Jennifer is an American actress and filmmaker, who is perhaps best known for writing and starring in the indie hits, Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) and Friends with Kids (2011).
A graduate from Yale University, Jennifer started her career as a New York-based theater actor, starring in over 25 off-Broadway and regional productions, before coming to Hollywood in 1997. Within weeks of her arrival, she landed a series regular role in ABC’s Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (1998), alongside Ryan Reynolds, Traylor Howard and Richard Ruccolo. That same year, she co-wrote and starred in an off-Broadway play, with Heather Juergensen, called “Lipschtick: The Story of Two Women Seeking The Perfect Shade”, that caught the attention of Hollywood studios. The play was optioned by “Radar Pictures” to be made into a film, starring Westfeldt and Juergensen.
After one season on “Two Guys”, 20th Century Fox Studios pulled Jennifer from that show to cast her as the lead of another show for them, the short-lived Holding the Baby (1998) on Fox.
While Westfeldt was busy shooting sitcoms, she and Juergensen were also hard at work, developing their play into a screenplay. Frustrated by the slow pace of studio development, they bought back the rights to their script and decided to make their film independently, on a shoestring budget. The film was Kissing Jessica Stein (2001).
“Kissing Jessica Stein” was snapped up by “Fox Searchlight”, when it debuted at the LA International Film Festival, then was released to critical acclaim in March of 2002. Jennifer received the Golden Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her role as “Jessica”, an Indie Spirit Nomination for Best First Screenplay, and a Special Jury Prize for Writing and Acting at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. The film won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Audience Favorites Award at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival, Best Feature at the Louisville Jewish Film Festival, and the GLAAD Media Award.
Jennifer continued to work steadily in television, starring in pilots for the WB (The Gene Pool (2001) opposite Chris Eigeman in 2001), F/X (The untitled Paul Reiser pilot in 2002), and NBC (Steve Levitan’s Dante (2005) in 2005), and doing recurring and guest roles on Judging Amy (1999), Hack (2002), Numb3rs (2005) and Snoops (1999). She also starred in the indie, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (2004) (aka “How To Lose Your Lover”), in 2004, opposite Paul Schneider.
She made her Broadway debut, in the fall of 2003, in the critical and commercial hit, “Wonderful Town”, starring opposite two-time Tony Winner Donna Murphy and directed by three-time Tony Winner Kathleen Marshall. Jennifer received a 2004 Tony nomination, a Theater World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut, and a Drama League Award for her role as “Eileen Sherwood”.
Jennifer’s second feature as an actress/scribe, Ira & Abby (2006), marked her first solo screen-writing effort. “Ira & Abby” won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Additionally, Jennifer won Best Actress at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival for her performance as “Abby”. The film was acquired by “Magnolia Pictures” and was released to critical acclaim in the fall of 2007. That same year, Jennifer was cast as the lead of ABC’s Notes from the Underbelly (2007), directed and executive produced by Barry Sonnenfeld. “Notes” ran for two seasons on ABC. Her recent television credits include memorable arcs on ABC’s hit, Grey’s Anatomy (2005) and the final season of Fox’s hit, 24 (2001), as well as starring in the TV movie, Before You Say ‘I Do’ (2009), opposite David Sutcliffe.
Her recent stage work includes the world premiere of Joe Gilford’s “Finks” at the Powerhouse Theater, opposite Josh Radnor and directed by Charlie Stratton (2008); the world premiere of Cusi Cram’s “A Lifetime Burning” at Primary Stages off-Broadway, directed by Pam Mackinnon (2009); “Three Sisters” at LA Theaterworks (2011) and the world premiere of Stephen Belber’s “The Power of Duff” at the Powerhouse Theater, opposite Greg Kinnear and directed by Peter Dubois (2012).
On the big screen, Jennifer Westfeldt most recently wrote, starred in and made her directorial debut in the indie hit, Friends with Kids (2011), released by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions in March 2012. “Friends with Kids” was a breakout hit at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, and boasted a stellar cast, including Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, Ed Burns, Megan Fox and Jon Hamm.
Jennifer has been in a relationship with Jon Hamm since 1997. They reside in both New York and Los Angeles.
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