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Date of Birth: 14 March 1968
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Birth Name: Megan Elizabeth Laura Diana Follows
Megan Elizabeth Laura Diana Follows (born March 14, 1968) is a Canadian/American actress. She is most known to international audiences for her role as Anne Shirley in the acclaimed 1985 Canadian television miniseries Anne of Green Gables and its two sequels.
Follows was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as the youngest of four children to an acting family. Her parents are noted Canadian theatre actor and director Ted Follows and his first wife, actress Dawn Greenhalgh. All of her siblings are also in the entertainment industry. Her older sister Edwina is a writer, while her brother Laurence and sister Samantha are actors.
Her first acting job came at the age of nine, when she landed a spot in a commercial for Bell Canada. She was directed to make an impudent gesture out of a school bus window - like sticking out her tongue - but ended up making a rather obscene and adult gesture instead.She quickly found steady work in Canada, appearing in a few TV series such as Matt and Jenny, The Mating Season, The Baxters and The Littlest Hobo, in which she guest-starred with her entire family in a two-part episode. She also starred in the short film "Boys and Girls" (1983), which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.
Anne of Green Gables
Follows' breakthrough occurred when she was cast as Anne Shirley in the miniseries Anne of Green Gables, and subsequently appeared in the two sequels that followed. The part of "Anne" was a coveted role that she won over 3,000 other young girls when director, producer and writer Kevin Sullivan chose her despite early worries during the audition process that she might be too old for the part. The miniseries, wholly produced in Canada, became successful around the world and remains to this day the highest-rated drama in Canadian television history.
Follows gained a substantial fan following for her portrayal of the popular literary character. Her performances earned her two Gemini awards as best actress for the first two miniseries, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and a Gemini nomination for the third Anne installment, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story.
Follows has made a number of appearances on both Canadian and American television. In Canada, she appeared in a popular made-for-TV movie, Hockey Night, around the time she appeared in Anne of Green Gables. She played the lead role of Cathy, a young girl who played hockey on a previously all-male team. Other Canadian television appearances include leading roles in the period drama Under the Piano and police drama Major Crime, which starred fellow Canadians Michael Moriarty and Nicholas Campbell.
In 2005, she guest-starred in the Canadian ensemble drama Robson Arms as one of the tenants of the Robson Arms apartment complex. She also appeared in the hospital drama Open Heart as a nurse fighting a doctor she suspects of malpractice and in Shania: A Life in Eight Albums, as the mother of famous Canadian singer Shania Twain. Most recently, She has starred as Booky's mother in the three movie adaptations of Bernice Thurman Hunter's "Booky" series, Booky Makes Her Mark, Booky and the Secret Santa and Booky's Crush in which her partner, Stuart Hughes, plays her husband.
Among the earliest American television appearances were roles in The Facts of Life (as a cousin of Jo Polniaczek in an episode that was intended as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off) in 1982, and in the short-lived series Domestic Life as Martin Mull's TV daughter in 1984. She also appeared alongside a young Dermot Mulroney in the TV movie Sin of Innocence in 1986. In 1987, she played the French wife of Hugh Grant in the historically accurate Champagne Charlie series that was later repackaged into a 3 hour movie format. In 1993-94, Follows was part of the ensemble in a short-lived CBS television series Second Chances with a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez. Since 2000, Follows has appeared on numerous longstanding television series, such as Law & Order, ER, The X Files, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, and Lie to Me. Follows also appeared in the Canadian hit series, Heartland, for two consecutive episodes.
In 2004, she was also part of the ensemble cast of the Hallmark movie Plainsong, which included Aidan Quinn, Rachel Griffiths and America Ferrera. In 2009, she guest-starred in the ABC drama, Brothers and Sisters.
Although Follows has been more prolific in television appearances, she has appeared in a number of feature films. She co-starred with Corey Haim and Gary Busey in the 1985 film adaptation of Stephen King's novella Silver Bullet. Following the success of Anne, she appeared in Termini Station, which reunited her with Anne of Green Gables co-star Colleen Dewhurst. A rarely recognized role played by Follows was Clara in the movie The Nutcracker Prince starring Kiefer Sutherland, in which she sings a song. In 1998, she appeared in the Canadian movie Reluctant Angel. Her most recent film credits include Christmas Child, A Foreign Affair (2003) released on DVD as Two Brothers and a Bride, and a cameo in Laurie Lynd's Breakfast with Scot starring fellow Canadian Thomas Cavanagh.
