Portia de Rossi

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Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi.jpg
de Rossi in February 2007
Born Amanda Lee Rogers
(1973-01-31) 31 January 1973 (age 41)
Horsham, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian-American
Occupation Actress, Model, Philanthropist
Years active 1994–present
Spouse(s) Mel Metcalfe (m. 1996; div. 1999)
Ellen DeGeneres (m. 2008)

Portia Lee James DeGeneres (born Amanda Lee Rogers; 31 January 1973), known professionally as Portia de Rossi /ˈpɔərʃə də ˈrɒsi/, is an Australian actress, model and philanthropist, known for her roles as lawyer Nelle Porter on the television series Ally McBeal and Lindsay Fünke on the sitcom Arrested Development.[1][2] She also portrayed Veronica Palmer on the ABC sitcom Better Off Ted and Olivia Lord on Nip/Tuck. She is married to comedian/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Early life[edit]

De Rossi, born Amanda Lee Rogers in Horsham, Victoria, Australia,[3] is the daughter of Margaret, a medical receptionist, and Barry Rogers.[4] Her father died when she was nine.[5] She grew up in Grovedale, a suburb of Geelong, Victoria, and modelled for print and TV commercials as a child. In 1988, at the age of 15, Rogers adopted the name Portia de Rossi, by which she remains best known. In 2005, she explained that she had intended to reinvent herself, using the given name of Portia, a character from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, and an Italian last name.[6] She has admitted, in an interview she gave to the London Daily Mail, to having struggled with anorexia throughout her teens and young adulthood, from which she credits the love of Ellen DeGeneres for having saved her.[7]


Her first significant role was playing a young and impressionable model in the Australian 1994 film Sirens. Soon afterwards she moved to Los Angeles, California, United States and had guest roles on several TV shows, and a permanent role in Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher, before landing a role in the film Scream 2. During this time in the United States, de Rossi worked diligently to replace her native Australian accent with her current General American one.[8]

She attracted international attention when she joined the main cast of Ally McBeal in 1998, playing lawyer Nelle Porter. She remained with the show until its end in 2002. In 2001, she starred in Who Is Cletis Tout? with Christian Slater.

From 2003–2006, de Rossi starred as Lindsay Bluth Fünke on Fox Television's critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning series Arrested Development.

She also portrayed John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, in the made for TV movie America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story in 2003. In 2005 she portrayed a fortune-teller named Zela in the Wes Craven thriller Cursed. From 2007–2008, de Rossi appeared in Nip/Tuck's fifth season as Julia McNamara's girlfriend Olivia Lord.

In 2009 and 2010, de Rossi played the high-strung and controlling Veronica Palmer on the ABC show Better Off Ted. In 2011 she appeared in Better Off Ted cast member Malcolm Barrett's music video for "Revenge of the Nerds", spoofing her character Veronica in a cameo (alongside other cast members of the cancelled series).[9]

She ranked 69th in Stuff's 100 Sexiest Women, 31 in Femme Fatales' Sexiest Women of 2003 list, 24 in Maxim's 100 Sexiest Women List in 2004, and in late 2006, the magazine Blender listed her as one of the hottest women of film and TV.[10] In May 2007, she was featured as one of 100 Most Beautiful in a People magazine special edition. TV Guide included her and Ellen DeGeneres in their Power A-List couples in 2007.

In February 2012, it was announced that ABC had ordered a pilot for a new drama series The Smart One, executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres, and featured de Rossi in a leading role. The actress was to star as a "brilliant and successful woman who begrudgingly goes to work for her less-brainy but more popular sister – a former beauty queen, weather girl and now big-city Mayor."[11] The show was not picked up to series for the 2012-2013 season.

Six years after the series was canceled by Fox, filming for a revived fourth season of Arrested Development began on 7 August 2012 and de Rossi reprised her role as Lindsay Bluth Fünke. The season consists of 15 new episodes which debuted at the same time on Netflix on 26 May 2013. Each episode focuses on one particular character, with de Rossi's Lindsay, featured in episode 3, "Indian Takers" and episode 8, "Red Hairing", and also appearing in several other episodes of the season.

