Breaking into soap operas as troubled Alli Fowler in NBC's “Another World” (1998-1999), American actress Alicia Leigh Willis achieved fame thanks to her role of spirited and charming Courtney Matthews in the popular ABC soap “General Hospital” (2001-2005, 2006), where she took home two Daytime Emmy nominations for her performance. Willis also had the title role in the television show “American Heiress” (2007) and recurring roles in the Aaron Spelling produced series “7th Heaven” (1996-2002) and Showtime's “The L Word” (2008-2009). On the big screen, Willis is perhaps best known for her performance in the Nicolas Cage vehicle “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (2007). Other film credits include “Anywhere But Here” (1999), “How High” (2001) and “Raven” (2009). A promising soccer player in high school, Willis gave up the chance of a career in sports to focus on acting.
Willis now lives in Los Angeles, California, and is the good friend of actress Taylor Stanley, her former costar on “Another World.” Her favorite actors are Robert DeNiro and Angelina Jolie.
Childhood and Family:
Alicia Leigh Willis was born on March 1, 1978, in Atlanta, Georgia, to David E. Willis (actor) and Leigh Willis. She has two sisters, Kimberly and Tiffany, and a brother named Ryan. She attended Laguna Beach High School.
A talented youth, Alicia began playing soccer at age 5 and went on to become an accomplished player in high school. During her senior year of high school, she received many offers from schools to play college soccer, but she decided to decline the offers in favor of acting. In preparation, she trained at the South Coast Repertory Theater and the D.W. Brown Studio. After graduating high school, Alicia moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream.
Alicia, whose nicknames are Leesha and Lulu, is also a very good volleyball player. She enjoys yoga, snowboarding and going to the gym as well. She is a fan of legendary jazz musician Nina Simone.
The daughter of an actor, Alicia Leigh Willis was exposed to show business at a young age, which led to her first speaking role in a bank commercial with her dad in the 1980s. Growing up, she became more interested in sports and did not rediscover her love for performing until junior high. Thanks to her volleyball skills, she was cast in a Frosted Flakes commercial and appeared continually on TV for three years. After this, she landed an agent and headed to Hollywood to become a professional actress.
Willis got her first big break when she won the recurring role of Corey Conway in the WB series “7th Heaven,” where her parents also acted in the show as her onscreen parents. She was on the Aaron Spelling produced family series from 1996 to 2002.
After “7th Heaven,” Willis secured a string of guest spots in TV shows like “Grace Under Fire,” “Something So Right,” “Maggie Winters” and “USA High” (all 1998). She did not enter the daytime territory until she was cast as Alli Fowler in the NBC soap opera “Another World” in 1998. Unfortunately for her, the show was canceled within six months of her recruitment. In 1999, Willis made her first feature film appearance in “Lost & Found,” a romantic comedy starring David Spade and Ever Carradine and directed by Jeff Pollack. Later that same year, she had an unaccredited part in the Wayne Wang directed drama “Anywhere But Here,” which starred Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman.
Willis resumed her film career in 2001 when she landed a small part in the comedy “How High,” starring Method Man and Redman. Later that same year, the actress enjoyed success when she began her famed role of Sonny's sister, Courtney Matthews, on the ABC long running daytime drama “General Hospital.” She went on to receive two Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series (2003 and 2004) before she left the show in December 2005. She would return to “General Hospital” for a two episode appearance in February 2006.
Following a guest appearance on “CSI: Miami” (2006), Willis headlined the television series “American Heiress,” where she portrayed Elizabeth Wakefield. Debuting on March 13, 2007, the show was canceled after 26 of the 65 episodes aired because of poor ratings. Also in 2007, Willis was seen in the box office hit “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (2007), an installment to the hit “National Treasure” (2004). Nicolas Cage starred in both movies.
In 2008, Willis joined the cast of the Showtime drama “The L Word” in the recurring role of Cindi Annabelle Tucker. She left the show after seven episodes and later reprised the role for the episode “Long Night's Journey Into Day,” which aired on January 18, 2009. She next guest starred in “Without a Trace” (2009), where she played Robin, and portrayed Sandra in the horror movie “Raven” (2009), which was directed by Gregori J. Martin and starred Meadow Williams, Roland Kickinger and Steven Bauer.