Elizabeth Berkley

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Elizabeth Berkley
Greg Lauren and Elizabeth Berkley (cropped).jpg
Berkley with husband Greg Lauren in 2008
Born(1972-07-28) July 28, 1972 (age 42)
Farmington Hills, Michigan, U.S.
Years active1986–present
Spouse(s)Greg Lauren (m. 2003–present)
AwardsNBR Award for Best Cast
1996 The First Wives Club
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For those of a similar name, see Elizabeth Berkeley (disambiguation).
Elizabeth Berkley
Greg Lauren and Elizabeth Berkley (cropped).jpg
Berkley with husband Greg Lauren in 2008
Born(1972-07-28) July 28, 1972 (age 42)
Farmington Hills, Michigan, U.S.
Years active1986–present
Spouse(s)Greg Lauren (m. 2003–present)
AwardsNBR Award for Best Cast
1996 The First Wives Club

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (born July 28, 1972)[1] is an American television, film and theatre actress. Berkley's most notable roles were in the television series Saved by the Bell, as brainy feminist Jessie Spano, and the 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls, as exotic dancer Nomi Malone.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Her family is Jewish, and she was raised in the Conservative tradition of Judaism and became bat mitzvah.[2][3] 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.[4] 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.[5] She began to take part in several ballets, including Swan Lake and in 1983 she appeared in some musicals.[6]


Berkley was a teenage model for Elite before pursuing an acting career.[7] 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 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,[8][9][10] and was widely panned by critics.

She 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.

As time has put distance between Berkley and the controversial film (which has since achieved cult status among film fans and placed number 36 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the Top 50 Cult Movies and is also one of top 20 highest grossing films of all time for MGM),[11] she has performed in supporting roles in independent films such as The Taxman, Tail Lights Fade, Roger Dodger (which her manager advised her not to do), 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".[12] 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, twenty-four actors, and production crews have twenty-four hours to write, direct, and perform six ten-minute plays.[13]

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 stayed true to her comic roots with 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.[14] 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 after having been in limbo since it was completed in 2004.

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.[15] The episodes which Berkley appeared in were very highly rated and all of them featured in the top 10 Nielsen ratings chart.[16] She has since appeared in the show's season six finale.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[citation needed] 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, the 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.[22] She 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 cult hit Donnie Darko, S. Darko, she was cast as 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.

While making an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in June 2009, Berkley's Saved by the Bell co-star Mark-Paul Gosselaar – as Zack Morris[23] – expressed his desire to take part in Fallon's "class reunion" of the show's original cast members and revealed that Berkley has also agreed to take part in the reunion.[24] Dennis Haskins, Lark Voorhies, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and Mark-Paul Gosselaar agreed to a reunion.[25][26] 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.[27]

In 2011, Berkley played the lead female role in Hallmark Channel's 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.[28]

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.[29] They were eliminated on the 9th week of competition and landed in 6th place despite receiving high judges scores.


In 2006, Berkley set up a self-help program online for teen girls called Ask-Elizabeth.[30] 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.[31] The show, produced by MTV,[32] 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."[33] 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.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Berkley in an advertisement for PETA

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.[35] 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".[36]

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 DiCaprio and his friends' unwanted advances.[37]

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.[38] On March 5, 2012, Berkley announced she was expecting her first child in the summer.[39] On July 20, 2012, son Sky Cole was born. Berkley gave birth 8 days before her 40th birthday.[40]



