PROFILE
Name:
Ashley Jensen
Birth Date:
1969/8/11
Birth Place:
Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, UK
Height:
5' 3" (1.60 m)
Nationality:
Scottish
Famous for:
Her role as adorable loser Maggie Jacobs on the BBCHBO series Extras (2005-2007)
BIOGRAPHY
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Extras

Background:

“I know what I look like. I'm not a babe who's automatically going to be the leading lady type. I think I would always be cast as the friend. I probably tend to look crap more often than I look good. I like messing around and pulling funny faces and doing funny walks. As a child I always chose a false nose and some face paint and a wig for my birthday.” Ashley Jensen

Emmy Award-nominated Scottish actress Ashley Jensen is famous among American TV viewers as adorable Maggie Jacobs on the BBC/HBO series “Extras” (2005-2007) and Christina McKinney on the ABC series “Ugly Betty” (2006-present). She was handed two British Comedy Awards, a Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival Award, a BAFTA nomination and an Emmy nomination for the first show and nominations at the BAFTA Scotland and the SAG Awards for the latter. Jensen has also starred in several unsuccessful shows, including BBC's “Bad Boys” (1996), “Breeze Block” (2002), “Sweet Medicine” (2003) and ITV1's “Eleventh Hour” (2006), and guest starred in such shows as “EastEnders,” “Two Thousand Acres of Sky,” “Clocking Off” and “The Office.” On the movie front, Jensen appeared in the British films “Topsy-Turvy” (1999) and “A Cock and Bull Story” (2005) and narrated the documentary “Taking Liberties” (2007). She is scheduled to star in the BBC comedy “Nativity” (2010).

Jensen is married to British actor Terence Beesley. She is best friends with her “Ugly Betty” costar, America Ferrera, and cites Dame Judy Dench as her idol. She was named by Glamour Magazine as the “Comedy Woman of 2006” and Cosmopolitan Magazine as one the “Ultimate Top Woman on TV of 2007.”


Mrs. Beesley

Childhood and Family:

Ashley Samantha Jensen was born on August 11, 1969, in Annan, Scotland, to Ivar Jensen and Margaret. She was raised mainly by her mother, who teaches students with special needs, and had no contact with her dad until June 2008 when he claimed she had a half-sister named Gillian. Ashley was trained at Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she graduated with a speech and drama diploma.

In January 2007, Ashley, nicknamed Ash, married her boyfriend of six years, British actor Terence Beesley, in a private ceremony in Big Sur, California, with the couple's dog Barney as the ring-bearer. Ashley first met her husband in 1999 during the set of the stage production of “King Lear.” They have residences in Los Angeles, CA, Holland Park in London, and Umbria in central Italy.

On moving to L.A., Ashley said, “I felt like a bit of a mutant at first. I'm not four foot two with lips the same size as my thigh but, after a few months, I'm into the swing of LA now - not that I've had Botox.”


Ugly Betty

Career:

Ashley Jensen kicked off her performing career at the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain prior to training for three years at the Queen Margaret College. Along with a diploma in drama and speech, she also graduated with awards in dance, comedy, movement on stage, acting, and the Royal Lyceum Award. She has since worked in contemporary and classical theater. Among her stage credits are Shakespeare's “King Lear” (as Regan) and Lanford Wilson's “Burn This” (as Anna).

First appearing in front of the camera in 1991 with small parts in the low budget movie “Tickets for the Zoo” and the BBC comedy series “City Lights,” Jensen landed a minor guest spot in the long running BBC series “Rab C. Nesbitt” (1992-1993) and was cast as the daughter of Billy Connolly in the made-for-TV film “Down Among the Big Boys” (1993) before making an impression on audiences with her portrayal of eccentric secretary Rosie McConnichy in the final series of BBC comedy “May to December” (1994).

Jensen soon graduated to a leading role in the two-season drama series “Roughnecks” (1994-1995), where she starred as Heather, and then starred as Morag in the BBC short-lived series “Bad Boys” (1996). She also appeared in episodes of “The Tales of Para Handy,” “Takin' Over the Asylum” (both 1994), “The Bill” (1994, 1997), “Dangerfield” (1997) and “Mortimer's Law” (1998) as well as in such TV films as “Waiting” (1995) and “The Big Picnic” (1996). She was then cast as Miss Tringham in the Academy Award-winning British biopic “Topsy-Turvy” (1999), which was directed and written by Mike Leigh and starred Jim Broadbent.

In 2000, Jensen played PC Sue Chappell in the drama series “City Central,” a regular role she had since 1998, and assumed the episodic role of Fiona Morris on the popular BBC One soap opera “EastEnders.” She next costarred with Jill Halfpenny in the comedy series “Breeze Block” (2002), which was canceled after six episodes, had a small role in the BBC two-part miniseries “Outside the Rules” (also 2002) and landed a four-episode arc in the comedy series “Two Thousand Acres of Sky” (2003), playing Angie Raeburn. Also in 2003, she completed her recurring role as Bab Leach in the drama series “Clocking Off,” which she had since 2001, portrayed DI Becky Metcalf in two episodes of the long-running BBC drama series “Silent Witness,” and starred as Faye Brooks in the ill-fated British TV series “Sweet Medicine.” Her voice was also heard as the interviewer in two episodes of the hit show “The Office.”

Jensen portrayed Stella in two episodes of the 1980s drama series “Casualty” in 2004, which was followed with a guest role in the ITV crime series “Rebus” (also 2004) and a small part as the agent of Steve Coogan in the comedy film “A Cock and Bull Story” (2005), which was based on the Laurence Sterne novel “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.” It was her first movie in six years.

After fourteen years in the industry, Jensen eventually hit the big time when she won a starring role opposite Ricky Gervais in the BBC Two/HBO television comedy series “Extras,” which debuted in the U.K. in July 2005 and the U.S. in September that same year. Playing the socially awkward Maggie Jacobs, she received British Comedy awards for Best Comedy Newcomer and Best TV Comedy Actress (both 2005), a Golden Rose for Best Sitcom Actress at the 2006 Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival, and a 2006 BAFTA nomination for Best Comedy Performance. Her performance in “Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale (#3.0),” aired on December 16, 2007, and garnered the actress a prestigious Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Jensen next appeared in episodes of the disappointing comedy “Meet the Magoons” and the 1980s mystery series “Taggart” (both 2005). She also starred with Patrick Stewart in the short-lived horror series “Eleventh Hour” (2006), where she was cast as Rachel Young, and narrated the TV shows “Cook Yourself Thin” (6 episodes), “Movie Connections” (8 episodes) and the documentary movie “Taking Liberties” (all 2007), which was helmed and written by Chris Atkins.

Jensen's next big breakthrough arrived when she landed the role of Christina McKinney on the ABC series “Ugly Betty,” starring America Ferrera as Betty Suarez. Debuting in September 2006, the show was an immediate hit and brought Jensen a BAFTA Scotland Award nomination for Best Acting Performance in Television (2008) and two SAG nominations in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2007, 2008).

In 2009, Jensen costarred as Isobel in the made-for-TV film “No Holds Bard,” opposite Greg Hemphill. She will portray a Hollywood producer named Jennifer Lore in the BBC films-produced “Nativity” (2010), whose cast members also include Martin Freeman, Mark Noyce and Rhydian Jones.


Awards:

  • Rose d'Or Light Entertainment Festival: Golden Rose, Best Sitcom Actress, “Extras,” 2006

  • British Comedy: Best Comedy Newcomer, “Extras,” 2005

  • British Comedy: Best TV Comedy Actress, “Extras,” 2005

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