Laura Elizabeth Carmichael (born 16 July 1986) is an English actress, most widely known for her performance as Lady Edith Crawley in the ITV (UK) and PBS (US) television period drama series Downton Abbey. Her other work includes television series Marcella (2016),  and the feature film A United Kingdom (2016).
Carmichael was born in Southampton, England, to Sarah, a radiographer, and Andy Carmichael, a software consultant. She is the middle of three daughters. Her sister Amy works for a software start-up company and her sister Olivia is a charity fundraiser with the NHS.
One of Carmichael's paternal great-grandfathers was aviator Captain Norman Blackburn, a British pilot and flying instructor during the First World War, and afterwards a director of Blackburn Aircraft. She was educated at Shirley Junior School, The Mountbatten School, and Peter Symonds College. Carmichael attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, graduating in 2007, before spending two years in various odd jobs, including a teaching assistant, receptionist, and nanny while going to tiny auditions in fringe theatres.
Between 2010 and 2015, she played Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey, a role which brought her worldwide recognition. Commenting on gaining the role of Lady Edith, Carmichael says, "I don't know how it happened with Downton; it really was a miracle. I think it was because I had a good drama school on my CV and they had struggled to find someone for Edith, because she had to be quite different from the two other girls [Lady Mary and Lady Sybil]". Yet, the actress has enjoyed the role, "When I was at drama school I had quite a lot of wet, ingénue parts, so I'm delighted because it is much more fun playing her. It's interesting how one role can make people see you differently".
Other television roles include parts in The Heart of Thomas Hardy, and End of Our Street. In 2011, she appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and she played Henriette in the 2014 film of Madame Bovary.
Carmichael stars in the 2015 British black comedy feature film Burn, Burn, Burn, a coming-of-age tale, inspired by the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road published in 1957. The directorial debut of Chanya Button, it follows the fictional story of two girls, Seph (Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie), taking a road trip to follow the instructions of their close friend Dan, who has died and given them instructions where to scatter his ashes. The ashes (stored in tupperware in the glove compartment) keep diminishing in quantity as the trip progresses. The film had its World premiere at BFI London Film Festival 2015.
In 2016, Carmichael stars in ITV's new television crime drama series, Marcella, as Maddy Stevenson. Marcella focuses on a British Metropolitan police detective and single mother's return to the murder squad, will be the first English show by Swedish screenwriter Hans Rosenfeldt, who created the Scandinavian television series The Bridge.
In 2016, Carmichael portrays Muriel Williams in A United Kingdom, a political yet romantic drama, also starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo. The film sees Carmichael immersing herself in the early days of 1940s apartheid. She plays Muriel, the sister of Ruth Williams, the Englishwoman who (in real life) challenged colonial racism to marry Seretse Khama, who would become King of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in 1948.
|2009||House at the End of Our Street||Yvonne|
|2010||The Heart of Thomas Hardy||Hardy's maid|
|2010–2015||Downton Abbey||Lady Edith Crawley||TV series 52 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2012, 2014, 2015)
|2011||Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy||Sal|
|2015||Burn Burn Burn||Seph|
|2016||A United Kingdom||Muriel Williams|
|2009||Reasons for Living||Laura||BAC|
|2009||The Tempest||Miranda/Ariel||UK tour|
|2011||Plenty||Louise/Dorcas||Sheffield Crucible Theatre|
|2012||Uncle Vanya||Sonya||Vaudeville Theatre|
|2013||The Fitzrovia Radio Hour||Arabella||Underglobe Theatre|
|2016||The Maids||Madam||Trafalgar Studios|