1987FrogKathyTelevision film
1988Platinum BlondeShort film
1992Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian StyleJessie SpanoTelevision film
1994Molly & GinaKimberly Sweeny
1994Bandit: Bandit Goes CountryBethTelevision film
1994Saved by the Bell: Wedding in Las VegasJessie SpanoTelevision film
1995White Wolves II: Legend of the WildCrystal
1995ShowgirlsNomi MaloneGolden 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
1996First Wives Club, TheThe First Wives ClubPhoebe LaVelleNational Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1997Time to Revenge, AA Time to RevengeTiffany WhittmarScenes deleted
1997Armitage IIINaomi Armitage (voice)Video
1997Real Blonde, TheThe Real BlondeTina
1998Random EncounterAlicia 'Allie' Brayman
1999TaxmanNadia Rubakov
1999AfricaBarbara Craig
1999Last CallHelena
1999Tail Lights FadeEve
1999Any Given SundayMandy Murphy
2000Becoming DickMaggieTelevision film
2001Curse of the Jade Scorpion, TheThe Curse of the Jade ScorpionJill
2001Elevator, TheThe ElevatorCelesteTelevision film
2001Shipment, TheThe ShipmentCandy Colucci
2002Cover StorySamantha Noble
2002Roger DodgerAndrea
2003DetonatorJane Dreyer
2003Moving MalcolmLiz Woodward
2003Control FactorKaren BishopTelevision film
2003Student SeductionChristie DawsonTelevision film
2008Meet MarketLinda
2008Butler's in Love, TheThe Butler's in LoveAngeliqueShort film
2008Black WidowOlivia Whitfield / Grace MillerTelevision film
2009Women in TroubleTracy
2009S. DarkoTrudy
2011Lucky ChristmasHolly CeroniTelevision film


1986Gimme a Break!Girl No. 1Episode: "Getting to Know You"
1986Silver SpoonsMelissaEpisode: "Rick Moves Out"
1988Day by DayLisabethEpisode: "Girl Wars"
1989-1993Saved by the BellJessica 'Jessie' Myrtle Spano75 episodes
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Primetime Series
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Ensemble
1990Hogan Family, TheThe Hogan FamilyAshleyEpisode: "California Dreamin': Parts 1 & 2"
1990Married PeopleIsabelEpisode: "Once More with Passion"
1990Life Goes OnSelenaEpisode: "La Dolce Becca"
1992RavenDeborahEpisode: "The Death of Sheila"
1992Step by StepLisa MorganEpisode: "J.T.'s World"
1992BaywatchCourtney Bremmer2 episodes
1993CrossroadsJenEpisode: "Paradise Found"
1994Diagnosis: MurderShannon ThatcherEpisode: "Flashdance with Death"
1994Burke's LawHeather CharlesEpisode: "Who Killed the Beauty Queen?"
1997Perversions of ScienceRuthEpisode: "Planely Possible"
1999Brother's KeeperAmyEpisode: "You Are Me"
2000Jack & JillGabiEpisode: "Under Pressure"
2000NYPD BlueNicole Graf2 episodes
2001-2002TitusShannon3 episodes
2002Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneMarisa SanbornEpisode: "Sanctuary"
2003CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationRenée, Foam DancerEpisode: "Lady Heather's Box"
2004Without a TraceLynette Shaw2 episodes
2005ThresholdChristine PolchekEpisode: "Progeny"
2006Law & Order: Criminal IntentDanielle QuinnEpisode: "Dollhouse"
2008-2009CSI: MiamiJulia Winston9 episodes
2009L Word, TheThe L WordKelly Wentworth4 episodes
2013Dancing with the StarsHerself14 episodes
2014Melissa & JoeyDr. Kathryn Miller1 episode


