Jessalyn Gilsig Biography

Television Actress, Theater Actress, Actress, Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress (1971–)
Actress Jessalyn Gilsig caught her first big break when she appeared on the legal drama, The Practice. Since then, she has appeared Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights, Glee and Vikings.


Jessalyn Gilsig was born November 30, 1971, in Montreal, Canada. Along with her early stage work came TV opportunities. In the late 1990s she made cameo appearances on TV shows. In 1999, she caught her first big break with two appearances on The Practice. It was in 2003 that she catapulted to more national prominence when she joined the cast of Nip/Tuck. Gilsig continued to have success on the small screen with roles in Friday Night Lights and Glee. In 2013, she began her run as Siggy in the popular History Channel series Vikings.

Early Life

Born Jessalyn Sarah Gilsig on November 30, 1971, in Montreal, Canada, actress Jessalyn Gilsig has appeared on such shows as Friday Night Lights, Glee and Vikings. Her mother Clare worked as a translator and writer, and her father Toby Gilsig was an engineer. Gilsig's entrance into the world of show business came early when, at the age of 12, she was hired to do voice work for Masquerade, a program produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

A trained theater actress, Gilsig stayed close to home for college, attending McGill University in Montreal, where she earned a degree in English in 1993. There, she also cut her teeth on a number of stage productions. Her early experiences in theater didn't come without a case of the nerves, however: "I remember staring at a sign-up sheet for auditions for a theatrical version of Wuthering Heights," she later recalled. "I was so scared, but I finally signed up."

Career Beginnings

Following college, Gilsig relocated to the States to attend the American Repertory Theatre's Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. There, Gilsig appeared in a number of productions, including Henry V, The Tempest, and The Cherry Orchard, among others.

Along with the stage work came television opportunities. First she appeared in commercials, and then in the late 1990s she made cameo appearances on the television shows Seven Days and Viper on UPN.

In 1999, Gilsig caught her first big break when screenwriter and television producer David E. Kelley wrote her into two appearances on his legal drama, The Practice. Her work eventually led to more appearances on two other Kelley programs: Snoops and Boston Public.

TV Success

It was in 2003 that Gilsig catapulted to more national prominence when she joined the cast of FOX's Nip/Tuck, which saw her play the role of nymphomaniac, Gino Russo. Four years later, Gilsig landed a semi-regular role on NBC's action/drama Heroes. Her other credits include appearances on the ABC police drama NYPD Blue, FOX's Prison Break, and NBC's Friday Night Lights.

Gilsig's celebrity magnified considerably in 2009 when she was cast as the manipulative wife, Terry Schuester, on FOX's Glee, which tells the story of a high school choral group in Ohio. An improbable hit, the show attracted a large contingent of loyal viewers and generated a lineup of songs that broke through the Billboard charts.

"I think the timing was just right for the show," she said. "People were ready for something that had a little bit of hope in it. Everybody wants to find love and acceptance. Glee taps into a universal feeling."

With her new celebrity came increased scrutiny into Gilsig's personal life. In 2006 the actress married film producer Bobby Salomon. Not long after, the couple became parents to a daughter, Penelope. In late 2010, however, the couple made headlines when it was announced that Gilsig and Salomon were splitting.

In addition to her television work, Gilsig also made modest inroads into the film world. Early on she made a cameo in the Robert DeNiro film, Jacknife (1989), which looked at the troubled life of a Vietnam veteran. A decade later she landed a role in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer (1998). She also appeared in See This Movie (2004), starring John Cho and Seth Meyers.

After leaving Glee in 2012, Gilsig soon landed on another popular series. She plays Siggy, the wife of Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), on the historical drama Vikings. The show proved to be so popular in its initial run in 2013 that it was renewed for a second season. That same year, Gilsig also starred in the independent film Somewhere Slow.

Jessalyn Gilsig currently resides in Los Angeles with her young daughter.

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