Katherine Moennig Biography


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Birth Name: Katherine Moennig
Born: 12/29/1977
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Born Katherine Sian Moennig in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 29, 1976, her career as an actress seemed a foregone conclusion; her mother was Broadway dancer Mary Zahn, her father a violin maker, and her aunt the acclaimed stage and screen actress Blythe Danner - making Gwyneth Paltrow her first cousin. The performing bug bit at the age of 10 after a role in a grade-school production of "Winnie the Pooh;" Moennig and a friend later wrote their own version of the story and performed it at the Free Library in Philadelphia. Though entry into the professional acting world might have been easy for her, Moennig concentrated on completing her high school studies At the age of 18, she made for New York City and enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While in New York, she also pursued a modeling career.

After graduation, Moennig received an apprenticeship to the acclaimed Williamstown Theater Festival, with which she studied for two seasons. Among the many productions she appeared in was Shakespeare's "As You Like It," starring her cousin Paltrow. In 1999, Moennig made her screen debut in the music video for Is Anybody Home by the modern rock band, Our Lady Peace. She also auditioned for and lost the role of murdered transgender Brandon Teena in "Boys Don't Cry" (1999).

In 2000, Moennig made her film debut in a short titled "The Ice People" (2000), followed quickly by "Young Americans," the first of several androgynous roles that would mark her career. Despite the presence of future stars Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder, bad scripting and a tough time slot scuttled "Young Americans" chances of survival after just two months on the air. Moennig quickly regrouped and found more work on television, including an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) in which she played a pre-operative transsexual. Moennig also appeared in the failed screen adaptation of "The Shipping News" (2003) opposite Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore.

In 2003, Moennig signed on to play Shane McCutcheon, a sexually aggressive hairstylist in the lesbian-themed drama, "The L Word," for the Showtime Networks. Though her castmates included such formidable actresses as Jennifer Beals, Laurel Holloman, Pam Grier and Leisha Hailey, Moennig's character stood out due to her extreme personality and sexual appetite. Reported to have slept with some 1,000 people, McCutcheon is a talented stylist but a walking time bomb when it comes to relationships; more often than not, sabotaging them to justify her own self-loathing. Over the course of the show's four seasons, McCutcheon ruined her own wedding, met her long-lost father and met a brother she never knew. Despite sending several relationships to their grave due to her own neuroses, she discovered her maternal instincts in the fourth season and attempted to take in and raise her brother on her own, as well as the son of a woman with whom she becomes involved. McCutcheon's storyline was among the most engaging of the show's many plot threads, and viewers tuned in to see what pickles she would get herself into or out of each week.

The success of "The L Word" led some in the press to examine Moennig's career and wonder if she was, in fact, a lesbian in real life. Though she had alluded to her being a heterosexual in the press, a 2006 interview in the gay publication The Advocate with her castmate Jennifer Beals alluded that Moennig might be a lesbian. In typically plucky fashion, Moennig took the assumption as a compliment to her acting skills.

In 2006, Moennig branched out beyond the comfortable world of "The L Word" to make her Off-Broadway debut in "Guardians," a play about a scandal at an American-run military prison in Iraq. Moennig's character was based on that of disgraced soldier Lynndie England, whose career had been ruined by her involvement in the Abu Gharib incident. That same year, she also took a small role in the misfired film adaptation of Daniel Clowes' graphic novel "Art School Confidential." Again, Moennig played a lesbian character - this time the ex-girlfriend of Sophia Myles' character.




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