Out for Justice
Actress Jo Champa began her career in Italy as a model and actress before making her Hollywood debut in the Steven Seagal hit “Out for Justice” (1991). After working in Bernardo Bertolucci's “Little Buddha” (1993), she acted in the comedy “Monkey Trouble” (1994), the Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp fantasy “Don Juan DeMarco” (1994), the indie comedy “The Whole Shebang” (2001), the black comedy “The Mesmerist” (2002) and Sofia Coppola's “Somewhere” (2010). She also appeared in the television series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “JAG” and “CSI: Miami” and in the Hallmark TV films “Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall” (2006), “Pandemic” (2007) and “Uncorked” (2009). In addition to acting and modeling, Champa has been a celebrity contributing editor for the magazines “Vogue Italia” and “L'Uomo Vogue.”
Champa has organized charity events and/or worked with the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, the Race to Erase MS, and the Carousel of Hope for Juvenile Diabetes. She also supports the Cambodian Children's Fund.
Childhood and Family:
Jo Champa was born on January 23, 1968, in Long Branch, New Jersey. When she was 8, her family moved to Rome, Italy. She began modeling there as a teenager and later returned to the United States to further pursue her acting career.
Champa is married to the head of the National Research Group (NRG). Her son, Sean, was born in 2004.
Jo Champa began modeling in Italy and quickly became a favorite of designer Gianni Versace. At age 18, she made her acting debut in the Italian/French drama “Salome” (1986), written by Oscar Wilde and directed by Claude d'Anna. The film was entered into the 1986 Cannes Film Festival. The same year, she debuted on television in the miniseries “Atelier,” where she costarred with Marco Bonetti and Lino Capolicchio.
Champa was cast as Vittoria in the Academy Award nominated “Le vie del Signore sono finite” (1987) and portrayed young Adriana in the biopic “The Family” (“La famiglia,” 1987). Directed by Ettore Scola, “The Family” was nominated for a 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Palm at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Champa next appeared in Gianfrancesco Lazotti's “Saremo felici” (1988), starred with Philippe Leroy in the Douglas Trumbull directed short “Leonardo's Dream” (1989) and played the supporting role of Anna in Michael Anderson's film adaptation of “The Jeweller's Shop” (“La bottega dell'orefice,” 1989), which starred Burt Lancaster, Daniel Olbrychski and Ben Cross.
In early 1990, Champa was cast in the starring role of Lucia Isgrò in Damiano Damiani's “Il sole buio” (“The Dark Sun”), opposite Michael Paré and Phyllis Logan. It was not long before she made her Hollywood debut in “Out for Justice” (1991), an action film directed by John Flynn and starring Steven Seagal. Although the movie received mixed reviews, the film opened at No. 1 and grossed over $39 million against a budget of $14 million.
In 1993, Champa resurfaced when she was cast as Maria in “Little Buddha,” a dramatic film directed by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci that starred Keanu Reeves and Bridget Fonda. The next year, she worked with Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway in “Don Juan DeMarco,” a romantic comedy directed by Jeremy Leven and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The same year, she also received supporting roles in “Monkey Trouble,” a family film directed by Franco Amurri that starred Thora Birch, Harvey Keitel, Christopher McDonald and Mimi Rogers, and “Beretta's Island,” a movie directed by Michael Preece. She then costarred with William Forsythe and Richard Norton in the direct to video film “Direct Hit” and guest starred in an episode of the Chuck Norris series “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
In 1996, Champa returned to Italian movies in “Stella's Favor” (“Mi fai un favore”), a film written and directed by Giancarlo Scarchilli. She then appeared in the television comedy “Nei secoli dei secoli” (1997), the series “Avvocati” (1998) and the films “Ma il buon Dio e proprio ingamba” (1998) and “La vita, per un'altra volta” (1999, directed by Domenico Astuti). In 1999, she costarred with Ben Cross and Eli Wallach in the touching drama “Honey Sweet Love” (“Caro dolce amore”), directed and co-written by Enrico Coletti. She also portrayed Teresa Marcello in an episode of the CBS series “JAG” called “Soul Searching.”
In the new millennium, Champa was cast with Stanley Tucci, Bridget Fonda, Giancarlo Giannini, Talia Shire and Anna Maria Alberghetti in the independent film “The Whole Shebang” (2001), her first American film since 1994. She then teamed up with Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Capshaw and Howard Hesseman in the comedy “The Mesmerist”(2002), adapted from the Edgar Allen Poe short story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” and appeared in “In the Forest... Again” (“Abar Aranye,” 2003), a film written and directed by Goutam Ghose.
After a break, Champa resurfaced in 2006 when she was cast as Frances DeStefano in the television film “Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall” (The Hallmark Channel). It was followed by roles in the WGA award winning TV film “Pandemic” (2007), starring Tiffani Thiessen, French Stewart and Faye Dunaway, the television movie “Uncorked” (2009), starring Julie Benz, JoBeth Williams and Elliott Gould, and the comedy “Christmas in Beverly Hills” (2009). She also guest starred in an episode of the series “CSI: Miami” (2009).
In 2010, Champa appeared in “Somewhere,” a dramatic film starring Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning and Chris Pontius that was written and directed by Sofia Coppola.