Ann Dowd Biography

Ann Dowd is an American actress known for her role in the series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Check out this biography to know about her birthday, childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about her.

Quick Facts

Birthday: January 30, 1956

Nationality: American

Famous: Actresses American Women

Age: 64 Years, 64 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Born in: Holyoke, Massachusetts

Famous as: Actress

Height: 5'3" (160 cm), 5'3" Females

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Spouse/Ex-: Lawrence Arancio (m. 1984)

father: John (1926–1974), John Dowd (1926–1974)

mother: Dolores (née Clark) Dowd

siblings: and Gregory, Clare, Deborah, Elizabeth, John, Kathleen

children: Emily Arancio, Liam Arancio, Trust Arancio

U.S. State: Massachusetts

More Facts

education: College of the Holy Cross (BA) DePaul University (MFA)

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Ann Dowd is an American actress who is best known for her portrayal of the vicious and cruel Aunt Lydia in the series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ She has had a career spanning more than three decades; however, she found fame only recently. She has around 45 movies to her credit, done numerous television shows, and has also appeared in numerous theatrical productions, but most people recognize her for her roles in the series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘The Leftovers.’ She really worked hard and continued to strive for perfection even when fame eluded her for several years. Today, she is recognized as an actress who can really get under a character’s skin. Her portrayal of the antagonist Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was so powerful that the actress received much hatred from the audience—a testament to how credible her performance had been! She says that when she takes up a role, she never judges the character. Instead, she tries to understand what the character is doing and why. It is probably this unique approach that helps her deliver such powerful performances. She has won numerous awards for her work on television, movies, and theater.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Ann Dowd started her acting career doing plays at various regional theaters in Chicago. She did ‘A Different Moon’ (1983), ‘Kennedy’s Children’ (1984), and ‘The Normal Heart’ (1987) and received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for excellence.
  • In 1985, she made her first television appearance in a television movie called ‘First Steps.’ In 1988, she moved to New York for bigger opportunities. In 1990, she landed her first movie role in ‘Green Card,’ a romantic comedy directed, written, and produced by Peter Weir.
  • In 1991, she appeared in the series ‘Law & Order’ and went on to appear in all four franchises of the series. Next, she played a pediatrician in the critically acclaimed movie, ‘Lorenzo’s Oil’ (1992).
  • In 1993, she made her Broadway debut with ‘Candida,’ for which she won the 1993 Clarence Derwent Award. The same year, she appeared in the critically acclaimed movie, ‘Philadelphia,’ starring Tom Hanks.
  • As the years went by, she had a steady stream of supporting roles in movies like ‘Apt Pupil’ (1998), ‘Garden State’ (2004), ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (2004), ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ (2006), ‘Marley & Me’ (2008), and ‘The Informant’ (2009).
  • In 2012, Ann Dowd came into prominence with a mind-blowing performance in ‘Compliance.’ This film got her the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2012.
  • After ‘Compliance,’ her role in the HBO drama ‘The Leftovers’ earned her further fame. The show premiered in 2014 and was slow to take off. However, by the time it was over in 2017, it had come to be regarded as one of the best TV shows of the decade.
  • She currently plays Aunt Lydia in the series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ For this role, Ann Dowd won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2017) and received her second nomination in 2018.
  • Her role in the movie ‘Hereditary’ in 2018 again proved why Ann Down is so good with scary, brutal, dark, and villainous characters. She is set to appear in ‘Lambs of God,’ which is an Australian drama.
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Major Works
  • ‘Compliance’ was the movie that first got Ann Dowd noticed. The movie is based on a real-life event. In the movie, she essays the role of a restaurant manager, Sandra, who is manipulated into becoming an accessory to sexual assault on one of her female employees. From here on, Ann was drawn to dark and complex roles.
  • Her role in the series ‘The Leftovers’ got her an Emmy nomination in 2017. The series, starring Justin Theroux, is a supernatural mystery drama. She essayed the role of Patti Lavin, who is an authoritarian cult leader.
  • Her performance in the series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ has made her a household name and a major actress in Hollywood. This series is an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s book of the same name. The brutal and domineering Aunt Lydia is responsible for educating the handmaids about their sexual and social duties in a new dystopian society ruled over by Gilead.
Family & Personal Life
  • It was while studying at DePaul University in Chicago that Ann Dowd met Lawrence Arancio, who went on to become an actor, writer, and director. They were married in 1984 and have three children, Liam, Emily, and Trust. Trust was adopted by Ann and her husband when he was six years old.
  • When she was working in Chicago and New York as a stage actress, she worked as a waitress to pay her bills. She also worked at Petland and a telemarketing company for frozen foods.


Primetime Emmy Awards
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale (2017)

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Last Updated
- May 30, 2019
Ann Dowd

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