Hollywood Actress and Dancer Has a Lebanese-Polish Father

Once a backup dancer to some of the biggest names in the business, including Janet Jackson, Pink, Missy Elliott, and Christina Aguilera, Jenna Dewan has risen to fame as both an actress and a professional dancer throughout her Hollywood career.


Dewan was born in Hartford, Connecticut (USA), the daughter of Nancy Smith and Darryll Dewan, who was a running back on the 1972 Notre Dame football team.

Her father is of Lebanese and Polish descent and her mother is of German and English ancestry. As a child, Dewan moved frequently; she mentioned in an interview that she lived in seven cities before reaching the seventh grade.

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While attending high school at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Maryland, Dewan was a varsity cheerleader. She transferred to Grapevine High School in Grapevine, Texas.

She was also a varsity cheerleader there and was voted prom queen during her senior year. She went to the University of Southern California and was a member of the California Gamma Chapter of Pi Beta Phi.

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Dewan first appeared in Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter” video in 2000 and later in “All for You.” She credits working with Jackson for aiding her career, allowing her to later work with many other artists and giving her the experience necessary to co-star in the dance film Step Up in 2006 with Channing Tatum.

In 2006, she starred in Take the Lead, and went on starring, in August 2008, in the Lifetime made-for-television film Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal. She portrayed the role of disciplinarian Coach Emma Carr in that film that follows five rule-breaking teens.

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In November 2009, she appeared in the straight-to-DVD comedy American Virgin alongside Rob Schneider.

In March 2011, Dewan was cast in the NBC pilot of The Playboy Club. In May 2011, NBC picked up the series for a full season. She portrayed the role of Bunny Janie, a provocative Playboy bunny who works at a Playboy Club in Chicago in 1961.

The series premiered on September 19 to 5.2 million viewers with mixed reviews from critics. Due to low ratings, NBC canceled the series after just three episodes in October 2011.


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In November 2011, Dewan starred in the film The Jerk Theory. This was first released in Germany in 2009. It was later released in the United States in November 2011.

Dewan appeared in the romantic-comedy film 10 Years, produced by her then-husband Channing Tatum. The film was released on September 14, 2012. That same year, she appeared as Teresa Morrison in American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season of the horror television series.


In 2013, Dewan began starring in the Lifetime series Witches of East End as Freya Beauchamp, one of the lead characters.  In late 2015, she took a recurring role in the CBS series Supergirl as Lucy Lane. 

She hosted NBC’s World of Dance for the first two seasons of the series and recently appeared on Fox’s The Resident. Her upcoming projects include The Wedding Year, Berlin, I Love You and Soundtrack.  She also stars in an upcoming Netflix musical series, which title is yet to be announced.  

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In October 2018, it was confirmed that Dewan is in a relationship with actor Steve Kazee. On September 24, 2019, it was announced that the couple is expecting their first child together.

Dewan is an animal rights activist, a vegan, and an ambassador for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where she resides. She is the author of Gracefully You, Finding Beauty and Balance in the Everydaywhich she released just a few weeks ago.

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