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Date of Birth: 2 November 1972
Place of Birth: Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK
Birth Name: Samantha Janus
Height: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
Samantha Zoe Womack (née Janus; born 2 November 1972) is an English actress and singer. She is currently known for playing the role of Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders. She is notable for her part as Mandy Wilkins in Game On, and also represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 1991.
Early life and career
Born in Brighton, Womack is the niece of Angie Best, a former wife of George Best. Her cousin is Calum Best, son of Angie and George. She has a younger sister, Zoe. Her father Noel left the family when she was three, and soon after her mother Diane married a doctor and the family moved to Edinburgh. Janus lived on the QE2 with her grandmother for a short time. On 23 August 2009, her 60-year-old estranged father was found hanged in the bathroom of his council flat in Brighton, where he lived alone. It is believed he committed suicide.
Aged fifteen she left home as a self-confessed wild child for a life in squats, drinking, smoking and taking drugs. She eventually turned her life around, and attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London.
The actress first came to prominence in 1991, when she won the annual A Song for Europe competition to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest. She finished joint tenth and the song, "A Message to Your Heart", peaked at number 30 on the UK Singles Chart.
Janus developed her first love of acting, appearing in episodes of The Bill and Press Gang; in 1993 she appeared in Demob alongside Griff Rhys Jones and Martin Clunes; and took to the West End stage, replacing Debbie Gibson as Sandy in Grease.
In 1994 she landed the part of Mandy in the cult BBC Two sitcom Game On alongside Ben Chaplin. Showing a natural comic touch, she stayed on the show until it finished in 1998. In between series of Game On, she had a part in the BBC One drama Pie in the Sky from 1995 until 1996.
She then starred in the pilot for The Grimleys with Jack Dee, and the movie Up 'n' Under with Neil Morrissey. In 1998 she starred in the ITV1 series Liverpool 1 alongside her future husband Mark Womack. She then returned to comedy in the ITV sitcom Babes in the Wood. Co-starring another Sylvia Young Theatre School student, Denise van Outen, it was critically panned despite respectable ratings, and Janus left after the first series.
In 1999 she starred as Cinderella in the ITV Christmas pantomime, with Harry Hill, Alexander Armstrong, Frank Skinner, Paul Merton, Ronnie Corbett and many more. In 2002 she returned to TV screens in the BBC One drama Strange and after that series ended in 2003, she has had roles in the films The Baby Juice Express and Dead Man's Cards.
In 2005 she directed an anti-bullying music video for Liverpool band Just 3, entitled Stand Tall. The video starred Liverpool FC footballer Jamie Carragher and herself. The video was heavily backed by Childline ambassador Esther Rantzen. A popular choice for photo shoots in men's magazines such as FHM, she came 21st in the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 1998 poll and 41st in the same listing in 1999.
In 2006, she starred in the BBC One comedy Home Again as Ingrid, and as Miss Adelaide in the West End production of the musical Guys and Dolls at London's Piccadilly Theatre, initially alongside Patrick Swayze and then Miami Vice star Don Johnson. She reprised the role at the Sunderland Empire alongside Alex Ferns in 2007.
On 11 May 2007, it was announced that she would be joining EastEnders as Ronnie Mitchell, a cousin of the Mitchell brothers. She had previously appeared in the soap in a minor role as a girlfriend of Simon Wicks.
Her portrayal of Ronnie Mitchell won her Best Newcomer at the Digital Spy Soap Awards along with Best Onscreen Partnership for her character partnership with Roxy Mitchell played by Rita Simons.She was nominated for Best Actress for the 2009 Soap Awards and she was nominated for 'Sexiest Female' for the 2010 Soap Awards and is currently in the nominations for Best Soap Actress for 'Inside Soap' Magazine Awards.
Janus married Italian Mauro Mantovani in 1997 after a long relationship. The relationship broke down and the couple divorced in 1998.
She then starred in Liverpool 1, and started a relationship with Mark Womack while she was still married to Mauro. They married on 16 May 2009 and have two children (both born in Westminster, London) while Mark has another son from a previous marriage, Michael Womack. Their son Benjamin Thomas Womack (born February 2001) (after having him Janus took two years off to enjoy motherhood) and their daughter Lily-Rose Womack (born April 2005).
