May was born in 1975 in Camden Town, London. Her name was later legally changed to Jodhi Tania May.
Her mother, Jocelyn Hakim, is an art teacher of French-Turkish descent who as a student arranged to marry artist-designer Malcolm McLaren to obtain citizenship, paying him £50 to marry her in a Lewisham register office in 1972. They later divorced, a move that cost McLaren's grandmother £2,000. Jodhi has not publicly identified her father, besides stating he is German. She was educated at Camden School for Girls.
May first acted at the age of 12 for A World Apart (1988). For the role she received a Best Actress award at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, shared with her co-stars Barbara Hershey and Linda Mvusi.
Other than a brief lull while studying English at Wadham College, Oxford, she has had near constant work since her debut, and can regularly be seen on film, television and the British stage.
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