JESSICA STEEN (Dr. Julia Heller)
Although her mother, an actress, vehemently opposed it, Jessica Steen practically fell into a life in the theater, starting from the time she was a child in Toronto, Canada. "My extended family was always eager to ham it up, costumed to the hilt for our annual Christmas skit. Our house was always bustling with a bunch of wild and wacky people whom my dad (then a director) and mom would bring home from the theater. When you grow up surrounded by such animated and exciting people where it seems that the circus is always in town, its hard not to resist becoming part of the act."
Steen, who was born in Toronto on a December 19, was 8 years old when she found her first performing role, in a Canadian TV series set in an amusement park. Later, when she was 18, her parents moved to Montreal and she remained in Toronto - or "Hollywood North," as it is sometimes called - and continued working. In the mid-1980s she appeared as the daughter of the character played by Lindsay Wagner in the TV movie "Young Again" (with fellow Canadian Keanu Reeves, a former schoolmate).
Steen found abundant roles in Toronto, expecially with guest spots on Canadian-produced series such as "Night Heat." In 1989, she co-starred in the musical "Sing" and decided it was time to move to New York. "I wanted to see if the grass was really greener on the other side of the border." Ironically, she spent more time flying back and forth between California and Canada than she did in New York. During one five-week stint she subbed for pregnant actress Noelle Beck on the daytime drama "Loving," long enough to "give birth" to the character's baby until the actress could return. More important, the limited gig raised her profile enough to result in a co-starring role as Linda, the union organizer, on the critically acclaimed drama series "Homefront," in 1992-93.
Steen's Canadian motion picture credits include "Flying," "Still Life" and "John and the Missus." She was a regular cast member on the syndicated series "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future." Among her TV movies are "High Country" and "Small Gifts," both for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and "Working for Peanuts," for HBO. She has guest-starred on such TV series as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Captain Power" and was in the pilot of "Wiseguy."
In her latest role, Steen portrays a genetically enhanced doctor in the future who is the lead physician on a mission to an Earth-like planet. "She has an instinctual thirst for knowledge, but because of her genetic makeup, she gets a lot of flak," says Steen. "So, with quiet determination, she's driven to prove herself beyond that unfair advantage, so she keeps her nose to the grindstone."
Steen prefers to space out her acting assignments to allow time to maintain
ties with her large family back home. In addition, she enjoys "getting
as far away from the city as possible," which means kayaking, mountain-biking,
rock-climbing, and traveling. As an artistic endeavour, she keeps a photo
and video journal of friends and family. She is an avid admirer of David
Suzuki, a Canadian environmentalist, and has volunteered to work within
his organization. Says Steen: "I hope that by working on
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