born in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1975, studied at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna before joining the ensemble of the Schauspiel Bonn from 1997 to 2000. In 1999 she was awarded the Alfred Kerr Prize and the NRW Theatre Prize for her portrayal of the title role in Gerhardt Hauptmann’s “Rose Bernd”. In the same year the annual critics’ poll of “Theater heute” named her ‘newcomer of the year’.
From 2000 to 2015 she was a member of the ensemble of the Burgtheater in Vienna, where she played the title roles in Kleist’s “Das Käthchen von Heilbronn” and Lessing’s “Emilia Galotti”, both directed by Andrea Breth. She also worked with directors Peter Zadek and Thomas Vinterberg, and in 2000 was awarded the prize for “Best Performance” at the Edinburgh International Festival for her role in Luc Bondy’s production of Chekov’s “The Seagull”. In 2002 she received the Nestroy Prize for her role in Botho Strauß’s “Der Narr und seine Frau heute Abend in Pancomedia”, directed by Dieter Giesing. She has also performed at the Salzburg Festival several times.
Already as a student Johanna Wokalek attracted attention with her film roles, including in Jo Baier’s TV mini-series “Der Laden” (1998) and Max Färberböck’s “AIMÉE UND JAGUAR” (1990). She received the Bavarian Film Prize, the Förderpreis Deutscher Film and the Grimme Prize for her role in Hans Steinbichler’s “HIERANKL” (2003). Rainer Kaufmann cast her in the title role of his three-part ZDF series “Die Kirschenkönigin” (2004).
Her cinematic breakthrough came in 2005 with Til Schweiger’s “BARFUSS”. In 2008 she appeared in Philip Stölzl’s mountaineering drama “NORDWAND” and in the same year received a Bambi and Diva Award for her portrayal of Gudrun Ensslin in Uli Edel’s “DER BAADER MEINHOF KOMPLEX”, as well as being nominated for the German Film Prize. This was followed by the title role in Sönke Wortmann’s film version of the international bestseller “DIE PÄPSTIN” (2009) and other leading roles in Lars Kraume’s “DIE KOMMENDEN TAGE” (2010) and Sherry Hormann’s “ANLEITUNG ZUM UNGLÜCKLICHSEIN” (2012). In 2017 Johanna Wokalek starred alongside Ronald Zehrfeld in Matthias Glasner’s acclaimed two-part TV drama “Landgericht”. She gave her opera debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2014 in the premiere of Marc-André Dalbavie’s “Charlotte Salomon” and in 2015 played the role of the sorceress in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”, directed by Thomas Hengelbrock. For the latter she performed a prologue and epilogue that she wrote herself. In the summer of 2017, she also played “Jeanne d’Arc” in Arthur Honegger’s oratorio of the same name, staged at the Frankfurt Opera by Àlex Ollé of La Fura dels Baus. Johanna Wokalek’s latest film roles include Detlev Buck’s 2018 film “WUFF”. In the Autumn of 2019, she will appear alongside Tobias Moretti in the film adaptation of Siegfried Lenz’s “DIE DEUTSCHSTUNDE”, directed by Christian Schwochow. At the Burgtheater she is currently performing Gerhard Hauptmann’s “Die Ratten”, directed by Andrea Breth.
Aside from her work on stage and on film, Johanna Wokalek has been collaborating on and experimenting with new creations and forms of artistic expression that combine music, theatre, literature and the visual arts.