In an industry generally dominated by men, it is a big deal to find a woman whose résumé rivals and trumps that of the men in Hollywood. Those women are rare in Hollywood and among the few, is Vera Farmiga, an actress, film director, and producer whose filmography has earned her over 20 nominations including the big three of acting – Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe.
Vera Farmiga’s Biography
Vera Ann Farmiga was born on the 6th of August, 1973, in Clifton, New Jersey to Ukrainian parents. Her mom, Lubomyra was a school teacher and her father, Michael was a system analyst-turned-landscaper. The second of seven children, she was raised as a Pentecostal.
The Ukrainian-American, as she likes to describe herself, was raised in an insular Ukrainian American community in Irvington, New Jersey. Ukrainian remained her native language and she did not learn English until she was 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-dancing group in her teen years. She is a classically trained pianist and was a member of Plast, a scouting organization in Ukraine.
As a young adult, she graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School. She found her calling as an actress after she was benched during a varsity soccer game in her junior year and ended up winning the lead role in her school’s production of Lady Margaret. She further went in pursuit of a career in acting by studying Performing Arts at Syracuse University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1995. Her success-laden future started to show in her final year 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 started with humble beginnings at the American Conservatory Theater. In a production of The Tempest in February 1996, she starred as 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 Ronald Harwood play.
These stage roles earned her her first screen role, portraying Emily Elliot in Hallmark’s Television film, Rose Hill in 1997. She appeared in several projects before her breakthrough came in 2004, she had starred in a couple movies and Television shows, including a supporting role in 2001’s action thriller, 15 minutes, alongside Robert De Niro.
When her breakthrough finally came in 2004, she starred in the independent drama film, Down to the Bone, as a drug-addicted mother, Irene Morrison. Her performance was well received by critics and though she didn’t win an Oscar for that performance, she, would, however, win the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and was nominated at the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female lead.
Over the course of 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.
In 2009, the recognition of her outstanding talent by the Academy came after her performance in Jason Reitman’s comedy-drama, Up in the Air. For her performance in the movie, Vera received nominations from the Academy for Best Supporting Actress, SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on June 25, 2010.
As an already established talented actress, Vera tried her hands at directing and made her directorial debut on the micro-budget movie, Higher Ground. The movie received good reviews from critics and premiered at the film festival at Sundance in 2011. She received nominations for her directorial and acting work in the film. In 2013, she scored an Emmy nomination for her performance on Bates Motel for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
She has starred in over 60 projects, including movies, television and stage productions.
Vera Farmiga’s Siblings
Vera is the second child in a family of 9, with five younger siblings. Her youngest sister, Taissa is also an actress. She made her film debut in Higher Ground, in a movie that was also Vera’s directorial debut. She made her television debut on American Horror Story: Murder House in 2011 in a role that earned her a reputation as a contemporary scream queen. She has gone on to appear in several other projects such as Mindscape, Rules Don’t Apply and Justice League vs. Teen Titans, voicing the superhero, Raven.
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 by the band, playing the synthesizer for the band. Hawkey worked for a few other bands during his time as a Deadsy member before ultimately leaving the band in 2007 after it went on a hiatus.
Vera Farmiga met Renn Hawkey when a mutual friend introduced them on the set of Touching Evil. The couple dated 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. A year later, Vera and her husband welcomed their second child, Gytta Lubov Hawkey on November 4, 2010. The family presently split their time between New York and Vancouver.