Born on February 21, 1979, in Waco, Texas, Jennifer Love Hewitt was on Disney's Kids Incorporated as a child actor. In 1992, she released her first album, Love Songs. In 1995, she earned the part of Sarah on the television drama Party of Five. Her big break came with the lead in the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997. In 2005, Hewitt debuted on the CBS drama The Ghost Whisperer, which lasted five seasons. She returned to TV in 2012 on the series The Client List. She married and had a child with her Client List co-star Brain Hallisay.
Early Life and Career
Actress and singer Jennifer Love Hewitt was born on February 21, 1979, in Waco, Texas. The daughter of two medical professionals who divorced when their daughter was just 6 months old, Hewitt is one a rare child song-and-dance stars who's managed to navigate the tricky road to adult success as a film and television actress.
Hewitt—who got her first name from her 8-year-old brother Todd, who chose the name Jennifer as an homage to his grade school crush—showed an early passion for music. She started performing at the age of 3, when she made her debut as a singer at a livestock fair, not far from her childhood hometown of Nolanville, Texas.
Two years after her performance at the fair, Hewitt's mother enrolled her daughter in jazz, ballet and tap dance classes, which eventually landed the young performer a spot on the prized Texas Show Team, a cadre of performers who toured Europe and the former Soviet Union.
In 1989, a talent scout recommended that Jennifer and her mother, Pat, move to Los Angeles so Hewitt could pursue better acting and dancing opportunities. It turned out to be sound advice. Hewitt quickly found work, appearing in television commercials for companies like Mattel Toys and LA Gear, the latter of which brought her on board for a world tour to promote its sneakers.
That work soon led to a regular part on Disney's Kids Incorporated (1984-93), a music driven show that catered perfectly to Hewitt's talents. Those same skills were also on full display for the 1991 release of the Dance! Workout With Barbie video, which featured the young actress. Other credits followed, not all of them huge successes, including a string of failed television pilots. In 1992, Hewitt stepped up her profile as a singer—at least overseas—when she released her first album, Love Songs, a saccharine-sweet collection of romantic teen ballads.
There was also plenty of additional acting work, including a role in the 1993 film, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, co-starring Whoopi Goldberg and Lauryn Hill. In 1995, Hewitt earned the kind of successful television gig that had previously eluded her, starring as the pretty girl-next-door in the Fox Television drama, Party of Five (1994-00). Stepping into the role during the program's second season, Hewitt soon became a household name, earning nominations from the Kids Choice Awards and Teen Choice awards, as well as helping the program land a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama in 1996.
Hewitt tried to cash in on her new celebrity with a second album of songs—this one released to an American audience. The album performed poorly, and the performer returned to the studio again to record what would become a 1996 self-titled album. And while it didn't produce any chart topping hits, Hewitt's voice and style earned some praise from skeptical critics.
"Her feathery light voice is more soulful than you'd imagine," wrote one reviewer. "Depending on your threshold for harmless, white-bread teen pop, this album could be a welcome addition to your collection because, frankly, it makes you like her even more than her image did in the first place." Hewitt released her fourth album, Barenaked, in 2002, and followed up with Cool with You: The Platinum Collection, a compilation released in Asia in 2006.
As much as she could, Hewitt also continued to find more acting opportunities. Film work was a part of the mix, with roles in House Arrest (1996) and Trojan War (1997). Her big break, though, came the same year as the release of Trojan War, with the lead role in the surprise scream-fest hit, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Hewitt made movie executives millions, and she earned herself big-time Hollywood stardom. While a sequel proved to lack the same kind of commercial punch, Hewitt scored another hit in 1998 with Can't Hardly Wait, whose story line centered on a night at a final high school party.
Hewitt then starred in the unsuccessful Party of Five spin-off Time of Your Life, which found Hewitt's character relocating to New York to seek her real father. The show only earned enough ratings to make it halfway through the 1998-99 television year, and the actress started making moves to shed her teenage status. She attempted some fairly ambitious roles starting in 2000, when she starred in the made-for-TV movie, The Audrey Hepburn Story. A year later she starred alongside Sigourney Weaver and Gene Hackman in Heartbreakers (2001), which was followed up with a family action comedy The Tuxedo (2002) alongside Jackie Chan.
As one might expect, Hewitt's stardom has been accompanied with some criticism, both of her acting and her looks. Citing her performances in The Tuxedo and Garfield (2004), she was discussed as a possible Worst Actress nominee for the Razzie Awards, an annual ceremony dedicated to "saluting the worst that Hollywood has to offer."
In late 2007, Hewitt was shown sporting a bikini on a beach in Hawaii that seemed to indicate a tad more girth than what fans had come to expect. The photograph coursed through the Web, attracting snarky comments from bloggers and others. Hewitt rushed to her own defense, and fired back at the commentators.
"I've sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women's bodies are constantly scrutinized," she wrote on her Web site. "To set the record straight, I'm not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image. A size two is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size zero doesn't make you beautiful."
Hewitt's love life has also been a subject of scrutiny. The actress—who continued to live with her mother well into her 20s and has long proclaimed she doesn't drink, smoke or swear—has been linked to a bevy of celebrity boyfriends, including singer Enrique Iglesias, musician John Mayer, talk show host Carson Daly, comedian Jamie Kennedy, actor-model Kip Pardue, singer-songwriter Rich Cronin and actor Will Friedle, among others.
In November 2007, she became engaged to Scottish actor, Ross McCall. The pair had been dating for two years, but a little more than a year after their big announcement, the pair called off their wedding plans and their relationship.
On June 4, 2013, Hewitt announced that she is expecting her first child with The Client List co-star, Brian Hallisay. Although the two play opposite each other in the show, it isn't the first time they've acted together. They met on the set of the series Love Bites in 2010, and started their relationship in early 2012. The couple gave birth to a daughter, Autumn James Hallisay, in November 2013. Between the announcent of the pregnancy in June and the birth in November, the couple quietly got married.
The later part of Hewitt's career has seen her refocus her career on her television work. In 2005, she debuted as the lead star in the new CBS drama, The Ghost Whisperer, in which the actress plays Melinda Gordon, a young newlywed who can converse with the dead. The show has not only brought Hewitt a stable run of success (she earned a Saturn Award for Best Actress in a Television Program in 2007) but a renewed love life.
After The Ghost Whisperer ended its successful run 2010, Hewitt remained in television. In 2012, she took on the lead role in the Lifetime series The Client List. The series centered on Hewitt as Riley Parks, a woman in Texas who straddles the line between being a single mother and working as a massage therapist. The show was canceled in 2013 after its sophomore season.
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