Sophie McShera

Though her character, scullery maid Daisy Mason, lacked the carriage or extravagant wardrobe of her co-stars, actress Sophie McShera shared the rush of fame enjoyed by all of her castmates on "Downton Abbey" (ITV/PBS, 2010-16), one of the most celebrated dramas in the history of television. McShera began acting on stage as a preteen, which led to minor parts on television dramas before her breakout turn as a sexually confused student on "Waterloo Road" (BBC One, 2006- ). She was soon cast on "Downton Abbey" as a quiet, put-upon kitchen maid who also displayed a remarkably strong moral core, as evidenced by her refusal to accept widow's compensation after her husband of only a few hours died from combat wounds. McShera's profile rose rapidly as "Downton" became the darling of public television, which in turn allowed her to enjoy substantive parts in London theater and, undoubtedly, a chance at the greater stardom that awaited her and many of her castmates.