Jennifer Marie Morrison is an actress, director, producer, and former child model from the United States. She is best known for playing Dr. Allison Cameron in the medical drama House from 2004 to 2012 and Emma Swan in the ABC adventure-fantasy series Once Upon a Time from 2011 to 2018. She has also played Zoey Pierson, one of Ted Mosby’s love interests in How I Met Your Mother, Winona Kirk, James T. Kirk’s mother in Star Trek, and Tess Conlon in the 2011 sports drama film Warrior. In 2017, she made her new movie and debut film with Sun Dogs.
Jennifer Morrison was born in Chicago and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois. She seems to be the oldest of three children; Julia, her sister, is a songwriter and music band mental health professional, and Daniel, her brother, is a high school band director. Her father, David, decided to retire music teacher and high school band director. He was named Education Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board in 2003. Morrison attended South Middle School before graduating in 1997 from Prospect High School, where her parents worked. She was an All-State clarinetist in the marching band, a choir member, and a cheerleader on the school pep squad. Jennifer graduated in 2000 from Loyola University Chicago, where Jennifer majored in theatre and minored in English. She trained at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company before relocating to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an actress.
Morrison dated several actors before marrying one. In 2004, she began dating her House co-star Jesse Spencer. Spencer proposed to Jennifer at the Eiffel Tower on December 23, 2006, but they called off their engagement in August 2007. Morrison began dating Prison Break star Amaury Nolasco in 2009, and the relationship lasted three years. Morrison and Sebastian Stan started dating in the summer of 2012 after meeting on the set of Once Upon a Time. The couple dated for a year before splitting up in mid-2013. In 2019, she began dating Gerardo Celasco. They wore wedding bands at the Swimming with Sharks premiere at the 2022 South by Southwest in Austin, TX, on March 14, 2022, and Morrison confirmed their marriage on April 8, 2022.
Morrison began her modeling career as a child, appearing in print ads for JC Penney and Montgomery Ward. In 1992, Jennifer appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids alongside basketball star Michael Jordan. Jennifer made her feature film debut at the age of 14 in the 1994 film Intersection, and Jennifer later played Samantha in the 1999 film Stir of Echoes. Morrison made her feature film debut in the 2000 film Urban Legends: Final Cut, and she has since appeared in films such as Grind in 2003, Surviving Christmas in 2004, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2005.
Jennifer showed up as a guest star in the fourth episode of NBC’s Chase in the fall of 2010. She played Faith, a fugitive single mother who goes on a bloody killing spree across Texas with her young daughter. Jennifer then appeared as recurring character Zoey Pierson on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, a sneaky architecture nerd and love interest of main character Ted Mosby, and “the biggest female character we have possibly ever added to the show in Ted’s life,” according to executive producer Craig Thomas.
Jennifer Morrison's hit series
During the Once upon a time fourth season, wherein Jennifer Morrison was a part, it was very excited how far the series had come. She said that “It’s really great when a show is so well-received. It’s so unusual these days where things seem to come and go so quickly.”
Being in the Once upon a time series and on a string with plenty of fans and now a global hit series, Jennifer Morrison said it was one of her dreams to become a great actress.
“You never know what that magical thing is. It only happens once in a while. Fairy tales are stories plenty of people have heard different versions of growing up with, so there’s something familiar and unusual. Some think it takes them back to their younger years, and some feel excited that they’re being redone in certain ways and filling in the blanks about stories you always wondered about. It reminds me of Harry Potter. It was cool, smart, and edgy, enough that any grown-ups would want to see it, but it’s also great and accessible to kids.” Jennifer said.
The House series, where Jennifer Morris was a member of the cast, became a globally hit series too. With billions of watchers and fans, Jennifer stated that it was surprising to her how this series became a hit.
Jennifer shared that she did know and hear about that. She added, “They think it was approximately one billion people worldwide watching it or something crazy. But that one, for me, was less obvious. I will never understand how that crossed so many barriers. Once again, it must have tapped into something universal. Even though House was such an anti-hero and curmudgeon, he was tough on people because he wanted them to get better. I think that’s something people responded to, as we live in a world where many of us don’t get the truth daily.”
