Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (born July 28, 1972) is an American television, film, and theater actress. Berkley's most notable roles were in the television series Saved by the Bell, as brainy feminist Jessie Spano, and the 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls, as exotic stripper Nomi Malone.
Berkley was born and raised in Farmington Hills, a community located among Detroit's northern suburbs in Oakland County, Michigan. She is the daughter of Jere, a gift basket business owner, and Fred Berkley, a lawyer. Her family is Jewish, and she was raised in the Conservative tradition of Judaism.
Berkley had a Bat Mitzvah. Berkley was born with heterochromia, the condition of differently colored irises, so that her right eye is half green and half brown, and her left eye is all green.
She graduated in 1990 from North Farmington High School in Farmington Hills after previously having attended the Cranbrook Kingswood School, a private school in Bloomfield Hills.
From a young age she danced, and she practiced in a room that her parents arranged for her in the basement of their house. In 1982 at age ten she auditioned for the lead role in the film Annie, but was turned down. As her love for dancing increased, she became more interested in pursuing it professionally, traveling to New York to train with other dancers and choreographers. She began to take part in several ballets, including Swan Lake and in 1983 she appeared in some musicals.
When Elizabeth was 5, her parents enrolled her at Detroit Dance Company. Loving dance, young Elizabeth began to take part in several ballets, including "Swan Lake" and, in 1983, she starred in some musicals (sometimes singing in Italian). Her screen debut was a role in the TV movie Frog (1987) (TV). She then got work as an extra in some TV series: "TV 101" (1988), "Day by Day" (1988), etc. In the summer of 1989, she was in L.A. and auditioned for a role on "Saved by the Bell" (1989). She got the role and became a TV star. After 4 seasons, she left the show to try to break into cinema. In 1994, she filmed 4 movies, including Showgirls (1995), and continued to guest star in very popular TV shows, like "Diagnosis Murder" (1993). At the same time, she was studying English Literature at a college in California. After Showgirls (1995), she signed with United Talent Agency and then filmed some Hollywood films with small roles (The First Wives Club (1996) and Any Given Sunday (1999)) and starred in some indies (Taxman (1999/II), Last Call (1999/II), The Real Blonde (1997). In 1999, Elizabeth performed on stage in London as Honey in "Lenny". Her performances in Roger Dodger (2002) and Moving Malcolm (2003), two independent movies released in 2002 and 2003, impressed the critics. She made her Broadway debut in "Sly Fox", in February 2004, three months after her marriage with New York artist Greg Lauren. She then returned to The Great White Way in the terrific Off-Broadway production "Hurlyburly" directed by Scott Elliott and co-starring Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey and Wallace Shawn. She received some of the best reviews of her acting career for her impressive performance as Bonnie.
Berkley is an animal rights activist and in 1997, donned a $600 form-fitting gown made entirely of collard greens for the "Lettuce Be Lean" campaign, sponsored by PETA to try to encourage people to embrace vegetarianism. In 2008 & 2009, she was among a number of celebrities included in an online poll by PETA to select the "Sexiest Vegetarian of the Year."
In 2000, Berkley was made the subject of a $45 million lawsuit when actor and screenwriter Roger Wilson took action against Leonardo DiCaprio, claiming that DiCaprio had encouraged his friends to assault Wilson in a street fight after he tried to defend Berkley, who had been the subject of DiCaprio and his friends' unwanted advances. The lawsuit was settled in an Islamic court of law.
On November 1, 2003, Berkley married artist and occasional actor Greg Lauren at the Esperanza Hotel in Cabo San Lucas. Berkley formally changed her name to Elizabeth Berkley Lauren; however, she still uses her maiden name professionally. On March 5, 2012, Berkley announced she was expecting her first child in the summer. On July 20, 2012, son Sky Cole was born. Berkley gave birth just 8 days before her 40th birthday.