Portia Lee James DeGeneres, known professionally by her pseudonym Portia de Rossi, is a famous Australian-American model, actor, and philanthropist. She changed her name legally at the age of 15, taking the name ‘Portia’ from the Shakespearean play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and adopting the Italian title ‘de Rossi’ which she found to be glamorous. Portia believes that it was the most daring thing she has ever done and stated that the urgency to change her name was triggered by her inner conflict with her sexual identity. Portia began her journey in the film industry with the romantic-comedy drama movie ‘Sirens,’ appearing alongside Hugh Grant. She has also acted in several American television movies and series like ‘Too Something,’ ‘Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher,’ ‘Arrested Development,’ and ‘Better Off Ted.’ She gained massive popularity by playing the role of a Boston- based lawyer named ‘Nelle Porter’ in a comedy drama TV series titled ‘Ally McBeal.’ Her character provided the main comic relief in the series.
Childhood & Early Life
Portia was born Amanda Lee Rogers on 31 January 1973, in Horsham, Victoria, Australia, to Barry Rogers and Margaret Rogers. She was raised in Geelong, Australia. Her father passed away when Portia was just nine years old. Hence, her mother started working as a medical representative to raise Portia and her brother.
As her mother was struggling to provide for the family, Portia began working at the tender age of 11. She commenced her career in the entertainment industry by working as a model and actor for television commercials and print media.
After completing her graduation from ‘Melbourne Girls Grammar School,’ Portia started attending the ‘University of Melbourne.’ She took up law at the university while pursuing her modeling and acting career.
Her performances in the television commercials caught the attention of a casting director. Subsequently, she was auditioned and selected to perform in the film ‘Sirens’ where she played the role of ‘Giddy,’ one of the three gorgeous models.
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Career in Television
Portia has acted in several American sitcoms like ‘Too Something’ ‘Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher,’ and ‘Veronica’s Closet.’
She acted in the television movie ‘Astoria’ and also performed as ‘Lana Collins’ in the television movie ‘Breed Apart.’ She also performed as a guest star in the ‘Twilight Zone’ television series.
Portia moved to California to consolidate her career in acting and got to play the role of a cold-hearted attorney named ‘Nelle Porter’ (the classic ‘Ice Queen’) in a legal comedy-drama television series titled ‘Ally McBeal.’ Her role in the TV series increased her popularity among the American audience.
‘Ally McBeal’ provided Portia the right opportunity to showcase her acting talent. In 1999, Portia along with the cast of the series won the ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards’ for ‘Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.’
Rossi auditioned in 2003 for the role of ‘Lindsay Bluth Funke’ in the American sitcom ‘Arrested Development’ and she was immediately chosen to play the character. The sitcom revolves around the Bluth family who live a lavish lifestyle.
In ‘Arrested Development,’ Portia plays the role of a pampered and materialistic girl named ‘Lindsay’ who continuously tries to seek attention. In 2004, Rossi won the ‘TV Land Award’ under the ‘Future Classic Award’ category along with her co-stars. She also received the ‘Golden Satellite Award’ under the ‘Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical’ category in 2005 for her performance in the sitcom.
In 2003, Portia played ‘Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’ in the television film ‘America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story.’ Carolyn is the wife of John F. Kennedy Jr and also worked as a publicist for ‘Calvin and Klein.’
Rossi delivered incredible performances in series, such as ‘Nip/ Tuck’ where she played ‘Olivia Lord,’ a supportive mother and an expert in Eastern medicine. She portrayed ‘Veronica Palmer’ in the satirical sitcom ‘Better Off Ted.’ In the television special ‘Mockingbird Lane,’ she played ‘Lily Munster,’ a vampire and an elegant matriarch of the Munster family.
She played the role of ‘Elizabeth North’ in the political thriller television series ‘Scandal.’ In 2017, she performed the role of ‘Cora Wolf’ in a horror comedy web television series titled ‘Santa Clarita Diet.’ The same year, she lent her voice to one of the episodes of the animated sitcom ‘Family Guy.’
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Career in Films
After her debut film ‘Sirens,’ Portia moved to Los Angeles to build her acting career. Since then, she has featured in several films like ‘The Woman in the Moon,’ ‘Scream 2,’ ‘Stigmata,’ ‘Who Is Cletis Tout?,’ ‘Dead & Breakfast,’ and ‘The Shift.’ Portia also performed as narrator ‘Beth Halloway Morgan’ in the comedy film ‘Now Add Honey.’
Portia is a philanthropist at heart and has supported many charitable organizations like ‘Best Friend’s Animal Society,’ ‘Farm Sanctuary,’ ‘FHI 360,’ ‘Locks of Love,’ ‘PROJECT ZAMBI,’ ‘Save The Music Foundation,’ ‘The Art of Elysium,’ ‘The Gentle Barn,’ ‘Alley Cats,’ and ‘The Humane Society.’
Personal Life & Legacy
Portia was married to documentary filmmaker Mel Metcalfe. The couple separated within three years as Mel had an extramarital affair.
As far as her sexuality is concerned, Portia came out in public as a lesbian in 2005 and went on to marry television host, comedian, producer, and writer Ellen DeGeneres in 2008.
As of 2019, Portia’s estimated net-worth is around $20 million.
De Rossi has stated that she suffered from anorexia nervosa when she was in her teens. It was her rigorous training that helped her overcome this eating disorder.
She has been featured on many magazine covers, including ‘Shape,’ ‘Out,’ etc.
Portia has also written an autobiography titled ‘Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss & Gain.’
She has provided backing vocals to her ex-girlfriend Francesca Gregorini’s album ‘Sequel.’
She loves dressing up and often wears dresses and clothes that make her feel beautiful and feminine. She is very satisfied with the fact that she can choose to wear a tank top and jeans whenever she feels like.
Besides her acting, Portia is admired for her flawless skin and her very long wavy blonde hair.
At present, she is a very healthy eater and never denies herself of any food items.
Portia shares her birthday with her grandmother as well as her ‘Arrested Development’ co-star Jessica Walter.