Jennifer Love Hewitt: Inside Her Life And Career From Child Star To Adulthood

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Jennifer Love Hewitt has been in the public eye since before she was a teenager and, unlike so many child actors, she made it through to adulthood unscathed. Also unlike many kid stars, Hewitt has continued to act consistently as an adult, managing to remain a celebrity that people know and love. In addition to acting, Hewitt has dabbled in singing and writing, but it is her onscreen charisma that has kept her star afloat for roughly three decades. Since her first role back in 1992, Hewitt has amassed over 60 credits, per her IMDb, which includes a number of long-running television shows that kept her employed for years on end.

Hewitt got her start on Disney's "Kids Incorporated," but it was Fox's "Party of Five" that made her a household name. Around this time, she also became a popular film actor, with leads in movies such as "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Can't Hardly Wait." In fact, she became so notable that her "Party of Five" character was spun off for her own show, called "Time of Your Life." Since then, Hewitt has starred in many other television series' — including "Ghost Whisperer," "The Client List," "Criminal Minds," and "9-1-1" — while also taking on the occasional film, like "Heartbreakers" or "Garfield." While Hewitt has never been one to exploit her personal life for press, she has also never shied away from sharing things with the public. Here are some of the most fun facts about Jennifer Love Hewitt.

She started singing before acting

Though Jennifer Love Hewitt is known around the globe because of her work in film and especially in television, acting was not Hewitt's first love. She actually began performing music before she started acting, as both singing and dancing were very early interests for the star. According to TV Guide, Hewitt began singing at age 3, and by 6 she was performing on stage at events. Her first performance was a rendition of Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All," which Hewitt performed at a livestock show in a barn, per the Manila Standard. The Texan native then continued to perform locally and even toured Russia with her dance troop at one point, per TV Guide.

True fans probably remember Hewitt's appearance in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit," where she was a member of a high school chorus, but many do not know that she released her first album in 1992, a year before that — because the album was only distributed in Japan, per Contact Music. She then released two poorly received American albums — "Let's Go Bang" and "Jennifer Love Hewitt" — before finding minor success with the song "How Do I Deal," which was on the "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" soundtrack. In 2002, Hewitt released the album "BareNaked," which peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard 200 chart. She seems to have all but given up on music, as the last time Hewitt released anything was a 2013 cover song recorded for "The Client List."

Jennifer Love Hewitt moved to Hollywood at 10

Though you would be hard-pressed to find any remaining hint of an accent, Jennifer Love Hewitt was born in Texas, which is also where she spent her first decade of life. She was born in Waco, after which her family moved to Killeen, per the Manila Standard. At age 10, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles so that Hewitt could start to audition, after a talent scout suggested it, per Biography. The move was made easier by the fact that Hewitt's brother was significantly older and thus an adult at the time, and by the absence of her father, since her parents split when she was only a baby.

According to Cosmopolitan, Hewitt and her mom made a pact that they would stay in California until they weren't enjoying it anymore. She quickly started landing commercials and appeared in advertisements for brands like Barbie and L.A. Gear, in addition to her role on "Kids Incorporated," which she also started that first year in town (in 1989). After that came another show, "Shaky Ground," bit parts in TV movies and film, and her first album. She appeared on two other failed television series — "The Byrds of Paradise" in 1994 and "McKenna" in 1994 and 1995 — before landing her breakthrough role on "Party of Five," where she played Sarah Reeves, girlfriend to Scott Wolf's Bailey Salinger. She appeared in Seasons 2 through 6 of the show, from 1995 to 1999, before leaving for her ill-fated spin-off.

She was incredibly close to her late mom

Time and time again, we have seen child actors run into trouble — with partying, addiction, the law, and so forth — but for those who are able to hold it together despite their early fame, it is often a credit to a strong family unit. For Jennifer Love Hewitt, it was really all about her mom, who was so supportive of her dreams that she moved her across the country to pursue them. The pair were so close that Hewitt's mother, Patricia, accompanied her on press tours even after she entered adulthood, per Cinema.com. "You know, I got extraordinarily lucky to have a great mom who really guided me, not only as a person, but as a businesswoman," she explained to fellow former child actor Drew Barrymore (who had a famously less stable home life) on "The Drew Barrymore Show."

