Focus Features; Kevin Mazur/WireImage Marisa Abela (L); Amy Winehouse
Marisa Abela is taking on the role of a lifetime as she plays Amy Winehouse in the upcoming biopic Back to Black.
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the upcoming film will chronicle the late Grammy winner's "vibrant years living in London in the early aughts and her intense journey to fame," according to a press release obtained by Entertainment Weekly.
Abela's role in the film was first reported in July 2022, as Deadline said that she was "the top choice" to play the late singer, who died in 2011.
In January 2023, fans got the first look at Abela in character as Taylor-Johnson posted a photo on Instagram, showing Abela rocking Winehouse's signature beehive hairstyle and large hoop earrings.
While Abela is already creating buzz for her role as Winehouse, it certainly isn't her first big project.
From her acting background to her audition for Back to Black, here's everything to know about Abela.
She's from England
Like Winehouse, who was raised in Southgate, London, England, Abela is English. She was born in Brighton, East Sussex, England, on Dec. 7, 1996.
Also, like the late singer, Abela is Jewish, telling The National in 2022, "[My] mum and dad come from completely different cultures — my dad is Maltese Arab, and my mum is from a family of Polish Jewish refugees."
Comparing herself to her character on Industry, she added, "Like Yasmin, my parents are separated, and we both grew up and went to boarding school in England. But the thing I relate to most is that those two cultures can be quite divisive, and you can feel like you're being pulled in different directions."
She was originally going to be a lawyer before pursuing acting
Before embarking on her acting career, Abela was going to pursue a career as a human rights lawyer, telling W magazine, "I got into a ton of universities in the U.K. and while I was looking around, I was supposed to do History with a Law conversion, but I just wasn't interested."
Thankfully, her parents supported her decision. "They wanted me to be an actor!" she recalled. "I think being a lawyer would be me rebelling. I told them growing up that, that's what I wanted to do because every time I was in a school play or a show, they were both like over the moon and like, 'She's going to do it!' They were sort of nudging each other. So, I think my way of rebelling was just pretending I was going to be a lawyer."
She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
After getting into various universities, Abela ultimately decided to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, receiving her BA in Acting Degree in 2019. In addition to being one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom, the school has countless notable alumni, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Cynthia Erivo, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and many more.
She already has an impressive acting résumé
While Back to Black is sure to be a big movie role for Abela, she has already made a name for herself on TV. She made her television debut in 2020 on the British series COBRA before she was cast as Yasmin Kara-Hanani on HBO's hit series Industry, which was recently renewed for season 3.
She's going to be in the upcoming Barbie movie
Abela is also set to star in Greta Gerwig's highly anticipated Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Her role was first announced in July 2022, though it's unclear who she'll be playing.
"If you'd have told me that by the time I was 25 I'd have worked with Lena Dunham and Greta Gerwig, I'd have geeked out," she told W Magazine of working with Gerwig and Dunham, who directed the pilot episode of Industry. "It's just inspiring, working with these women who have crushed it in the most ultimate way."
She's dating actor Jamie Bogyo
David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty
Abela is dating actor and fellow RADA alum Jamie Bogyo, who played Chrisitan in the West End production of Moulin Rouge!. The couple recently celebrated their three-year anniversary in January 2023, and regularly post photos of each other on their respective social media profiles.
In December 2021, Bogyo celebrated Abela's birthday with a sweet tribute, writing, "TODAY IS A VERY SPECIAL DAY!!!! Because today, the stunningly beautiful, wildly talented, and overall queen of my heart @marisaabela_ turns 25. Here's to the greatest girlfriend I could ever ask for. V grateful you were born! I love you so much."
She blew everyone away with her Amy Winehouse audition
Though many actresses auditioned for the Amy Winehouse biopic, Abela was reportedly a front-runner from the very beginning. Per Deadline, Abela's first audition "blew away execs and Taylor-Johnson and put her in the driver's seat to land the role."
Additionally, Winehouse's estate has given the seal of approval for the biopic. "We are thrilled that Studiocanal, Focus Features and Monumental are making this movie celebrating our daughter Amy's extraordinary music legacy and showcasing her talent in the way that it deserves," a rep for the estate said in a statement to Deadline.