“Firefly” Child Prodigy
A premier ballerina from San Antonio, Texas, Summer Glau got her first television role when she guest starred as a ballerina in a 2002 episode of Joss Whedon's TV series “Angel.” She was later picked up in Whedon's short-lived, but cult-hit TV series “Firefly” (2002-2003), as River Tam, a role she reprised in its film spin-off, “Serenity” (2005).
Summer has also appeared in the teen comedy movie “Sleepover” (2004; starring Alexa Vega) and on the TV shows “Cold Case,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “The Unit” and “The 4400.” Next, she will play Cameron Phillips, a Terminator who poses as a student, on Fox's upcoming sci-fi series, “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” a continuation of the “Terminator” film franchise that is scheduled to debut in early 2008. Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker will also star in the show.
On a more personal note, the 5' 6½" dancer-turned-actress has revealed that she is in a relationship with actor Daniel Wisler, who plays her boyfriend on CBS' action-drama-thriller television series "The Unit."
Ballerina from Texas
Childhood and Family:
The first of three daughters, Summer Lyn Glau was born on July 24, 1981, in San Antonio, Texas. Her father is a general contractor and her mother is a schoolteacher. She was home schooled by her mother from grades 3 to 12 due to a rigorous ballet training schedule.
Summer, a huge fan of Salsa music, has been a ballerina most of her life. She also studied tango and flamenco.
Trained and performing as a dancer throughout her teenage years, Summer Glau had to hold back her dancing when a serious injury struck. While taking time to heal, she visited friends in Los Angeles and landed her first acting job. Shortly after, she made the decision to move to LA in 2002 and began working as an actor and dancer.
After appearing in a few television commercials, Summer scored her first television credit in February 2002 when she was spotted as a ballerina in the episode "Waiting in the Wings" (Season 3; episode 13) of the television series “Angel” (The WB), a spin-off of the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Her performance caught the attention of “Angel” creator Joss Whedon who later cast her in his new show, “Firefly,” as River Tam, the teenage sister of Dr. Simon Tam (played by Sean Maher). Premiering on the FOX network on September 20, 2002, “Firefly” was canceled after only eleven of the fourteen produced episodes were aired. Despite the series' relatively short life span, it found success in its DVD release.
Being asked if the cast were aware the series was going to be canceled that quickly, Summer revealed, “Well, they canceled us right before Christmas. We weren’t ready. They gave us a certain amount of episodes to do at the beginning. Then they renewed us for, I think, three more episodes, which was such a short time to prove ourselves. Then out of nowhere, we just got canceled. We all went off for Christmas knowing that we wouldn’t get to come back. We were heartbroken. We cried and cried. We put our hearts and souls into it and it was such a good series. And we all knew that things like this don’t come along every day. Stories like this don’t... They ran it out of order and they preempted us for baseball so many times. We just didn’t get a chance. But our fans have stuck with us. They are amazing. I write to some of them. I have their email addresses. They’re just so close to our hearts. I don’t think we could have made it through if we hadn’t had so much support from them when the show got canceled. They said, 'No, we’re going to stand behind you.' They wrote in. They did fund raisers, and it made it so much easier.”
Following the demise of “Firefly,” Summer guest starred in a November 2003 episode of CBS' police procedural drama series "Cold Case" and a November 2004 episode of CBS' Emmy-winning cop-drama series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." She also appeared as a ticket girl in Joe Nussbaum's teen comedy film, "Sleepover" (2004), starring Alexa Vega.
2005 saw Summer reprising her “Firefly” role in its film version, “Serenity,” written and directed by the show's creator, Josh Whedon. The film received generally positive reviews and won multiple awards. Summer's performance in the film later won her the Saturn Award's Best Supporting Actress and SFX Award's Best Actress.
That same year, Summer landed the recurring role of Tess Doerner (2005-Present) on USA Network's sci-fi drama series “The 4400.” She was first seen in the second season premiere episode "Wake Up Call," which aired on June 5, 2005.
During that time, she was also cast as Crystal Burns, the girlfriend of Jeremy Erhart (played by Daniel Wisler), on CBS' action-drama-thriller television series "The Unit" (2006-Present), which focuses on a top-secret military unit modeled after the real life Delta Force (the show was based on show producer Eric Haney's book, “Inside Delta Force”). Meanwhile, she could be seen in the 2006 made-for-television movies "Mammoth," alongside Vincent Ventresca and Tom Skerritt, and "The Initiation of Sarah," ABC Family's "re-imagined" remake of the 1978 horror film.
As for upcoming projects, it has been announced that Summer will play the role of Cameron Phillips, a Terminator who poses as a student and whose mission is to protect Sarah's (played by Lena Headey) son John (played by Thomas Dekker), in “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” The series, a continuation of the “Terminator” film franchise, is scheduled to debut on Fox in early 2008.
About her upcoming show “The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” Summer commented, “I love the idea. The scene that Josh [Friedman] wrote for me to audition with is a scene where Cameron talks about John and about the future when she first meets him. It's the most beautiful scene and I actually cry in the scene. I talk about how John rescued me and how I feel about John even though Cameron doesn't 'feel.' It's amazing. It's very complicated but she does love him in her own way and admires him and worships him. He is her reason for being and so I think it already is a romance in some way.”
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn Award - Best Supporting Actress, “Serenity,” 2006
SFX: Best Actress, “Serenity,” 2005