Her mother was Hollywood royalty Meryl Streep, one of the most acclaimed and beloved actors in the entertainment industry. Gummer began acting as a child, often taking on minor roles in feature films that starred her mother, before carving out her own career as a theater performer. She starred in numerous stage productions as a student at Northwestern University and then as a Broadway actress. Gummer took on challenging roles onscreen, from portraying a Revolutionary War-era figure in "John Adams" (HBO, 2008), to playing the assistant of the man who organized the most famous music festival in history in "Taking Woodstock" (2009). In 2011, Gummer landed a featured role in the ABC medical drama "Off the Map" as a young doctor struggling with her past while dealing with the challenges of working in a remote, exotic locale. Her breakout performance on "Off the Map" not only showcased Gummer's natural born talent, it also proved she had stepped out of her mother's shadow to emerge as a respected and versatile entertainer in her own right.
Mary Willa Gummer was born on Aug. 3, 1983 to renowned sculptor Don Gummer and Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep. In fact, her mother was pregnant with the future star when she accepted her Best Actress Oscar for "Sophie's Choice" (1982). A child of privilege, Gummer was raised in Los Angeles and Connecticut along with three siblings, which included fellow actress Grace. As a child of a prolific actress, Gummer inevitably made her screen debut at the age of three with a minor appearance opposite her mother and Jack Nicholson in the drama "Heartburn" (1986). Later, Gummer studied theatre and communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she acted in stage productions of "The Laramie Project" (2002) and "The House of Blue Leaves" (PBS, 1987). After graduating from Northwestern in 2005, Gummer made her professional stage debut that year in the play "Mr. Marmalade," a starring role that earned the budding actress a Theatre World Award. She finally hit the Broadway stage in 2008, playing the naïve music student Cecile de Volanges in the Tony-nominated revival of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (1985).
Concentrating on her studies and theatre work did not deter Gummer from pursuing an onscreen acting career. Bearing a resemblance to her famous mother, Gummer sometimes landed roles where she played the same character as Streep, but at a younger age, including "The House of the Spirits" (1983) and "Evening" (2007). Yet even though she had an A-list parent, Gummer was determined to establish her own distinct career. She impressed critics with a supporting role in the war drama "Stop-Loss" (2008) and gave a riveting portrayal of President John Adams' daughter-in-law Sally Smith in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries, "John Adams." Gummer also shined as a supporting player in various feature films, from the Tennessee Williams-written romance "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond" (2008) to the Ang Lee-directed "Taking Woodstock" (2009), about the true story of a family-run motel in Bethel, NY that set the wheels in motion for the historic 1969 Woodstock festival. In 2011, Gummer landed a starring role on the ABC medical drama "Off the Map." The series followed a group of medical professionals working in a remote South American village. She played Dr. Mina Minard, a competitive and strong-willed doctor who is unable to shake off a tragic misdiagnosis that occurred early in her career. The "Off the Map" cast also included Gummer's fellow Northwestern University alum, Zach Gilford.