Childhood & Early Life
She was born on April 25, 1975, in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England, to an English father and an Irish mother. Her father was an architect. She has a brother too.
As a child, she relocated with her family to Glenview, Illinois, following which she stopped speaking with an English accent. She studied at ‘Glenbrook South High School’ and ‘Grinnell College.’ While in school, she played lead roles in several school productions and was also a peer counselor.
In 1993, she won a poetry-reading championship organized by the interscholastic speech and debate organization ‘National Forensic League’ (presently ‘National Speech and Debate Association’).
In 1997, she was honored by the ‘Phi Beta Kappa’ and obtained a ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degree in English and theatre. Meanwhile, in the spring of 1996, while still in college, she studied at the ‘National Theater Institute’ of ‘The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center,’ for a semester.
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She was understudying a role in the ‘Broadway’ production of ‘Ah, Wilderness!’ when she garnered her debut big-screen role in the American supernatural horror ‘The Rage: Carrie 2,’ which released on March 12, 1999. Her performance in the film earned her a nomination for the ‘Saturn Award’ for the ‘Best Performance by a Younger Actor/Actress,’ in 2000.
Although ‘The Rage: Carrie 2’ failed to make an impression, both among critics and audiences, it gave her enough recognition to pave a successful path in the world of entertainment. Another notable work of this actor was her performance in an episode of the ‘ABC’ drama ‘Wasteland,’ titled ‘Indian Summer,’ in 1999, which marked her TV debut.
Between 2001 and 2003, she played ‘Francie Jarvis’ in the American comedy–drama TV series ‘Gilmore Girls.’ While she appeared in guest roles in the second season of the series, her character recurred in 4 episodes in the third season.
She starred as ‘Talia’ in the American dark-comedy film ‘Happy Campers.’ The film was screened on January 21, 2001, at the ‘Sundance Film Festival’ and had a straight-to-DVD release by ‘New Line Cinema,’ the following year.
The Michael Walker-directed psychological thriller ‘Chasing Sleep,’ featured her in the starring role of ‘Sadie,’ opposite Jeff Daniels. The film premiered on video on September 16, 2001, after being screened for a year in various film festivals such as the ‘Toronto International Film Festival.’
Her first significant TV role was that of the adult version of ‘Lisa Clarke,’ daughter of a half-alien, in the Steven Spielberg-produced science-fiction miniseries ‘Taken.’ The series aired on ‘Sci Fi,’ from December 2, 2002, to December 13, 2002, and garnered immense critical acclaim, thereby strengthening her reputation as an actor.
‘Taken’ won a ‘Golden Globe Award’ and an ‘Emmy Award’ while Emily’s brilliant performance in it earned her yet another ‘Saturn Award’ nomination by the ‘Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films’ in 2003, in the category of ‘Best Actress in a Television Series.’
She appeared in single-episode roles of notable TV series such as ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ (2003), ‘CSI: Miami’ (2004), and ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ (2006), before earning one of the most memorable roles of her career in the American comedy–drama TV series ‘Men in Trees.’
‘Men in Trees’ premiered on ‘ABC’ on September 12, 2006, and ran for two seasons, encompassing 36 episodes, till June 11, 2008. Her character, ‘Annie O'Donnell,’ was a fan of relationship coach, author, and radio host ‘Marin Frist,’ played by Anne Heche.
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She was part of the ‘Off-Broadway’ debut of the play ‘Becky Shaw,’ written by Gina Gionfriddo. On December 16, 2008, the previews of the play began at the ‘Second Stage Theatre’ while it opened officially on January 8, 2009. It saw an overwhelming response at the box office and this extended its stage productions through March 15, 2009. It emerged as a finalist for the ‘Pulitzer Prize for Drama’ that year.
She essayed the recurring role of ‘Tammi,’ ex-wife of ‘Detective Bryant,’ in all five seasons of the American TV crime-drama series ‘Southland.’ The first season of the series aired on ‘NBC’ from April 9, 2009, to May 21, 2009. ‘TNT’ aired the series from its second season to its fifth season, from March 2, 2010, to April 17, 2013.
She played the recurring role of ‘Beth Young’ in the popular American TV comedy–drama and mystery series ‘Desperate Housewives.’ Her character was introduced in the second episode of its seventh season, titled ‘You Must Meet My Wife,’ aired on October 3, 2010. Her last appearance in the series was for the twenty-third episode of the eighth season, titled ‘Finishing the Hat,’ which was broadcast on May 13, 2012, and marked the 180th and the final episode of the series.
In 2014, she landed up with the recurring role of ‘Sammi Slott’ in the fourth season of the American comedy–drama TV series ‘Shameless.’ The character of ‘Slott,’ which she portrayed till sometime in 2015, became a series regular in the fifth season.
She played the recurring part of ‘Lilah Tanner’ in the ‘ABC’ crime anthology ‘American Crime,’ in 2016.
Other notable works of Emily include her roles in films such as ‘Grassroots’ (2012) and ‘Blue Jasmine’ (2013); her performances in the short films ‘Get the Dime’ (2009), ‘Date Blind,’ and ‘Eva’ (2013); and her TV series roles in ‘Royal Pains’ (2011) and ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ (2015) among others.
Emily has also been a cabaret singer. She has garnered immense acclaim, performing in the cabaret show ‘Kidding on the Square’ in various cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago, since 2010. Her CD ‘Emily Bergl Live at the Algonquin’ features her live performance on the show at the ‘Algonquin Oak Room’ in New York City.