Hewitt has credited her mother with keeping her from making some of the same mistakes she saw her peers make, and she once said that she knew many young actors who went down the wrong path once they surrounded themselves with bad influences (per Cinema.com). Hewitt's mother died of cancer in 2012, at age 67, when Hewitt was in her early 30s, per the Los Angeles Times. "The kids and I will look at pics of Mimi and all her adventures and I will feel so grateful that she was mine if only for awhile," Hewitt wrote in a lengthy Instagram message on the 10-year anniversary of Patricia's death.

The star is a giant Audrey Hepburn fan

It is not uncommon for actors to have one or more thespians to whom they look up, and it is rare to do a deep dive on an actor and not find them rattling off their list of influences somewhere. For Jennifer Love Hewitt, that major influence was Audrey Hepburn, who she has said motivated her to get into the entertainment industry in the first place, per Cinema.com. In what would surely be a shock to her younger self, Hewitt actually got to play Hepburn when she starred in "The Audrey Hepburn Story," a made-for-TV movie that traced Hepburn's life from childhood to superstardom. Unfortunately, the film — which Hewitt also co-executive produced — was critically panned when it came out in 2000. It has only a 20% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.

A couple of years after appearing as Hepburn, Hewitt was named an "Honorary Godmother" for the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund, placing her on the charity's advisory board, per CBS News. Per CBS News, she was also at one point set to star as a Hepburn-obsessed teen in the film "Why Can't I Be Audrey Hepburn?," based upon a script by Ryan Murphy (via the Advocate) — though the film never got made. She has also dressed up as Hepburn in her everyday life on at least one occasion. For her 30th birthday, Hewitt costumed herself like Holly Golightly, the iconic character Hepburn played in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and then literally ate breakfast (a croissant) at Tiffany's, per People.

She has spoken out about inappropriate press questions

After her fame skyrocketed on "Party of Five," Jennifer Love Hewitt's looks became a common topic in the press. And as she began to take on edgier roles that showcased her sexuality and highlighted her body, celebrity news outlets started devoting even more time to discussing her physique. But because it was the norm at the time, she assumed that it was okay for reporters to ask her sexist, demeaning questions. "Now that I'm older, I think, 'Gosh, I wish that I had known how inappropriate that was so I could have defended myself somehow or just not answered those questions,'" she explained to Vulture in 2021. "I laughed it off a lot of the time, and I wish maybe I hadn't."

In the Vulture interview, Hewitt said that watching "Framing Britney Spears" helped her to see how unsuitably she was treated by both individual reporters and the press as a whole. She also stated that the questions typically focused specifically on her breasts, and that it began when she appeared in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and escalated from there. The film "Heartbreakers," in particular, highlighted Hewitt's physicality and had her wearing costumes so tiny that people on set had to watch to make sure they stayed in place — which only amplified the attention. "With 'Heartbreakers,' that was a big part of it. I was disappointed that it was all about body stuff, because I had really worked hard in that movie to do a good job as an actress," she said.

Jennifer Love Hewitt refuses to do nudity

Despite the media's fascination with her breasts — or maybe because of it — Jennifer Love Hewitt has never filmed a nude scene. Because her role in "Heartbreakers" was quite sexually suggestive, this was a question that came up when she did press for the film. Though Hewitt told Vulture that her dresses were small enough that she originally thought they were shirts, she has also said that she was comfortable with showing that amount of skin but did not feel more was required. "I've never been talked into revealing more than I would want to. I haven't found a reason yet where nudity is justified in a movie," she said at the time, via Cinema.com. More than two decades later, she has stuck to her guns and refused to undress for the camera. 

Hewitt's commitment to her beliefs is actually quite impressive, given her role in "The Client List," wherein she played a single mom who takes a job in a day spa known for its erotic services. Because the show aired on Lifetime (as did the television film on which it was based), Hewitt did not have to make the hard choice of whether to go naked, but she has admitted she would not have done it even if the show had aired on a different network. "That's not something that I feel particularly comfortable with," she told Collider. "I also think that it's sexier not to show everything. I feel that people's imaginations can do way more."

The actor was close friends with Betty White

It would be almost impossible to grow up in Hollywood and not have friends in the entertainment business, but we often do not get a lot of insight about celebrity friendships (outside of the most visible ones). And since we stan an unexpected connection, the fact that Jennifer Love Hewitt was extremely close friends with Betty White absolutely thrills us. In an appearance she made on "The Drew Barrymore Show," Hewitt said she had regular "pizza and vodka nights" with White and that one of the drunkest nights she ever had happened with the icon. "She also loves hot dogs, and she cheats at Scrabble horribly. But she's Betty White, so you just let her win," Hewitt said.

