WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 10: Actress Naomie Harris arrives at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and InStyle celebrate the 2017 Golden Globe Award Season at Catch LA on November 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
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Naomie Harris

If there is one thing that British born Naomie Harris remembers being sure about from the beginning was her desire to become an actor. Her mother Liselle Kayla, a television writer might have had something to with that, enrolling her in the prestigious Anna Sher Theatre School when she was just a child. A stint at Pembroke College to study political and social science was not to her liking and after graduating she went back to her passion, training at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre School. Her breakthrough role was in a Danny Boyle film: “He’s the reason, that I have the career that I’ve had because he took a risk on me and gave me Selena in 28 Days Later. He really started my career for me, I’m very grateful to Danny Boyle.”For a stage trained actress, the 40 year-old has a good number of blockbusters under her belt, from Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest to the only woman James Bond can never do without: she is the first black actress to portray Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond series. In her quest to play strong women characters, she got the writers to expand the decorative secretary that used to only be good for a couple of jokes into a full-fledged part as an MI6 field agent and a very important sidekick to 007. The part made her a household name, and she used her popularity to gain access to other interesting projects, among them the Nelson Mandela-biopic Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, in which she played Winnie Mandela.In her Golden Globe-nominated role as a crack-addict mother in Moonlight, she is so unrecognizable that many were astonished to read her name in the credits. Even more surprising is that she filmed all her scenes in just three days. Not by choice, mind you. She was in the middle of an extended and stressful promotion tour for Spectre and the only way to be part of Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight-ensemble was to cram the difficult role into this short window of time. “It was still really complicated. I was in Mexico City for Bond and flew to Miami for three days where I could just focus on the filming of Moonlight. And then I went straight back into the press tour!” Talk about changing gears. And this all happened after she had almost turned down the part, sticking to her mantra of never playing drug addicts in order to avoid a stereotype. It was the quality of the screenplay that changed her mind after telling The Guardian just a year before: “I’m not interested in playing roles that stereotype me as a woman or as a black woman. I grew up with incredibly strong, powerful women around me who were highly intelligent and doing their own thing, and those are the women I’m interested in portraying because that’s what I know to be the truth. A woman who waits around for a man, pines after them… I don’t have any experience of that kind of woman, so I don’t think I’d be very good at playing that kind of character.”Some surprising facts about Miss Harris: despite being trained at one of the best Theatre Schools England has to offer, she hates the stage because her nerves get so frazzled she always feels as if she might throw up, and even uses the EFT (tapping) technique to prepare for a particularly difficult film scene.At the tender age of 13 she wrote a (as-of-yet unpublished) novel about a middle-class girl whose parents become sick and she has to go and live with her aunt.She never drinks alcohol, except for a little Baileys on holidays, because she does not like the taste.She hates scuba diving after being forced to do it for a movie (After the Sunset).And her all-time favorite film is The Sound of Music.On Dec 30th, Naomie Melanie Harris received one of Britain’s greatest honors: an OBE (order of the British Empire) for her services to drama.