There are few Hollywood stars who have had to overcome such tragic circumstances at the start of their life as up-and-coming British actress Thaddea Graham.
The actress, 25, has revealed in a new interview how she was born in China but left in the doorstep of a building by her biological parents when she was just three days old.
At 13-months-old, she was adopted by a couple from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who encouraged her to take dance lessons to help increase her confidence as a child.
She was considering going to law school when her mother suggested she’d be happier at drama school after, after graduating in 2018, has taken on a number of blockbuster roles – including parts in Netflix hits The Letter for the King and The Irregulars.
She has since starred in Doctor Who – and her profile is set to rise even further when she appears as a new cast member in season four of Sex Education.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, the 25-year-old said: ‘It’s a real honour to be part of and you’re aware that you’re hopefully doing something important.’
Shortly after the pandemic, Thaddea landed herself a role in Doctor Who alongside Jodie Whittaker
Recalling her childhood, Thaddea noted her ‘supportive’ adoptive parents took regular trips back to China to make sure she remained close to the place she came from.
To help her with her confidence as a shy child, Thaddea’s mother took her to dancing lessons, and she soon began performing in summer schools.
As her confidence and love for performing grew, she starred in a TV show and had roles in small films in her early teenage years.
She also learnt to play several musical instruments, including the guitar, at secondary school.
There are few Hollywood stars who have had to overcome such tragic circumstances at the start of their life as up-and-coming British actress Thaddea Graham (pictured, in her first TV show Curfew)
Thaddea has appeared in a number of hit Netflix shows, including the platform’s answer to Game of Thrones The Letter for the King
She still writes songs today, which she posts videos of on Instagram.
When most of her friends were looking at universities, Thaddea’s mother realised she was destined for an acting career and booked a day off to take her daughter to open days for drama schools in London.
However, she had bad experiences during auditions for many institutions, claiming one trial left her and all other aspiring students in tears because they had been pushed to focus on their biggest fears.
After trying for several schools she didn’t like, she found ArtsEd, from which she graduated in 2018.
Looking back, she said performing from a young age taught her how to ‘lose with grace’ and prepared her for the many knockbacks you face as an actor.
But after a turbulent start to life, Thaddea is now one of the UK’s most promising rising stars, having landed roles in the popular Netflix show alongside greats like Gillian Anderson and long-running BBC show, Doctor Who, within five years of graduating from drama school.
Her first big role came after she graduated, and she appeared in the Sky One show Curfew opposite Miranda Richardson.
It wasn’t long before she caught the eye of Netflix and she starred in the show’s answer to Game of Thrones – known as The Letter for the King.
She went on to be cast in the BBC One drama Us with Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves.
Her first big role came after she graduated, and she appeared in the Sky One show Curfew opposite Miranda Richardson (pictured)
Her first leading role came when she starred in The Irregulars, a fantastical take on Sherlock Holmes.
The show featured a number of steamy scenes between Thaddea and her cast member, Harrison Osterfield, with the two often pictured kissing passionately and growing close in bed.
With her star rising, she took on her biggest role yet in BBC’s Doctor Who, where she starred opposite Jodie Whittaker, who she says is her idol.
However, despite overcoming many instances of being told ‘no’ to star in some top TV shows, she admits she doesn’t want to achieve ‘celebrity’ status.
She went on to be cast in the BBC One drama Us with Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves (pictured)
‘I don’t want to be famous with my acting or music. The idea of celebrity really scares me.
‘For me it’s about connecting to people and telling stories,’ she said, adding she embraces ‘Irish culture’ by performing intimate gigs with just herself and her guitar.
She recalled how she used to walk around Hamilton Dock and Waterfront Hall in Belfast as a child, where she has now filmed Wreck, on school trips and to see concerts.
Looking back, she said she cannot believe how far she has come.’
‘It makes me quite emotional thinking about it,’ she said.
Her first leading role came when she starred in The Irregulars, a fantastical take on Sherlock Holmes (pictured)
The show featured a number of steamy scenes between Thaddea and her cast member, Harrison Osterfield, with the two often pictured kissing passionately and growing close in bed
Speaking about Wreck, in which she plays Vivian, who battles to survive while working on a cruise ship as a killer dressed in a duck costume murders staff members, Thaddea revealed she has always disliked the horror genre.
So strong is her hatred of scary stuff that her mother even took out the characters of the ugly stepsisters when reading Cinderella to her daughter as a child.
When Thaddea watched the finished series of Wreck, she had to turn down the volume of the scary bits, even though she knew what was coming.
Her next role will be her biggest yet – starring in season four of Netflix’s Sex Education as a recurring cast member.
It is unclear yet what Thaddea’s character might be like but she is being credited as a ‘series regular’.
Thaddea took to Instagram to share the big news, posting a photo of a pencil case, sex education novel and laptop, and writing: ‘Back to school I go’.
Thaddea is now starring in The Wreck, which sees a murderer dressed in a duck costume stalking a cruise ship and killing off its staff one-by-one