Portia de Rossi

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Portia de Rossi
De Rossi in 2019
Amanda Lee Rogers

(1973-01-31) 31 January 1973 (age 50)
Other namesPortia Lee James DeGeneres
  • Australia
  • United States
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
Occupation(s)Business executive, former actress
Years active1994–present
  • Mel Metcalfe
    (m. 1996; div. 1999)
  • (m. 2008)

Portia Lee James DeGeneres (born Amanda Lee Rogers; 31 January 1973), known professionally as Portia de Rossi, is an Australian-American former actress. She played Nelle Porter on the American drama series Ally McBeal (1998–2002), for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award, Lindsay Bluth Fünke on the American television sitcom Arrested Development (2003–2006, 2013, 2018–2019), and Elizabeth North on the American political thriller series Scandal (2014–2017).[1][2][3][4] She is the founder and CEO of the art company General Public.[5]

She also portrayed Olivia Lord on the American television drama series Nip/Tuck (2007–2009) and Veronica Palmer on the American television sitcom Better Off Ted (2009–2010). De Rossi is married to comedian, actress, and television host Ellen DeGeneres.

Early life[edit]

Portia de Rossi was born Amanda Lee Rogers in Horsham, Victoria, Australia,[6] the daughter of Margaret, a medical receptionist, and Barry Rogers.[citation needed] Her father died when she was nine years old.[7] She grew up in Grovedale, a suburb of Geelong, Victoria, and modelled for print and some TV commercials as a child. In 1988, at age 15, she adopted the name Portia de Rossi. In 2005, she said that she had done so to reinvent herself, using the given name of Portia, a character from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, and an Italian last name. She was educated at Geelong Grammar School and the University of Melbourne, where she studied law.[8]


De Rossi in 1999

De Rossi's first significant role was as a young and impressionable maid in the Australian 1994 film Sirens. Soon afterward, she moved to Los Angeles and won guest roles on several TV shows and a permanent role in Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher, before landing a part in the film Scream 2. During her time in the United States, de Rossi worked to drop her Australian accent.[9]

De Rossi garnered 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? alongside Christian Slater. From 2003 to 2006, de Rossi starred as Lindsay Bluth Fünke on Fox Television's Arrested Development. She next 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. That same year, she portrayed an Australian reporter who inspires a protest against Frank Sinatra during a concert tour in The Night We Called It a Day.

In 2005 de Rossi portrayed Zela, a fortune-teller, in the Wes Craven thriller Cursed. From 2007 to 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 in a cameo alongside other cast members of the series.[10]

De Rossi in 2007

She ranked 69th in Stuff Magazine's 100 Sexiest Women, 31 in Femme Fatales' Sexiest Women of 2003 list, and 24 in Maxim's 100 Sexiest Women List in 2004; in late 2006, the magazine Blender listed her as one of the hottest women of film and TV.[11] In May 2007, she was featured as one of 100 Most Beautiful in a People 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, one of whose executive producers was Ellen DeGeneres, and which 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."[12] But The Smart One was not picked up for the 2012–2013 season.

Six years after the series was canceled by Fox, filming for a revived fourth season of Arrested Development began in August 2012, and de Rossi reprised her role as Lindsay Bluth Fünke. This fourth season consisted of 15 new episodes, which debuted on Netflix on 26 May 2013. Each episode focused 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 that de Rossi was joining season 4 of Scandal, in the role of Elizabeth North.[13] Her recurring role was upgraded to a series regular for the fifth season. In April 2017, in season six, de Rossi's character was killed off in a golf club attack. De Rossi herself made the decision to depart the series.[2]

In May 2018, de Rossi announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she would be retiring from acting, though she later elaborated that she would make an exception for future seasons of Arrested Development.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

De Rossi and her spouse, Ellen DeGeneres, in September 2012

De Rossi was married to documentary filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999, initially part of a plan to get a green card, though she did not go through with the plan. She said about the marriage that "it just obviously wasn't right for me."[8] In a 2010 interview on Good Morning America, she said that as a young actress, she was fearful of being exposed as a lesbian.[16]

