Victoria Kerstin Heider-Leigh (born 1 January 1989), known professionally as Victoria Heider, is an English-German actress. After several television roles and acclaimed turns on the London stage, she rose to fame as Ygritte in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. Heider achieved global recognition and acclaim for her role as painter Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl, for which she received the Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress, among others.
Heider was born in Bonn, West Germany. Her father, William Leigh, is a career British diplomat (and current British Ambassador to Norway) who was First Secretary at the British Embassy in Bonn at the time he met her mother, German photographer Kerstin Heider. They later had another child, son Christoph (b. 2004 in London). Heider spent much of her childhood moving between London, during her father's postings at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and other parts of Europe (including Paris, Edinburgh, and Rome). She was educated primarily at international schools, and came to love performing as a means of socializing with new friends at new schools whenever she moved. When she completed her secondary education, she was accepted to a bachelor of arts program at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to study professional acting, and simultaneously began auditioning for guest parts on television, to moderate success.
After graduation from LAMDA, Heider went on to a highly-praised London stage debut in The Acid Test at the Royal Court. Shortly thereafter, she was cast in the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, and for her role as the wildling Ygritte in seasons two, three, and four, Heider was met with major acclaim. While on Game of Thrones, Heider also made return appearances on the London stage, as well as making simultaneous feature film debuts at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival in Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate and Amma Asante's acclaimed Belle.
Across 2014 and 2015, Heider had roles in six films and two stage productions. The most highly-praised was her portrayal of painter Gerda Wegener in Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She followed up these banner years with her New York stage debut, in the tranhsfer of the acclaimed London staging (in which she also participated) of A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Gillian Anderson and Casey Overstreet. In 2016 she also returned to television as Anne Neville in the second cycle of the BBC's acclaimed The Hollow Crown anthology, and starred as Jane in The Legend of Tarzan.
Heider ultimately reprised her role as Meredith Quill in the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy in 2017. Moving into 2018, she has four films in post-production or slated for release, including Mary Queen of Scots in which she portrays Queen Elizabeth I. In early 2018, she was cast as former translator Katharine Gun in political thriller Official Secrets, currently filming in England.
Victoria is an adventurous spirit and loves to travel, qualities she's inherited from her father and through her childhood spent largely abroad, but she is also classically trained and an old soul. She loves to explore new cities and visit art museums, the opera and ballet, and eat her way through wherever she travels (often by herself). She has been open with friends and family about struggling to come to terms with a one-two punch of seemingly overnight fame and success (first with Game of Thrones, and then with her Oscar win and great acclaim for The Danish Girl), and has taken to often staying at her parents' home in London or visiting them at her father's current station in Oslo when she is not working.
As a child who grew up going to one international school after the next, Victoria is about as gregarious as a naturally shy person can be, and enjoys making new friends and acquaintances even if it may not seem that way at first; her quietness can seem like disinterest, but she's an extroverted introvert who enjoys listening and absorbing new people and experiences. She's an active runner and kickboxer, and maintains a daily yoga and meditation practice.
+ BA (Hons) in Professional Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, 2010.
+ Awards include an Academy Award, SAG Award, Critics Choice Award, Empire Award
+ Nominations include a SAG Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, BIFA
+ Bilingual in English and German, speaks basic French and Italian.
+ 5'6", blue eyes. Naturally blonde, but frequently dyes her hair red, auburn, and darker strawberry blonde (the color she had as a baby).
+ Dual citizen of the United Kingdom (by parentage) and Germany (by birth and parentage).
+ Lives in Highgate in North London, but frequently stays at her parents' home in Battersea, or visits them in Oslo.
+ Prefers to go either by her full first name or the nickname Vic.