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The sexy brunette gained popularity during her emmy-nominated performance as "Officer Janice Licalsi" on the series "NYPD Blue." She currently stars as "Amy" on the drama series "Judging Amy." Born the youngest of three children in Glastonbury, CT, Brenneman's mother was a superior court judge and her father an environmental attorney. Her love for acting blossoming in her pre-teen years, Brenneman would later study comparative religion at Harvard University. During her college years, performances with the American Repertoire Theater and the Harvard-Radcliffe Summer Theater found the burgeoning actress honing her skills in the work of such playwrights as Shakespeare and Aeschylus. In addition to acting during college, Brenneman also founded the Cornerstone Theater Company, a traveling troupe dedicated to performing around the country and encouraging locals to participate in the show. Relocating to New York City following a five-year stint with Cornerstone, Brenneman found work as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn while continuing to appear frequently on-stage. Brenneman made her small-screen debut in a 1992 episode of Murder She Wrote, and was soon headlining her own series with that same year's Middle Ages. After her yearlong stint on NYPD Blue it was time to make the leap to the big screen, and following 1995's Bye Bye, Love, Brenneman would go on to appear in features while gradually climbing the credits. With the exception of her leading-lady role in the little-seen Nevada, Brenneman's frequent supporting roles would always manage to stand out no matter how formidable her co-stars' talents. Putting her childhood experiences to creative use in Judging Amy, the show proved an enduring success with its sincere blend of drama and family conflict. Moving into the new millennium, Brenneman essayed the role of artist Mary Cassatt in the made-for-television feature Mary Cassatt: An American Impressionist (1999), and took on substantial roles in the theatrical releases Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (2000) and Off the Map (2003). Brenneman is married to director Brad Silberling, whom she met while working on NYPD Blue. Amy was born on June 22, 1964 in Glastonbury, Connecticut, USA.
More fun facts about Amy Brenneman
Amy has two brothers. Matthew, her older brother, is a lawyer. Andrew, her younger brother, is an interactive software producer.
Daughter, Charlotte Tucker, was born weighing 7 lb, 12 oz. [20 March 2001]
Graduated from Glastonbury High School, Glastonbury, Connecticut, in 1982.
Graduated from Harvard University in 1987.
Recently spoke at the March for Women's Lives Rally in Washington, D.C.
Wears a size 9 shoe.
Expecting her second child (due May /June 2005). Coincidently, her character on 'Judging Amy' is also pregnant.
Amy Brenneman: Judging Amy
JUDGING AMY is a drama starring Amy Brenneman as a single mother who has left New York behind to become a Family Court judge in Hartford, Connecticut. Judge Amy Gray is divorced and raising her young daughter, Lauren (Karle Warren.) They live with Amy's very opinionated mother Maxine (Tyne Daly), a social worker who is often at odds with her boss, Sean (Timothy Omundson.) Amy has re-established relationships with her younger brother Vincent (Dan Futterman,) her older brother Peter (Marcus Giamatti,) and his wife Gillian (Jessica Tuck). Assisting Amy in the courtroom are her Court Services officer, Bruce Van Exel (Richard T. Jones,) and her eager court clerk turned lawyer, Donna Kozlowski (Jillian Armenante). JUDGING AMY, based on the real-life story of Brenneman's mother, is about three generations of women living together as they confront the personal and professional dilemmas in their changing, challenging lives.
Amy Brenneman has received three Emmy Award nominations, three Golden Globe nominations and one Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in JUDGING AMY. She has also won two TV Guide Awards for the role.
Amy, Mom to Receive Honorary Degrees
Amy Brenneman, star of CBS's drama, "Judging Amy," and her mother, The Honorable Frederica Brenneman, the inspiration for the show, will receive honorary degrees when Saint Joseph College in West Hartford holds its sixty-fifth commencement ceremony May 21. The hour-long weekly television program, in its first year on CBS, is set in Hartford.
Judge Frederica Brenneman was the second woman to be appointed a judge in the State of Connecticut. "She is a graduate of Harvard University's School of Law, an advocate for young people and families, and a positive role model, especially for the women at Saint Joseph College who will pursue careers in law enforcement," states a college press release.
Amy Brenneman is currently best known as executive producer and star of the hit show "Judging Amy." She has also appeared in numerous, theater, film, and television productions. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she studied comparative religion. Brenneman was inspired to create "Judging Amy" by her mother's career and accomplishments.
Saint Joseph College, one of the few remaining all-women colleges in the United States, will also present honorary degrees to Paul Gagne, who directs and produces educational films for children at his Connecticut-based Weston Woods Studios, and to Ida Castro, Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.
"Judging Amy" airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. It is the story of three generations of women living together and confronting the personal and professional dilemmas in their lives. Brenneman plays Judge Amy Gray, a single mother who leaves New York City to become a judge in Hartford, Connecticut. Recently divorced, she and her daughter move in with Amy's opinionated mother (Tyne Daly) and free-spirited brother (Dan Futterman) and try to start fresh in a new place.
Creator and star pulls series from personal experience
Feel free to praise her TV series or to pan it mercilessly. It makes no difference to Amy Brenneman. To her way of thinking, Judging Amy, the courtroom/family drama in which she stars (as well as co-produces), became a success the day it began production back in 1999. Everything since then, she says, has been a bonus.
