Bel Powley is a British Jewish actress! We love British Jews! We’ve covered other British Jews like Jonah Hauer-King and Sophie Okonedo, so now it’s time for Bel Powley.
18 things to know about Bel Powley? Sure, why not?!
1. Bel Powley was born in Hammersmith, London in 1992, to Mark Powley, an actor, and Janis Jaffa, a Jewish casting director.
(She’s really good at throwback instas; in one, she refers to her baby self as a “Jewish sausage.” Iconic.)
2. Bel’s first big role was on the popular British series M.I. High, about undercover teenage spies. “It was a really good introduction to the business. I had crazy gadgets, all these disguises, cool leather Catwoman outfits… it was the most fun a 13 year old could ever have,” she said.
3. After the audition, she recalls, “I came home and was like, ‘Mum, Dad, I got this show, can I be in it?’ And they were like, ‘No. No way. We know how hard this industry is, you’re not working in it. You’re going to university and doing something sensible, like being a lawyer or doctor or something.’” (Spoiler: she stayed in the industry.)
4. She intended to go to university (college), but then landed a role on Broadway: “And then it was like, ‘It feels weird to go to university after playing on Broadway,'” Bel said. “So I carried on acting.”
5. However — she was a super nerdy student, describing herself as a “Hermione Granger type.” As she explained: “I was really quite geeky and I loved studying at school. I really just wanted to go to university and I wanted to study history and maybe be a history teacher. There was one point where I wanted to be prime minister. I was quite precocious, a bit like a Hermione Granger type. I really was quite a lot at school because I was quite annoying and I just loved studying.”
6. After M.I. High, she transitioned to the stage, acting in Tusk Tusk on the West End in 2009 and Arcadia, the aforementioned Broadway play, in 2011.
7. Bel broke out in the 2015 film The Diary of a Teenage Girl about 15-year-old Minnie Goetz who embarks on a “sexual odyssey.”
8. For her role as Minnie, she received a whole bunch of nominations — as a rising star at the BAFTAs, as a “female revelation” at Cannes (she won that one!), as best female lead at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and more.
9. But her heart is with theater. “I started with theatre, I did four years of it before I did Diary, and I just can’t imagine life without it. That sounds like a really big statement but I just can’t imagine my career without it, I couldn’t just do screen work. I think it’s partly because I didn’t train, I didn’t go to drama school or anything, so a lot of what I’ve learnt about character development and rehearsal technique all comes from doing plays and working with theatre directors. I feel like it grounds me in a way that is hard to find on television,” Bel said.
10. She made her TV debut in The Morning Show — yes, the Apple+ show with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Anniston. And, yes, she holds her own up against these two superstars.
On the show she plays Claire, a British PA who is having a relationship with the weatherman.
11. She celebrates Rosh Hashanah with her family, posting in 2014 about her 94-year-old Grandma:
And here’s a Passover Instagram, where she writes women should get to wear kippahs (hell, yes!):
One more Jewish holiday? Sure! Here’s Hanukkah:
(27 likes! Iconic! Never delete this, Bel!!!)
12. Not only does she post about Jewish holidays, but Bel is not shy about sharing her politics, and her feminism, on Instagram:
13. In 2018, she became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body that votes on the Oscars. Her invitation had Babs on it, natch.
14. She’s set to star in a new Judd Apatow movie with Pete Davidson. It wrapped in August 2019, and is coming out later this year.
15. Before every red carpet, Bel FaceTimes her mom. (Read her Vogue photo diary of The Morning Show premiere, it’s a delight.)
16. Her fashion game is amazing. As stylist Cher Coulter explains to Vogue, any dress she puts Bel in “has to have a special ingredient. Whether that is the fabric, the print, the frill, it just has to have something. Also, she has an English sensibility and really likes to supports British designers. When I start requests, I just look for ‘Bel dresses’. These are the ones that excite me and make me smile. Her personality is so bright and happy, so I think the clothes that she wears should reflect this.”
17. “When I first started acting and did my first movie, I don’t think I knew really what I wanted to do,” Bel said. “I did do a little bit of just going along with what everyone else wanted me to do. So I can definitely say that now I have more confidence in my own choices, and I think that, in conjunction with what’s been happening societally, it makes it much easier for women now just to be like, “I feel strong enough to say what I want.”
18. Like all of us, Bel watches The Great British Baking Show and Love Island to relax.
Image of Bel Powley in header by Dominique Charriau/WireImage for Miu Miu.