Katherine Heigl biography
Born in Washington, D.C. on November 24, 1978, Katherine Heigl is an Emmy Award-winning actress whose breakout role was as Dr. Isobel Stevens on the popular television show Grey's Anatomy. She went on to land a lead role in the 2007 comedy Knocked Up, co-starring with Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Not long after, Heigl earned negative publicity for making a series of controversial statements, including those criticizing the writers and producers of Grey's Anatomy and Knocked Up. Despite the negative attention, Heigl went on to land parts in many other films, including 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Killers and Life as We Know It. She is married to singer-songwriter Josh Kelley.
Katherine Marie Heigl was born in Washington, D.C. on November 24, 1978, to Paul and Nancy Heigl. The youngest of four children, Heigl and her family settled in New Canaan, Connecticut, when she was 5 years old. "I had a wonderful childhood," Heigl once recalled. "Things were very simple. Everyone else went to beer parties; we played sardines and charades and Scrabble and went to Baskin-Robbins. It was innocent, and it was lovely—because life gets complicated soon enough. Life gets hard soon enough."
Indeed, life did get hard for the actress. When Heigl was just 7 years old, her older brother, Jason, was killed in a car accident. Shortly afterward, her family converted to Mormonism. "It's hard work to grow and change and be honest with yourself about your mistakes, and I think the Mormons handle that beautifully. The faith I grew up with has influenced every decision I've made in my life—well, except for the bad ones!"
Heigl's life took another turn when she was 9, after an aunt sent pictures of her to modeling agencies. After signing with the internationally renowned agency Wilhelmina Models, Heigl began modeling, starring in commercials, and auditioning for television and film screen roles. She appeared in her first feature film, That Night, at age 11, and took her first lead role at age 14 in 1994's My Father the Hero. While still attending her local public school, she accepted a wide variety of acting and modeling jobs. Additionally, in August 1994, she appeared on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
In 1996, Heigl's parents separated, and her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her mother's successful recovery, Heigl and her mother moved to Los Angeles to try to break into Hollywood. Her mother served as Heigl's manager. "I can't think of a single incidence in my life or career where my mother didn't put me first," Heigl once explained. "I know all the old clichés and that there is a stigma attached to it. But people who rush to judge don't understand our relationship."
Katherine Heigl's big break came in 1999, when she was cast in a starring role on the teen science-fiction show Roswell, which ran for three seasons.
The part widened Heigl's exposure in Hollywood, and she filmed a variety of smaller projects during the show's hiatuses. After Roswell was canceled in 2002, Heigl appeared in several made-for-TV movies, including a prequel to Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and two Lifetime movies based on the Janet Oke novels Love's Enduring Promise and Love Comes Softly. Between roles in independent and low-budget films (including Zyzzyx Road, which was released in 2006 to poor reviews, becoming infamously known as the lowest-grossing film in history), Heigl filmed a pilot for a TV show about medical interns at a Seattle Hospital, which was eventually titled Grey's Anatomy.
Grey's Anatomy premiered in March 2005 and immediately became a smash hit, elevating Heigl and her co-stars' profiles in Hollywood. Heigl used the increased media attention to discuss organ donation. A longtime advocate of organ donation, the issue became even more important to Heigl when her brother Jason's organs were donated following his fatal accident. With her mother, she has been an activist for the past several years, speaking on behalf of donor organizations and receiving the Dr. James S. Wolf Courage Award in 2005.
In the summer of 2005, Heigl starred in a music video for singer-songwriter Josh Kelley. She and Kelley began dating soon after. "I had never dated a musician, and he was really sexy to me," Heigl once said of Kelley, adding, "His manager was playing Cupid; he said, 'You've got to come up to his room and hear this really sexy song!' Then his manager made some excuse and left ... I [had] spent a lot of time not being clear about who I was and what was important to me. I decided I was sick of trying to figure out what everybody else wanted, and I should just decide what I want, and be honest, and not spend all my time guessing. Josh is the first serious relationship I've ever had where I was like, 'This is me.' From the moment I met him, I said, 'This is what I want and what I need.'" The two announced their engagement in June 2006.
Heigl met with more success in 2006 and 2007: she was nominated for a Golden Globe, and then won an Emmy Award (best supporting actress) for her role as Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens on Grey's Anatomy. Additionally, she starred in the 2007 smash comedy hit Knocked Up alongside Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and finished the year by marrying fiancé Josh Kelley in Park City, Utah.
Around this same time, Heigl worked with her mother to start her own production company, Abishag Productions. She named the company after the female figure (Abishag) in the Robert Frost poem "Provide, Provide," which includes the excerpt: "The picture pride of Hollywood/Too many fall from great and good/For you to doubt the likelihood." On naming the company, the actress once explained, "I just thought it would help to keep perspective."
Heigl kept that perspective in mind soon after, when she garnered negative publicity for a series of controversial statements.
First, Heigl publicly sided with friend T.R. Knight amidst a public dispute between Knight and Isaiah Washington, establishing a reputation as a candid person who was not afraid to speak her mind.
Heigl caught more heavy flak in late 2007, this time for statements that she made during an interview with Vanity Fair magazine. During the interview, she called Grey's Anatomy storyline at the time "a ratings ploy" and professed her strong opposition to the portrayals of women in Knocked Up, in which she had a starring role: "[The film is] a little sexist," she told Vanity Fair. "It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I'm playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you're portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie."
Soon after the interview was published, Heigl was vilified by the press, called ungrateful, pretentious and the like by many critics. This criticism continued after Heigl withdrew herself from Emmy consideration in June 2008, explaining, ''I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.'' Heigl left Grey's Anatomy in January 2010, terminating her contract early.
In Recent Years
Even as her reputation as a diva spiraled out of control, Heigl continued to meet with both professional and personal success. From 2008 to 2010, she headlined four romantic comedies: 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Killers and Life as We Know It. But the actress is well aware of how fickle fame can be. As her mother has said, "This is a young woman's career, and the reality is that by 40 or 45, it will be a different career."
Heigl recently acquired the film rights to Janet Evanovitch's popular Stephanie Plum novels, and starred in the first installment of the series, One for the Money, in 2012. Additionally, she landed the lead role in an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's novel Outlander.
In 2009, Heigl and her husband adopted a special-needs baby from Korea named Nancy Leigh, who they nicknamed Naleigh. Since becoming a mother, Heigl has been more focused than ever on maintaining work-life balance. She also continues to work on balancing her natural assertion with the expectations surrounding her. "I've been told I'm too forthright with opinions," she once said of her personality, adding, "Well, do they want a fierce woman or milquetoast? Should I be me, or should I pretend to be something I think people want? Pretending seems pretty ridiculous to me. I didn't think that what I was was so bad that I needed to hide it."