A dazzling, perky blond with milky white skin, American actress Emily Procter has created a strong career out of her Steel Magnolia-style Southern appeal. First gaining early breaks in the film Leaving Las Vegas and in an episode of “Friends” (both 1995), the petite actress reached stardom as ballistics specialist Calleigh Duquesne on the hit forensic franchise spin-off “CSI: Miami,” which has been running on American TV since 2002. Prior to landing her breakthrough role, she was most known to TV audience as Associate White House Counsel Ainsley Hayes on the NBC drama series “The West Wing,” a role she portrayed from 2000 to 2002. On the wide screen, Procter has been acted in numerous films since 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas, including Jerry Maguire (1996), Breast Men (1997), Guinevere (1999), The Big Tease (1999), Forever Fabulous (1999), and more recently Big Momma’s House 2 (2006).
In addition to being an actress, Procter is also a successful interior designer. She has made over numerous elite homes, including her own Spanish-style home. Procter has volunteered as an actress with the Young Storytellers Program. On a more personal note, the 5-foot-3-inch actress is a passionate Poker player, and has participated in at least a single celebrity tournament. She learned to play this game from her father when she was a child. Procter is also interested in jigsaw puzzles, and collects bugs as a hobby. Procter is currently a single. Commenting about her lone status, she said, “It’s not a bad idea to be single, so I can concentrate on my job.”
Childhood and Family:
Emily Mallory Procter was born on October 8, 1968, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her parents, Bill Procter, a general practitioner, and Barbara Jones, a volunteer worker, divorced when Emily was two years old. She has two older siblings, including one a brother named E.J.
Growing up, Emily dreamed of becoming an actress, a strange choice since she was not permitted to watch TV during her early years. She participated in numerous school productions while studying at the Ravenscroft School in Raleigh. After high school, Emily attended East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where she studied journalism and dance. While there, she tried to get into the theater department, but it was full. Upon earning her B.F.A degree and working as a television meteorologist at a local TV program, she moved to Los Angeles, where her father paid for 2 years of acting classes.
The West Wing
With a degree on Journalism and Dance on her pocket, Emily Procter began her career as a weekend weather girl at WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina before heading to Los Angeles to pursue acting. While studying acting, she worked as a TV and film extra and finally moved on to meatier roles after someone in the set of the 1992 Billy Crystal Mr. Saturday Night noticed her. As a result, she got her first speaking part in an episode of Tobey Maguire’s very short-lived series “Great Scott” (1992, Fox), a gig that led to appearances in commercials for Maxwell House, Pepsi and Budweiser. Procter’s early breaks arrived in 1995 with a small role in Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nicolas Cage, and a guest role in on the NBC popular sitcom “Friends,” as Annabel.
Procter next made a series of television guest appearances, including ABC’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1997, as Lana Lang), NBC’s sitcom “Just Shoot Me” (1997, as an anchorwoman) and “Early Edition” (1997). She also took on small roles in films like Cameron Crowe’s blockbuster hit Jerry Maguire (1996, as one of Tom Cruise’s former girlfriends), Costas Mandylor’s Crosscut (1996), The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997, TV) and the Tony Danza starring vehicle The Girl Gets Moe (1997). The actress landed her first lead role in 1997’s Breast Men, a well-received HBO film about the evolution of breast implants. She shared the screen with David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper.
The ex-fraternity girl and soup kitchen volunteer continued to work in the family/comedy film Family Plan (1998, opposite Leslie Nielsen, Judge Reinhold and Joely Fischer), the well-reviewed drama/romance Guinevere (1999, starred Sarah Polley), the independent Kingdom Come (1999), Body Shots (1999, starred Sean Patrick Flanery and Jerry O’Connell), Forever Fabulous (1999, with Jean Smart and Jennifer Elise Cox) and the Scottish film The Big Tease (1999). Procter’s career entered a new phase in 2000, when she joined the cast of the NBC White House drama “The West Wing,” where she was cast in the breakout role of a conservative Republican, Ainsley Hayes. Though she completely loved her character, which provided an invigorating challenge for the regular cast members, Procter decided to leave the show in 2002.
Within two months of her departure, Procter scored even a bigger victory when she won a starring role on the CBS “CSI: Miami” (2002-?), a follow-up of the enormously popular “CSI.” Like its predecessor, the crime show is also a hit, having nabbed a 2003 People’s Choice for Favorite New Drama. As for Procter, her role as the stunning, tough, gun-toting Detective Calleigh Duquesne made her a household name, especially after her character gained more screen time following first-season lead Kim Delany’s exodus.
In 2006, the Raleigh, North Carolina, native revisited the big screen, costarring with Martin Lawrence and Nia Long in Big Momma’s House 2, as a clueless Southern belle who recruits the FBI agent undercovered as Big Momma to be a nanny to her children. The same year, she reprised her role of Ainsley Hayes for the final episode of “The West Wing.”