When White died, Hewitt posted a tribute to the star on her Instagram. In the video, she detailed how the two met — on a 2011 movie, "The Lost Valentine" — and through tears, explained their deep bond. "When I was a kid, I watched 'Golden Girls' with my grandmother and I fell in love with Betty White," she said in the video. "Then I got to work with her, and I fell in love with her for real. I had the greatest honor and pleasure of being really close with her and calling her a really, really good friend –- one of my best friends." 

She met her husband on set

Jennifer Love Hewitt met her eventual husband Brian Hallisay when the two appeared in the pilot for the NBC show "Love Bites," which was not picked up to series, per Closer Weekly. They clearly liked each other enough, since Hallisay was then cast on Hewitt's 2012 show "The Client List," on which she was also an executive producer. "It's great. He plays my husband, in the series," she told Collider at the time. "He's there and he's not there, and that will be explained, as the episodes unfold. We've gotten really lucky to have really great actors who are really amazing at their parts." The two started secretly dating, and from there, things moved very quickly.

Hewitt and Hallisay announced their pregnancy in June 2013 (per the Los Angeles Times), and a day later, announced their engagement. According to an appearance she made on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," the pair married less than a week prior to welcoming their first child, daughter Autumn. Since then, they have had two more children — sons Atticus and Aidan — and have even appeared together onscreen again when Hallisay guest starred as the abusive ex-husband of Hewitt's character on "9-1-1." "The best thing I have ever done will always be marrying him, having our kids and watching them change and grow everyday," she posted on Instagram in May 2018.

Before marriage, Hewitt dated many famous men

Judging by appearances, Jennifer Love Hewitt found the love of her life and is living in domestic bliss. But prior to her marriage to Brian Hallisay, Hewitt was famously unlikely in love. Her dating life was so fascinating to the public that Hewitt even wrote a book about dating, 2010's "The Day I Shot Cupid: My Name Is Jennifer Love Hewitt and I'm a Love-Aholic." Part of the media's fascination with Hewitt's love life comes from the fact that she has dated mostly famous men, which means that a lot of her relationships have played out in public. There have long been rumors that John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland" was even written about Hewitt (the pair dated in 2002), but both have since denied this, per Us Weekly.

Hewitt's first celebrity relationship was with "Boy Meets World" star Will Friedle in 1996, after which she dated fellow teen idol Andrew Keegan (who is now the leader of a spiritual group, per E! News). She famously dated Carson Daly in 1997 — he even inked her name on his leg, according to Us Weekly — and broke up with him through the media. This was followed up by actor Wilmer Valderrama and then late boy bander Rich Cronin, singer Enrique Iglesias, and actor Patrick Wilson, per Us Weekly. According to People, Hewitt was also once engaged to her "Ghost Whisperer" co-star Ross McCall. Her other boyfriends have included actors Jamie Kennedy, Kip Pardue, Will Estes, and Alex Beh.

She thinks motherhood helped her acting

As previously stated, Jennifer Love Hewitt has three children with her husband Brian Hallisay. Autumn was born in November 2013, right after the pair got married, and they opted to forgo having a night nurse, a nanny, or any other outside help, per People. Second-born Atticus arrived in June 2015, and Aidan came into the world in September 2021. Hewitt seemingly adores being a mom, and she sweetly shares about her kids and home life on social media — like the elaborate pumpkins she crafts for each of her kids every Halloween.

Though most would argue that juggling kids and a career is extremely difficult, having babies has provided an unexpected boost for Hewitt's creative process. In 2019, she told Us Weekly that her children have made her more vulnerable which, in turn, has translated to her acting. "It's been a really interesting gift because your job as an actor is to crack yourself open as much as possible and give that to people," she said. "I think before whereas I had to imagine what that was like, now I actually feel that on a daily basis in good ways and in bad ways ... It's a much more accessible thing for me now in a way that I didn't know was possible."

She enjoys salsa and pole dancing

According to TV Guide, Jennifer Love Hewitt started taking dance classes — tap, ballet, and jazz — as a very young child, before she even hit Hollywood. Unsurprisingly, she has maintained that love for dance as an adult, though her preferred styles have become less traditional. In 2010, she talked to Digital Spy about how she had incorporated pole dancing into her exercise routine, after taking lessons for her role in "The Client List." "I have a pole in my house now and I'm dedicated to it. It's good, it's part of my regiment now and you get an amazing shape," she explained at the time. "It works muscles you didn't even know you had. There's just something great about being able to do that."

