It is unsurprising that the brilliant Fiona Shaw – of Killing Eve and Harry Potter fame – would be married to someone as equally brilliant.

When she thanked her wife Sonali Deraniyagala in her acceptance speech (for Best Supporting Actress) at the 2019 BAFTAs, fans were desperate to know more about the couple.

So who is Dr Sonali Deraniyagala?

Here is everything you need to know about the brilliant Sonali…

Irish actress Fiona Shaw and her wife Sonali Deraniyagala.

Who is Sonali Deraniyagala?

Dr Sonali is a 56-year-old who is originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka, but now lives in London.

She is a highly esteemed academic and economist who graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Cambridge.

She later received a doctorate from the University of Oxford.

Where does Sonali work?

Sonali is currently working at SOAS, University of London. She works in the faculty of Economics.

But Sonali also works across the pond at the prestigious Ivy League Columbia University.

She and Fiona divide their time living between London and New York because of Sonali’s work.

Pictured: Phoebe Waller-Bridge (L) and Sonali (C) during Fiona Shaw’s speech – BAFTAs 2019.

Sonali’s tragic family history

In 2005, Sonali was on holiday with her husband and fellow economist Stephen Lissenburgh, their two children Nikhil (7) and Vikram (5) and her parents.

The family were visiting Sri Lanka for the Christmas period when tragedy struck.

The Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami which took the lives of over 250,000 people tragically took the lives of Sonali’s parents, her husband and her two young sons.

Personal memoir: Wave

Sonali detailed the painful and traumatic events of the tsunami in her memoir Wave, which was published in 2013.

Wave was released to widespread acclaim. The New York Times cited it as one of their top ten books of 2013 and it was Amazon’s Best Book of the Month (March 2013).

And it also had a profound effect on her soon-to-be wife…

Sonali Deraniyagala and Fiona Shaw

Sonali and the 60-year-old Irish actress Fiona married in 2018.

The couple met in 2013 after Fiona read Wave and was so moved by it, she asked a mutual friend if she could be introduced to Sonali.

Fiona still lists Wave as her favourite book of all time, and not just because she’s now married to the author!

 

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