Sep. 30th, 1971
Los Angeles, California, USA
Jenna Elfman's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Jenna Elfman (born Jennifer Mary Butala; September 30, 1971) in Los Angeles, California. She is the youngest of three children, to Sue (Grace) Butala, a homemaker, and Richard Butala, a Hughes Aircraft executive. Her father's younger brother, Elfman's uncle, is Tony Butala, lead singer since 1958 of the American vocal trio The Lettermen. She is of Croatian ancestry on her father's side and was raised Roman Catholic.
Elfman began her career appearing in commercials. She studied with 'Milton Katselas', the renowned acting teacher. She then began appearing in TV shows before landing the role of Dharma in the hit ABC television show Dharma & Greg (1997).
Her first starring role in a film was in Krippendorf's Tribe (1998), alongside 'Richard Dreyfuss'. She won a Golden Globe award for her role in Dharma & Greg (1997) and has since appeared in such films as Keeping the Faith (2000) and Edtv (1999).
Taking ballet classes since the age of five, Elfman became a classically trained ballet dancer and attended high school at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. She then attended college at California State University, Northridge. Elfman began her professional career as a dancer, appearing in the music video for "Halo", a song by Depeche Mode from the 1990 album Violator, a video that was exclusively included on the band's 1990 music video compilation Strange Too. She stars in the video for Anthrax's 1993 song "Black Lodge". She also danced in the video for Chris Isaak's 1995 single "Somebody's Crying" and toured with the rock band ZZ Top on their 1994 World Tour as a "Legs Girl".
After appearing in numerous national television commercials, most notably as the girl in the Honda ad who said "Regular or Decaf?", Elfman landed her first principal cast acting role on the short-lived 1996 American sitcom entitled Townies on ABC.
Although the show didn't catch on with viewers, it did impress critics, particularly the performances of Elfman and co-star Lauren Graham. Soon after, 20th Century Fox began talking to Elfman about developing her own sitcom. Elfman thus started her five-year run as Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery in the American comedy series Dharma & Greg on ABC.
Elfman guest starred in two episodes of Two and a Half Men in 2004 and one episode of Brothers and Sisters in 2007. She made a guest appearance in the sixth episode of season four of My Name Is Earl as a cheer team leader.
Elfman starred in the CBS comedy Courting Alex in 2006, then starred in Accidentally on Purpose for CBS three years later during the 2009–10 television season. The show was canceled after a single (2009–2010) season.
She appeared in a supporting role in a feature film, Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, released in 2011. Also in 2011, she returned to do a cameo appearance on the Two and a Half Men Season 9 premiere episode reprising her "Dharma" character together with former co-star Thomas Gibson ("Greg").
Elfman acted in the season finale of Shameless on April 1, 2012.
She appeared in a recurring role in the final season of Damages.
Elfman played a fictional version of the First Lady of the United States in 1600 Penn, a 2013 comedy series on NBC that ran for one season.
In July 2013, Elfman was cast in the NBC comedy Growing Up Fisher as Joyce Fisher, the wife of a blind man struggling as the patriarch, which will premiere mid-season of 2013–2014.
Also in July 2013, it was announced that Jenna has a guest-starring role on the August 28 episode of USA Network's Royal Pains as Lacy, a reformed party girl.
Elfman met her husband, actor 'Bodhi Elfman', at a Sprite commercial audition in February 1991. They married (February 18, 1995), making director Richard Elfman her father-in-law and composer Danny Elfman her uncle-in-law.
Elfman and her husband's first child, a son, Story Elias (b. July 23, 2007) in Los Angeles. On September 16, 2009, when Elfman announced she was expecting her second child, she suggested that the pregnancy would assist with her role in Accidentally on Purpose. Their second son, Easton Quinn Monroe, was (b. March 2, 2010).
Elfman is a member of the Church of Scientology.
- Turned down a role in _Minority Report (2002)_ (qv).
- Niece of singer 'Tony Butala' (qv), who founded and performs with the vocal group 'The Lettermen' (qv).
- At age 35, she gave birth to her first child. Son, Story Elias, was born July 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, weighing 7 lbs, 2 oz.
- Was listed as a potential nominee on the 2004 Razzie Award nominating ballot. She was suggested in the Worst Supporting Actress category for her performance in the film _Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)_ (qv); however, she failed to receive a nomination.
- 'Susan Sullivan (I)' (qv), who played the mother-in-law of her character, Dharma, in the series _"Dharma & Greg" (1997)_ (qv), also played the mother of her character Lizzie, in the series _"Brothers & Sisters" (2006)_ (qv).
- Studied acting at The Beverly Hills Playhouse with 'Milton Katselas' (qv).
- She started taking classical ballet at the age of five, but by nine, she suffered a serious ankle injury, and at age 12, the tendon came off the bone. She later gave up ballet at the age of 16.
- Graduated from Los Angeles High School for the Arts, class of 1989. She was senior class representative (dance dept), on Student Arts Council.