Date of Birth: September 17, 1996
Ella Purnell was born in London, England. She has three younger brothers, and attended Forest School as well as City of London School for Girls. She started studying acting, singing and dance when she began weekly classes at Sylvia Young Theatre School.
Ella was discovered in 2008, after beating out hundreds of other girls for a role in Oliver! at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. She remained in the show for a year and towards the end of her time there, she landed her film debut when she scored the role of the younger version of Keira Knightley’s lead character in Never Let Me Go (2010).
Continuing with her film career, she appeared in the 2011 fantasy horror film Intruders alongside Clive Owen, then in the 2013 film Kick-Ass 2 alongside actress Chloë Grace Moretz. She played the teen version of Angelina Jolie’s character in the 2014 film Maleficent. Also in 2014, she starred as troubled teenager Mackenzie in the film Wildlike, for which she won several awards such as a LAIFF June Award for Best Actress, and a Grand Jury for Best Female Performance.
While maintaining her acting career, she is also involved with philanthropic work. Ella is one of the faces of the non-profit organization Educate2Eradicate — a non-profit organization committed to raising awareness about child and forced marriage and honor-based abuse. She has worked closely with Creative Visions since 2015, and is also the chairperson of the Influential Young Activists Movement.
In 2010, she was named by Screen International as one of the 10 UK Stars of Tomorrow, and was also the host at London's TEDxTeen 2016. Although she is a successful young actress, she told Interview Magazine that she is desperate to get back into theater, as "cheesy musicals" are her true passion.
In an interview, Ella revealed there is a joke in her family that she is going to make a career out of playing other people’s younger selves. That joke will appear to be sticking around, as she played the younger version of Margot Robbie's lead character in 2016's The Legend of Tarzan. However, the actress does not seem to mind at all, and has said that playing younger versions of actresses such as Keira Knightley and Angelina Jolie is a good track record.
In November 2014, Ella was cast as Emma Bloom, one of the leads in Tim Burton's adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, alongside Asa Butterfield. The movie was filmed in 2015 and debuted on September 30, 2016. As for her own peculiarity, she told Interview Magazine: “I can make an awesome duck noise. I do great animal impressions."
Emma lives in London with her mother.
Photo: © Matt Crossick/PA Wire/PA Photos/KEYSTONE Press