Orla Brady (born 28 March 1961) is an Irish theatre, television, and film actress born in Dublin. She has been nominated for several awards from the Irish Film & Television Academy for her work in televised programs, as well as starring in the RTÉ/BBC co-production A Love Divided where she portrayed Sheila Cloney, for which she won the 1999 Golden Nymph Best Actress Award. She began her career with the Balloonatics Theatre Company as a touring performer, later gaining her first minor role in television as a bank clerk in the series Minder in 1993. Her first role in film was as Vanessa in Words Upon the Window Pane in 1994. Brady starred in recurring roles in a number of US and UK series, and in a Doctor Who special. In 2020, she was listed as number 43 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.[1]

Orla Brady
Orla Brady 2020 1 cropped.jpg
Born (1961-03-28) 28 March 1961 (age 61)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1991–present
(m. 2002)

Early lifeEdit

Brady was born in Dublin, the second of four children of Patrick and his wife Catherine (Kitty). She lived in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, from birth until the age of seven.[2] She was educated at a Loreto Convent in Wicklow and an Ursuline Convent in Dublin.

At 25, she moved to Paris, where she studied at L'École Philippe Gaulier, securing a place at Marcel Marceau's École Internationale de Mimodrame de Paris.[3]


Brady began her career with Balloonatics Theatre Company, touring productions of Hamlet and Finnegans Wake. She then returned to Dublin to perform at the Gate Theatre[4] where she played Adele in House of Bernarda Alba and Natasha in Three Sisters. After moving to London, she played Kate in Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which later transferred from the King's Head Theatre to the West End.

Brady's first professional work in England was in Blinded by the Sun by Stephen Poliakoff at the Royal National Theatre[3] and she has since developed a career based on both Irish and British located theatre, television and film. These have included the RTÉ/BBC co-production A Love Divided where she portrayed Sheila Cloney, for which she won the 1999 Golden Nymph Best Actress Award at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival.[5] She also played one of four main characters in the BBC's drama series Mistresses, Siobhan Dillon, a lawyer who struggled to maintain her relationship with husband Hari while also having an affair with her colleague, Dominic, with whom she later went on to have a child. Also, she has appeared in RTÉ's Proof, and had roles in films such as Words Upon the Window Pane (1994), The Luzhin Defence (2000), How About You (2007), and 32A (2007).

Since moving to California in 2001, Brady has also appeared in Family Law, where she played Naoise O'Niell. The series ran for 3 years on CBS. She has also starred in Nip/Tuck, a US drama about plastic surgeons in which she played Dr. Jordan. She later starred in Shark as Claire Stark, the ex-wife of James Woods' character. In 2008, she appeared in Firewall, the second episode of the BBC series Wallander.[6] She also appeared as Meredith Gates, a fleecing art collector who herself is conned in the first series of the British series Hustle.

Commencing in 2009, Brady portrayed Elizabeth Bishop, the wife of Walter Bishop and the mother of Peter Bishop in the Fox television series Fringe.[7] In 2010, she appeared in the TV series The Deep alongside James Nesbitt, wherein she played Catherine. She also starred in the TV series Strike Back as Katie Dartmouth.

In 2012, she appeared in the ITV series Eternal Law as Mrs Sheringham, an angel who fell in love with a human and became mortal. She also played Taryn in the Sky One series Sinbad. In late 2013, she appeared as the Countess Vera Rossakoff in the television adaptation of The Labours of Hercules, part of the final series of Agatha Christie's Poirot alongside David Suchet.

On 25 December 2013, Brady starred in the Christmas special episode The Time of the Doctor of the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who as the character Tasha Lem. In 2014, she filmed Banished, playing Anne Meredith.

From 2017 to 2019, she had a main role in the AMC martial arts drama series Into the Badlands as Lydia. In 2019, Brady portrayed Dr. Hopple in American Horror Story: 1984, the ninth season of the FX horror anthology television series American Horror Story.

In 2020, she had a recurring role as Laris, Jean-Luc Picard's Romulan housekeeper, in the first season of the sci-fi series Star Trek: Picard. In the show's second season, she joins the main cast as Tallinn, a "Supervisor" (à la Gary Seven, in Star Trek: The Original Series) in the year 2024 storyline, while also briefly appearing as Laris in the 25th century storyline.

