Elizabeth Berkley

Elizabeth Berkley

Born: July 28, 1972
Age: 51
Birthplace: Farmington Hills, Michigan, U.S.
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Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (born July 28, 1972) is an American television, film and theatre actress. Berkley's most notable roles were in the television series Saved by the Bell, as the brainy Jessie Spano, and the 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls, as exotic dancer Nomi Malone.


Early life

Berkley was born and raised in Farmington Hills, a community located among Detroit's northern suburbs in Oakland County, Michigan. She is the daughter of Jere, a gift basket business owner, and Fred Berkley, a lawyer. Her family is Jewish, she was raised in the Conservative tradition of Judaism, and at age 13 became bat mitzvahed. Berkley was born with heterochromia, the condition of differently colored irises; her right eye is half green and half brown, and her left eye is all green. She graduated in 1990 from North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills after previously having attended the Cranbrook Kingswood School, a private school in Bloomfield Hills.

From a young age she danced, and she practiced in a room that her parents arranged for her in the basement of their house. In 1982 at age ten she auditioned for the lead role in the film Annie, but was turned down. As her love for dancing increased, she became more interested in pursuing it professionally, traveling to New York to train with other dancers and choreographers. She began to take part in several ballets, including Swan Lake and in 1983 she appeared in some musicals.


Berkley was a teenage model for Elite before pursuing an acting career. She made her television film debut in 1987 with a role in the television film Frog and following this, made a number of guest appearances on several television shows. In 1989, at the age of seventeen, she auditioned for the role of Kelly Kapowski in Saved by the Bell, but the producers of the show could not decide whether to cast her or Tiffani-Amber Thiessen. In the end, they created for Berkley the character Jessie Spano, a role she played from 1989 to 1993, as well as in both of the show's television film installments.

After leaving Saved by the Bell to try to break into film, Berkley auditioned for (and won) the role of Nomi Malone, a character in the controversial 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls. The sex- and nudity-laden film was given a controversial NC-17 rating in the United States (the first big budget film that was deliberately intended to receive this rating), was a box office bomb, and was widely panned by critics. Over the years, however, Showgirls has achieved cult status among film fans and ranks 36 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the Top 50 Cult Movies. It is also one of top 20 highest grossing films of all time for MGM.

Berkley appeared in a small role in The First Wives Club, a comedy starring Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Bette Midler, before accepting the title role in the straight to video anime Armitage III: Poly Matrix which also starred Kiefer Sutherland. She then played a Madonna body double named Tina in the independent film The Real Blonde. She has performed in supporting roles in independent films such as The Taxman, Tail Lights Fade, Roger Dodger, and Moving Malcolm. She also had a small role as a call girl hired by Al Pacino's character in Oliver Stone's sports drama Any Given Sunday, as well as a key supporting role in Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.

Berkley appeared on stage opposite Eddie Izzard for her role as Honey in the London stage version of Lenny. She went on to make her Broadway debut in the comedy Sly Fox, opposite Richard Dreyfuss in February 2004, three months after her marriage to artist Greg Lauren. She replaced Catherine Keener as Bonnie in the 2005 Off Broadway production of David Rabe's Hurlyburly, appearing alongside Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey and Bobby Cannavale.

Berkley received much praise for her role in Hurlyburly, with Charles Isherwood of The New York Times even going as far as apologizing to her for his past criticisms of her ability, stating that the fact she held "her own among this skilled company of scene-stealers is a testament to how much her talent has grown". In 2006 stage she appeared at the sixth annual 24 Hour Plays alongside Jennifer Aniston, Rosie Perez, and Lili Taylor, in which six writers, six directors, 24 actors, and production crews have 24 hours to write, direct, and perform six 10-minute plays.

Berkley has been seen in many dramatic television roles, guest starring on series such as CSI: Miami, NYPD Blue, Without a Trace, Threshold, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She had a recurring role in the successful and critically acclaimed sitcom Titus, in which she played the title character's sister, Shannon. She also starred in the Lifetime television film Student Seduction, in which she played Christie Dawson, a high school teacher wrongfully accused of sexual harassment by one of her students who becomes obsessed with her. This was followed by another made-for-television film in 2007, entitled Black Widow in which she played a woman suspected of killing her husbands for their money. The film Meet Market, which she starred in along with Julian McMahon, Krista Allen, and Aisha Tyler, was released straight to DVD in 2008.

In 2008, Berkley signed on to star in a multi-episode arc of CSI: Miami, in which she plays Horatio Caine's (David Caruso) ex-lover, Julia Winston, who is also the mother of his recently discovered son. The episodes which Berkley appeared in were very highly rated and all of them featured in the top 10 Nielsen ratings chart. She has since appeared in the show's season six finale.