From 2001 to 2004, de Rossi dated director 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.[8] 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 DeGeneres, whom she met backstage at an awards show. 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 in 2008.[17] They were married at their Beverly Hills home on 16 August 2008, witnessed by their mothers and 17 other guests.[18] On 6 August 2010, de Rossi filed a petition to legally change her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres.[19] The petition was granted on 23 September 2010.[20] She became a United States citizen in September 2011.[21]

In 2010, de Rossi published her autobiography, titled Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, within which she wrote about the turmoil that she had experienced in her life, including suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia and being misdiagnosed with lupus.[22] She had struggled with the eating disorders for four years while filming Ally McBeal.[23][24] To promote the book, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

DeGeneres and de Rossi both became vegans in 2008, though DeGeneres said in December 2018 that she is no longer vegan. The couple have adopted several rescue animals.[25][26]

In 2017, de Rossi tweeted that actor Steven Seagal had exposed himself to her while she was auditioning for one of his films.[27][28]


De Rossi supports a variety of charitable organizations, including Locks of Love, a group that provides human hair wigs 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 organization, and The Art of Elysium,[31] an art foundation for terminally ill children. De Rossi also supports Alley Cat Allies,[32] an organization dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of cats.[33] De Rossi and DeGeneres are supporters of The Gentle Barn,[34] a California sanctuary for abused animals.



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Sirens Giddy
1995 The Woman in the Moon Shauna
1997 Scream 2 Sorority Sister Murphy
1998 Girl Carla Sparrow
1999 The Invisibles Joy
1999 American Intellectuals Sarah
1999 Stigmata Jennifer Kelliho
2001 Women in Film Gina
2001 Who Is Cletis Tout? Tess Donnelly
2003 Two Girls from Leemore Blind Woman
2003 I Witness Emily Thompson
2003 The Night We Called It a Day Hilary Hunter
2004 Dead & Breakfast Kelly
2005 Cursed Zela
2009 The Shift Denise Moore [35]
2014 Unity Narrator Documentary
2015 Now Add Honey Beth Halloway


Year Title Role Notes
1995–1996 Too Something Maria Hunter Main cast; 22 episodes
1996–1997 Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher Elana Lewis Main cast; 22 episodes
1997 Veronica's Closet Carolyn Episode: "Veronica's First Date"
1998 Astoria TV movie
A Breed Apart Lana Collins TV movie
1998–2002 Ally McBeal Nelle Porter Main cast; 89 episodes
1999 Ally Nelle Porter Main cast; 12 episodes; Ally McBeal spin-off
2002 The Glow Jackie Lawrence TV movie
The Twilight Zone Laurel Janus Episode: "Dead Man's Eyes"
2003 America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy TV movie
Mister Sterling Lauren Barnes 2 episodes: "Wish List" and "Final Passage"
Arrested Development Lindsay Bluth Fünke Main cast; 70 episodes
2007–2009 Nip/Tuck Olivia Lord Recurring cast (season 5); 10 episodes
2009–2010 Better Off Ted Veronica Palmer Main cast; 26 episodes
2012 Mockingbird Lane Lily Munster Pilot
2014 Sean Saves the World Jill Episode: "The Joy of Ex"
2014–2017 Scandal Elizabeth North Recurring (season 4), main cast (Seasons 5–6)[36]
2017 Santa Clarita Diet Dr. Wolf 2 episodes: "The Book!" and "Baka, Bile and Baseball Bats"
Doc McStuffins Edie (voice) Episode: The Emergency Plan"
Family Guy Bonnie Swanson (prank call voice) Episode: "A House Full of Peters"
2022 The Kardashians Herself Episode: "Who Is Kim K?"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1999 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Calista Flockhart, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Greg Germann, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jane Krakowski, Vonda Shepard, Lucy Liu, Peter MacNicol, and Gil Bellows Ally McBeal Won
2000 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Calista Flockhart, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Greg Germann, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jane Krakowski, Vonda Shepard, Lucy Liu, Peter MacNicol, and Gil Bellows Nominated
2001 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Calista Flockhart, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Greg Germann, Lisa Nicole Carson, Jane Krakowski, Vonda Shepard, Lucy Liu, Peter MacNicol, and Gil Bellows Nominated
2004 TV Land Award Future Classic Award Shared with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, David Cross, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, Mitchell Hurwitz (executive producer), and David Nevins (executive producer) Arrested Development Won
Golden Satellite Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Comedy or Musical Nominated
2005 Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, David Cross, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walters Nominated
2006 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, David Cross, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walters Nominated
2014 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Shared with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, John Beard, Michael Cera, David Cross, Isla Fisher, Tony Hale, Ron Howard, Liza Minnelli, Alia Shawkat, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, and Henry Winkler Nominated