  1. ^ a b "Elizabeth Berkley Biography (1972–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  2. ^ http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/catch_a_rising_star_20010824/
  3. ^ http://www.jwi.org/Page.aspx?pid=2792&frcrld=1
  4. ^ Brack, Renee (8 January 2014). "Eye spy: The world's sexiest mutation". The New Daily. 
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley – SIUAD – Get To Know [Part 1]". YouTube. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  6. ^ Elizabeth Berkley. "Elizabeth Berkley". AskMen.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  7. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley – Profile, Latest News and Related Articles". Eonline.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  8. ^ Kristen Coppock (2008-04-17). "'Step It Up & Dance turns spotlight on unknowns". Burlington County Times. Retrieved 2009-10-18. Actress Elizabeth Berkley, who danced in the racy box office bomb “Showgirls,” hosts the show. 
  9. ^ Karl Heitmueller (2009-10-09). "Rewind: The Road To Fame Is Paved With Bad Movies". MTV. Retrieved 2009-10-18. Savaged by critics, a dud at the box office, "Glitter" (like "Showgirls" and "Can't Stop the Music") makes you wonder if those responsible didn't know from the green light that they were making the kind of stink bomb that can only find success as an unintended cult experience. 
  10. ^ Missy Schwartz (2004-04-09). "The Scarlet Letters". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-18. ...NC-17 came to be seen as box office poison, thanks to bombs like the campily erotic Showgirls. 
  11. ^ Showgirls, MGM.com : Official website of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
  12. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "The Redemption of Elizabeth Berkley". The New York Times, June 19, 2005. Accessed 13 May 2009.
  13. ^ Robertson, Campbell. "Arts, Briefly; Jennifer Aniston In Broadway's '24 Hours'". The New York Times, September 22, 2006. Accessed 13 May 2009.
  14. ^ "Student Seduction". 
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2007-11-26). "Berkley signs for role on "CSI: Miami"". Reuters. 
  16. ^ "Nielsen TV Ratings Top CBS Shows, March 24–30, 2008; including CSI:Miami, Two and A Half Men and 60 Minutes". Tvbythenumbers.com. 2008-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  17. ^ "Chelsea Lately Plays Game With Elizabeth Berkley". Youtube. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  18. ^ BRAVOtv.com : Step it Up and Dance : About
  19. ^ "Bravo Nets Applause For ‘Supermodel,’ ‘Dance’ – 4/4/2008 4:18:00 PM – Multichannel News". Multichannel.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  20. ^ "Breaking News – BRAVO MARKS HIGHEST RATED APRIL EVER AND IS FASTEST GROWING CABLER 18–49". TheFutonCritic.com. 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  21. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley Talks "Step Up and Dance"". Gossip Girls. 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  22. ^ Ausiello, Michael (2008-07-22). "Exclusive: Elizabeth Berkley Utters 'The L Word' | the L Word | Ausiello Files | EW.com". Ausiellofiles.ew.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  23. ^ Mandi Bierly (Jun 9, 2009). "Mark-Paul Gosselaar does Fallon interview as Zack Morris, commits to reunion". PopWatch.com. 
  24. ^ "Gosselaar shows up on fallon in zack morris clothes". USA Today. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-05-01. [dead link]
  25. ^ Friedman, Jon (March 28, 2009). "Sign the Saved By the Bell Petition". Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.com. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  26. ^ Harrington, Amy (June 5, 2009). "'Saved By The Bell' Cast: Then & Now". GetBack.com. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  27. ^ "Tiffani Thiessen is Busy". Funny or Die.com. July 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  28. ^ http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/luckychristmas
  29. ^ ""Dancing with the Stars": Leah Remini, Valerie Harper, Snooki among new cast". CBS News. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  30. ^ http://www.ask-elizabeth.com/
  31. ^ Berkley Develops Teen Self-help Show
  32. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley has answers for MTV". Reuters. 2008-07-25. 
  33. ^ Elizabeth Berkley Developing Show for MTV - TV News, Elizabeth Berkley : People.com
  34. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley's 'Ask Elizabeth' Book Tells Girls They're 'Not Alone'". MTV.com. 2011-03-22. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  35. ^ Poster at Peta web site
  36. ^ "peta2 // Out There // Who's the World's Sexiest Vegetarian 2008?". Peta2.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  37. ^ "Did Leo DiCaprio lead his posse to war?". News.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  38. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley and Greg Lauren Wedding". Lovetripper.com. 2003-11-01. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  39. ^ "Elizabeth Berkley Expecting First Child". People. 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  40. ^ http://celebritybabies.people.com/2012/07/30/elizabeth-berkley-greg-lauren-welcome-son-sky-cole/

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Byrne, Benicio del Toro, Kevin Pollak, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite, Suzy Amis, Giancarlo Esposito
for The Usual Suspects
National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Shared with Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Stephen Collins, Marcia Gay Harden, Bronson Pinchot, Jennifer Dundas, Eileen Heckart, Philip Bosco, Rob Reiner, James Naughton, Ari Greenberg, Aida Linares
for The First Wives Club

Succeeded by
Ian Holm, Caerthan Banks, Sarah Polley, Tom McCamus, Gabrielle Rose, Alberta Watson, Maury Chaykin, Stephanie Morgenstern
for The Sweet Hereafter