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|Also Known As:||Sela Ann Ward||Died:|
|Born:||July 11, 1956||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Meridian, Mississippi, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actress model advertising art director|
Dark-haired and fair-complected with fine features and expressive brown eyes, actress Sela Ward began her career as a model before beginning work in features and television and eventually hitting the big time with memorably evocative regular roles on the series "Sisters" (NBC) and "Once and Again" (ABC). This Southern belle moved to New York City following her graduation from the University of Alabama, expecting to pursue work in advertising. She instead began modeling and went on to appear in dozens of national television commercials. Ward soon moved to Los Angeles, where she studied acting and launched a career in that capacity. In 1983 the actress made her feature debut in Blake Edwards' remake "The Man Who Loved Woman" and bowed on the small screen that same year with a regular role as privileged ice princess Hilary Adams on the CBS primetime soap "Emerald Point, N.A.S." (1983-84). Ward could next be seen as a controlled businesswoman dating Tom Hanks in Garry Marshall's comedy-drama "Nothing in Common" (1986), before making her feature co-starring debut in the actioner "Steele Justice" (1987).
Long and lean, with a stately air of cool composure, Ward racked up numerous television credits, both as a series guest star and in TV-movies, most often cast as refined, upper-crust characters. While guest spots on "Night Court" (NBC) and "Hotel" (ABC) kept her in the public eye and starring roles in the movies "Cameo by Night" (NBC, 1987), "Bridesmaids" (CBS, 1989) and USA Network's "The Haunting of Sarah Hardy" (1989) fortified her resume and offered her valuable experience, she wouldn't really arrive until she broke down her reserve entirely to play the highly emotional recovering alcoholic Teddy Reed on the NBC drama series "Sisters". Portraying a black sheep, the most down-to-earth, stubborn and tormented of the four siblings, Ward turned in a bare-bones and sometimes painfully candid performance, a risky and ambitious undertaking for the actress that proved most successful and earned her an Emmy Award in 1994. While not always likable, Teddy Reed and her character rang truest, due in no small part to Ward's skillful performance.
While starring on "Sisters", the actress kept busy with consistent television movie work, generally playing self-possessed women working their way out of traumatic situations. Among the more notable entries was the 1992 Showtime drama "Double Jeopardy", in which she starred as a lawyer defending her husband's former lover of murder and a woman who captures the hearts of brothers on either side of the law in "Killer Rules" (NBC, 1993). Ward shone with a small but effective role as the beautiful slain wife of Harrison Ford's Richard Kimble in the blockbuster feature adaptation of "The Fugitive" (1993) and impressed audiences with her unflinching award-winning portrayal of the troubled TV anchorwoman in the 1995 Lifetime biopic "Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story".
Following the departure of "Sisters" from the NBC lineup, Ward did some feature work, including cameos in "54" (1998, as an older woman who seduces an impressionable bartender) and in "Runaway Bride" (1999, as a woman in a bar) but found that as a woman in her 40s without an already established film career, roles were few and far between. Having sworn off of hour-long series drama after the "Sisters" workload interfered too much with her family life, Ward reconsidered in order to join the cast of ABC's "Once and Again" (1999-2002), playing Lily Manning, a divorced mother of two who falls in love with a divorced father and must deal with both the highs and lows of the new relationship and its repercussions on the secure family life she has worked hard to create for her daughters. The series was a critical and popular hit, and the actress brought graceful determination to her flawed character, making Lily both admirable and identifiable. Ward earned her second career Emmy Award for her role in 2000. She next starred in and was executive producer of the CBS TV-movie "Catch a Falling Star" (2000), playing a popular actress who moves to a small town, finding love while dodging the spotlight, and took a supporting role in the crime drama "The Badge" (2002) before appearing in "Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights" (2004) as a ballroom dancer and the mother of Romola Garai's character, an American girl who moves with her family to the revolution-era capital and falls hard for a local dancer. The actress' next big-screen outing was as Dennis Quaid's wife in director Roland Emmerich's big-budget disaster film about the sudden onlsaught of a new ice age, "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004)
In 2003 Ward also turned author with her book Homesick: A Memoir, a well-reviewed chronicle of her life growing up in the Southern culture of Meridian, Mississippi, "worshipping Bear Bryant on Saturday night and Jesus Christ on Sunday morning."
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