Jennifer Morrison's Iconic Characters
Morrison was cast as immunologist Dr. Allison Cameron on House in 2004. From 2004 to 2009, she played the role for the first six seasons of the show. Morrison’s character left the show in 2009’s “Teamwork” but returned in 2010’s “Lockdown” to wrap up Cameron’s story. Morrison returned in 2012 for the series finale “Everybody Dies.” Jennifer starred in and produced the independent film Flourish in 2006. Morrison first appeared on ABC’s Once Upon a Time in October 2011. She portrayed Emma Swan, a bail bonds collector who discovers she is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She then appeared as recurring character Zoey Pierson on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, an architecture nerd and love interest of main character Ted Mosby, and “the biggest female character we have possibly ever added to the show in Ted’s life,” according to executive producer Craig Thomas.
Some may think that actresses just accept roles that are like their personalities, and some people believe that somehow Jennifer’s characters are close to her personality. Jennifer shared that none of them are like her. She added that if you mixed all three characters, it would have been her, but she also ensured that she differed from the three iconic roles. “Of course, they all have a little bit of me in them. I believe this is unavoidable, but I would not say any of them contain a significant amount of me,” she added.
Jennifer put some effort when it comes to portraying roles. Somehow this attitude shows that Jennifer wants to showcase her flexible talent “I don’t know if I would have known what to do with Emma Swan when I first read the script if I hadn’t spent six years watching Hugh, who is so masterful at a character who was fierce and not soft. I learned it’s okay to take some of those risks, not always be likable, and let the character make mistakes. Emma is guarded and determined to survive without anybody’s help. As the series progresses, the story is obviously chipping away at that, and she is becoming more vulnerable. One of our ongoing jokes of season three was “Emma Swan Cries.” She added.
Jennifer Morrison is working on both big and small screens
“I like them for different reasons. I feel that 22 episodes are a lot, too much in terms of how mentally and physically exhausted you get. I would much rather do 12 episodes a year. And it’s just terrifying when you get towards the end because you always want to do your best work and be as good as you possibly be, and you’re working against the strain of just the sheer amount of hours and time. Nine months of 16, 17, and 18 hours a day takes a real toll. But I do like television in that you get a long period of time to develop a character, and you have a totally different relationship with it than if you were just playing it for three months on a movie set. But it’s also a relief that you have a definite beginning, middle, and end on film. You know exactly what you’re building; you know exactly what you’re aiming for.” Jennifer Morris once shared.
Working on a big and small screen feels the same as other kinds of films. It’s just a battle of commitment and action of hard work. Working on a big and small screen must put a lot of effort and hard work to showcase works worthy of the audiences’ time and eyes. Jennifer added, “There’s a different type of precision you can have when going through that process. Whereas television is more like living like a real person —you’re just not sure what each day’s going to bring, what each episode’s going to bring. So something is fascinating about both ways of working. Ultimately, though, my favorite is being on stage. I’ve been on stage since I was about five, and I couldn’t be happier than when I was in the theatre. I love the live audience. I love how every performance is different based on how people react and the audience’s energy. The thrill of having the presence of the audience just heightens the stakes. You don’t get another take; you don’t get a redo. You’re so present and at the moment, having a true experience every time through. I was trying to figure out how to get on stage during this hiatus, but it’s just such a short period it’s hard to fit something into that exact window. So I’ll probably have to wait until I’m done with Once Upon a Time.’
Jennifer is one of the producers who discovered Glee in its early stages and brought it to the writer Ryan Murphy, who turned it into a television series. Morrison did not remain creatively involved, but she is credited as an associate producer on the first season for her role in finding it and getting it into the right hands. Glee is not the only thing Jennifer wants to produce.
She shared that “I have a couple of things. There’s a show that I really love. It’s a Canadian comedy I’m in the process of seeing if I can bring over to the US and do sort of what The Office did, in that you start fresh but use the same concept. There are a few things film-wise — one of which I want to direct and one I want to be in — where I’m trying to connect the dots. My focus right now is finishing this short film, but everything else is in a holding pattern while I finish what I tangibly have in front of me. But yes, I’m developing other things I want to produce.”
Being in the spotlight shows that everyone can criticize your relationship with all the people around you. Jennifer Morrison says that her parents are not just a fan but also support individuals in her chosen career. “Yes, they always have been. Weirdly, people try and spin this story as if that was not the case. I see articles sometimes like: “You’ve just decided my parents weren’t supportive.” But they were. They always were. But they wanted me to keep my options open. They were very thoughtful that way. A lot of kids that start that young have stage parents. I did not. They said go ahead and do this for fun, but just make sure you do other things too.” She said.