Recognized by The London Times as a “fearless and committed actress,” Elizabeth Berkley Lauren has clearly demonstrated her versatility and the range of her talent from comedy to drama, in a host successful film, television, and stage performances. Growing up in a Harmington Hills, Michigan, she dreamed of becoming a performer. She devoted herself to dance (tap, jazz and ballet) developing a strong work ethic that powers dedication to the achievement of her professional goals, as well as a personal commitment to philanthropy and charitable outreach.
Berkley launched her acting career at the age of 15 as “Jessie Spano” in the hit NBC sitcom, “Saved by the Bell,” which is now in daily syndication worldwide. Her TV success led to film roles: opposite Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton in the Paramount Pictures smash hit, “First Wives Club,” opposite Matthew Modine and Catherine Keener in the Sundance favorite “The Real Blonde” and opposite Al Pacino in Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday.” She also appeared in “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” directed by and starring Woody Allen, “Showgirls” for MGM and “Roger Dodger,” awarded best film at both the Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. She has recurred and guest starred on some of the most prolific shows on television including “NYPD Blue,” “Without a Trace,” “CSI,” and “Law and Order” to name a few. On the London stage, she starred in “Lenny” opposite Eddie Izzard, directed by the legendary Sir Peter Hall. On Broadway, she most recently starred in “Sly Fox,” directed by Arthur Penn, opposite Richard Dreyfuss, as well as in the critically acclaimed “Hurlyburly” opposite Ethan Hawke and Parker Posey. Berkley is currently utilizing her background in dance as the host of Bravo’s Step It Up and Dance.
Even with a full work schedule, Berkley continues to dedicate her time and energy to causes that are close to her heart. Her desire to help empower adolescent girls (ages 11-17) led her to create “Ask Elizabeth,” a series of interactive workshops she conducts at colleges, high schools and youth groups around the country. While the girls may at first be excited at the chance to speak with a successful Hollywood actress, the dynamics between Berkley and the group evolve to feel more like a sleep over party with their big sister, with whom they can share anything. Berkley’s mission is for them to leave feeling like the “best versions of themselves.”
In her talk, “Saved by the Tell: A Story of Good Choices, A Bad Movie, and No Regrets,” Berkley takes us on her personal journey from instant fame from “Saved by the Bell” to sudden ostracism for “Showgirls” to her newfound success on the stage and screen. In a poignant discussion that is both funny and candid, Berkley demonstrates that life is a series of choices which can have unexpected, long-lasting consequences, and that what matters most is how you react to and learn from any adversity. A perfect program that mixes nostalgia and the importance of keeping strong in a world that loves you one moment and not the next.
At A Glance: Berkley is active in numerous outreach programs including dance classes for young teens and physically and mentally challenged youth; volunteer work with the elderly at the Motion Pictures Home for the Aging; Women’s Cancer Research Fund; Race to Erase MS; Susan G. Komen Events in Chicago; the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; and the Humane Society. In the same fearless and committed way that Berkley approaches her theatrical career, she is dedicated to making tools for young women accessible and possible, by giving them the ability to know that empowerment is within their reach, by bringing them… “Ask Elizabeth.”