Berkley hosted Bravo's reality series, Step It Up and Dance, a competition featuring the exploits of 10 wannabe dancers who compete against each other to win a cash prize of $100,000 as well as the opportunity to work with and perform for some of the country's top choreographers. The show premiered in April 2008 on Bravo and was cancelled after the first season. The show came out as the network's strongest ever in its time slot (10/11c) with 826,000 viewers. The show continued to perform well throughout its run, averaging 756,000 viewers each week - of whom 522,000 were aged 18 to 49 - and helped contribute to Bravo's highest-rated April ever. According to Berkley hosting the show is a very fulfilling job. She was quoted as saying that she gets "invested in the dancers" because she has befriended many of them offstage. The show was not renewed for a second season.

During the press tour for Step It Up and Dance, Berkley appeared on various shows including various morning news programs, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Fuse TV's The Sauce, E!'s Chelsea Lately, CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, and ABC's The View. While on The View, she spoke of her admiration for co-host Whoopi Goldberg, calling her "an extraordinary being". Her appearance on the show was unique in that she brought the ladies of the show tap shoes and taught them a short dance routine. Berkley starred alongside Thomas Jane in the David Arquette directed short film The Butler's in Love which premiered at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles in June 2008.

In 2009, Berkley starred in a multi-episode arc of the Showtime series The L Word, during its sixth and final season. She played Kelly Wentworth, a straight girl who got away from Jennifer Beals' character Bette Porter in college. Berkley and Beals are best friends in real life, having previously worked on the 2002 independent film Roger Dodger. Berkley continued with television work, reprising her role as Julia Winston in CSI: Miami, appearing in three more episodes, including the season seven finale. In the sequel to the cult hit Donnie Darko, S. Darko, she played Trudy, a former drug addict turned born again Christian who becomes infatuated with her pastor. She also appeared as Tracy in the 2009 comedy Women in Trouble.

During Berkley's guest appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in June 2009, her Saved by the Bell co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar - as Zack Morris - expressed his desire to take part in Jimmy Fallon's "class reunion" of the show's original cast members and revealed that Berkley has also agreed to take part in the reunion. Dennis Haskins, Lark Voorhies, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and Mark-Paul Gosselaar agreed to a reunion. Gosselaar reprised his role as Zack Morris on Late Night on June 8, 2009, while promoting his then current TNT drama, Raising the Bar. The spoof interview closed with a performance of "Friends Forever" originally by Zack Attack, where Zack played guitar and sang with backing from Fallon's house band, the Roots. Tiffani Thiessen posted a parody video to the online website Funny or Die, where she said she was just too busy to join in a reunion.

In 2011, Berkley played the lead female role in the Hallmark Channel original movie Lucky Christmas, about a woman who wins the lottery only to have to recover the ticket from the glove compartment of her stolen car. The film premiered on Hallmark Film Channel on November 12, 2011.

In September 2013, Berkley was announced as one of the contestants on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars. She partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. They were eliminated on the 9th week of competition and landed in 6th place despite receiving high judge scores. Several perfect scores were earned & awarded by expert panel judges. Ultimately however, the public vote eliminated her team based upon popularity metrics used by the show.

On February 4, 2015, Berkley reunited with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Dennis Haskins and Tiffani Thiessen on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where they appeared in a Saved by the Bell sketch with Fallon.


In 2006, Berkley set up a self-help program online for teen girls called Ask-Elizabeth. The website was created when husband Greg Lauren commented on the number of girls who came to her asking for advice and joked that she should have her own column. She regularly meets with young girls to discuss different issues and topics and to help them with any problems that they are going through and speaks of her own troubles in the past.

Ask-Elizabeth was also the working title of a reality series focusing on the program's success and its continued efforts to help girls throughout the country. The show, produced by MTV, featured Berkley traveling around the United States looking at the issues and topics most important to teenage girls. Amy Bailey, vice president of development in MTV's News & Documentaries division, said Berkley approached MTV with the idea. "She does these workshops around the country with teen girls and gets them to really open up about self-esteem and body issues," said Bailey. "We had been looking for a program that tackled the same issues, so it seemed like a perfect match." The status of the show itself is unknown as it was originally expected to premiere in late 2008, but production has since been pushed back indefinitely.

In 2011, Berkley published Ask-Elizabeth, a self-help book for teenage girls which drew from the workshops she conducted for the Ask-Elizabeth program.

Personal life

Berkley is an animal rights activist and in 1997, donned a $600 form-fitting gown made entirely of collard greens for the "Lettuce Be Lean" campaign, sponsored by PETA to try to encourage people to embrace vegetarianism. In 2008 & 2009, she was among a number of celebrities included in an online poll by PETA to select the "Sexiest Vegetarian of the Year".

