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EXC Vanessa Kirby is seen treading the boards in Bolton aged 21

Her challenging performance in heartbreaking Netflix hit Pieces Of A Woman has drawn her an Oscar nomination this week.

But it seems Vanessa Kirby had somewhat more humble beginnings – as her career really began in Bolton, as a fresh-faced starlet at 21.

The thespian, now 32, can be seen in new pictures that detail her first foray into treading the boards at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton.

Glowing: Oscar nominee Vanessa Kirby had somewhat humble beginnings – as her career really began in Bolton, as a fresh-faced starlet at 21

Vanessa – the daughter of former Country Living magazine editor Jane and urologist Roger Kirby – knew she wanted to act as a teenager but was turned down by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

She says she was badly bullied at school – meaning drama was an escape.

‘I became self-conscious about everything I did in relation to the bullies. But drama was the place where I didn’t,’ she said in 2018.

She took a gap year to travel before studying English at the University of Exeter.

And after turning down her place at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, she was signed to a talent agency before meeting theatre director David Thacker.

Wow: Her challenging performance in heartbreaking Netflix hit Pieces Of A Woman has drawn her an Oscar nomination this week

Wow: Her challenging performance in heartbreaking Netflix hit Pieces Of A Woman has drawn her an Oscar nomination this week

Happy days: Then just 21, these pictures show her taking on the part of Ann in Arthur Miller's All My Sons on October 1 2009

Happy days: Then just 21, these pictures show her taking on the part of Ann in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons on October 1 2009

As well as artistic director in Bolton, he was also a successful TV director, directing episodes of Silent Witness, Foyle’s War, The Vice, and Waking The Dead.

At the time he was running the Octagon Theatre in Bolton and gave Vanessa three starring roles over the course of 2009.

Then just 21, these pictures show her taking on the part of Ann in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons on October 1 that year.

The pictures are a far cry from the more polished Vanessa audiences see now.

Oh my! They show her locking lips with fellow newcomer Oscar Pearce, who went on to take parts in Captain America, Resident Evil and War And Peace

Oh my! They show her locking lips with fellow newcomer Oscar Pearce, who went on to take parts in Captain America, Resident Evil and War And Peace

Happy days: She is perhaps best known for her starring role as Princess Margaret in 2016's first series of the Crown, drawing her to the attention of widespread audiences

Happy days: She is perhaps best known for her starring role as Princess Margaret in 2016’s first series of the Crown, drawing her to the attention of widespread audiences

Oh my! She was putting on a steamy performance in the play

Oh my! She was putting on a steamy performance in the play 

Here she is! She was clad in florals for the show

Here she is! She was clad in florals for the show 

She is perhaps best known for her starring role as Princess Margaret in 2016’s first series of the Crown, drawing her to the attention of widespread audiences.

She won the British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress and earned a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for the role, which shows her weathering her father’s death and trying to support her sister, the new Queen Elizabeth, played by Claire Foy.

She went on to land jobs in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) and Hobbs & Shaw (2019), and won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress for her performance in Pieces of a Woman.

Then: And this week, her talent in the series, released on Netflix in January, was clear after she won an Oscar nomination for best actress for the part

Then: And this week, her talent in the series, released on Netflix in January, was clear after she won an Oscar nomination for best actress for the part

And this week, her talent in the series, released on Netflix in January, was clear after she won an Oscar nomination for best actress for the part.

The film focuses on Martha and her partner Sean, played by Shia LaBeouf, who are devastated after losing their baby during a home birth.

Miss Kirby is expected to attend the Academy Awards, which will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, on April 25.

Whereas audiences now are used to see her kissing equerry Peter Townsend in the Crown, the images taken in Bolton may well have been her first on-stage kiss.

That stare: She was prepping for her Oscar glory

That stare: She was prepping for her Oscar glory 

Winner: Kirby won the BIZA Rising Star Award at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, worth £5,000, for her first role

Winner: Kirby won the BIZA Rising Star Award at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, worth £5,000, for her first role

They show her locking lips with fellow newcomer Oscar Pearce, who went on to take parts in Captain America, Resident Evil and War And Peace.

Kirby won the BIZA Rising Star Award at the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, worth £5,000, for her first role.

And she went on to tackle Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare at the same theatre over the next 12 months.

A source said: ‘She was magnetic, even then. You could see all those years ago that she would go far.’


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