Pennsylvania native actress Sheila Kelley is popular among television viewers for her role of Gwen Taylor on “L.A. Law” (1990-1993) and as Dr. Charlotte “Charley” Bennett Hayes on “Sisters” (1995-1996). She also had recurring roles in “ER” (1998-1999), “MDs” (2002) and “Lost” (2010) and one episode roles in “thirtysomething,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Family Law,” “Blind Justice” and “The Sopranos.” On the big screen, the gifted, dark haired performer has costarred in various movies, including “Some Girls” (1988), “Breaking In” (1989), “Where the Heart Is” (1990), “Soapdish” (1991), “Pure Luck” (1991), “Passion Fish” (1992), “Singles” (1992), “One Fine Day” (1996), “Nurse Betty” (2000), “Dancing at the Blue Iguana” (2000, also a producer), “Matchstick Men” (2003) and “Provinces of Night” (2010). Kelley founded a theater group called The Elephant Company in the 1980s. With the group, she has appeared in the stage productions “The Seagull,” “Lovers,” “Winners,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Am I Blue.”
Kelley developed a post-pregnancy exercise routine known as “The S Factor” which combines yoga, dance and erotic movements. Her book, “The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman,” was published in 2003 by Workman Publishing.
Kelley is married to actor Richard Schiff of “The West Wings” fame. They have two children.
Childhood and Family:
Sheila Kelley was born on October 9, 1961, in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She is the youngest daughter of Dr. Jay Hilary Kelley, a professor, and Catherine Holway Thom Kelley, a certified nurse. Her father is also an engineer and investor. Due to her father's work in the mining industry, her family moved often until she was 11. A classically trained ballerina, Sheila began taking ballet lessons at an early age and later enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of Arts for further study. However, she was forced to leave after a year because of a congenital hip condition. She later returned to the Tisch School of Arts to study acting, but frustration with the teaching methods led her to transfer to the film school.
Meeting in 1993, Sheila married actor Richard Schiff (born on May 27, 1955) in 1996. The couple welcomed their first child, son Augustus Kelley Schiff, in November 1994. Their second child, daughter Ruby Schiff, was born in August 2000.
Provinces of Night
While in Pennsylvania, Sheila Kelley danced with the Westmoreland Ballet Company and after winning a dance competition, was accepted into the dance program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. The aspiring dancer, however, went on to make a successful transformation to acting.
In 1987, Kelley made her feature acting debut with a small part in the British teen comedy “Wish You Were Here,” starring Emily Lloyd and Tom Bell. The same year, she broke into the small screen with a role in the film “Tonight's the Night” (ABC), starring Jack Blessing, Max Gail and Gerrit Graham, and the biopic “The Betty Ford Story” (also ABC), starring Gena Rowlands.
Kelley relocated to Los Angeles in 1988 to further pursue her career. She appeared in the film “Some Girls” (1988), a Canadian co-production directed by Michael Hoffman that starred Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Connelly and Kelly herself. She then worked with Sam Waterston, Robert Davi, Joe Morton and Frances Conroy in the CBS Emmy winning TV film “Terrorist on Trial: The United States vs. Salim Ajami” (also 1988), costarred with Cheryl Ladd, Ted Levine and Lewis Smith in the television film adaptation of LaVyrle Spencer's book “The Fulfillment of Mary Gray” (1989) and had her first TV guest spot in the acclaimed series “Thirtysomething” (1989). Still in 1989, the actress also appeared in “Staying Together,” a dramatic comedy directed by Lee Grant that starred Sean Astin, Stockard Channing and Melinda Dillon, costarred opposite Zach Galligan, Michael Bowen, Krista Erickson and Luca Bercovici in the thriller “Mortal Passions” and played Carrie in the Bill Forsyth directed “Breaking In,” opposite Burt Reynolds, Casey Siemaszko and Lorraine Toussaint.
Kelley's big break arrived when she landed the role of legal secretary Gwen Taylor on the Steven Bochco popular legal drama “L.A. Law” (NBC, 1986-1994), starring Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins and Michael Tucker. She was on the show from 1990 to 1993. During her tenure on the series, Kelley also acted in several film projects. She had a supporting role in John Boorman's comedy feature “Where the Heart Is” (1990, starred Dabney Coleman, Uma Thurman and Joanna Cassidy), played Ginger on David Geffner's “Wild Blade” (1991, starred Stephen Geoffreys, Carole-Ann Scott and Thomas Crouch), worked with Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Shue and Teri Hatcher on the comedy “Soapdish” (1991, directed by Michael Hoffman) and appeared as Valerie Highsmith in the American remake “Pure Luck” (1991, starred Martin Short and Danny Glover). She also supported Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard, Vondie Curtis-Hall, David Strathairn and Leo Burmester in John Sayles' “Passion Fish” (1992) and Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick and Matt Dillon in Cameron Crowe's “Singles” (1992). In addition, the actress appeared in the TV film “The Chase” (NBC, 1991) and guest starred in “Full Stretch” (1993, episode “Ivory Tower”).
After leaving “L.A. Law,” Kelley played Susan in “Best Intentions” (1993), an episode of “The Hidden Room,” was cast in Donald Reiker's “Mona Must Die” (released in Germany in 1994), starred in the TV thriller “Deconstructing Sarah” (USA Network, 1994), costarred with Scott Bakula and Chelsea Field in Rick King's “A Passion to Kill” (1994) and portrayed Deidre Bosnell in the TV film “The Secretary” (1995). In 1995, she played Sarah in the episode “Remembrance of Flings Past” of the Tim Daly/Steven Weber comedy series “Wings.” She, however, did not return to the TV spotlight until she joined the cast of the NBC series “Sisters,” as the replacement of Jo Anderson. Playing Dr. Charlotte 'Charley' Bennett, she appeared in 28 episodes during the final season (1995-1996). She next played the supporting role of Kristen in Michael Hoffman's “One Fine Day” (1996), which starred Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney, costarred with Tina Majorino and Gary Cole in “Santa Fe” (1996) and Eriq La Salle and Titus Welliver in the ABC adaptation of John Sandford's “Mind Prey” (1999). She then guest starred in “Touched by an Angel” (1998, as Carrie Nichols Carver). During 1998 to 1999, she also played the recurring role of Coco Robbins in “ER.”
Entering the new millennium, Kelley was featured as Joyce in the comedy film “Nurse Betty” (2000), which was directed by Neil LaBute and starred Renée Zellweger, portrayed Stormy in Michael Radford's “Dancing at the Blue Iguana” (2000), where she also served as a producer, and starred as Leah Archibald on the based on novel television movie “The Jennie Project” (2001). She next supported Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman, Sam Rockwell, Bruce Altman and Bruce McGill in Ridley Scott's “Matchstick Men” (2003) and costarred with Josh Hartnett, Radha Mitchell and Gary Cole in Petter Næss' “Mozart and the Whale” (2005). She also played the recurring role of Pam Kellerman in “MDs” (4 episodes, 2002) and landed guest roles in “Family Law” (2001), “The Division” (2003), “Blind Justice” (2005) and “The Sopranos” (2006).
Recently, in 2010, Kelley resumed her film career with the supporting role of Louise Halfacre in “Bloodworth,” which starred Val Kilmer and Kris Kristofferson. She also had a recurring role in season six of the series “Lost.”