In 2000, Berkley was made the subject of a $45 million lawsuit when actor and screenwriter Roger Wilson took action against Leonardo DiCaprio, claiming that DiCaprio had encouraged his friends to assault Wilson in a street fight after he tried to defend Berkley, who had been the subject of the unwanted advances of DiCaprio and his friends.

On November 1, 2003, Berkley married artist and occasional actor Greg Lauren at the Esperanza Hotel in Cabo San Lucas. Berkley formally changed her name to Elizabeth Berkley Lauren; however, she still uses her maiden name professionally. On March 5, 2012, Berkley announced she was expecting her first child in the summer. On July 20, 2012, son Sky Cole was born. Berkley gave birth 8 days before her 40th birthday.



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Frog Kathy Television film
1988 Platinum Blonde Short film
1992 Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style Jessie Spano Television film
1994 Molly & Gina Kimberly Sweeny
1994 Bandit: Bandit Goes Country Beth Television film
1994 Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas Jessie Spano Television film
1995 White Wolves II: Legend of the Wild Crystal
1995 Showgirls Nomi Malone Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star
Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress of the Century
Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star of the Decade
1996 First Wives Club, TheThe First Wives Club Phoebe LaVelle National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1997 Time to Revenge, AA Time to Revenge Tiffany Whittmar Scenes deleted
1997 Armitage III Naomi Armitage (voice) Video
1997 Real Blonde, TheThe Real Blonde Tina
1998 Random Encounter Alicia 'Allie' Brayman
1999 Taxman Nadia Rubakov
1999 Africa Barbara Craig
1999 Last Call Helena
1999 Tail Lights Fade Eve
1999 Any Given Sunday Mandy Murphy
2000 Becoming Dick Maggie Television film
2001 Curse of the Jade Scorpion, TheThe Curse of the Jade Scorpion Jill
2001 Elevator, TheThe Elevator Celeste Television film
2001 Shipment, TheThe Shipment Candy Colucci
2002 Cover Story Samantha Noble
2002 Roger Dodger Andrea
2003 Detonator Jane Dreyer
2003 Moving Malcolm Liz Woodward
2003 Control Factor Karen Bishop Television film
2003 Student Seduction Christie Dawson Television film
2008 Meet Market Linda
2008 Butler's in Love, TheThe Butler's in Love Angelique Short film
2008 Black Widow Olivia Whitfield / Grace Miller Television film
2009 Women in Trouble Tracy
2009 S. Darko Trudy
2011 Lucky Christmas Holly Ceroni Television film


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Gimme a Break! Girl No. 1 Episode: "Getting to Know You"
1986 Silver Spoons Melissa Episode: "Rick Moves Out"
1988 Day by Day Lisabeth Episode: "Girl Wars"
1989-1993 Saved by the Bell Jessica 'Jessie' Myrtle Spano 75 episodes
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Primetime Series
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Ensemble
1990 Hogan Family, TheThe Hogan Family Ashley Episode: "California Dreamin': Parts 1 & 2"
1990 Married People Isabel Episode: "Once More with Passion"
1990 Life Goes On Selena Episode: "La Dolce Becca"
1992 Raven Deborah Episode: "The Death of Sheila"
1992 Step by Step Lisa Morgan Episode: "J.T.'s World"
1992 Baywatch Courtney Bremmer 2 episodes
1993 Crossroads Jen Episode: "Paradise Found"
1994 Diagnosis: Murder Shannon Thatcher Episode: "Flashdance with Death"
1994 Burke's Law Heather Charles Episode: "Who Killed the Beauty Queen?"
1997 Perversions of Science Ruth Episode: "Planely Possible"
1999 Brother's Keeper Amy Episode: "You Are Me"
2000 Jack & Jill Gabi Episode: "Under Pressure"
2000 NYPD Blue Nicole Graf 2 episodes
2001-2002 Titus Shannon 3 episodes
2002 Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight Zone Marisa Sanborn Episode: "Sanctuary"
2003 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Renée, Foam Dancer Episode: "Lady Heather's Box"
2004 Without a Trace Lynette Shaw 2 episodes
2005 Threshold Christine Polchek Episode: "Progeny"
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Danielle Quinn Episode: "Dollhouse"
2008-2009 CSI: Miami Julia Winston 9 episodes
2009 L Word, TheThe L Word Kelly Wentworth 4 episodes
2013 Dancing with the Stars Herself 14 episodes
2014 Melissa & Joey Dr. Kathryn Miller 1 episode
2015 Dinner at Tiffani's Herself "Girl's Night In"
2015 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Jessie Spano 1 episode

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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