Samantha Downing Biography & Facts
Samantha Zoe Womack (née Janus; born 2 November 1972) is an English actress, singer, model and director who has worked in film, television and stage.
Womack made her name in the mid-1990s with her role as Mandy Wilkins in Game On leading onto roles in the BBC One drama Pie in the Sky (1995–1996) and the sitcom Babes in the Wood (1998).
She has since been best known for playing the role of Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders (2007–2011, 2013–2017). Her portrayal as Ronnie has gained her more prominence and acting roles after being out of the limelight for numerous years. She also played Tanya Porter in Sky One comedy-drama Mount Pleasant from 2013 until the final episode in 2017. Womack has also toured across the United Kingdom playing Morticia in the stage musical The Addams Family.
Womack initially planned a career in singing and she represented the United Kingdom in the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest. Her song for the contest, "A Message to Your Heart", was released as her first (and only) single in April 1991 and reached No. 30 in the UK Singles Chart.
Womack was born in Brighton. Her singer-songwriter father, Noel Janus (born Janes), left the family when she was six, and soon after, her model-actress mother, Diana O'Hanlon, married a doctor and the family moved to Edinburgh.
Womack lived on the QE2 with her choreographer grandmother, Sheila Holt (a former actress and choreographer to magician David Nixon for a short time). Womack has a younger half-sister, Zoe. During an appearance on Big Star's Little Star in 2014, it was revealed that she attended the same school as members of All Saints, sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton. before going to the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. At the age of 15, she left home as a self-confessed ‘wild child’ for a life in squats, drinking, smoking and taking drugs.Womack is the niece of Angie Best, her father's sister and former wife of footballer George Best. Angie's son, Calum Best, is Womack's cousin.
As revealed on an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in 2012, Womack's great-great-grandmother Jessie Ryder was an actress in New York City in the early 20th century.
Eurovision and early career
The actress first came to prominence in March 1991 aged 18, when she won the annual A Song for Europe competition to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest. She finished joint tenth and the song, "A Message to Your Heart", peaked at number 30 on the UK Singles Chart. Despite her achievements, her entry into the Eurovision is frequently remarked upon. She has said regarding the experience that her failure in the contest devastated her at the time and thought it would spell the end of her career. She has also called her appearance 'ridiculous', in that she was dressed in a pink mini-dress while singing about starving children and says the lyrics of the song are burned into her memory forever.Womack developed her first love of acting, appearing in episodes of The Bill and Press Gang; in 1993 she appeared in Demob with Griff Rhys Jones and Martin Clunes; and took to the West End stage, replacing Debbie Gibson as Sandy in Grease.
From 1994 to 1998 Womack played Mandy in the BBC Two sitcom Game On opposite Ben Chaplin (later replaced by Neil Stuke). She remained on the show until its end in 1998. In between series of Game On, she had a part in the BBC One drama Pie in the Sky from 1995 to 1996 as Nicola Dooley, a waitress.
Womack then appeared in the pilot for The Grimleys with Jack Dee, and the film Up 'n' Under with Neil Morrissey. In 1998 she starred in the ITV1 series Liverpool 1 with her future husband Mark Womack. She then returned to comedy in the sitcom Babes in the Wood co-starring another Sylvia Young Theatre School student, Denise van Outen, it was critically panned despite respectable ratings, and Womack left after the first series.
In 1999 Womack starred as Cinderella in the ITV Christmas pantomime alongside Harry Hill, Alexander Armstrong, Frank Skinner, Paul Merton, Ronnie Corbett and many more.
A popular choice for photo shoots in men's magazines such as FHM, she came 21st in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World poll in 1998 and 41st in 1999.
In 1990, she appeared as a guest in two episodes of the CITV comedy sitcom Spatz; Series 1 Episode 2 and 3. It is rumoured that a possible falling out may have occurred leading to her swift exit from the show after such a brief stint. This is fuelled by her reluctance to admit for many years that she was part of the show.In 2002 she returned to TV in BBC One drama Strange and she appeared in films The Baby Juice Express, Lighthouse Hill and Dead Man's Cards.
In January 2005 she narrated Jordan & Peter: Laid Bare for ITV2. She later directed an anti-bullying music video for Liverpool band Just 3, entitled Stand Tall. The video starred her and Liverpool F.C. footballer Jamie Carragher. The video was heavily backed by Childline ambassador Esther Rantzen.
In 2006, Womack starred in the BBC One comedy Home Again as Ingrid, and as Miss Adelaide in the West End production of the musical Guys and Dolls at London's Piccadilly Theatre, initially with Patrick Swayze and then Miami Vice star Don Johnson. She reprised the role at the Sunderland Empire opposite Alex Ferns in 2007.
On 11 May 2007 it was announced that she would be joining EastEnders as Ronnie Mitchell, a cousin of the well known Mitchell brothers. She had previously appeared in the soap in a minor role as a girlfriend of Simon Wicks.During her first stint, Womack's character Ronnie was central to many storylines including the controversial baby-swap story which was aired during 2011. It was reported that this is the reason why Womack quit the soap, although this has never been confirmed. Womack made her final appearance as Ronnie on 7 July 2011 when the character was sent to prison.
Since appearing on EastEnders she has made regular television appearances on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, The Paul O'Grady Show, Richard & Judy and Loose Women. In November 2007, she sang with EastEnders co-stars in the 2007 Children in Need charity appeal.
In May 2013, it was confirmed that Womack would return to EastEnders as Ronnie Mitchell. Womack's character Ronnie Mitchell was later killed off on the episode broadcast 1 January 2017 when she was trying to save Roxy Mitchell from drowning and drowned herself. Her last appearance was on the episode broadcast 19 January 2017 when Ronnie was shown as a corpse lying in her coffin.
Theatre and continued success
In 2011 Womack played the lead role, Ensign Nellie Forbush, a US Navy nurse from Little Rock, Arkansas, in the Lincoln Center production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical South Pacific at the Barbican Theatre in London. In March 2013, Womack starred opposite her husband on stage in the world premiere of Hope at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool.From September 2013, Womack played the regular role o.... Discover the Samantha Downing popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Samantha Downing books.