  1. ^ Samantha Highfill (23 July 2014). "Portia de Rossi joins season 4 of 'Scandal'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Wagmeister, Elizabeth (21 April 2017). "'Scandal' Star, Shonda Rhimes React to Major Death (SPOILERS)".
  3. ^ "Celebrity Bios: Portia de Rossi". Us Magazine. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Geelong's Portia Marries Ellen". Geelong Advertiser. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  5. ^ Scheffler, Laura (26 May 2018). "Portia de Rossi on Becoming The CEO of Her Newly Launched Art Company, General Public". Haute Living. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  6. ^ London Academy of Media and Film TV. "Australian Actress: Portia de Rossi". Archived from the original on 1 March 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Portia de Rossi on Ellen". Youtube. Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Kort, Michele (29 August 2005). "Portia heart & soul". The Advocate. Here Media. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ "The Very Private Portia". The Age. Melbourne. 10 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Better Off Ted cast reunites for Malcolm Barrett's hip-hop video". Zap2It.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  11. ^ Errico, Mike (1 January 2007). "Hottest Women of...Film and TV!". Archived from the original on 16 May 2007.
  12. ^ "ABC to air Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's "The Smart One"". Unreality TV. 6 February 2012. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  13. ^ Johns, Nikara (23 July 2014). "Portia de Rossi Joins 'Scandal' in 'Top Secret Arc'". Variety. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  14. ^ Portia de Rossi confirms on 'Ellen' that she has decided to quit acting
  15. ^ Portia de Rossi Talks What's Next After Acting
  16. ^ Olivia Katrandjian (3 November 2010). "Portia de Rossi: 'I Would Starve Myself Daily'". ABC News. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  17. ^ Johnson, Zach (26 January 2012). "Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's Road to Romance". Us Weekly.
  18. ^ Singh, Anita (18 August 2008). "Television presenter Ellen DeGeneres marries lesbian lover Portia de Rossi". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  19. ^ TMZ Staff. "Portia to Ellen: I Want to Be a DeGeneres!". TMZ. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  20. ^ "Portia de Rossi takes wife Ellen DeGeneres' name". USA Today. 23 September 2010.
  21. ^ "Portia Becomes a U.S. Citizen!". Ellen.warnerbros.com. Archived from the original on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  22. ^ de Rossi, Portia (November 2010). Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain. Atria. ISBN 978-1-4391-7778-5.
  23. ^ Van Meter, Jonathan. "Disappearing Act: How did Portia de Rossi withstand the pressures of Hollywood". Vogue. Archived from the original on 17 May 2005. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Alt URL
  24. ^ Freydkin, Donna (13 November 2007). "Portia de Rossi nips at new TV challenges". USA Today.
  25. ^ Juliette Steen (29 April 2016). "Famous Vegans And Vegetarians (Some of These Celebrities Might Surprise You)". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 13 May 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  26. ^ "A Heart for Animals: Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi on The Celebrity Spot". 25 October 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  27. ^ Gilchrest, Tracy E. (8 November 2017). "Portia de Rossi: Steven Seagal Sexually Harassed Me During an Audition". The Advocate.
  28. ^ "Portia de Rossi accuses Steven Seagal of sexual harassment". BBC. 9 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Locks of Love FAQ". Locksoflove.org. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. 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". Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  33. ^ "Alley Cat Allies – About Us". Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. 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. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  36. ^ Michael Ausiello (15 May 2015). "'Scandal' Season 5 Cast: Portia de Ross a Series Regular, Liz Chief of Staff – TVLine". TVLine. Retrieved 29 August 2015.

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