Josephine Kymball was destined for the spotlight. At least, that's what her mother would tell you. The moment that Daisy Kymball welcomed her "most beautiful baby girl" into the world, she knew that her baby was going to be a star. From the moment that Jo could walk, she was being shuttled around London to dancing lessons and singing lessons and acting lessons. She started auditioning for local theaters before she even went to school. Her mother even homeschooled her so that she would have as much time as possible to practice her monologues. Jo never realized that this wasn't something that every child did. But her career became her mother's passion, something she threw herself even further into when Jo's dad left.
Before she reached double digits, Jo had become a seasoned actress in the theater. She made her West End debut in Les Miserables when she was eight, and the following year, her mother moved them to New York for a show that would be a "sure bet" for Jo (she was cast as the understudy). Her mother kept pushing her, moving them wherever she thought Jo might find the biggest parts, yelling at directors on Jo's behalf. On more than one occasion, Jo overheard the people that she worked with talking about what a devil her mother was. Oftentimes, they avoided her. More often, she was the only child on set. It made for a very lonely childhood. But ever the dutiful child, Jo kept quiet and did as she was told. She was the family breadwinner and all.
One afternoon when she was eighteen, Jo was home alone when her agent called, telling her about an audition for a new play, a very dark comedy called The Lieutenant of Inishmore. It was something that she knew instantly her mother, who had pushed her into a career of musicals, would despise, would never let her even audition for. But it was new. It was different. It was challenging. And in her first and only act of teenage rebellion, she snuck out to audition. Ultimately, she landed the role of Mairead. Her mother was furious. They barely talked.
But the play was a smash. By the time a Disney executive came to the play, tensions had risen so high that Jo didn't inform her mother that he had asked her to audition for the new movie based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. And when she was offered the role, her mother snidely informed her that the film would inevitably flop, and anyway, she was a theater actress. Movies were beneath her. Jo went anyway, even when her mother informed her that she was not allowed to come crawling back to her when her film career went south.
It was scary, filming a blockbuster movie on her own at such a young age, but Jo made the most of it. She made the most of it when the film was a hit, and she made the most of all of the offers that were coming her way. She made new family and friends to rely on. Jo didn't hear from her stubborn mother again until she was nominated for an Oscar for An Education. Daisy wanted to act like nothing had happened, but Jo was not ready to forgive her, would never be ready to forgive her. She channels this disappointment into her work, constantly looking for new roles to challenge her, and her family, building a loving environment that she never had.
• Has not spoken to her father since he left. She was about two at the time and can't remember him.
• Talks to her mother sparingly. She sends her about an email a year updating her on life. Jo knows her mother talks to the press about her frequently.
• Her favorite role to date has been Daisy in The Great Gatsby. She begged Baz Luhrmann to give her the role and even dyed her hair blonde before she was given the part (but she used a wig in the film).• Has more or less avoided the stage since her movie career began, with one notable exception that gave her a nasty anxiety attack. It brings back too many memories of her unhappy childhood, though she does want to get more involved. • Is a bit of a homebody when she's not working.