An actress who first earned her critical laurels (and reeled in a substantial television fanbase) as Dr. Alison Cameron on the blockbuster medical drama [[Feature~V317815~House~house[tvseries]]] (2004), Jennifer Morrison grew up well outside the realm of Hollywood, in a middle-class family in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a preteen and teenager, Morrison entered showbusiness via modeling, appearing in innumerable print campaigns and gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids at one point; after wrapping up high school, she attended Loyola University as a theater major (reportedly graduating in only three years) and subsequently trained with the legendary Steppenwolf theatrical ensemble, onetime home to such stars as [[Performer~P44846~John Malkovich~johnmalkovich]], [[Performer~P111667~Gary Sinise~garysinise]], and [[Performer~P31365~Glenne Headly~glenneheadly]].
From there, Hollywood fame was merely a short leap away; by the time of her Loyola graduation, Morrison had already officially debuted onscreen, with a small part as the daughter of [[Performer~P26545~Richard Gere~richardgere]] and [[Performer~P68496~Sharon Stone~sharonstone]] in the psychological drama [[Feature~V131121~Intersection~intersection]] (1994) and a more significant role as a missing girl who psychically haunts [[Performer~P3164~Kevin Bacon~kevinbacon]] in the supernatural thriller [[Feature~V180773~Stir of Echoes~stirofechoes]] (1999). Morrison signed for her first lead with a role that many felt unworthy of her talents and intelligence: that of Amy Mayfield, a young film student who gets in way over her head amid a thesis project on urban legends, in [[Performer~P192634~John Ottman~johnottman]]'s slasher outing [[Feature~V209817~Urban Legends: The Final Cut~urbanlegends:finalcut]] (2000). Subsequent projects included [[Performer~P436001~Michael Davis~michaeldavis]]'s teen-oriented romantic comedy [[Feature~V281303~100 Women~100women]] (2002), [[Performer~P302618~Casey La Scala~caseylascala]]'s teen comedy [[Feature~V283034~Grind~grind]] (2003), and -- as something of a nadir -- the critically despised holiday gross-out fest [[Feature~V286089~Surviving Christmas~survivingchristmas]] (2004), in which she played [[Performer~P426~Ben Affleck~benaffleck]]'s snotty girlfriend.
As indicated, [[Feature~V317815~House~house[tvseries]]] represented Morrison's breakthrough and the role that finally brought her public attention. The long-running Fox drama told of Dr. Gregory House ([[Performer~P40810~Hugh Laurie~hughlaurie]]), a diagnostician with an astounding degree of medical knowledge and an absolute dearth of social skills. As Dr. Cameron (an immunologist with a not-so-secret crush on the physician), Morrison brought a much-needed dose of warmth and vulnerability to the series.
Morrison subsequently made headlines in 2007, when she was tapped to appear as Winona Kirk, James T. Kirk's mother, in [[Performer~P240910~J.J. Abrams~jjabrams]]'s much-anticipated 11th installment of the [[Feature~V289034~Star Trek~startrek[filmseries]]] series. Despite it being a fairly small role, Morrison still managed to make a big impression in Star Trek, and a somewhat meatier role in 2011's Warrior, as the wife of a natural born fighter from a fractured family, preceded her departure from House the following year. Her ties to television remained tight, however, thanks to a recurring role on the hit CBS comedy series How I Met Your Mother starting in 2010, with a turn as Emma Swan -- a mother who doesn't believe in fairy tales -- in ABC's Once Upon a Time revealing that Morrison possessed a flair for fantasy as well. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi