Best Known For
British-American actress Jane Leeves played Daphne on the Emmy Award-winning NBC sitcom Frasier, and began playing Joy on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland in 2010.
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Jane Leeves was born on April 18, 1961, in Ilford, Essex, England. In 1983, she landed a small role in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Later that year, she was cast on The Benny Hill Show. She moved to Los Angeles in 1985. In 1986, she scored a role in Throb. In 1993, she landed her biggest role yet, on the NBC sitcom Frasier. Since Frasier went off the air, she has continued to appear frequently on TV.
"I never forget where I came from. I never forget what it took to get here."
"I'd always thought that when I got too old for ballet, I'd start acting. So I just did it sooner rather than later."
Jane Leeves was born on April 18, 1961, in Ilford, Essex, England. She moved to East Grinstead at the age of 2, where she was raised by father Collin Leeves, an engineer, and mother Ruth Leeves, a nurse. At age 5, Leeves decided to audition for the ballet program at the Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts in East Grinstead. Although she was given the ninth audition spot, an overeager Leeves pushed her way to the front of the line and demanded to audition first. Leeves recalls, "It was blind ambition and innocence. The other girls were older and the steps were very hard, but I went at it like a bull." Her brashness paid off -- she won a full scholarship for dance.
Leeves danced throughout her adolescence and dreamed of becoming a ballerina, until one day she fell down a flight of stairs and damaged ligaments in her ankles. After that, Leeves said, "I knew I would never be strong enough to be a soloist. And I wasn't going to be stuck in the back with all the other swans." Instead, she decided to try her hand at acting. "I'd always thought that when I got too old for ballet, I'd start acting," she says. "So I just did it sooner rather than later."
In 1979, at the age of 18, Leeves moved to London, where she worked as a model and began auditioning for television and film roles. She finally achieved some modest success in 1983 when she landed a small role in Monty Python's satiric film The Meaning of Life. Later that year, Leeves was cast on the popular British sketch comedy program, The Benny Hill Show. For two years she played one of "Hill's Angels" -- a group of scantily clad women who appeared in many of the sketches.
Still, Leeves proved unable to land the starring roles she craved on British television. So in 1985, bringing nothing more than $1,000 and a few changes of clothes, Leeves crossed the Atlantic Ocean and moved to Los Angeles. She enrolled in acting courses where her classmates included future superstars such as Jim Carrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Winona Ryder. For some 18 months, though, Leeves struggled to find any acting work. To pay for her high-priced classes, she worked at a factory packaging nail accessories. When she was fired for chatting too much on the job, she took on work as a babysitter and as a clerk in a souvenir shop.
With barely enough money to buy groceries, Leeves truly was a starving artist. Her roommate, fellow actress Faith Ford, recalls that Leeves "would make a baked potato in the morning and eat half at noon and the other half in the evening." Leeves also struggled with depression.
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