In July, 2014, ABC confirmed Portia de Rossi is joining season 4 of Scandal.[12]

Personal life[edit]

De Rossi (left) and her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, in September 2012.

De Rossi was married to documentary film-maker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999, initially part of a plan to get a green card, but she did not go through with it. She said that "it just obviously wasn't right for me".[6] In a 2010 interview on Good Morning America, she explained that as a young actress, she was fearful of being exposed as a lesbian.[13]

From 2000 to 2004, de Rossi dated singer Francesca Gregorini, the daughter of Barbara Bach and the stepdaughter of Ringo Starr. She said that most of her family and Ally McBeal castmates did not know she was a lesbian until tabloid pictures of the couple were published.[6] She declined to publicly discuss the relationship or her sexual orientation at the time.

De Rossi and Gregorini broke up in late 2004 because de Rossi began dating Ellen DeGeneres, whom she met backstage at an awards show.[14] In 2005, she opened up publicly about her sexual orientation in interviews with Details and The Advocate. She and DeGeneres became engaged when DeGeneres proposed with a three-carat pink diamond ring.[15] They were married at their Beverly Hills home on 16 August 2008, witnessed by their mothers and 17 other guests.[16] On 6 August 2010, Portia filed a petition to legally change her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres.[17] The petition was granted on 23 September 2010.[18] She became a US citizen in September 2011.[19]

In 2010, de Rossi published the autobiography Unbearable Lightness which talks about the turmoil that she has experienced in her life, including suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia and being misdiagnosed with lupus.[20][21][22] She had struggled with the eating disorders for four years while filming Ally McBeal.[14][23] To promote the book, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.[21] In 2013, de Rossi announced that she and DeGeneres were not planning on having children.[24]


De Rossi supports a variety of charitable organizations, including Locks of Love, a group that provides human hair wigs (made from donated ponytails) either free of charge or on a sliding scale based on their own guidelines[25][26][27][28] for children with alopecia and other medical conditions that cause hair loss.[29] She has also supported fundraising efforts for FXB International,[30] an African AIDS relief organisation, and The Art of Elysium,[31] an art foundation for terminally ill children. An avid animal lover, de Rossi also supports Alley Cat Allies,[32] an organisation dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of cats.[33] De Rossi and wife Ellen DeGeneres have also been vegan since 2008, and are strong supporters of the Gentle Barn,[34] a California-based sanctuary for abused animals.


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Sirens Giddy
1995 The Woman in the Moon Shauna
1995–96 Too Something Maria Hunter TV series, 22 episodes
1996–97 Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher Elana Lewis TV series, 22 episodes
1997 Veronica's Closet Carolyn TV series, episode: "Veronica's First Date"
1997 Scream 2 Sorority Sister Murphy
1998 Astoria TV movie
1998 Girl Carla Sparrow
1998 A Breed Apart Lana Collins TV movie
1998–2002 Ally McBeal Nelle Porter TV series, 89 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1999)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2000—2001)
1999 The Invisibles Joy
1999 American Intellectuals Sarah
1999 Stigmata Jennifer Kelliho
1999 Ally Nelle Porter TV series, 12 episodes
Ally McBeal spin-off
2001 Women in Film Gina
2001 Who Is Cletis Tout? Tess Donnelly
2002 The Glow Jackie Lawrence TV movie
2002 The Twilight Zone Laurel Janus TV series, episode: "Dead Man's Eyes"
2003 Two Girls from Leemore Blind Woman
2003 America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy TV movie
2003 Mister Sterling Lauren Barnes TV series, episodes: "Wish List" and "Final Passage"
2003 I Witness Emily Thompson
2003 The Night We Called It a Day Hilary Hunter
2003–06, 13 Arrested Development Lindsay Bluth Fünke TV series, 68 episodes
TV Land Award for Future Classic (2003)
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (2005)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Comedy or Musical (2004)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2005—2006, 2013)
2004 Dead & Breakfast Kelly
2005 Cursed Zela
2007–09 Nip/Tuck Olivia Lord TV series, 10 episodes
2009 The Shift Denise Moore [35]
2009–10 Better off Ted Veronica Palmer TV series, 26 episodes
2012 Mockingbird Lane Lily Munster TV pilot
2014 Sean Saves the World Jill TV Series, episode: "The Joy of Ex"
2014 Unity Narrator Documentary
2014 Scandal Elizabeth North TV Series; Recurring Role


