“Well, I’m Italian, but my family isn’t stereotypical. I mean, I only have one sister and we don’t yell or throw pasta at each other. My mother doesn’t even have a secret spaghetti sauce recipe.” Jennifer Esposito on her heritage
Television and movie actress Jennifer Esposito is best known for her role as the mayor’s secretary Stacey Paterno, costarring alongside Michael J. Fox, in the prime time hit “Spin City” (ABC, 1997-1999). Before the big breakthrough, she earned attention for portraying Connie Soleito in the ABC series “The City” (1995). More recently, she had a recurring role as social worker Crystal Turner on CBS’s courtroom drama “Judging Amy” (2004-2005).
On the silver screen, Esposito made a name for herself as a talented actress with her impressive supporting turn as punk singer Ruby in the Spike Lee contentious Summer of Sam (1999). She further increased her popularity by playing roles in such films as Dracula 2000, the successful Don’t Say a Word (2001), The Proposal (2001, Welcome to Collinwood (2002), The Master of Disguise (2002), All the Rules (2004), Taxi (2004), American Crude (2005) and the Oscar-winning film Crash (2005).
Esposito is currently working on her Ginnie Sorelli role in WB’s drama “Related” (2006-?), opposite Kiele Sanchez, Lizzy Caplan and Callum Blue. She will also replace Alicia Witt as the star of the Fox comedy pilot “More, Patience” (2006).
As for her private life, the New York-born beauty has not married yet though she has dated several men throughout her life. During her early career, Esposito was romantically involved with Benjamin Bratt, whom she met while guest starring in an episode of “Law & Order” (1996), but the relationship ended eight months later. During 1998-2000, she shared her life outside the spotlight with actor-boyfriend Cameron Mathison (relationship ended in January 2000) before dating Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000 costar Jonny Lee Miller (together in summer 2000, no longer together). She was also once linked to Chris Schupp.
Childhood and Family:
In New York, New York, Jennifer Esposito was born on April 11, 1973. She and her older sister grew up in Brooklyn, New York, under the guidance of a computer consultant and former music producer, Bob, and an interior designer, Phyllis. She knew she wanted to be an actress from an early age; a dream that led her to study with Lee Strasberg. She was also trained at the Actors Studio in New York. A wild girl, Jennifer frequently borrowed a car from her parents’ friends, stayed out all night long, and when she returned it in the next morning asked them not to tell her parents. Additionally, the teenage girl would lock her grandma in her room as extra insurance when she wanted to party all night long.
Summer of Sam
Inspiring to become an actress since childhood, the Actors Studio student Jennifer Esposito, who once worked as a waitress, landed her first acting role at age 22 when she landed a supporting part in the CBS TV remake of The Sunshine Boys (aired in 1997) which starred Peter Falk and Woody Allen. Her first break soon arrived when Esposito was cast as Connie Soleito in the ABC soap “The City” (1995) for director Andrew Becker and Nancy Stern. This brief stint paved the way for Esposito’s excellent opportunities in acting.
Guest appearances in “Law & Order,” “Feds” and “Prince Street,” as well as supporting roles in films like Kiss Me, Guido (1997) and Frank Rainone’s A Brooklyn State of Mind (1997) followed, but she did not find success until she was recruited to play the series’ regular, spunky Brooklyn-born, Italian-American mayoral secretary Stacey Paterno in the ABC sitcom “Spin City” (1997), opposite Michael J. Fox as her boss. This successful show gave Esposito instant fame, but two years later, unsatisfied with her work, the actress decided to leave Spin City in favor of a film career.
While working on the series, Esposito continued to pursue other projects, which included being cast in the recurring role of the daughter of a mobster in Fox’s crime serial “New York Undercover” (1998) and appearing in four movies: No Looking Back (1998), Spike Lee’s He Got Game (1998), Side Streets (1998) and the sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998, as a bartender).
Esposito once again attracted attention when she rejoined Spike Lee in 1999 to play Ruby, an aspiring punk singer whose companion (Adrien Brody) is suspected of being the infamous Son of Sam, in the controversial Summer of Sam. The crime-thriller film, which also starred Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo, was not a commercial success, but it did provide proof Esposito was a capable actress. She rounded out the decade by teaming up with director-actor Lane Janger in the comedy film Just One Time and having a cameo role in the Chris O’Donnell romantic-comedy vehicle The Bachelor, helmed by Gary Sinyor.
The new millennium saw Esposito even busier with a number of big screen films under her belt. After the drama-romance Boys Life 3 (2000), Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000 (2000), Made (2001, played uncredited club girl) and the low-budget independent thriller The Proposal (2001, starred as Susan Reese), she scored a hit with the Michael Douglas vehicle Don’t Say a Word (2001), in which she play the supporting role of Detective Sandra Cassidy. Next up, she starred with Alyson Hannigan and Steve Harris in Beyond the City Limits (2001), found herself acting opposite William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Sam Rockwell and George Clooney in the Russo Brothers’ caper comedy Welcome to Collinwood (2002), acted in the Dana Carvey comedy The Master of Disguise (2002) and costarred in the James Quattrochi-helmed feature Jesus, Mary and Joey (2003). Esposito resurfaced on the small screen in 2002, appearing in an episode of “Hack,” before being featured in the made-for-TV film Partners and Crime (2003).
Continuing her frantic film schedule, Esposito took on a small role in the comedy Breakin’ All the Rules (2004, starring Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union), worked with Queen Latifah in Tim Story’s Taxi (2004), costarred as Ria, a girlfriend and partner of Don Cheadle’s police detective character Graham, in the Academy Award-winning film Crash (2005, director Paul Haggis) and appeared in the comedy drama American Crude (2005). On the small screen, in December 2004, Esposito marked her comeback to series television with an eight-episode guest performance on the CBS courtroom drama “Judging Amy” (2004-05), playing Crystal Turner, a social worker who operates an outreach program for itinerant kids, while in the subsequent year, she starred with Poppy Montgomery and Camryn Manheim in the television movie Snow Wonder, helmed by Peter Werner.
Currently, Esposito stars as Ginnie Sorelli in the WB drama “Related” (2006-?). Among her costars in the Maggie Friedman-written drama are Kiele Sanchez, Lizzy Caplan and Callum Blue. The Spin City star has also been chosen to replace Alicia Witt, who quit the project due to some differences, as the lead in the Fox pilot “More, Patience,” a comedy about a New York analyst who obsessively mishandles her own life.