Photographic modelEdit

In the late 1980s, Brady posed for a series of photographic figure studies that were published in The Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual (1987). An image of Brady posing in her own dress was used by the artist Jack Vettriano as the focal subject of The Singing Butler.[8][9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 2001, Brady moved to Los Angeles, where she met English photographer Nick Brandt, whom she married in December 2002 in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya. She also has a Georgian flat in Dublin.[10] She admitted in an interview that she originally left Ireland as she found it a repressive place with little opportunity. The 2015 marriage equality and 2018 abortion referendums, as well as the expanding Irish industry, changed her mind, making her realise "Oh, this is a different Ireland and it accepts me now."[11]

Brady is an atheist.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Words Upon the Window Pane Vanessa
1999 A Love Divided Sheila Kelly Cloney
2000 The Luzhin Defence Aunt Anna
2001 Silent Grace Eileen
2002 Fogbound Ann
2006 Last Night Lucy Short film
2007 32A Jean Brennan
2007 How About You Kate Harris
2013 Wayland's Song Grace
2015 The Price of Desire Eileen Gray
2017 The Foreigner Mary Hennessy
2019 A Girl from Mogadishu Emer Costello
2019 Rose Plays Julie Ellen
2019 The Other Me Marina


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Minder Bank Teller Episode: "Opportunity Knocks and Bruises"
1994 The Bill Amy Episode: "No Job for an Amateur"
1994 Absolutely Fabulous Nurse Mary Episode: "Hospital"
1994 The Rector's Wife Sister Josephine Episode: "1.2"
1995 Dangerfield Diane Foster 2 episodes
1995 New Voices Ruby Episode: "The Treasure of Zavimbi"
1995 Casualty Wendy Episode: "Outside Bulawayo"
1995–1996 Out of the Blue D.S. Rebecca "Becky" Bennett 12 episodes
1996 Pie in the Sky Kit Kelly de Goris Episode: "Irish Stew"
1996 The Vicar of Dibley Aoife Episode: "The Christmas Lunch Incident"
1997 The Heart Surgeon Marcella Duggan Television film
1997 Noah's Ark Clare Somers 9 episodes
1998 Wuthering Heights Cathy Television film
1999 Pure Wickedness Jenny Meadows 4 episodes
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Kathleen Fitzpatrick Television movie
2000–2002 Family Law Naoise O'Neill 43 episodes
2003 Servants Flora Ryan 6 episodes
2003 The Debt Angela Jahnsen Television movie
2003 Chris Ryan's Strike Back Katie Dartmouth 2 episodes
2004 Hustle Meredith Gates Episode: "Picture Perfect"
2004 Nip/Tuck Dr. Monica Jordan Episode: "Christian Troy"
2004 Lawless Liz Bird Television movie
2004–2005 Proof Maureen Boland 8 episodes
2005 Revelations Nora Webber 6 episodes
2005 Empire Atia 2 episodes
2005 World of Trouble Joan Denny Television movie
2006 Sixty Minute Man Kate Henderson Television movie
2006 Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise Lilly Summers Television movie
2007 Protect and Serve Dr. Lorna Herrera Television movie
2007–2008 Shark Claire Stark 4 episodes
2008 Wallander Ella Lindfeldt Episode: "Firewall"
2008–2010 Mistresses Siobhan Dillon 16 episodes
2010 The Deep Catherine Donnelly 5 episodes
2010–2012 Fringe Elizabeth Bishop 5 episodes
2012 Sinbad Taryn 9 episodes
2012 Eternal Law Mrs. Sheringham 6 episodes
2013 Jo Beatrice Dormont 8 episodes
2013 Agatha Christie's Poirot Countess Rossakoff Episode: "The Labours of Hercules"
2013 Doctor Who Tasha Lem Episode: "The Time of the Doctor"
2015 Banished Anne Meredith 7 episodes
2015 American Odyssey Sofia Tsaldari 9 episodes
2015–2019 Into the Badlands Lydia 25 episodes
2018 Collateral Phoebe Dyson 3 episodes
2019 American Horror Story: 1984 Dr. Karen Hopple 4 episodes
2020–2022 Star Trek: Picard Laris 4 episodes
Tallinn 6 episodes
2020 The South Westerlies Kate Ryan 6 episodes
2022 Death in Paradise Maggie Harper Episode: "#11.8"


  1. ^ Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara (13 June 2020). "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  2. ^ Interview with Miriam O'Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 12 January 2014
  3. ^ a b Philby, Charlotte (5 January 2008). "How Do I Look?: Orla Brady, actress, 46". The Independent. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2008.
  4. ^ "Biography". orlabrady.org. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2008.
  5. ^ "Brits strike gold at Monte Carlo". Broadcast. 1 March 2000. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  6. ^ "BBC One Programmes: Wallander | Firewall". BBC. 30 November 2008. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  7. ^ "Meet Mrs. Bishop: Orla Brady Joins 'Fringe'". TV.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Profile of Orla Brady". jackvettriano.com. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  9. ^ Jones, Sam (4 October 2005). "Vettriano brought to book by illustrator's manual". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 20 September 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  10. ^ O'Doherty, Cara (4 October 2020). "Orla Brady interview: 'I would see certain people walking in the door and blanching'". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  11. ^ Clarke, Donald (15 September 2021). "Orla Brady: 'I felt Ireland was a very repressive place to be a woman'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 15 September 2021. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  12. ^ Allen Smith, Warren (2002). Celebrities in Hell: A Guide to Hollywood's Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Free Thinkers, and More. Barricade Books Inc. p. 130. ISBN 1-56980-214-9. Brady had a Catholic upbringing but now considers herself an atheist

External linksEdit