English actress Claire Foy can now place a shining Emmy award next to her Golden Globe statuette. Indeed, the 34 year old was honored as an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards for her majestic yet intimate portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix historical drama The Crown.

Upon receiving the award, Foy said, “I had the most extraordinary two-and-a-half years of my life … I was given a role that I never thought I would ever get a chance to play.”

The other remarkable talents nominated for the same category were Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale); Keri Russell (The Americans); Sandra Oh (Killing Eve); Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black); and Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld).

Foy said, “I just felt so proud then, of being in the company of such extraordinary performances.”

The actress portrayed the Queen from the early years of her reign through the birth of Prince Edward. To prepare for the role, Foy was challenged to speak in the Queen’s unique style and be educated in a wide array of proper royal manners. The production also provided her with many books as well as audio and visual footage regarding the monarch’s life. After learning more about the Queen’s struggles and relationships, Foy came to feel a great appreciation and respect for her.

“Her family was the most important thing to her, and all of a sudden she had to sacrifice them to her job. Once I understood this, she was no longer a disembodied figure and a real person that I could portray her truthfully on screen,” she revealed.

The production is described as a relatively accurate historical account of the Queen’s reign. So, in addition to trying to capture the essence of the real Queen Elizabeth II, Foy made sure to take risks with the character especially while performing the more domestic and intimate aspects of her life.

Foy’s performance brought the Queen’s storyline up until the year 1964, and from here on out, the series will jump forward in time. Olivia Colman will play the Queen for now, as new actors are to be cast every two seasons in the six-season series. The third season is expected to be released in 2019.

But Foy’s first passion was not to become an actress. Rather, she devoted years of her childhood to ballet. But at the age of 13, she experienced symptoms of pain, inflammation, and stiffness and was dismayed when she was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. In turn, she quit dancing and wondered if she could become an actress, but she wasn’t sure she could muster up the courage to do it.

Foy would experience another hurdle at the age of 17 when she was diagnosed with a benign tumor in one eye. “I was on steroids for about a year and a half afterwards. That makes you put on a lot of weight and have really bad skin,” she shared. But the hardship proved to build character in the aspiring actress. She reflected:

“It was horrible and debilitating, but it made me realize that I needed to grab the life I wanted. If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to throw my cards on the table and say I wanted to study drama.”

Foy indeed went on to study drama and screen studies at Liverpool John Moores University, and then followed up her actor training at the Oxford School of Drama. Graduating in 2007, it would only be a year before she was cast as Amy Dorrit in the British miniseries Little Dorrit. Her film debut in Season of the Witch would follow three years later.

Foy has been described as being “on the brink of becoming an A-list star.” Coming to theaters on October 12, Foy plays Janet Shearon, the wife of astronaut Neil Armstrong in the biopic First Man. She will portray Lisbeth Salander in the crime thriller The Girl in the Spider’s Web to be released on November 9.

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