Some people know early precisely where they are heading. Jenna Elfman, starring on NBC’s “1600 Penn,” was one of them.
“I remember staring out the window,” Elfman tells Zap2it. “We were in the car, and I remember being very pensive and thoughtful, and [my mom] always used to say, ‘Penny for your thoughts.’ I think I was 4 years old, and I said, ‘I am going to be very famous on TV.’ “
She was right. Elfman’s latest role is as first lady Emily Gilchrist, who is professionally accomplished but as a second wife is in the awkward position of trying to win over the president’s children.
“She is smart, driven, competitive, really caring and slightly nutty,” Elfman says of her character. “She helps get him into the presidency. She is very savvy.
“The problem is the family situation. As a stepmother she is so vulnerable. When the family situation goes public, her political PR-savvy hat goes out the window because she is a little too consumed with trying to secure her place with the stepkids.”
Whenever Emily steps in front of the camera, things go awry.
“It is a comedy, and any time you are trying to be accepted, you will do something wrong,” Elfman says.
Agile in comedy and drama, Elfman began her career at the ballet barre. A classically trained dancer, Elfman performed on the 1991 Oscars as a dancer.
Ballet was Elfman’s world when her mom ferried her around, and ballet continues to help her focus. Incidentally, her mom was supportive when she announced her intentions for a TV career.
“She said, ‘You can do anything you want as long as it is legal,'” Elfman says. “And that always instilled a lot of confidence in me. And luckily I was raised by supportive parents who put enough boundaries where they needed to be and permitted the dream to be.”
Birth date: Sept. 30, 1971
Family: Married to Bodhi Elfman since 1995; they have two sons, 5 and 2 1/2.
How they met: “On an audition for a Sprite commercial, and we have been together ever since,” she says. “We both got it. And were filming together, and that was that. He has been annoying me since — for 22 years. I am not precious about marriage. I take it with a grain of salt. I think you should be very professional and very good about what you do, but you can’t be too serious about anything.”
Favorite movies: “My most favorite movies go back. ‘It Happened One Night.‘ I love that movie so much. I love Judy Holliday in ‘Born Yesterday,’ and I love her more than I love the movie. And then it’s a tie. I love ‘His Girl Friday’ … and ‘The Philadelphia Story.’ “
Favorite books: I have just begun Charlie Chaplin’s ‘My Autobiography.’ And I loved Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography, ‘Me.’ “
Favorite music: “I love the blues so I am always down for the blues. Tom Petty. I like hip-hop, Jay-Z to Flo Rida.“