Kissing Jessica Stein
American actress, writer and producer Heather Juergensen is perhaps best known as the writer of and for her role as Helen Cooper in the award-winning indie romance/comedy “Kissing Jessica Stein” (2001), based on a scene from the 1997 off-Broadway play by Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt called “Lipschtick.” She received a Critics Special Jury Award at the 2001 Los Angeles IFP/West Film Festival and an Independent Film nomination for her writing job. Juergensen also has acted in the films “Red Roses and Petrol” (2003), “The Haunted Mansion” (2003), “The Hammer,” (2007, also a producer) as well as in the short-lived TV series “Dr. Vegas.” She made her directorial debut with the short “The Suzy Prophecy” (2007), which she also wrote, produced and starred in.
Juergensen is the wife of writer/columnist Kevin Hench, who scripted “The Hammer.”
Childhood and Family:
Heather Julia Juergensen was born on January 2, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Stuyvesant High School and, after graduating in 1987, started writing and performing for the stage in both New York and Los Angeles. She studied Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Heather is married to Kevin Hench, a comedy writer and Fox Sports' columnist. The couple now live in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. They have two dogs.
Heather Juergensen made her first foray into the stage right after high school graduation by performing and writing for both the New York and Los Angeles production. In 1989, she starred in the short film “The Afterlife of Grandpa” (1989), which won the Special Jury Award for Best Director at the 1998 WorldFest Houston.
While attending an acting and writing workshop supported by New
York's Ensemble Studio Theater, Juergensen joined forces with fellow
attendant, actress/writer Jennifer Westfeldt, to write a series of
scenes produced off-Broadway called “Lipschtick.” The
reply to one of the scenes prompted the two to produce a film script
about two straight women who fall into a romantic relationship. The
film was acquired by a studio but not produced. They attempted to
repurchase the script rights and paid for the film's production. The
resultant, “Kissing Jessica Stein,” with Juergensen and
Westfeldt also starring as Helen Copper and Jessica Stein,
respectively, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on April 21,
2001 and picked up the Audience Award for Best Feature Film and the
Critics Special Jury Award at the festival. The romantic comedy went
on to win various awards like a 2002 Louisville Jewish Film Festival
for Best Film, a 2002 Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival, a
2003 GLAAD Media for Outstanding Film - Limited Release and a 2003
Glitter for Best Lesbian Feature. It also was nominated for two
Independent Spirit Awards, including Best First Screenplay.
2003 saw Juergensen star as twenty-something daughter Medbh on “Red Roses and Petrol,” a drama about an Irish dysfunctional family who gathers after the death of their patriarch. Tamar Simon Hoffs directed the movie based on a play by Joseph O'Connor. Among Juergensen's costars in the movie were Malcolm McDowell, Olivia Tracey, Max Beesley, Greg Ellis and Susan Lynch. The same year, she also was cast as the wife of Steve Hytner, Mrs. Silverman, in Disney's “The Haunted Mansion,” a family film starring Eddie Murphy and Terence Stamp.
Juergensen next reunited with Greg Ellis for “Cell Call” (2005), a 12-minute short helmed and scripted by Anton Linecker. The film won two Hollywood MiniDV Festival in the categories of Festival Prize for Best Sound and Best Suspense/Thriller – Short. She made guest appearance in an episode of “Dr. Vegas” called “Heal thyself” (2006).
In 2007, Juergensen offered a remarkable supporting role as Lindsay Pratt in the boxing film “The Hammer,” which was directed by “Kissing Jessica Stein” director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and scripted by husband Kevin Hench. Aside from acting, she also served as producer. Still in that same year, she directed, wrote and starred in an 11-minute length comedy, “The Suzy Prophecy.” She also produced the film.
Los Angeles IFP/West Film Festival: Critics Special Jury Award, “Kissing Jessica Stein,” 2001 (shared with: Jennifer Westfeldt (actress/writer)