Secrets & Lies
Making her big screen debut in 1991's “London Kills Me,” British actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste gained international fame five years later portraying a daughter looking for her biological mother in the Mike Leigh directed “Secrets & Lies” (1996), from which she picked up Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Prior to her success, she had worked in a stage production of “It's a Great Big Shame.” Other films she has acted in include Noah Baumbach's “Mr. Jealousy” (1998), “The 24 Hour Woman” (1999), Betty Thomas' “28 Days” (2000), the Jennifer Lopez vehicle “The Cell” (2000), Tony Scott's “Spy Game” (2001), Susan Traylor's “Welcome to California” (2005) and “Jam” (2006, also an associate producer). More recently, Jean-Baptiste was popular as FBI agent Vivian Johnson on the American television series “Without a Trace” (CBS, 2002-2009). The role brought her a SAG nomination and three Image nominations. She also appeared in the ABC miniseries “The Wedding” (1998, produced by Oprah Winfrey) and received a Royal Television Society nomination for her starring role in the British television film “The Murder of Stephen Lawrence” (1999, aired on PBS in 2002).
Besides acting, Jean-Baptiste is a singer, writer and composer.
Childhood and Family:
Marianne Raigipcien Jean-Baptiste was born on April 26, 1967, in London, England. She was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Her husband, Evan Williams, is a British ballet dancer. The couple has a daughter named Pascale Williams (born in April 1997).
Without a Trace
Classically trained actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste kicked off her movie career in 1991 with a small role in the independent comedy “London Kills Me,” which was written and directed by Hanif Kureishi. She also earned some attention for her work in “Ave Africa,” a one woman show she wrote and starred in, and for performing at the Royal National Theatre and the Theatre Royal Stratford. She also worked with the Cheek By Jowl company and companies in Manchester and Yorkshire.
In 1993, Jean-Baptiste collaborated with director Mike Leigh in a stage production called “It's a Great Big Shame.” However, it was her next partnership with him that gained her true prominence. Portraying Hortense Cumberbatch, a successful young woman reunited with her biological mother in the acclaimed film “Secrets & Lies” (1996), she was handed an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Golden Globe, BAFTA and Chlotrudis nominations in the same category. She also debuted on the small screen with a one episode role in the British psychological drama “Cracker” (1994).
In spite of her success in “Secrets & Lies,” Jean-Baptiste faced difficulties finding more film roles. When she was excluded from a group of young British actors who were invited to the 50th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, she blamed racism and decided to focus her attention on Hollywood. Her first American movie, “Mr. Jealousy,” which was written and directed by Noah Baumbach and starred Eric Stoltz and Annabella Sciorra, was released theatrically on June 5, 1998, after being shown at the Toronto Film Festival and Los Angeles Independent Film Festival in September 1997 and April 1998, respectively. Since then, she has been working primarily in America.
After appearing with Clea DuVall and Gabriel Mann in the indie comedy “How to Make the Cruelest Month” (1998), Jean-Baptiste joined the cast of the Oprah Winfrey produced miniseries “The Wedding” (1998) in the supporting role of Ellen Coles. In the miniseries, she was cast alongside Halle Berry, Eric Thal, Lynn Whitfield, Carl Lumbly and Michael Warren, to name a few. She then shared the screen with Tricia Vessey, John Shea and Carroll Baker for the dramatic film “Nowhere to Go” (1998) and costarred as the private assistant to a TV host, Madeline Labelle in the comedy film “The 24 Hour Woman” (1999). Jean-Baptiste made a successful return to television with her award nominated portrayal of Doreen Lawrence on the fact-based television movie “The Murder of Stephen Lawrence” (1999, aired on PBS in 2002), where she was nominated for a 2000 Royal Television Society award in the category of Best Female Actor. Later that same year, she appeared in another British television film called “The Man.”
Entering the new millennium, Jean-Baptiste resurfaced as Roshanda on the Hollywood production of “28 Days” (2000), a drama directed by Betty Thomas that starred Sandra Bullock. She went on to play Dr. Miriam Kent, a scientist who overseas a mind transfer between a serial killer and a psychiatrist, in the Academy Award nominated horror movie “The Cell” (2000), which starred Jennifer Lopez. She then costarred with Beverly D'Angelo and Portia de Rossi in the based-on-novel “Women in Film” (2001). She was next cast as a secretary named Gladys Jennip in the Tony Scott action film “Spy Game” (2001) and returned to U.K. to play roles in the TV films “Men Only” (2001, as Gemma) and “New Year's Day”(2001, as Veronica). She also appeared in a London stage production of “The Vagina Monologues” (2001).
In 2002, Jean-Baptiste experienced a big breakthrough on television when she landed the regular role of FBI agent Vivian Johnson in the Jerry Bruckheimer produced CBS crime series “Without a Trace,” opposite Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Enrique Murciano and Eric Close. The series brought the actress a 2004 Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and three Image nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2006, 2007 and 2008). She also starred with Harry J. Lennix in Gordon Gavin's “Don't Explain” (2002), supported Niamh Cusack and Douglas Henshall in the British television movie “Loving You” (2003) and was featured as Tina in the dramatic film “Welcome to California” (2005), for director/writer Susan Traylor. She then appeared as Lorraine in the Santa Fe Film Festival winning drama “Jam” (2006), in which she also served as an associate producer. In 2008, she acted with Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Martin Landau and Mary Kay Place in the movie “City Amber” (2008), which was based on a book by Jeanne Duprau.
After the series “Without a Trace” ended in 2009, Jean-Baptiste costarred as Annie Washington in the short “The Bake Shop Ghost” (2009) and appeared in the less-than-successful film “Takers.” She is set to portray Belle in television’s upcoming “Secrets in the Walls.”