Melrose Place’s Butt
“I know that place of being an actor and wishing and wanting for things to happen for you, but the truth is that it happens inside.” Daphne Zuniga
American actress Daphne Zuniga was launched to stardom with her long run portrayal of recurrent victim Jo Reynolds on the hit primetime television series “Melrose Place” (1992-1996). Returning to primetime series after several years break, the pert, smoky-voiced brunette enjoyed success as the mother of two teenagers in the popular ABC family drama “Beautiful People” (2005-2006). She also has had a recurring role in the NBC series “American Dreams,” playing Shelly Pierce from 2004 to 2005. As a movie actress, Zuniga is probably best known for playing roles in such films as Vision Quest (1995, with Matthew Modine), Rob Reiner’s critically acclaimed romantic comedy The Sure Thing (1995, opposite John Cusack) and Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs (1987).
Off screen, Zuniga was a victim of Mercury poisoning, which was the straight effect of her daily consumption of fish. As a result, she suffered from a variety of health problems such as headaches, low grade depression, weak memory, crying spells and skin rashes. After consulting with many doctors, she has impeded consuming fish and does not plan to resume anytime soon. A founding board member of Earth Communications Office (ECO), an organization that harnesses the power of the environmental movement and the entertainment community, the actress has spent a good amount of time sponsoring awareness about the earth, and campaigns to help keep it clean. She has worked with such organizations as the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance. Recently, Zuniga has concentrated her efforts on environmental problems in Hispanic communities, where childhood asthma is an epidemic.
Harley Davidson Rider
Childhood and Family:
Daphne Eurydice Zuniga was born on October 28, 1962 in Berkeley, California. Her Guatemalan father is a philosophy professor and her mother, who is of Greek heritage, is a Unitarian minister. Her parents divorced when Daphne was six years old, leaving her under the custody of her single mother who later moved teen Daphne to Vermont. She attended Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, VT and, after graduating in 1980, moved back to California to study theater at the University of California at Los Angeles. She went on to train at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California.
A health conscience vegetarian, Daphne enjoys meditation and is supporter of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, and Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts. She also practices yoga. In her spare time, the older sister of actress Jennifer Zuniga rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
As a teenager, Daphne Zuniga began performing with The New Woolhouse Players, Woodstock, Vermont before moving back to California to attend a three-year theater program at UCLA. She soon had her first taste in front of the movie camera with the teen slasher flick The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982), opposite Laura Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow and Pamela Holland. A supporting part as the sister of Helen Hunter in the television film Quarterback Princess (1983) and a two episodic role in the NBC series “Family Ties” (1984) followed before she made a sophomore effort in another teen horror, The Initiation (1984), costarring Vera Miles.
Zuniga’s career started to gain momentum in 1985. She was cast opposite Matthew Modine in the coming of age drama Vision Quest and then starred as a compassionate social worker who becomes involved with an aged destitute woman (Lucille Ball) in the CBS film The Stone Pillow. Her breakout role arrived with Rob Reiner’s critically acclaimed romantic comedy The Sure Thing, portraying a prissy college student on a road trip with free spirited John Cusack.
After a performance with Virginia Madsen in Modern Girls (1986), the actress snagged the role of Princess Vespa in the director-actor Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs (1987), a spoof of popular Sci-Fi movies. Though, the film was negatively responded by critics, it categorized as one of Zuniga’s most recognizable roles. She ended up the decade by making three films, including The Fly II, with Eric Stoltz, and the medical drama Gross Anatomy, playing a medical student and girlfriend of Matthew Modine.
Zuniga’s big breakthrough arrived in 1992 when she landed the regular role of tomboy photographer Jo Reynolds on the popular primetime soap “Melrose Place.” Impressively bringing a level of skill and professionalism to her role as a permanent victim, Zuniga became a household name. She departed the series in 1996 to find saner scripts.
After leaving “Melrose Place,” Zuniga took a self-imposed partial break. She went on to perform, but with less frequency. She teamed up with Richard Dean Anderson for the unremarkable medical thriller Pandora’s Clock (NBC, 1996), starred in the drama-romance Naked in the Cold Sun (1997) and portrayed Shirley-Greta in Stand-ins (1997). She also made some guest starring performance, including playing Carrie in two episodes of “Spin City” (1997-1998).
In the new millennium, Zuniga continued to play roles in films Artificial Lies (2000), Enemies of Laughter (2000) and Ghost Dog: A Detective Tail (2003, TV), but did not return to primetime show until 2004. She joined the cast of the NBC drama/music series “American Dreams” in the recurring role of Shelly Pierce, the Pryors’ new neighbor and the mother of a disobedient teen from 2004 to 2005. Zuniga then got an even bigger role, making her permanent comeback to primetime with the hit ABC family drama “Beautiful People” (2005-2006). Here, she portrays Lynn Kerr, a mother of two teen girls who moves from New Mexico to New York City with her daughters after her husband deserted the family.
Recently starring as Deborah Matthews in the thriller made-for-TV film The Obsession (2006), the 44-year-old Californian beauty will soon be seen as Jill in the family television film Christmas Every Day (2006), starring with Jay Mohr.