She was also the narrator of Heather Connell's 2008 documentary Small Voices: Stories of Cambodia's Children.
Even though the career of Follows' parents was anchored in the theatre, she did not appear in many stage production until the 2000s. Her first stage credit is Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, in which she starred alongside her mother and her sister Samantha in 1988 in Toronto. In 1992, only a few months after giving birth to her daughter, she was offered the role of Juliet in the Stratford Festival's production of Romeo and Juliet. She reprised the role of Juliet the following year in Los Angeles. Other notable stage credits include Ibsen's A Doll's House (Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater), William Shakespeare's Othello (Edmonton's Citadel Theatre and Ottawa's National Arts Centre), Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (Atlantic Theatre Festival), and Noel Coward's Hay Fever in which she played opposite with her entire family and which was directed by her father.
Recent years has seen the return of Follows on stage as a regular of the Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company. In 2005, she had the leading role of May in their production of Fool for Love by Sam Shepard. The following year, she took on the role of Annie in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing which ran from May 11 to May 27 at Ottawa's National Arts Centre as a coproduction between Soulpepper and NAC English Theatre. Following this run, the play also made its way to Toronto as part of Soulpepper's 2006 season from June 10 to July 29 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. In 2007, she played the role of Marlene in the summer production of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, running from June 25 to August 4, again with the Soulpepper Theatre Company. The show was extended to August 18 after much critical acclaim from the Toronto press. Following this, she starred in Soulpepper's 2007 production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, which ran from August 30 to September 29, and which was also extended to October 13.
Soulpepper's 2008 season, marking the company's 10-year anniversary, signaled the continuation of Megan's prolific theatre career. Just like the past season, she appeared in two productions. The first was Marsha Norman's 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama 'night, Mother, which she co-starred with her real-life mother, Dawn Greenhalgh. The second was Soulpepper's remount of its critically acclaimed 2007 production of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, which featured the same cast and director.
Taking a short break in 2009, Megan returned to the stage in 2010 in Mirvish Productions's revival of Caryl Churchill's classic 1979 play Cloud 9. The play was directed by her Top Girls and 'Night, Mother director, Alisa Palmer, and featured an all-star Canadian cast, including Ann-Marie MacDonald and Yanna McIntosh .
In 1991, Follows married Christopher Porter, a gaffer and photographer she met on the set of her movie Deep Sleep. For a short time, she was credited as Megan Porter Follows. The couple divorced in 1995. They have two children: Lyla Anne (born 1991) and Russell Porter-Follows (born 1994). Megan and her children divide their time between residences in Los Angeles and Toronto; she is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.
Follows has served as a spokesperson for the relief organization World Vision Canada. She traveled to both Rwanda and Tanzania as a spokeswoman and a photographer. She also participated in the 2005 benefit concert Canada for Asia held to support the relief efforts for Asia after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake . Most recently, she traveled to Cambodia in 2007 with friend and director Heather Connell to film Small Voices: Stories of Cambodia's Children, a documentary about how the children of Cambodia living on the street and garbage dumps face their living conditions amidst poverty and abuse and how they view their own future.
- Became a U.S. citizen.
- Met future ex-husband Christopher Porter of Chester, Nova Scotia, on the set of Deep Sleep (1990), where he worked as a a gaffer.
- Only had three weeks to prepare for her role in Under the Piano (1995) (TV).
- Engaged to Stuart Hughes.
- Has dual Canadian/American citizenship.
- Her mother Dawn Greenhalgh starred with her in Anne of Green Gables (1985) (TV) as Mrs. Cadbury, the stern headmistress of the orphanage where Anne is brought to at the beginning of the film.
- Has 2 children: Lyla Anne Porter (born 1991) and Russell Porter (born 1995), with ex-husband, Christopher Porter.
- Aunt of Mckayla and Rowan O'Bryan.
- Sister-in-law of Sean O'Bryan.
- Lately has been appearing with the Soulpepper Theatre Company in Canada in such productions as "Fool for Love" (alongside real-life partner Stuart Hughes who is a founding member of the Company), "The Real Thing," "Top Girls," "'night, Mother" (opposite real-life mother Dawn Greenhalgh and "Cloud 9".