Jennifer Love Hewitt (born February 21, 1979) is an American actress, producer, television director and former singer-songwriter. Hewitt began her acting career as a child by appearing in television commercials and the Disney Channel series Kids Incorporated. She rose to fame in teenage popular culture in her roles in the Fox series Party of Five as Sarah Reeves Merrin, and films I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel as Julie James.
She starred on the hit CBS television program Ghost Whisperer as Melinda Gordon, for which she won a Saturn Award in 2007 and 2008 for Best Actress on Television. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her television movie The Client List. Hewitt has served as a producer on some of her film and television projects. As a singer, Hewitt's most successful single on the Billboard Hot 100 is the 1999 release "How Do I Deal", which peaked at No. 59. She has contributed music to the promotion or soundtracks of acting projects. She is currently a recurring star on Hot in Cleveland and will lead the upcoming Lifetime television series The Client List.
Hewitt was born in Waco, Texas, and is the daughter of Patricia Mae (née Shipp), a speech-language pathologist, and Herbert Daniel Hewitt, a medical technician. Hewitt grew up in Nolanville, Texas. Hewitt received her middle name after her mother promised her college friend (named "Love") that if she had a daughter, she would name her after her. Her older brother, Todd Hewitt, chose the name "Jennifer" as a homage to a crush he had at the time she was born. After the divorce of her parents, Hewitt and her brother were brought up by her mother.
As a young girl, Hewitt was attracted to music, which led to her first encounters with the entertainment industry. At the age of three, she sang "The Greatest Love of All" at a livestock show. Just a year after that, at a restaurant-dance hall, she entertained an audience with her version of "Help Me Make It Through the Night". By the time she was five, Hewitt already had tap dancing and ballet in her portfolio. At nine, she became a member of the Texas Show Team (which also toured in the Soviet Union). At the age of ten, at the suggestion of talent scouts and after gaining the title of "Texas Our Little Miss Talent Winner", she moved to Los Angeles with her mother to pursue a career in both acting and singing. In Los Angeles, Hewitt attended Lincoln High School where her classmates included Jonathan Neville, who became a talent scout and recommended Hewitt for her role in Party of Five.
After moving to Los Angeles, Hewitt appeared in more than twenty television commercials, including some for Mattel toys. Her first break came as a child actor on the Disney Channel variety show Kids Incorporated (1989–1991), where she was credited as "Love Hewitt". She later appeared in the live action video short Dance! Workout with Barbie (1992), released by Buena Vista.
She played Pierce Brosnan's daughter in a pilot for NBC called Running Wilde (1993), which featured Brosnan as a reporter for Auto World magazine whose stories cover his own wild auto adventures. However, the series was not picked up and the pilot never aired. Hewitt later had roles in several short-lived television series, such as Fox's Shaky Ground (1992–1993), ABC's The Byrds of Paradise (1994), and McKenna (1994–1995), and finally became a young star after landing the role of Sarah Reeves Merrin on the popular Fox show Party of Five (1995–1999). She assumed the role of Sarah after joining that show during its second season and continued it on the short-lived Party of Five spin-off, Time of Your Life (1999), which she also co-produced. The show was cancelled after half a season.
Hewitt's first feature film role was in the independent film Munchie (1992). A year later, she achieved her first starring film role in Little Miss Millions (1993). She appeared as a choir member in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). Hewitt became a film star after a lead role in the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), which enjoyed great box office success ($125,000,000 USD). Hewitt and her co-stars gained popular exposure from the film. She appeared in the sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), which, though not as successful as the first film, took in more money on its opening weekend. She starred in the high-school comedy Can't Hardly Wait (1998).
Hewitt starred in The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000). That same year, she was the "most popular actress on television" due to her Q-rating (a measurement of a celebrity's popularity) of 37. Noting her "Q-rating", Nokia chose her to become its spokesperson.
She starred alongside Sigourney Weaver in the romantic comedy Heartbreakers (2001). She appeared in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002) as Madellaine, the main protagonist's love interest. Hewitt wrote and performed "I'm Gonna Love You" for the film; the song won "Best Original Song" at the DVD Premiere Awards. She starred alongside Jackie Chan in The Tuxedo (2002), which received negative reviews from critics but was a box office success. Hewitt appeared in If Only (2004) and co-wrote and performed "Love Will Show You Everything" and "Take My Heart Back" for the film's soundtrack. She starred in Garfield (2004), which became her highest-grossing film to date ($200,804,534 USD). She reprised her role for the sequel, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006), which, though not performing as well as its predecessor, achieved a strong box office gross.
Hewitt starred in the television series Ghost Whisperer (2005–2010), which ran on CBS for five seasons before being canceled by the network in May, 2010. She reunited with her I Know What You Did Last Summer co-star, Freddie Prinze Jr., in Delgo (2008). The film was a massive box office bomb ($694,782 USD domestically). After a two-year absence from feature films, Hewitt led the independent drama Café (2010) with her then-boyfriend Jamie Kennedy. She starred in the Lifetime film The Client List (2010), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. The next year, Hewitt starred in the Hallmark Hall of Fame film The Lost Valentine (2011).
