With her blonde, lanky good looks and a quirky comedic talent that brings to mind Lucille Ball, Jenna Elfman possesses many abilities, one of which is that of making the transition from television to film. With the popularity of her ABC sitcom, Dharma and Greg, and a growing screen career, Elfman has become one of the few actresses to successfully straddle the great divide between large screen and small.
Born Jennifer Mary Butula on September 30, 1971, in Los Angeles, Elfman initially trained as a classical ballerina. However, a foray into acting brought with it new opportunities and Elfman found work in various television shows before being cast in a bit role in Grosse Point Blank in 1997. The same year, she won the role of Dharma in Dharma and Greg and was soon being touted as one of the most exciting new actors on television. Such acclaim led to a large role in the 1998 Richard Dreyfuss vehicle Krippendorff's Tribe and an uncredited appearance in the same year's Can't Hardly Wait. 1999 brought with it Elfman's lead role in Ron Howard's EdTV, a film that fared respectably with both critics and audiences alike. In her role as Ed's girlfriend Shari, Elfman displayed more of the comic finesse and unconventional charm that had endeared her to her television audience. Those qualities were again on display in Keeping the Faith (2000), a romantic comedy that cast the actress as the love interest of both a priest (Edward Norton) and a rabbi (Ben Stiller).