Growing up in Paris, Sofia Boutella was exposed to many more forms of dance, particularly hip hop and street-dance, which intrigued her for offering more “freedom” compared to the more disciplined styles of ballet and gymnastics. She joined a group called the Vagabond Crew, which won the Battle of the Year in 2006, and participated in a spin-off group called “Chiennes de Vie and Aphrodites”.
Her breakthrough as a dancer came in 2007, when she was picked for the Jamie King choreography for Nike Women’s “Keep Up” campaign, serving as a role model of femininity and hip-hop. This was a major boost to her career and led to more work alongside stars like Madonna, in her Confessions Tour, and Rihanna. She credits her work with Madonna for helping her learn English.
Boutella successfully auditioned for the Michael Jackson This Is It concerts but could not attend due to the extension of the Madonna tour, whose dates coincided with the Jackson tour. She was the main character in the music video for “Hollywood Tonight” by Michael Jackson in February 2011. Beginning at age 17, Boutella rehearsed with famed Spanish choreographer Blanca Li. She began dancing in film and television shows, as well as in commercials and concert tours.
She played the lead character Eva in the drama film StreetDance 2 (2012), the sequel to StreetDance 3D (2010).
In 2014, after 12 years as a dancer, Boutella sought a career in acting. Initially, she purposefully avoided auditioning for lead roles, wishing to play supporting characters so as to learn from more experienced actors. In 2015, she appeared in her first major film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which jump-started her career as an actress. One year later, she appeared as the alien warrior Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond, released on 22 July 2016.
In 2017, she portrayed a French secret agent in the David Leitch film Atomic Blonde, which also featured Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman and Toby Jones. The same year, she played the title role in The Mummy, along with Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Annabelle Wallis.
Beginning in 2018, Boutella’s profile rose, and she began to appear in more central roles. That year, she appeared in the Gaspar Noé dark psychological horror film Climax, starred alongside Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon in the HBO drama film Fahrenheit 451, and portrayed French contract killer ‘Nice’ in the near-future action crime thriller Hotel Artemis, alongside Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, and Dave Bautista.
In October 2019, she starred in episode 5 of the first season of Amazon Prime’s Modern Love.
In November 2021, Boutella was cast in the sci-fi adventure film Rebel Moon directed by Zack Snyder for Netflix, which premieres this month (December 2023).
Boutella played the female lead in SAS: Rogue Heroes, released in 2022.