Luxuriantly tressed blonde Portia de Rossi combined her former interest in the law with her subsequent acting career and achieved TV fame when she joined the cast of the Fox TV hit Ally McBeal in 1998. Born Mandy Rogers in Melbourne, Australia, de Rossi acted in TV commercials as a teen and modeled, but entered college to become a lawyer. She changed professions, however, when she was cast as one of the titular beauties tempting the wife of stuffy Hugh Grant in John Duigan's comedy Sirens (1994). de Rossi relocated to Los Angeles and appeared on TV sitcoms Too Something (1995) and Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher (1996), as well as in the blockbuster horror sequel Scream 2 (1997) as one of the terrorized sorority sisters.
After a starring role in the TV crime movie Perfect Assassins (1998), de Rossi joined Ally McBeal in its second season as icy legal hotshot Nelle. Infuriating Calista Flockhart's Ally and enthralling Peter MacNicol's Cage, Nelle swiftly shook up the series' bizarre office politics; de Rossi's burgeoning fame became somewhat of the proverbial burden as well as blessing when her decreasing weight, like Flockhart's, became the subject of press speculation in 2000. Continuing to act in films as well as on TV, de Rossi played a small part in the supernatural horror story Stigmata (1999) and starred as a junkie in the indie drama The Invisibles (1999).