  1. ^ "Celebrity Bios: Portia de Rossi". Us Magazine. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  2. ^ "Geelong's Portia Marries Ellen". Geelong Advertiser. 18 August 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2009. 
  3. ^ London Academy of Media and Film TV. "Australian Actress: Portia de Rossi". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Portia de Rossi profile". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "Portia de Rossi on Ellen". Youtube. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c Michele Kort (13 September 2005). "Portia heart and soul". The Advocate. 
  7. ^ "Portia de Rossi's Oprah cry talking about the shocking details of her anorexia and how Ellen's love saved her | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  8. ^ "The Very Private Portia". The Age (Melbourne). 10 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Better Off Ted cast reunites for Malcolm Barrett's hip-hop video". Zap2It.com. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Errico, Mike (02/01/2007). "Hottest Women of...Film and TV!".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "ABC to air Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's "The Smart One"". Unreality TV. 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Portia de Rossi Joins ‘Scandal’ in ‘Top Secret Arc’". Variety. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Olivia Katrandjian (3 November 2010). "Portia de Rossi: 'I Would Starve Myself Daily'". ABC News. Retrieved 3 November 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Van Meter, Jonathan. "Disappearing Act: How did Portia de Rossi withstand the pressures of Hollywood.". Vogue. Archived from the original on 1 April 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Zach (26 January 2012). "Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's Road to Romance". Us Weekly. 
  16. ^ Singh, Anita (18 August 2008). "Television presenter Ellen DeGeneres marries lesbian lover Portia de Rossi". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  17. ^ TMZ Staff. "Portia to Ellen: I Want to Be a DeGeneres!". TMZ. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  18. ^ "Portia de Rossi takes wife Ellen DeGeneres' name". USA Today. 23 September 2010. 
  19. ^ "Portia Becomes a U.S. Citizen! | EllenTV.com". Ellen.warnerbros.com. 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  20. ^ de Rossi, Portia (November 2010). Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain. Atria. ISBN 1-4391-7778-3. 
  21. ^ a b Oldenburg, Ann (3 November 2010). "Portia de Rossi: 'I would starve myself daily' on 300 calorie diet". USA Today. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ Freydkin, Donna (13 November 2007). "Portia de Rossi nips at new TV challenges". USA Today. 
  24. ^ Marcus, Stephanie (2011-10-24). "Ellen DeGeneres And Portia de Rossi Don't Want Children". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  25. ^ "Locks of Love". Locks of Love. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  26. ^ "Locks of Love". Locks of Love. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  27. ^ "Charity Review of Locks of Love". Charityreports.give.org. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  28. ^ "BBB review of Locks of Love". Bbb.org. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  29. ^ "Locks of Love FAQ". Locksoflove.org. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  30. ^ "Portia de Rossi Helps FXB to Rebuild Uganda". Celebrity Halo. July 2006. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  31. ^ "Portia de Rossi supports The Art of Elysium". Celebrity Halo. January 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  32. ^ "I'm an Alley Cat Ally – Portia de Rossi". Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  33. ^ "Alley Cat Allies – About Us". Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  34. ^ "The Gentle Barn". gentlebarn.org. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  35. ^ "About the Cast of THE SHIFT (2009) - movie starring Dr. Wayne Dyer". Dyermovie.com. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 

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