We have no clue if Hewitt still has a pole, but we do know that she has not given up on her dancing because, in a 2021 appearance on "The Drew Barrymore Show," she confessed to being big into salsa. "I have a big butt and so, I had to figure out something to do with it, and salsa dancing was a natural fit," she explained to the host with a laugh. "I've been doing it forever, and I just love it so much. It's really fun." Hewitt likes dancing so much that she even once told Entertainment Tonight that she was interested in being on "Dancing With the Stars," and we are dumbstruck as to why producers have not yet made it happen!

Jennifer Love Hewitt likes to send gifts to other celebs

We have always felt that Jennifer Love Hewitt comes across as genuinely nice in interviews, and this can be confirmed by some of her stories. In particular, Hewitt appears to have a thing for sending other celebs notes and gifts, and we are all for it. When she heard Matt Damon say that he did not even own a bed, Hewitt went out and bought him one. "I thought, 'He can travel with it, then it's always his safe place.' I didn't go over it with anyone, I should've been like, 'Hey, should I send this to Matt Damon?' and they would've been like, 'No you're crazy, don't do it!'" she said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!." She added that once she found out he was filming in Paris, that's where she sent the bed.

Though Hewitt expressed disappointment that Damon never reached out to thank her, her gift to Gwyneth Paltrow led to a very different relationship. Hewitt sent Paltrow a letter after she won her Oscar for "Shakespeare in Love," to which Paltrow responded with her own letter. "For like probably a year and a half after that, every time I saw her somewhere — Golden Globes, whatever it was — she would come across the room and say, 'I just want to thank you again for that letter and those flowers you sent me, it really meant a lot to me,' and she just always made the time to do that and I have never forgotten," Hewitt told "Entertainment Tonight."

The star found one 9-1-1 storyline especially cathartic

Like most procedurals, the storylines on Fox's "9-1-1" can be very out there, and because it is a Ryan Murphy show, things can get especially extra. But even though the emergency cases sometimes push the boundaries of believability, the personal situations the characters on the show face are rooted in very real and relatable issues. Jennifer Love Hewitt's character, Maddie Buckley, has dealt with an abusive ex-husband (who she later killed and who was played by her real-life husband) and a dead brother that she kept a secret from her living brother, firefighter Evan Buckley (Oliver Stark). Despite the darkness of those two storylines, it was a pregnancy-related storyline that has meant the most to Hewitt.

To accommodate Hewitt's third pregnancy, the "9-1-1" writers wrote her character off the show after she gave birth to her daughter, Jee-Yun. This absence was explained by Maddie's dark struggle with postpartum depression, and after a scary incident where she fell asleep while the baby was in the bath. Because Maddie felt like she was a danger to her child, she left town. For Hewitt, the storyline, though dramatized in the typical Murphy way, was relatable. "I think it's super important. I definitely personally had my worst postpartum after this pregnancy, so to come back so soon after that and be able to give those real things to Maddie has been very cathartic for me and really nice to be able to represent that for all the women out there," she told People.

Jennifer Love Hewitt designed a line of maternity wear

Tapping into her mom identity, Jennifer Love Hewitt took a step into the fashion world when she decided to design a line of maternity wear back in 2014, after her first pregnancy. "We're sort of in this odd time in our society right now where women are not being nice to each other," she explained to E! News. "I thought, 'What a beautiful place to put my energy?' Make a line for women, by a woman, who actually wants them to feel great and feel beautiful and look fantastic and look better than everyone walking around, especially at a time when you cannot feel very good about yourself."

Hewitt's line was called "L By Jennifer Love Hewitt," and it was created for the company A Pea in the Pod, which sells products for pregnant women, as well as new mothers. According to People, Hewitt designed 15 pieces for the brand, including leggings she herself wore around Hollywood. "These are the perfect maternity item — they stretch and move with you and have that added embellishment makes you feel instantly chic," she said in the People interview. "You can dress them up or down and feel great wearing them. I like to pair them with a tee or tunic for during the day and then I can throw on a leather jacket and booties for the night time." Hewitt has not done anything in fashion since, probably because she has been so busy with acting, producing, and her home life.