Jessica Marais

Jessica Dominique Marais (born 29 January 1985) is an Australian actress best known for her roles on Australian television in Packed to the Rafters and Love Child. She also co-starred on the American drama series Magic City.

Jessica Marais
Marais at the 2011 Logies
Jessica Dominique Marais

(1985-01-29) 29 January 1985
Johannesburg, South Africa
Years active2008–present
TelevisionThe Wrong Girl

Early life

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Marais and her family lived in Canada and New Zealand before relocating to Perth, Western Australia, when she was nine.

It's sort of something you relive. It feels fresh but obviously time does heal a lot of wounds and I'm definitely much better at coping with it now.

Marais, on the death of her father.

Six months after arriving in Australia, Marais' father Tony died from a heart attack while returning from a family picnic. Marais and her younger sister Clara were raised by her mother Karen.[1] She attended a Catholic co-educational school John XXIII College in Claremont for a year and then went to St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls from 1995 until her graduation in 2002.[2]

Jessica attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art where she graduated in 2007. NIDA appearances included Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet and Charity in Sweet Charity. While still completing her final year she won the role in Packed to the Rafters, along with co-star and fellow NIDA graduate Hugh Sheridan.[3]


Marais was attending NIDA when she was cast in the role of Rachel Rafter on the television series Packed to the Rafters. The series became a success and was instantly renewed. In February 2011 it was announced that Marais had left the show, with her final episode airing on 23 August 2011.[4] Marais starred in the series from Season One until Season Four from 2008 to 2012. Marais made cameo appearances in the final episode of season 4 on 20 March 2012 and in the series finale on 2 July 2013.

Marais also starred in Rai Fazio's film Two Fists, One Heart with fellow Perth actor Tim Minchin and Daniel Amalm which was released in March 2009.[5] Marais guest-starred in the American series, Legend of the Seeker filmed in Auckland New Zealand, playing the role of the Mord'Sith Denna.

After departing Packed to the Rafters, Marais relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood. Marais then went to Miami, to film US drama, Magic City. The series lasted two seasons.

After relocating back to Australia, Marais portrayed Australian transgender entertainer and activist Carlotta in a biographic telefilm for ABCTV Australia.[6] Its worldwide premiere was on 19 June 2014. It was the No. 10 show of the night, and nationally won its timeslot with 811,000 viewers.[7] Also in 2014, Marais had the lead role on Channel Nine's Love Child, where she played the character Dr Joan Millar. She has since appeared on all four seasons of this show.

Since 2016, Marais had the lead role in Channel Ten's drama The Wrong Girl. Marais was nominated for the Gold Logie in 2017 and 2018

Personal life

Marais was engaged to former Packed to the Rafters co-star James Stewart in 2009.[8] However, in May 2015 Marais announced that she and Stewart had ended their 5-year engagement amicably.[9]

Marais and Stewart have a daughter together born in May 2012. Marais was reported as saying she would return to work filming the second series of Magic City while Stewart would be the baby's full-time caregiver.[10]


Film and television roles
Year Title Role Notes
2008 Two Fists, One Heart Kate Film
2008–2012, 2013 Packed to the Rafters Rachel Rafter Main role (seasons 1–4); guest role (season 6); 75 episodes
2009–2010 Legend of the Seeker Denna 4 episodes
2010 Fish Lips Audrey – adult Short film
2010 Needle Kandi Film
2012–2013 Magic City Lily Diamond Main role; 16 episodes
2014–2017 Love Child Joan Millar Main role
2014 Carlotta Carlotta Television film
2015 That Sugar Film "Actor" Documentary film
2016–2017 The Wrong Girl Lily Woodward Lead role
2016 Have You Been Paying Attention? Herself Guest Quiz Master


Marais has won, and been nominated, for seven Logies in her time.

Her first success at the Logies was in 2009, when she won the Logie for "Most Popular New Female Talent" and the prestigious Graham Kennedy Award for "Most Outstanding New Talent" for her role on Packed to the Rafters. For her role on this show, she was nominated for the Gold Logie in 2011 and nominated for "Most Popular Actress" in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In 2015, she was nominated for the "Most Outstanding Actress" for her role in Carlotta, and also nominated for the "Most Popular Actress" award for her roles in Carlotta and Love Child.

Marais won "Most Popular Actress" in 2016 (for Love Child) and 2017 (for Love Child and The Wrong Girl). Also in 2017, she was nominated for the Gold Logie and "Most Outstanding Actress" in 2017 (also for her role in Love Child).


  1. "Packed To the Rafters star Jessica Marais still haunted by seeing father die". 28 October 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  2. "More About Jessica Marais – Jessica Marais". Zimbio. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  3. "Packed to the Rafters – Channel 7 TV Show – Yahoo7 TV". Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. Harris, Amy (15 February 2011). "Packed to the Rafters losing Jessica Marais, its brightest young star |". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  5. "Two Fists, One Heart". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. "Jessica Marais steps into Carlotta's big shoes" from (9 May 2013)
  7. "Ratings 19 June 2014".
  8. "Jessica Marais and James Stewart are engaged!". New Idea. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  9. "Jessica Marais and James Stewart Split". Who. 20 May 2015. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  10. "Celeb news: Look who's had a baby. Mamamia". Retrieved 13 December 2012.
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