Though she would later gravitate to a feature career with roles in such films as Heat (1995), Daylight (1996), and Your Friends Neighbors (1998), her television career continued to flourish as she took on the role of a single mother and Family Court judge in Judging Amy.
Born the youngest of three children in New London, CT, Brenneman's mother was a superior court judge and her father an environmental attorney while she was growing up in nearby Glastonbury. Her love for acting blossoming in her pre-teen years, Brenneman would later study comparative religion at Harvard University. During her college years, performances with the American Repertoire Theater and the Harvard-Radcliffe Summer Theater found the burgeoning actress honing her skills in the work of such playwrights as Shakespeare and Aeschylus. In addition to acting during college, Brenneman also founded the Cornerstone Theater Company, a traveling troupe dedicated to performing around the country and encouraging locals to participate in the show. Relocating to New York City following a five-year stint with Cornerstone, Brenneman found work as a substitute teacher in Brooklyn while continuing to appear frequently on-stage.
Brenneman made her small-screen debut in a 1992 episode of Murder She Wrote, and was soon headlining her own series with that same year's Middle Ages. After her yearlong stint on NYPD Blue it was time to make the leap to the big screen, and following 1995's Bye Bye, Love, Brenneman would go on to appear in features while gradually climbing the credits. With the exception of her leading-lady role in the little-seen Nevada, Brenneman's frequent supporting roles would always manage to stand out no matter how formidable her co-stars' talents. Putting her childhood experiences to creative use in Judging Amy, the show proved an enduring success with its sincere blend of drama and family conflict. Moving into the new millennium, Brenneman essayed the role of artist Mary Cassatt in the made-for-television feature Mary Cassatt: An American Impressionist (1999), and took on substantial roles in the theatrical releases Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (2000) and Off the Map (2003). Brenneman is married to director Brad Silberling, whom she met while working on NYPD Blue.
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