds time to be politically active. She has donated her own funds to political causes and lends her voice to furthering awareness, particularly regarding human rights violations.

Redgrave, like other actors and actresses of her generation, was never one for the headlines or gossip magazines. A performer of consummate class, her body of work and other projects speak to a treasure of stage and film.

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