“The definition of a hero for me is someone who you admire, who selflessly helps you in some way and who possesses qualities that you hope to acquire one day if you try hard enough.” Tawny Cypress
American actress Tawny Cypress is perhaps best recognized for playing Simone Deveaux in the first season of the hit series “Heroes” (2006-2007). She is also known for having recurring roles on the daytime hit series “All My Children” (2003, as Professor Shambala Stevens), the NBC drama series “Third Watch” (2000, 2003-2005) and the FX comedy series “Rescue Me” (2009, as Carla). She also worked in regular roles on the short-lived series “100 Centre Street” (A&E, 2001-2002) and “K-Ville” (Fox, 2007) and guest starred in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “NYPD Blue.” On the movie front, Cypress appeared in “Autumn in New York” (2000), “World Trade Center” (2006), “Bella” (2006) and “Brooklyn's Finest” (2009).
“I'd rather take a small part in a really good film than a lead role in a movie with Paris Hilton.” Tawny Cypress
Childhood and Family:
Tawny Cypress was born on August 8, 1976, in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to an African American/Native American father and a German/Hungarian mother. She has an older brother named Toby Cypress, who is a comic book artist and popular for his 2006 graphic novel “The Tourist.” According to her brother, young Tawny grew up as a fan of morning cartoons and late night monster films.
At school, Tawny was a diligent student. She attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey where she met her mentor, acting coach Barbara Marchant. Tawny went on to train at the William Esper Studio in New York City. Commenting about Marchant, she said, “My dear friend and teacher, Barbara Marchant, is a hero for me. She's been on my side even when I didn't have a side to be on without ever asking anything in return and she has a grace that makes me hope to be just like her one day when I grow up.”
In 2000, Tawny married Bill Charles. Their marriage ended in divorce in 2004. The couple has one child together.
Currently, Tawny lives in New York City. She lists “Heroes,” “Lost” and “Project Runway” among her favorite TV shows.
“I come from a long line of artists, actually, actors, writers, many painters. I definitely understand the artist's struggle with their art and themselves. My brother is a comic book artist and I remember spending many days as a teenager hanging out in his bedroom thumbing through his stack of comics. His love of the genre got me to love it also.” Tawny Cypress
Educated at the William Esper Studio, Tawny Cypress began auditioning for TV roles and stage productions and in 1999, briefly appeared in the independent short “Stalker Guilt Syndrome,” which was directed by Jonah Kaplan. She landed a guest role in the ABC police drama “NYPD Blue” the following year and in 2000, appeared in “Autumn in New York,” the directorial debut of actress Joan Chen. The film starred Richard Gere, Winona Ryder and Anthony LaPaglia. The same year, she also acted with Andrea Roth and Kavan Smith in an unsold TV series pilot titled “The Time Tunnel,” a remake of the 1966 Irwin Allen sci-fi series of the same name.
Cypress' luck started to change when she won her first series regular role on the Sidney Lumet directed “100 Centre Street.” The courtroom show aired on A&E Network from January 2001 to March 2002. Following the cancellation of the series, Cypress made guest appearances on CBS' “Hack” (2002) and NBC's “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (2003). In 2003, she was cast in the recurring role of an attractive professor, Shambala Stevens, on the ABC long running soap opera “All My Children.” She also reprised her 2000 one episode appearance of A.D.A. Sharon Burns in multiple episodes of the Emmy Award winning series “Third Watch” from 2003 to 2005.
Cypress returned to series TV as a regular when she landed the role of Nina Calvo on Fox's “Jonny Zero,” whose regular cast members also included Ritchie Coster, Franky G, Chris Bauer, Brennan Hesser and Anthony Desio. Unfortunately for the actress, the series was quickly axed due to poor ratings. Following guest spots in “Stella” (2005) and the “Love Monkey” (2006), the New Jersey native bounced back with a role in the critically acclaimed series “Heroes,” created by Tim Kring. In the series, she played art dealer Simone Deveaux from September 2006 to May 2001.
Cypress next briefly appeared in the Oliver Stone directed drama “World Trade Center” (2006), where she had a small role as a bleeding woman, and the Toronto premiered “Bella,” which was written and directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde and starred Eduardo Verástegui, Tammy Blanchard and Manny Perez.
After “Heroes,” Cypress costarred as Ginger LeBeau on Fox’s “K-Ville.” Premiering on September 17, 2007, the show stopped production after 11 episodes because of the Writers Guild of America strike and was officially canceled in May 2008. The show's finale aired on December 17, 2007.
2008 found Cypress playing Shawna in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” called “Undercover” and Brenda in two episodes of Lifetime's entertaining drama “Army Wives.” More recently, she played the recurring role of Carla in Denis Leary's comedy “Rescue Me” (2009, 5 episodes). On the wide screen, she rejoined Richard Gere in the action film “Brooklyn's Finest,” which was written by Michael C. Martin and directed by Antoine Fuqua. In addition to Gere, the film also starred Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Jesse Williams, and Ellen Barkin. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2009, and is scheduled to receive a limited release in the U.S. on November 27, 2009.
Cypress will play Robin Calhoun on the CBS TV film “House Rules” (2009) for director Daniel Minahan. Costars in the drama include Anna Chlumsky, Zoe McLellan, Kristin Bauer, Denzel Whitaker, Warren Christie, and Nancy Villone.
Apart from TV and film, Cypress has acted in several stage productions, including “Drowning in Euphoria” (as Caroline), “The Tempest” (as a spirit), “Amadeus” (as Katherina Cavalieri) and “The Session” (as Leah/Alex). Cypress has also appeared in TV commercials for Secret, Ford, Excedrin, Bounty, Lexus, Olive Garden, and MCI.