2017 honored guests
SPOTLIGHT AWARD, Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.
Jennifer Morrison was born in Chicago and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois. A musically gifted child, she was an all-state clarinet player and sang in the school choir. Her career began as a child model in print ads for JCPenney and progressed to acting in commercials for Rice Krispies. She made her film debut at age 14 in the 1994 film Intersection.
Her first leading role came in the same year she graduated from Loyola University Chicago, starring in the 2000 film Urban Legends: Final Cut. Other early roles were in Surviving Christmas with Ben Affleck and Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt.
Morrison's most popular role may be as immunologist Dr. Allison Cameron on the hit FOX medical drama House, a part she played from 2004 to 2009. During that series run, in 2006, she starred in and produced the independent film Flourish.
In 2009, Morrison returned to feature films playing Capt. Kirk's mother, Winona, in the J.J. Abrams' reboot of Star Trek. She then joined the cast of How I Met Your Mother, playing main character Ted Mosby’s love interest Zoey Pierson.
Since 2011, Morrison has starred in the ABC fairy-tale television series Once Upon a Time, now in its sixth season. She plays Emma Swan, who runs a bail-bonds company and is the missing daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
In 2015, she debuted as a director with her short film Warning Labels. She followed up by directing four music videos for English band Wild Wild Horses, all of which combine to make the Demon Days short film, viewed more than 1 million times. In April 2016, Morrison launched Apartment 3C Productions, a film production company. Later that summer she directed her first feature film, Sun Dogs.
SPOTLIGHT AWARD, Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.
Jenna Elfman was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Upon graduating from California State University, Northridge, she began her show business career dancing in music videos for Depeche Mode and Anthrax.
After transitioning to acting, she made her breakthrough on the hit television series Dharma and Greg. During the series run, Elfman garnered a Golden Globe® Award, three Emmy Award® nominations and two TV Guide Awards. Her newest show, the live-action/CGI-animated hybrid fantasy sitcom Imaginary Mary, is set to debut on ABC in March 2017.
In 2016, Elfman starred alongside Ashley Judd in Barry, about the early life of President Barack Obama. Previously she played Joyce Fisher on NBC's family comedy Growing Up Fisher with J.K. Simmons, which followed on the heels of 1600 Penn with Josh Gad, and critically acclaimed guest appearances on Shameless and the final season of award-winning drama Damages with Glenn Close.
Other film credits include feature comedy Friends With Benefits with Justin Timberlake, Keeping the Faith with Ben Stiller and the cult classic Can't Hardly Wait.
A classically trained ballerina, Elfman was twice invited to be a guest judge on hit dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance. She also sits on the board of directors of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, whose mission is to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the U.S.
Elfman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bodhi, and their two sons. She and her husband currently film a video podcast "Kicking and Screaming" in which they humorously discuss their 20-plus-year marriage.
VANGUARD AWARD, Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Christina Ricci was born in Santa Monica, California, and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. A local theater critic saw her perform in a school play and suggested to her parents that she pursue acting. One year later she appeared in 1990’s Mermaids, opposite Cher.
Her film career took flight as she portrayed Wednesday Addams in the blockbuster comedy The Addams Family. She also starred in Casper, Now and Then and That Darn Cat.
Next, Ricci’s talents were on full display in Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed The Ice Storm, which showed her maturing into more adult roles. This led to another outstanding performance in the dark comedy The Opposite of Sex, which garnered her a best actress Golden Globes® nomination.
She then played leading roles in Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66, John Waters’ Pecker and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Johnny Depp. At the turn of the millennium, she appeared again with Depp in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and in the films Prozac Nation, Pumpkin and Miranda.
Ricci then starred in a seven-episode arc on the hit FOX television series Ally McBeal before appearing alongside Charlize Theron in her Oscar®-winning performance in Monster. Subsequent film credits include the title role in Penelope and Black Snake Moan with Samuel L. Jackson.
On television, Ricci had lead roles on NBC’s Pan Am and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles miniseries.
Currently, Ricci is producing and starring in the Amazon period drama series Z: The Beginning of Everything. She plays Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful and talented Southern belle who becomes the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age in the ’20s.
Ricci currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, James Heerdegen, and their son, Freddie. She serves as the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and is a member of the organization’s national leadership council.
Cast of WGN's "Underground"
SPOTLIGHT CAST AWARD, Thursday, Feb. 2 at 8:30 p.m.
Celebrate the talented cast of the critically acclaimed hit drama. Underground tells the story of a group of slaves planning an escape from a Georgia plantation with help from the Underground Railroad.
Spotlight Cast Award winners:
Jessica De Gouw
Select cast members will be in attendance to accept the award.