Four exciting words flashed across the screen in the new Cats trailer, which dropped on July 17: “and introducing Francesca Hayward.” It was a grand introduction indeed, especially for someone who has never starred in a film and is now appearing on the big screen with Taylor Swift and Idris Elba! The 27-year-old ballerina earned a lot of screen time in the sneak peek clip as Victoria, one of the main Jellicle Cats in the Broadway-turned-film musical. The snowy feline dazzled on screen as she did pirouettes, leapt in the air and danced across the junkyard. But those flexible limbs are already famous in Francesca’s industry — here’s what you should know about the newcomer!
1. Francesca is a principal dancer in London’s The Royal Ballet. The English dancer holds the highest rank in Britain’s largest ballet company, an amazing feat! She has performed in countless productions, taking on the roles of Clara and The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Princess Aurora and Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty. And that’s just scratching the surface.
2. Despite being in a musical, the talented dancer doesn’t consider herself a professional singer! Victoria’s role mostly requires years of ballet training, a requirement that Francesca obviously checks off. “This is very surreal for someone who doesn’t sing in public, to suddenly be singing with Jennifer Hudson,” Francesca gushed in a behind-the-scenes clip from Cats, which she shared to Instagram on July 16.
3. Francesca is a highly decorated ballerina. As expected, Francesca’s climb to principal dancer was preceded by many awards.While representing The Royal Ballet, she won “Best Emerging Artist” in 2014 and the Grishko Award For Best Female Dancer in 2016 at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. Even before joining the professional ranks, Francesca racked up many awards during her time as a student at The Royal Ballet School between 2003 and 2011, such as the 2010 Young British Dancer of the Year award.
4. Francesca designed a collaboration with lululemon. In Oct. 2018, Francesca launched a dancer-friendly collection with the popular activewear brand.
5. Francesca was born in Kenya. Before establishing her roots in England, Francesca was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1992 (her mother is Kenyan, and her father English). Two years later, she moved in with her grandparents in West Sussex, which is located in the south of England.