Jennifer Tilly was born Jennifer Chan on September 16, 1958, in Harbor City, California. The daughter of Harry, a Chinese stockbroker, and Patrica, a schoolteacher, Jennifer's parents got divorced when she was 6. Patrica Tilly remarried and took Jennifer, her 3 siblings, and her 3 stepsiblings to British Columbia, Canada. Having to relocate constantly with her family, Jennifer had to adjust to each new school, and was a pretty quiet student.
At 17, she started out yet again at a new school, this time at St. Stephen's College in Missouri, to study theater. In order to help pay for her tuition, she contributed articles to magazines and earned money by winning 'honorable mentions' in writing competitions. She then headed to college in Los Angeles rather than New York, unlike her sister Meg who starred in Body Snatchers
. She made the television rounds, starting with a role as an extra on "Days of Our Lives", then a recurring role as a Mafia moll who snares a straight-laced cop on "Hill Street Blues" in 1984. Also that year she was cast as Shannon Winters on the short-lived sitcom, "Shaping Up", and followed it up with guest appearances on "Remington Steele", "Cheers", and another recurring role on "It's Gary Shandling's Show". Jennifer was also busy appearing in small parts, in films such as Moving Violations (1985), (her first film when she was 27) He's My Girl (1987), and Rented Lips (1988), one year after the other. In 1988, Jennifer appeared in Johnny Be Good (1988) and High Spirits (1988). After roles in Let It Ride (1989) and Far from Home (1989), Jennifer was finally recognized for her role as auditioning singer Blanche "Monica" Moran in 1989's Fabulous Baker Boys, The (1989). Then more parts came her way, such as in Doors, The (1991), Scorchers (1991) and Made in America (1993), but she finally got her big break when she was cast as Olive Neal, the wife of a mobster, in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway (1994), in 1994. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, in her convincing portrayal of an untalented, aspiring actress. She has since starred in many hit films such as Liar Liar (1997) with Jim Carrey, Stuart Little (1999) with Michael J. Fox, as a stripper in Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000), and in the hit blockbuster Monsters, Inc. (2001). She has also appeared in theater productions, including "One Shoe Off" -which earned her a Theater World Award in 1993.
She is the sister of actress Meg Tilly
Jennifer Tilly was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the Woody Allen film Bullets Over Broadway
. She then convinced people that it was worthwhile to watch women’s poker.
Tilly began her acting career in her teenage years through a theatre program at Stephens College in Missouri. She had small roles in TV shows and movies beginning in 1983 including a recurring guest part on Hill Street Blues as Gina Srignoli, a mobster's widow who becomes romantically involved with detective Henry Goldblume.
Tilly's breakthrough film role was as a singing waitress in The Fabulous Baker Boys
in a part that was specially written for her by Steve Kloves. That same year, she played a small part in the cult classic horse racing movie Let It Ride
with Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr, that Tilly later said "should have done better."
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a hopelessly bad actress in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway
. In 1994, she also had a small role in the The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Tilly was ranked #23 in Celebrity Sleuth "25 Sexiest Women of 1995."
On June 27, 2005, Tilly won a World Series of Poker bracelet (and $158,625) in the Ladies' No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em event, outlasting 600 other players. She followed up this accomplishment on September 1, 2005 by also winning the third World Poker Tour Ladies Invitational Tournament held at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. Tilly has appeared in the GSN Poker Royale series. She appeared in the third season of Poker Superstars but was eliminated in the preliminary round.