Eva-Jane Willis was born in South Africa to Eileen Willis and film director Ian Gabriel. She moved with her mother and sister to live in North London at age 4. As a child, Eva-Jane trained part-time at Mountview Theatre School where she was spotted by casting agents for the BBC and landed her first minor role in the television series Grange Hill. She went on to gain more screen experience in various adverts and music videos before landing her first leading role in a feature film by iDream productions in 2007. She decided to accept the offer and defer her degree at London Metropolitan University. She completed the film and went on to accept another lead in the feature "Highgate Vampire", alongside actress Vanessa Kirby. However the film's development never progressed beyond the initial pilot. She decided to undertake a professional actor training and auditioned for Drama Centre London where she was offered one of the five female places on the three year BA Acting course. Whilst there she was nominated for the Carlton Hobbs Award and won the first prize Laurence Olivier Bursary Award, for her rendition of Celia in 'The Philanthropist' by Christopher Hampton, and Lady Percy in 'Henry IV: Part 2'.