Hewitt will direct the film Wait Till Helen Comes (2012) based on the novel by Mary Downing Hahn. This will be Hewitt's feature film directorial debut (she previously directed three episodes of Ghost Whisperer). She is also set star alongside Ivan Sergei and Joel David Moore in the independent comedy Jewtopia (2012) and will star in the television series The Client List (2012).
Hewitt was one of the back-up singers in Martika's number-one single, "Toy Soldiers" (1989).
At the age of 12, Meldac funded the recording of Hewitt's first album, Love Songs (1992). The album was released exclusively in Japan, where Hewitt became a pop star. Her explanation for her success in Japan is that the Japanese "love perky music. The poppier the music, the better."
After she joined the cast of Party of Five, she signed to Atlantic Records, who rushed her second album, Let's Go Bang (1995), out in October. The album and its three singles failed to chart. Juggling her music career with her acting career, she recorded and released her follow-up album, Jennifer Love Hewitt (1996). The album, along with its four singles, failed to chart and Atlantic dropped Hewitt, who did not return to the music scene for three years.
She recorded the single "How Do I Deal" (1999) for the I Still Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack. The song became Hewitt's first charting single, climbing to No. 59 on the Hot 100 and No. 36 on the Top 40 Mainstream. It reached No. 8 in Australia. Hewitt also recorded a cover of the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive", which features briefly in the film.
She appeared in the LFO video for "Girl on TV" (1999), a song which was written for her by a member of the band. She also appeared in the music video for the Enrique Iglesias song, "Hero" (2001), as the singer's love interest.
In 2002, Hewitt signed to Jive Records and recorded her fourth album with singer, songwriter and producer Meredith Brooks. The first single, "BareNaked" (2002), became her biggest radio hit to date when it peaked at No. 24 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, No. 31 on the Adult Top 40 and No. 25 on the Top 40 Mainstream. It climbed to No. 6 in Australia, remaining there for two weeks, and reached No. 33 in the Netherlands. The song later featured in two episodes of Ghost Whisperer: "The Vanishing" (Season 1, episode 20) and "The Collector" (Season 2, episode 20). The moderate success of the single propelled the album to peak at No. 37 on the Billboard 200 and No. 31 in Australia. However, it only remained on the chart for three weeks. The second single, "Can I Go Now" (2003), failed to chart in the US, while managing to peak at No. 8 in the Netherlands and No. 12 in Australia.
Since 2004, Hewitt has remained inactive from the music industry, but the compilation album Cool with You: The Platinum Collection (2006) was released in Asia. Another compilation, Hey Everybody (2007), was released in Brazil. In 2009, reports surfaced that Hewitt was planning on making a country album and was in the process of writing material for it. Jamie Kennedy, Hewitt's boyfriend at the time, said: "I really want to make her a new demo for her music, because I think she should do singing again. She's so good." However, nothing has of yet come of the reports and Hewitt has remained absent from the music scene.
In November 2009, Hewitt made a foray into comic books. Veteran writer Scott Lobdell scripted the 5-issue anthology, Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box (2009–2010), based on Hewitt's ideas. The series has been published by IDW Publishing, and has been compiled in a trade paperback.
Hewitt wrote a book entitled The Day I Shot Cupid (2010), in which she speaks of her experiences with love and dating. During a January 2010 interview on Lopez Tonight, Hewitt said that there was a chapter in the book about "vajazzling" her "vajayjay" (decorating her vulva with Swarovski crystals). Hewitt was attributed with popularizing the trend. The book became a New York Times Bestseller the week of its release. She announced via her Twitter page that she is currently penning a follow-up.
Image and personal life
Hewitt was identified as the "#1 reader choice" on the November 1999 and May 2009 covers of Maxim. TV Guide named her the sexiest woman on television in 2008.
Hewitt has dated many high-profile celebrities such as Carson Daly, John Mayer and Jamie Kennedy.
Hewitt began a relationship with Scottish actor Ross McCall, whom she met when he made an appearance on Ghost Whisperer in late 2005. After two years of dating, they became engaged in late 2007, while vacationing in Hawaii. Paparazzi photographs taken of Hewitt in a bikini at that time led to harsh criticism of her body by bloggers. Hewitt responded: "I've sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women's bodies are constantly scrutinized....What I should be doing is celebrating some of the best days of my life and my engagement to the man of my dreams, instead of having to deal with photographers taking invasive pictures from bad angles." Several celebrities supported her views. During her engagement, Hewitt reportedly said: "I’m getting ready to turn 30 and get married and all those things. This year was my year to try to glow from within and feel better." People magazine reported that Hewitt called off their engagement in late 2008.
In 2002, conspiracy theorist and former social worker Diana Napolis was arrested for stalking and uttering death threats against Hewitt and Steven Spielberg after "verbally confronting" the actress at the 2002 Grammy Awards, and the subsequent day attempting to pose as one of Hewitt's friends to enter the premiere of The Tuxedo. Napolis admitted to becoming involved in a shoving match with Hewitt's mother while confronting the actress. Napolis accused Hewitt, along with director Spielberg, of controlling her thoughts through "cybertronic" technology and being part of a Satanic conspiracy against her. Napolis was charged with six felonies related to the incidents. After a year of involuntary commitment, Napolis pleaded guilty and was released on bail with a condition that she was barred from contact with both Spielberg and Hewitt.