Emily Barclay

Emily Barclay (born 24 October 1984) is an English-born, New Zealand AFI award winning actress.

Emily Barclay
Barclay in 2012
Born (1984-10-24) 24 October 1984
Plymouth, England, UK
Years active1998–present


Emily Barclay was born in Plymouth to a General practitioner and a landscape designer, and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, where she went to an all-girls school and attended Saturday morning drama classes. At the age of nine, Barclay played Hamlet in a school production and decided to become an actress.[1] At the age of 13, she got herself an agent, and supported herself between TV movies by working in a video store.[2]

Diana Rowan (the same casting agent who discovered Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas) discovered Barclay in a school play and cast her as Celia in 2004's In My Father's Den, that rose the actress to prominence.[3] For that film, Barclay won Most Promising Newcomer at the 2005 British Independent Film Awards. She followed by moving to Australia – while continuing part-time with her degree in English and gender studies at the University of Auckland – for a role in the critically acclaimed 2006 black comedy Suburban Mayhem directed by Paul Goldman, for which she collected an AFI Award for Best Actress.

Barclay's performance also lead to an invitation to her first stage performance, on Neil Armfield's 2009 production of Gethsemane in Sydney. Armfield later indicated Barclay to Lee Lewis, who cast her in the play That Face.[1] In 2011, she performed in another Belvoir production, The Seagull, and acted opposite Geoffrey Rush in the Melbourne Theatre Company's The Importance of Being Earnest. In 2012, Barclay performed opposite Hollywood actors Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin in This Is Our Youth, returned to Belvoir with Strange Interlude and debuted at London's Young Vic performing on Three Sisters.[4][5]

Barclay is currently represented by United Agents.[6]

Barclay also starred in the music video "Big Jet Plane" by Angus & Julia Stone which was directed by Kiku Ohe in 2010.[7]

She has cited her favourite actor as being Ewen Leslie.

Animal rights

The actress has had an active involvement in animal rights, working with the organisation Save Animals From Exploitation in anti-cruelty campaigns, including having posters put in her room in In My Fathers Den; she is a vegan.[8][9]

In 2006, Barclay became an ambassador for Australian animal rights group Voiceless, the animal protection institute. "I'm not against people who eat meat but I'd like them to know what happens in factory farms where highly intelligent animals live horrific lives."[10]



Year Title Role Notes
2001 No One Can Hear You Amy Burchall
2004 In My Father's Den Celia Steimer British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
New Zealand Screen Award for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
2005 Cockle Jane Short
2006 Suburban Mayhem Katrina Skinner AACTA Award for Best Leading Actress
IF Award for Best Actress
2009 Prime Mover Melissa / Calendar Girl
2010 Zero Girl Short
2010 Lou Rhia
2010 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Gylfie (voice)
2011 Love Birds Brenda
2011 Weekender Claire
2012 Mr. Pip Australian teacher
2016 The Light Between Oceans Gwen Potts


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Shortland Street Kelly McKinley TV series
1999 A Twist in the Tale Alison Bradley "The Duellists", "A Ghost of Our Own"
2001 Mercy Peak Hayley Borden "Her Secret Passion"
2003 Spin Doctors Tiffany "4.2"
2004 Deceit Katie McCarthy TV film
2005 Kidnapped Maddy TV film
2006 The Silence Evelyn Hutchison TV film
2009 Piece of My Heart Young Flora TV film
New Zealand Film and TV Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in General Television
2010 Lowdown Abi Hart "Hart of Darkness"
2015–17 Glitch Sarah Hayes Regular role
2015–16 Please Like Me Ella Main role
2017 Offspring Georgie TV series
2017 Sisters Casey TV series
2019 Diary of an Uber Driver Georgie TV series


YearTitleRoleNotes and awards
2010That FaceMia
2011The SeagullMashaNominated – 2012 Sydney Theatre Award: Best Actress in a Supporting Role of a Mainstage Production
The Importance of Being EarnestCecily
2012This Is Our YouthJessica
Strange InterludeNina
Three SistersNatasha


  1. "Emily Barclay is a rebel with a cause". 26 January 2010.
  2. O'Neill, Phelim (22 December 2006). "First Sight: Emily Barclay". The Guardian.
  3. Kiwi actor a star attraction via Sydney Morning Herald 11 June 2006
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "This is Our Youth". 24 February 2012.
  6. "Emily Barclay | United Agents".
  7. Barclay portrays character "Ella" in Season 3 of Josh Thomas's comedy drama tv show
  8. Bad-girl Barclay press.co.nz 10 April 2007
  9. Actress Emily Barclay supports vegetarian SAFE stall Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) press release 8 Nov 2004
  10. "Voiceless, the animal protection institute". February 2012.
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