Stephen John Emery was born on October 11, 1969 in Billericay, Essex. He attended Ingrave Johnstone Primary School, followed by St. Martin’s School, a comprehensive school in Hutton, Essex.

Stephen Emery as a toddler in the early 1970’s near his home in Brentwood, Essex.

He has one sister, named Amanda. His parents divorced, both remarried, and continue to live in Essex where his mother is associated with the Brentwood Theatre (Stephen became its first patron in 2007).

Brought up in the villages of Ingrave and Herongate, Stephen’s early years mainly revolved around sport; playing football (soccer), rugby, cricket, tennis, table tennis for both school and local club teams, as well as singing in the local church choir (earning pocket money for singing at weddings and playing Top Trumps in the pews), and performing in school plays and local dramatic societies.

Stephen said in an interview on DaemonTV:

I used to sing in a church choir when I was seven or eight. I used to really love singing. I still love getting together with a bunch of people. I’ve always been somebody who loved rehearsal. I always loved rehearsal kind of more than the week of the performance, in terms of plays and theatre. I loved getting together with a group of people and creating something. And that’s kind of extended really. When I go on set I’m fascinated by everybody else. I love watching the crew, I love watching the camera department, and I love watching other actors come up with stuff in their own way. I think it’s fascinating and I love it all. That’s actually grown and hasn’t diminished at all. If anything it’s gotten bigger and bigger. I’m sort of quite child-like in that way. I look forward to going to work, I’m excited by it, and I love what it is that we do. I consider myself very lucky to be able to be doing it. It still amazes me sometimes that I’m doing what I love.” [It’s a good thing Stephen’s has always had passion and zest for his endeavors.]

He also stated in a recent Venice Magazine article:

“I was a choir boy in a tiny little village in Essex called Herongate (a village in south Essex, situated on the A128 between Brentwood and West Horndon). I started out singing at the local (Church of England) church. I was there for six years, starting at around six or seven years old. I became head chorister of the church. I had to carry the cross. Then I started singing in school plays.”

At age 13, he was cast as Tom Sawyer in what became the first of many school productions, and from that point on he knew that acting was what he wanted to do. At the same time, Stephen started performing with several local amateur companies in Brentwood, Chelmsford & Colchester, Essex where he continued to make a name for himself in musical theatre.

Stephen as Tom Sawyer at age 13 in 1982 with sister Amanda on the right.
This is from the play Smike in 1983, but Stephen didn’t play Smike according to his sister, Amanda

By his late teens, he and some school friends had formed a rock band called “Prophecy.”

Prophecy photo 1 (Steve on left)
Prophecy photo 2

Stephen was the lead singer, and describes them as a sort of poppy-rocky-jive-jazzy fusion sub-genre band! They were a talented group of young musicians who wrote most of their own music (but did a great cover version of Elvis’s Trouble) and gigged locally for a couple of years.

However by now he had also established his own theatre company – The Reject Society – where he started producing, directing and appearing in plays such as Private Wars and Twelve Angry Men as well as the contemporary comedy, Bouncers, and ultimately this was the path that he actively pursued.

Reject Society
Reject Society 2
Reject Society 3
Reject Society 4
Reject Society Program

The process of becoming an actor in England is different than it is in America though. Stephen says that,

It’s not the same as going, ‘I’m gonna go to Hollywood and say that I’m an actor.’ It just isn’t the same. You can’t do that; it doesn’t exist like that where I’m from. The only way in is to go to drama school, but nobody knew how to do that either. I don’t even know how I found out; I think in the back of a ‘Stage and Television Today’, there was an advert for one of the drama schools. So I sent out for my forms, and then I got a load of auditions, and next thing you know, I was at drama school.”

Drama school was the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). Of all the places that Stephen applied to this was the one he really wanted, and the broad range of disciplines and skills learned over the following three years were hugely influential to his professional career. It was also the start of many new and enduring friendships; Robert Portal, Liam McKenna, Alastair Petrie, Iddo Goldberg, Toby Stephens, Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Alexander Siddig, Julie Hesmondhalgh and his LAMDA fight partner Benito Martinez – to name a few!

Portrait of a young Stephen taken around the time he started studying at LAMDA in 1988.

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