Jessica Gunning: Baby Reindeer Star Began Her Career in Theater

For dedicated actors, gaining the recognition they deserve often requires years of hard work, yet even that may not be sufficient. It necessitates finding the right project to showcase their talents to a global audience. Jessica Gunning seized this opportunity by portraying Martha Scott in Netflix’s acclaimed series ‘Baby Reindeer.’ Her portrayal of the haunting stalker character demonstrated her commitment and skill, captivating both the critics and the audience. This performance has firmly established her as a rising talent in the entertainment industry, hinting at her vast potential for the future. It’s evident that we’ve only scratched the surface of what this talented actor has to offer.

Jessica Gunning Originally Hails From England

Jessica Faye Gunning was welcomed into the world on January 1, 1986, by Paul and Val Gunning. She grew up in Holmfirth in the metropolitan borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire, England. Her father worked in a plastics company, while her mother, Val, was a drama teacher at a local school. Jessica, alongside her siblings Harriet and Josh, enjoyed a typical middle-class family life in their hometown. At Holmfirth High School, she developed a passion for theater after being drawn to her mother’s plays. She often sneaked into rehearsals, where she got a chance to be immersed in the world of acting and drama.

Recognizing Jessica’s talent and passion for acting, her parents wholeheartedly endorsed her choice to attend Rose Bruford College, a renowned drama school. Moving to Sidcup in Bexley, where the college was situated, Jessica embarked on her journey to delve deeper into the art form she had long admired. Immersed in her studies, she found herself among like-minded individuals, on the brink of realizing her dream of pursuing a career in acting.

Reportedly, her parents still reside in West Yorkshire, England, close to the school where her mother, Val, still teaches drama. Her sister, Harriet, is also involved in the entertainment industry, marketing for shows like ‘The Crown‘ and ‘Bridgerton.’ They have stayed by Jessica’s side for all the years and beam with joy at the journey that she has taken to reach where she is currently.

Jessica Gunning Built Her Career Slowly But Steadily

Jessica Gunning’s career took off in the theater world with performances at the National Theatre of Great Britain, including roles in productions like ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘Major Barbara.’ Transitioning to television, she made her debut in 2007 after graduating from college, appearing in a single episode of the TV series ‘It’s Adam and Shelley.’ In 2008, she landed the role of Stacey Harris in an episode of the acclaimed ‘Doctor Who‘ TV series, marking a significant milestone in her television career. From that point onward, Jessica’s career gained momentum with a steady stream of opportunities.

Jessica Gunning can also be spotted as a recurring character of a babysitter named Annie in the television series ‘Life of Riley,’ which ran from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, she secured the role of Angela in the renowned police procedural and legal series ‘Law & Order: UK,’ which lasted until 2014. She appeared on various shows throughout the following years, including ‘Doctors’ in 2010 and ‘Holby City’ in 2011. However, it was in 2012 that Jessica’s career saw a significant breakthrough with her role as Orla in the BBC TV miniseries’ White Heat’, which gave a peek into the potential her craft held.

Jessica’s foray into film began in 2012 with her role in the short film ‘Ghost in the Machine.’ While continuing to excel in television roles, she kept her acting skills honed. In the following year, she went on to appear in several series, including ‘Quick Cuts’ and ‘What Remains,’ with the latter marking one of her first lead roles. Her debut feature film, ‘Pride,’ released in 2014, where she portrays the character of Sian James. By 2015, Jessica’s career gained momentum, as she landed roles in several TV series, including ‘The Scandalous Lady W’ and ‘Inside No. 9’.

The year 2020 was quite important for Jessica with the success of her film ‘Summerland,’ which garnered praise from critics and audiences. This elevated her status in the entertainment industry, making her a recognizable face to many. Additionally, her roles in projects like ‘Back,’ which aired from 2017 to 2021, and ‘The Outlaws,’ which aired from 2021 to 2022, further contributed to her growing recognition. Her characters, Jan and Diane Pemberly, respectively, were quite loved, but she remained primarily known as a British actor, with her influence extending widely but predominantly within British circles.

In 2024, the release of ‘Baby Reindeer’ catapulted Jessica to global acclaim, establishing her as a celebrated actor internationally. Her portrayal of Martha Scott was characterized by a deep understanding and sincerity, diverging from conventional stalker tropes and infusing the character with authenticity. Richard Gadd, the series creator and Jessica’s co-actor, expressed that Jessica was always his ideal choice for the role of Martha. She had been doing stand-up sets on the side and uploaded snippets on her YouTube page, which Gadd chanced upon and found the Martha he was looking for.

Jessica is now branching out into writing as well. In the upcoming third season of ‘The Outlaws,’ set to premiere in May 2024, Jessica will appear in five episodes and has also contributed as a writer for one of the episodes. Her fans eagerly await her upcoming projects, confident that her writing endeavors will be as stellar as her acting career thus far.

Jessica Gunning is a Vocal Advocate for Social Issues

Jessica Gunning maintains a private persona and doesn’t disclose much about her dating life either. The 38-year-old only recently created an Instagram profile, which she has mainly used to promote ‘Baby Reindeer.’ She is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights, unafraid to confront the historical and systemic discrimination faced by the community. She proudly represents her alma mater, Rose Bruford College, having been honored as a Fellow in 2019. Recognition of her talent and influence is spreading rapidly on social media, and Jessica is dedicated to making the most of it with the support of her family and friends. Her dedication to her beliefs and her burgeoning career indicate that she is only at the beginning of her journey.

Read More: Baby Reindeer: Richard Gadd’s True Story Inspired the Miniseries