In 2009, Janus took her husband's surname of Womack and began to use it professionally in her role on EastEnders.
Womack and her husband are friends with Scott Maslen and his wife Estelle Rubio. Maslen is godfather to Womack's two children (and she is godmother to Maslen's son, Zak) and they often go on holiday together with their children, which Womack revealed during an appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in January 2008. Womack is also best friends with co-star Rita Simons, who plays her sister Roxy Mitchell.
In the autumn of 2007, Maslen joined the cast of EastEnders as the character Jack Branning, the brother of Max Branning, who quickly takes a shine to Ronnie. This was something that both Maslen and Womack were initially uncomfortable with when they read it in the scripts, Maslen commenting in various interviews that having to kiss Womack was like having to kiss his sister.
In April 2008, several future scenes featuring Ronnie had to be scrapped after Womack broke her shoulder when she tripped and fell down the stairs at her home while rushing to get ready for work. Since appearing on EastEnders, she has made regular television appearances, including Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, The Paul O'Grady Show, Richard and Judy and Loose Women. In November 2007, she sang along EastEnders co-stars in the 2007 Children in Need charity appeal.
|2010||All Star Mr and Mrs||Herself|
|Friday Night with Jonathan Ross||Herself|
|The Paul O'Grady Show||Herself|
|EastEnders||Ronnie Mitchell (July 2007 – present)|
|Wild at Heart||Tessa|
|2006||Dead Man's Cards||Kris|
|Where the Heart Is||Marla|
|2005||The Afternoon Play||Emma Priestley|
|2004||The Baby Juice Express||Trixie|
|2002||Judge John Deed||Mel Powell|
|1998||Babes in the Wood||Ruth Froud|
|Liverpool 1||DC Isobel de Pauli|
|Game On||Mandy Wilkins|
|Up 'n' Under||Hazel Scott|
|Pie in the Sky||Nicola|
|1997||The Grimleys||Geraldine Titley|
|1993||Health and Efficiency||Charmaine|
|1992||The Bill||Annie Carlisle|
|A Murder of Quality||Alice Lawry|
|Jekyll & Hyde||Young Maid (Margaret)|
- May 1991 "A Message to Your Heart" / "Heaven is a Place for Heroes" (Hollywood Records), UK Singles Chart #30
- Attended The Sylvia Young Theatre School.
- Has a younger sister, Zoë.
- Represented the UK in the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest.
- Began a relationship with "Liverpool 1" (1998) co-star Mark Womack after both their marriages broke down in 1999.
- Son born with Mark Womack, Benjamin. [February 2001]
- Second child with Mark Womack, daughter Lily-Rose, born April 2005.
- Her mother was a model and her father a songwriter, he left the family home when Samantha was three, soon after her mother married a G.P and the whole family relocated to Edinburgh.
- Starred on the West End stage as Sandy in "Grease" in 1993. She later returned to the West End stage in 2006, starring as Miss Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" at London's Picadilly Theatre alongside Patrick Swayze and then Don Johnson.
- Has been best friends with actor Scott Maslen since she was 16.
- Broke her shoulder after falling down stairs at home whilst rushing to get to work (April 2008).
- A close female friend has been Rita Simons, who plays her younger sister in "EastEnders" (1985), since they began working together in 2007.
- Her favourite television programme is "The Sopranos" (1999).
- Lived in Italy during her marriage to Mauro Mantovani.
- Is the cousin of Calum Best.
- Got engaged to long-term partner Mark Womack after he proposed to her in a flea market in Paris (January 2009).
- Is the godmother of Zachary Maslen, the son of Scott Maslen and Estelle Rubio.
- Served as bridesmaid at the wedding of Scott Maslen to Estelle Rubio (6 September 2008).
- Her favourite "EastEnders" (1985) character is Angie Watts (who was played by Anita Dobson).
- Her estranged father Noel Janus, aged 60, was found hanged in his one-bedroom flat in Brighton by a concerned neighbour (22 August 2009).