|Born||Jennifer Mary Butala
September 30, 1971
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Bodhi Elfman (m. 1995)|
Jennifer Mary "Jenna" Elfman (née Butala; born September 30, 1971) is an American actress, best known for her performances in television comedies. Her first leading role was in the short-lived ABC sitcom Townies in 1996, before making her film debut in the 1997 comedy Grosse Pointe Blank.
Elfman is best known for her leading role as Dharma on the ABC sitcom Dharma & Greg (1997-2002), for which she won Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy in 1999, and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Later, she went to star in the comedy films Krippendorf's Tribe (1998), EDtv (1999), Keeping the Faith (2000), and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
Elfman made her return to series television with a leading role in the CBS sitcom Courting Alex in 2006, it was cancelled after one season. She went to star in sitcoms Accidentally on Purpose (2009-10), 1600 Penn (2012-13), Growing Up Fisher (2014), and Imaginary Mary (2017), all were cancelled after single seasons. She had a recurring role in the FX legal drama Damages in 2012, and in 2018 is a series regular on the AMC horror drama Fear the Walking Dead.
Elfman was born Jennifer Mary Butala in Los Angeles, California, the youngest of three children, to Sue (Grace) Butala, a homemaker, and Richard Butala, a Hughes Aircraft executive. Her father's younger brother, Elfman's uncle, is Tony Butala, lead singer since 1958 of the American vocal trio The Lettermen. She is of Croatian ancestry on her father's side and was raised Roman Catholic.
Elfman attended high school at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and then attended college at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). From a very young age, she trained in ballet.
Elfman began her professional career as a dancer, appearing in the music videos for Depeche Mode ("Halo" in 1990), Anthrax (1993's song "Black Lodge"), Chris Isaak (1995's "Somebody's Crying") and toured with the rock band ZZ Top on their 1994 tour as a "Legs Girl". After appearing in television commercials, Elfman was cast in the short-lived 1996 American sitcom entitled Townies on ABC. In 1997 Elfman was cast in Dharma & Greg on ABC, as Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery. The show ran for five seasons until its cancellation in 2002.
In 2012, Elfman and her husband Bodhi started their podcast, Kicking and Screaming by Jenna and Bodhi Elfman.
In 2005, Elfman appeared at the Scientology-backed Citizens Commission on Human Rights' "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" museum grand opening and she and husband Bodhi are listed on the organization's website as members of the board of advisers from the arts, entertainment and media community.
On May 24, 2006, she was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Hero Award event in participation with the Scientology-affiliated groups Youth for Human Rights International and Artists for Human Rights (AFHR), an organization formed with the purpose of bringing artists together with the common cause of raising awareness of human rights around the world.
Elfman has participated in a number of fundraising activities, including: donating an hour of her time for auction; donating a print of her lips; participating in a telethon fundraiser; hosting a comedy show; and, asking for charity donations instead of birthday presents.
Elfman has also participated in awareness-raising initiatives including: modelling for a fashion show; reading to schoolchildren as part of the National Education Association Read Across America program; and, hosting a party at her house to raise awareness for a number of causes headed by the Environmental Working Group.
Elfman is on the Board of Directors of the Dizzy Feet Foundation.
|1997||Grosse Pointe Blank||Tanya|
|Can't Hardly Wait||The Angel||Uncredited|
|Krippendorf's Tribe||Prof. Veronica Micelli|
|2000||Tangerine Bear, TheThe Tangerine Bear||Lorelei||Voice|
|Keeping the Faith||Anna Riley||Nominated--Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Comedy/Romance
Nominated--Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
|2001||Town & Country||Auburn|
|2003||Looney Tunes: Back in Action||Kate|
|2004||Clifford's Really Big Movie||Dorothy||Voice|
|2005||Touched||Angela Martin||Executive producer|
|What's Hip, Doc?||Supermodel||Voice|
|2008||Struck||Pregnant date||Short film|
|2009||Six Wives of Henry Lefay, TheThe Six Wives of Henry Lefay||Ophelia|
|2011||Friends with Benefits||Annie|
|2014||Big Stone Gap||Miss Iva Lou Wade|
|1992||Murder, She Wrote||Ballet Dancer in background||Uncredited; Episode: "Dance Diabolique"|
|1994||George Carlin Show, TheThe George Carlin Show||Psychedelic girl||As Jenna Butala; Episode: "George Does A Bad Thing"|
|1995||Monroes, TheThe Monroes||Lily||Episode: "Bottoms, Up"|
|1995||Roseanne||Garland||Episode: "The Getaway, Almost"|
|1996||Townies||Shannon Canotis||Main cast; 15 episodes|
|1996||Murder One||Angela Scalese||Episode: "Chapter Seventeen"|
|1996||Almost Perfect||Becky Toll||Episode: "Being Fired Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"|
|1996||NYPD Blue||Patty Snow||Episode: "The Nutty Confessor"|
|1997||Single Guy, TheThe Single Guy||Jordan||Episode: "Just Friends?"|
|1997-2002||Dharma & Greg||Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery||Main cast; 119 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (1999)
TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (1999, 2000)
Nominated--American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication (1999)
Nominated--Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1998, 1999, 2000)
Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (1998, 2000)
Nominated--Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (2000, 2001, 2002)
Nominated--TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy (2001)
|2002||Obsessed||Ellena Roberts||Television film|
|2004||Two and a Half Men||Frankie||2 episodes|
|2006||Courting Alex||Alex Rose||Main cast; 13 episodes|
|2007||Brothers & Sisters||Lizzie Jones-Baker||Episode: "Game Night"|
|2008||My Name Is Earl||Kimmi Himmler||Episode: "We've Got Spirit"|
|2009-2010||Accidentally on Purpose||Billie||Main cast; 18 episodes|
|2011||Two and a Half Men||Dharma Montgomery||Episode: "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt"|
|2012||Shameless||Jill||Episode: "Fiona Interrupted"|
|2012||Damages||Naomi Walling||7 episodes|
|2012-2013||1600 Penn||Emily Nash Gilchrist||Main cast; 13 episodes|
|2013||Royal Pains||Lacy||Episode: "Open Invitation"|
|2014||Growing Up Fisher||Joyce Fisher||Main cast; 13 episodes|
|2014||So You Think You Can Dance||Herself||Guest judge|
|2015||The Perfect Stanleys||Ellen||Television film|
|2017||Imaginary Mary||Alice||Main cast|
|2018-present||Fear the Walking Dead||Naomi||Main cast; 4 episodes|
Elfman was raised in a Roman Catholic home.