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Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman, CBE is a multi-award-winning English actress, known for her diverse career on television series and films, as well as philanthropic work.

From light-hearted roles in comedy shows such as Peep Show, Fleabag and Hot Fuzz, to portraying Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series, The Crown, and Queen Anne in the film, The Favourite, Olivia Colman’s career since 1999 has brought her household appreciation at home in the UK and worldwide recognition. Her career accolades include at least 99 wins at prestigious film festivals worldwide and 174 nominations, including:

  • Academy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe Award Winner for Best Leading Actress in ‘The Favourite'
  • BAFTA Awards Winner for Leading Actress (2014) for her role in the ITV series ‘Broadchurch’, and double award winner at the BAFTA Awards (2013) for Female Performance in 'Twenty Twelve' and Supporting Actress in 'Accused’
  • Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe Awards winner for roles in The Crown (x2) and The Night Manager
  • Academy Awards nominations for ‘The Father’ and ‘The Lost Daughter’ 

Ambassadorship with Amnesty International UK

Over the years, Olivia has lent her voice to numerous Amnesty International UK causes, and supported our work in campaigns across women’s rights, individuals at risk, children’s education, refugee and migrant rights, and more. Here are some of the main campaigns that Olivia has been involved with below:

Human Rights In The UK

Deteriorating Rights, Here At Home Right Before Our Eyes

Most recently, Olivia Colman joined actor Adrian Lester in Amnesty International UK’s 'fake drama trailer’ short film to expose the real threat to human rights in the UK in a format we are all comfortable with – a gritty drama trailer. The project is based on the real lives of countless people in the UK whose basic rights to health, housing food and healthcare are deteriorating at an alarming rate.

Learn More

Abortion Law In Northern Ireland

In 2018, Olivia Colman joined more than 60 women celebrities in an open letter to Theresa May, calling on the then-prime minister to decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland. After years of campaigning, abortion was eventually decriminalised in Northern Ireland, however three years after this milestone, a new survey of 1000+ adults by Opiniun on behalf Amnesty International UK showed only 10% of women knew how to access abortion services. Accordingly, in 2022, Colman joined another open letter call on Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to urgently commission abortion services, this time being joined by Vick Hope, medical experts, service providers and human rights orgs.

Campaign Against Domestic Abuse

In 2020, Olivia Colman joined thousands in our Step Up Migrant Women petition, including Adwoa Aboah, Dame Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Dua Lipa and Gemma Chan to call on Priti Patel to ensure equal protection for all domestic abuse survivors. Olivia made the following video to also help us bring light to this issue during the Covid-19 Pandemic:

Women’s Rights In Afghanistan

As well as advocating for campaigns on issues faced in the UK, Olivia’s contributions to Amnesty’s work on women’s rights has also contained an international focus.

In 2014, Olivia joined Lyse Doucet on a BBC Documentary on Radio Four titled “Speaking Out, Losing Lives.” The documentary included testimonies that Amnesty International had commissioned from three women about living in Afghanistan and the dangers they face from the Taliban. Colman read the stories of those women in the documentary to give voice to those who feared the dangerous of speaking out.

Listen To The Documentary Learn About Women In Afghanistan

Individuals At Risk

During the arbitrary detention of UK-Iranian dual-national Anoosheh Ashoori in 2021, Olivia joined others such as Nazanin Boniadi and Shapi Khorsandi, in a campaign to call for his release:

“It’s hard to imagine what must be going through Anoosheh’s mind as he sits there day after day in Evin Prison - it must be utterly soul-destroying. 

“On his birthday, I’m thinking of his family in London and the ordeal they’re going through. It’s really important that we get people talking about Anoosheh’s plight and the urgent need for more action from the Government on his behalf.” 

This followed another call in 2013, in Amnesty’s Help Get Them Home campaign, when Olivia called on the UK public to send a text message to sign a petition demanding the release of prisoners of conscience in India, Iran and Indonesia. 

Women Making History Festival

In 2018, on the 100th anniversary year since British women first won the right to vote, Olivia joined our one-day ‘Women Making History’ festival to celebrate the power of women standing together for human rights. The event featured other Amnesty Ambassadors, high profile supporters and other organisations, with activities including workshops, dance classes, panel talks and more. She contributed to the ‘Words Change The World’ poetry reading session with Juliet Stevenson, Lolita Chakrabarti, and Indira Varma. A roundup of the festival can be seen here. 

Refugee And Migrant Rights: 

In 2020, Olivia Colman also joined an Amnesty open letter to the Prime Minister, urging the Prime Minister to fix the laws that keep refugee families from being able to reunite. The campaign was supported by a large 50 organisation Families Together coalition, including the British Red Cross, Oxfam GB, UNICEF UK, UNHCR and others, along with 70 other high-profile public figures such as Anoushka Shankar, Colin Firth, Helen Mirren, Kaiser Chiefs, Riz Ahmed and more. 

This followed earlier activities that Colman carried out in 2019 in support of this cause. Olivia wrote an article for The Telegraph about the plight of refugee children in which she mentions: 

“I can't stand by while refugee children are being kept from their parents' loving arms, and neither should you” – Olivia Colman 

In another touching project, Olivia joined Steve Ali to talk about the refugee experience, and what you would miss if you were forced to move away from home, and how the denial of refugee and migrant rights affects people.

Amnesty-Curated Literature  

Educating Children with Reading Rebels: 

Olivia Colman has lent a helping hand in promoting our Reading Rebels monthly book club to help encourage 4-10-year-olds to dream big and help share a better, fairer world. “Books have a unique power to teach young people about the world, to stir curiosity and foster empathy.” See Olivia and Vick home explain Reading Rebels below:  

In 2016, Colman also joined a group of 100 widely-admired women to curate a best-selling poetry anthology, titled ‘Poems That Make Grown Women Cry’. The book was put together by the acclaimed writer, Anthony Holden and his son, film producer Ben Holden, in partnership with Amnesty International. You can also see other Amnesty books, recommended titles, and reviews here on our website.

Explore Amnesty Books