Elfman in 2018
Jennifer Mary Butala
September 30, 1971
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 the 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 films Krippendorf's Tribe (1998), Dr. Dolittle (1998), EDtv (1999), Keeping the Faith (2000), Town & Country (2001), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Clifford's Really Big Movie (2004) and Big Stone Gap (2014).
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 on to star in the 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. She was the youngest of three children born to homemaker Sue (Grace) Butala and Richard Butala, a Hughes Aircraft executive. Her uncle (father's younger brother) 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). She trained in ballet from age 5 but later gave it up when a tendon separated from bone. She studied at the Westside School of Ballet, receiving a full scholarship.
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.
Elfman met her husband, actor Bodhi Elfman, at a Sprite commercial audition in February 1991. They married on February 18, 1995. Their first son, Story Elias, was born in Los Angeles on July 23, 2007. Their second son, Easton Quinn Monroe, arrived on March 2, 2010.
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||The 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 Houghton|
|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||The 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||The George Carlin Show||Psychedelic girl||As Jenna Butala; Episode: "George Does A Bad Thing"|
|1995||The 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||The 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; 9 episodes|
|2018-present||Fear the Walking Dead||Naomi / Laura / June||Main cast; 21 episodes|
|2018-present||Talking Dead||Herself||4 episodes|
Elfman was raised in a Roman Catholic home.