Sam Taylor-Johnson Biography

(Director of the Films: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and 'Nowhere Boy')

Birthday: March 4, 1967 (Pisces)

Born In: Croydon, London, England

British filmmaker, artist, photographer, and screenwriter Sam Taylor-Johnson is best known for her direction in the film Nowhere Boy, based on John Lennon’s childhood, and the movie adaptation of the bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Amy had a difficult childhood, as her father left her at 9 and her mother abandoned her at 15. She initially showcased her talent in photography through various unique exhibits, such as 26 October 1993 and Travesty of a Mockery. Many of her works include video clips of celebrities. She is also part of the Young British Artists. She has also directed several music videos, such as Überlin by rock band R.E.M., and has released several tracks with the Pet Shop Boys. Sam has been awarded an OBE and is part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The mother of 4 is also a 2-time cancer survivor.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In March

Also Known As: Samantha Louise Taylor-Wood

Age: 57 Years, 57 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Aaron Taylor-Johnson (m. 2012), Jay Jopling (m. 1997–2008)

father: David Taylor

mother: Geraldine Taylor

siblings: Ashley Taylor, Kristian Taylor-Wood

children: Angelica Jopling, Jessie Phoenix Jopling

Born Country: England

Directors British Women

Notable Alumni: Beacon Community College

More Facts

education: Goldsmiths; University Of London, Beacon Community College

Childhood, Early Life & Education

Sam Taylor-Johnson was born Samantha Louise Taylor-Wood on March 4, 1967, in Croydon, London, UK. She and her family were abandoned by her father, David, a chartered surveyor, when she was 9.

Her mother, Geraldine, worked as an astrologist and a yoga teacher. Sam grew up with her younger sister, Ashley, and her maternal half-brother, Kristian.

While she was raised near Streatham Common in south London till her parents separated, she and her family later moved into an old schoolhouse in Jarvis Brook, East Sussex. At 15, Sam was abandoned by her hippy mother, who left her a note saying she would come back for her children once she was settled. Since then, Sam has had a strained relationship with her mother.

Sam initially studied at the Beacon Community College in East Sussex and later joined Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she studied arts. She graduated from Goldsmiths in 1990.

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Fine Art Career

Sam Taylor-Johnson started her fine art career in the early 1990s. Some of her best-known works include a collaboration with English visual artist and photographer Henry Bond, titled 26 October 1993 (1993); the video works Travesty of a Mockery (1996) and Pent-Up (1996); and Crying Men, a video work consisting of clips of celebrities, such as Robin Williams and Sean Penn, crying (created between 2002 and 2004).

She is also known for her 2000 wraparound photomural at the Selfridges store in London. The mural depicted 21 cultural icons, such as Elton John and Richard E. Grant.

In 2002, she worked on a piece of art commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. It contained a video portrait of football star David Beckham sleeping.

In 2014, she was part of the photo exhibition showcasing the private apartment of Coco Chanel at The Saatchi Gallery. Named Second Floor, the series contained 34 photographs clicked in the private rooms of Chanel in Paris. She is also a member of the loosely-affiliated group known as the Young British Artists (YBAs).

Film, TV, and Music Career

Sam Taylor-Johnson is perhaps best known to global audiences for directing the 2008 biographical drama Nowhere Boy, a biopic about legendary singer John Lennon’s childhood. In January 2010, she was nominated for a BAFTA for the film.

Sam is also known for her other unique works, such as the 2004 film installation Strings, in which ballet dancer Ivan Putrov was suspended above 4 musicians playing Tchaikovsky's Second String Quartet. Sam has directed several short films, including the 2008 short Love You More, which was screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival’s main competition for Palme d’Or. Earlier, she had written a short film for the British-American anthology Destricted (2016).

In October 2008, Sam released her version of the 1980 Passions ballad I'm In Love with a German Film Star, produced by Pet Shop Boys. In 2009, she was selected as a member of the Best Debut Feature jury at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.

In 2011, she directed the music video Überlin by rock band R.E.M. Other music videos directed by her are Elton John’s Turn the Lights Out When You Leave and I Want Love and The Weeknd’s Earned It.

In 2015, Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the controversial erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson. It was a movie adaptation of E. L. James’s 2011 bestselling novel of the same name. Sam was later shortlisted for directing the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, but walked away from the project after creative disagreements with author E.L. James.

Since 2016, she has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). She has directed and written the 2018 psychological drama film Million Little Pieces and directed and executive-produced a few episodes for the TV series Gypsy (2017) and Solos (2021). In January 2023, she started directing the film Back to Black, a biopic on deceased singer Amy Winehouse.

Sam has received the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) at the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honors List, for her contribution to the arts. She has also won the Venice Biennale’s Illy Café Prize for Most Promising Young Artist in 1997 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998.

Personal Life

In 1997, Sam Taylor-Johnson married art dealer and gallerist Jay Jopling, who founded White Cube. They have 2 daughters: Angelica, born in April 1997, and Jessie, born in November 2005. The couple split in September 2008, after 11 years together.

In 2009, she began a relationship with actor Aaron Johnson, whom she met while filming Nowhere Boy. Back then, Aaron was 18, while Sam was 42. They got engaged the same year.

Sam and Aaron eventually got married at Babington House in Somerset, on June 21, 2012. Following this, both changed their surnames to Taylor-Johnson. They have 2 daughters, Wylda Rae (born on July 7, 2010) and Romy Hero (born on January 18, 2012).

Reportedly, Sam had also been in a 9-year relationship with visual artist Jake Chapman, one of the Chapman Brothers. Sam is a 2-time cancer survivor. In December 1997, when she was 30, she was diagnosed with and treated for colon cancer. In 2000, Sam was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sam practices Transcendental Meditation and yoga. She loves buying boots. She is a close friend of London-based American designer Tom Ford. In June 2021, she disclosed that she had her husband, Aaron’s named inked on her collarbone.

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