Born Oct. 2, 1990 in the village of Laxey on the Isle of Man, Samantha Jane Barks began dancing at the age of three and made her stage debut in a school production the following year as Snow White. She soon became a staple of amateur theater on the Isle of Man, amassing an impressive collection of credits that included "Sleeping Beauty," "Guys and Dolls" and "Grease," as well as several ballets. In 2007, she released her debut album, Looking in Your Eyes, which featured the single "Nothing Else," a song she co-wrote and later performed in the 2007 Maltese International Song Competition. Barks captured top honors in the contest, as well as the title of Best Foreign Song.
In 2008, Barks was a featured contestant on the reality competition series, "I'd Do Anything," which sought to find an unknown performer for a West End production of "Oliver!" Barks reached the first week of the final round before placing third in the competition, which was judged by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, among others. The Isle of Man was redubbed "the Isle of Sam" on April 29, 2008 by its tourism bureau in support of Barks' success on the series, but more significantly, the exposure afforded by the program led to roles in the U.K. tour of "Cabaret" in 2009 and a 2010 production of "Les Misérables," in which she played Eponine. In 2011, she finally took over the role of Nancy in a U.K. tour of "Oliver" which ran through 2012. During the curtain call at one performance, Barks was informed by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the original stage version of "Les Misérables," that she had been cast as Eponine in Tom Hooper's 2012 film version of the much-anticipated musical drama. That same year, she provided one of the voices for "Groove High" (2012- ), an animated series for the Disney Channel.
By Paul Gaita
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