"I don't know if it's that I'm a realist or a pessimist, but every step of the way, I just never thought we'd get this show on the air," says Brenneman, remembering the early days of putting the show together. "I thought, 'Well, we'll pitch the show and see what happens.' And because I was happy with my movie career, I thought, 'Whatever happens happens.' I just wasn't desperate about it. Maybe that's a little lesson in life, to let go a little bit."
But don't make the mistake of interpreting Brenneman's worry-free attitude as disinterest. It's just that she has learned through experience in show business that setbacks, rejection and criticism are inescapable elements of the life. In fact, Brenneman embraces criticism. The true nature of art, she says, is to provoke reactions, positive and negative. "We all know that things that are difficult make us grow. We like to be comfortable, but ultimately it's the difficult times that give us insight or make us stronger. So when we get bad reviews or criticism, we should thank the universe. It's part of the game, so I say bring it on."
In the show, Brenneman stars as Amy Gray, a single mother who left New York to become a juvenile court judge in Hartford, Conn. It's fitting that the actress, the daughter of an environmental lawyer father and a Superior Court judge mother, stars in a legal drama. In fact, the show's premise was inspired by her mother. "Most of my mom's career, she has done juvenile matters, delinquency and neglect," Amy says. "And I knew enough about TV to know you need an inexhaustible flow of stories. I'd grown up all my life with my mother and her friends telling these war stories and I thought, 'I think there's a show here.'"
Her mother, Frederica, even became a technical adviser for Judging Amy, focusing her attention on legal nuances of the plots. If her mom had had her way, Brenneman notes, the show would have become "a Law & Order for juvenile justice. But I always want it to be part work and part personal. Because there are two fascinating sides to this character. When on the bench, she's refined, very smart, very soothing. But when she takes off her robe, she's mom and a daughter and a woman."
Before Judging Amy, Brenneman earned two Emmy® nominations for her portrayal of Officer Janice Licalsi, a "psycho chick that caused havoc" during the first season and a half of NYPD Blue. Then she starred in such movies as Heat (1995), Casper (1995, directed by husband Brad Silberling), Daylight (1996) and Your Friends & Neighbors (1998). Now she's enjoying TV life again.
Brenneman's love of acting dates back to age 11, when she appeared in her first play. "I've always loved it. The first play I was in was a big musical. We ran for two days. I was in the chorus. And when it was done, I burst into tears. I remember thinking, 'What is going on? What just happened? Why did I love this so much? And now that it's over, why am I so lost?' So I just kept doing plays. And I still love it. And I'm still just as lost the minute it's over."
Amy Brenneman: How she beats stress, stays fit, and finds moments of peace
There are so many similarities between Amy Brenneman and the role she plays on the CBS show Judging Amy that it's easy to confuse the two.
Both are named Amy, both grew up in Connecticut, both have a young daughter, and both have ties to the legal profession: The fictional Amy plays a family-court judge, and the real-life Amy has a mom who's a judge.
Both Amys are smart (the character has a law degree from Harvard; the actress earned her BA there), and both try to stay healthy while juggling the demands of career and family.
Brenneman works longer hours than her fictional counterpart--from 5:30 am to 9 or 10 pm some days--as both the star and executive producer of the show. Given all the sedentary time she spends on the set, with its groaning boards of food for cast and crew, it's a wonder that she doesn't pack on the pounds (especially considering the forgiving nature of long, black judicial robes). But she still has the great body that caused a sensation 10 years ago on NYPD Blue when she played officer Janice Licalsi.
Curvy in all the right places and with an enviably flat tummy, she looks as sleek at 40 as she did at 30. "I'm lucky that I have a fast metabolism and good genes," says the star, who won't lay claim to having self-discipline regarding food and is grateful she never developed an eating disorder (practically a rite of passage in image-obsessed Hollywood).
A natural athlete--she was on the track and cross-country teams in high school and college and also studied dance--she downplays her role in staying in great shape. "I feel prouder of the parts of me that I've had to work on, like my spiritual and psychological health," she says. If she doesn't have time to attend an Ashtanga yoga class, which she says she was "really into about a year ago--it's a wonderful athletic workout," she'll do a few moves on her own: "sun salutations, hip openers--whatever my body tells me it needs."
And though she'll admit to succumbing to "a little sugar buzz every day," she doesn't turn to food for comfort. "I have the opposite problem: When I feel stressed, I forget to eat, which can be bad in that I get weak and shaky. When I'm underweight, I feel like a reed in the wind, like the smallest thing will blow me over. So I have to remind myself to eat, because I like feeling strong and resilient, with a bit of meat on me."
To keep stress at bay, Brenneman runs two or three times a week, but nothing is set in stone. "I worked out pretty hard throughout my pregnancy, but after my daughter was born, I said to myself, 'I'm not going to freak out if I don't have time to exercise, because that's just another pressure I don't need.'" Brenneman also finds "little moments of peace" at a makeshift altar in her trailer, which is filled with things she loves: "a stone from the beach, a picture of my daughter, a picture of myself as a child--whatever allows me to go a little deeper into myself" (and back to her college days, when a semester in Nepal gave her an appreciation of Buddhism).
But the best stress-busters are "really good friends" with whom she can let go and have a quick cry if needed. She counts her husband, director Brad Silberling, as chief among them. He's her reality check. "If I get too wrapped up with the show, he says, 'You know, these are high-class problems!' And it's true. I'm lucky to have them."