In an industry that is generally dominated by men, it is a big deal to find a woman whose resume competes with and outperforms that of men in Hollywood. These women are rare in Hollywood, and one of the few is Vera Farmiga, an actress, director, and producer whose filmography has earned her over 20 nominations, including the three major acting nominations – Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe.
Vera Farmiga’s Biography
Vera Ann Farmiga was born on August 6, 1973, in Clifton, New Jersey, to Ukrainian parents. Her mother, Lubomyra, was a teacher, her father, Michael, a systems analyst, and later a landscape gardener. As the second of seven children, she was raised as a Pentecostal.
The Ukrainian-American, as she likes to describe herself, grew up in an insular Ukrainian-American community in Irvington, New Jersey. Ukrainian remained her mother tongue, and she learned English only at the age of six.
As a child, Vera Farmiga attended St. John the Baptist Catholic School, a Ukrainian school in Newark, New Jersey, and toured with a Ukrainian folk dance group as a teenager. She is a classically trained pianist and was a member of Plast, a scout organization in Ukraine.
As a young adult, she graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School. She found her vocation as an actress after being benched at a national team soccer game in her youth and eventually winning the leading role in the school play of Lady Margaret. She continued her acting career by studying Performing Arts at Syracuse University, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1995. Her successful future began in her final year of study when her performance in a production of The Seagull at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival won her group the top prize.
Vera’s acting career began with humble beginnings at the theater of the American Conservatory. In the production of The Tempest in February 1996 she played the leading role of Miranda. That same year, she made her Broadway debut alongside Ed Harris in October 1996 as an understudy in the role of Emmi Straube in Taking Sides, a play by Ronald Harwood.
These stage roles earned her her first role on the big screen: in 1997 she played Emily Elliot in Hallmark’s television movie Rose Hill. Before her breakthrough came in 2004, she had been involved in several projects, she had starred in several movies and TV shows, including a supporting role in the 2001 action thriller, 15 Minutes, alongside Robert De Niro.
When she finally made her breakthrough in 2004, she starred in the independent drama film Down to the Bone as drug-addicted mother Irene Morrison. Her performance was well-received by the critics, and although she did not win an Oscar for this performance, she still won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Best Actress Award and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead.
Throughout her career, Vera Farmiga has appeared alongside other Hollywood heavyweights such as Ian McKellen, Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, and Matt Damon.
The Academy recognized her outstanding talent in 2009 after her appearance in Jason Reitman’s comedy-drama “Up in the Air”. For her performance in the film, Vera received nominations from the Academy for Best Supporting Actress, the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, the BAFTA, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. On June 25, 2010, she was accepted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
As an already established talented actress, Vera tried her hand at directing and made her directing debut in the micro-budget film Higher Ground. The film received high critical acclaim and premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, receiving nominations for her work as a director and actress for the film. In 2013 she received an Emmy nomination for her performance at the Bates Motel for outstanding leading actress in a drama series.
She has acted in over 60 projects, including film, television, and stage productions.
Children & Husband – Renn Hawkey
Vera Farmiga is married to Renn Hawkey, an American musician, songwriter, film producer, and actor. He was a member of the metal band Deadsy and was part of three studio albums of the band, where he played the synthesizer for the band. During his time as a member of Deadsy, Hawkey worked for several other bands before he finally left the band in 2007 after a break.
Vera Farmiga met Renn Hawkey when a mutual friend introduced her to the set of Touching Evil. The couple met for four years before getting married in a private ceremony on September 13, 2008.
The couple had their first child in 2009; their son, Fynn McDonnell Hawkey, was born on January 13, 2009, in Rhinebeck, New York. One year later, Vera and her husband welcomed their second child, Gytta Lubov Hawkey, on November 4, 2010. The family currently divides their time between New York and Vancouver.
Vera Farmiga’s Siblings
Vera is the second child of a family of 9 with five younger siblings. Her youngest sister, Taissa, is also an actress. She made her film debut in Higher Ground, a film that was also Vera’s directing debut. She made her television debut in American Horror Story: Murder House in 2011 in a role that earned her the reputation of a contemporary scream queen. She subsequently appeared in several other projects, including Mindscape, Rules Don’t Apply, and Justice League vs. Teen Titans, in which she expressed the superheroine, Raven.