Reportedly a distant relative of the late Princess Grace of Monaco, Portland, OR, native Laura Allen grew up on Washington State's Bainbridge Island, and attended Wellesley College, earning her undergraduate degree not in the performing arts but in criminology. After an exhausting stint doing social work in Manhattan, Allen sought out acting as a break from a draining and demanding career. She commenced with off-Broadway theatrical assignments, then moved into filmed work in 2000, with the recurring role of Laura Kirk English du Pres on the long-running soap opera All My Children -- a part she held for two years.
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Allen achieved her first major movie break as a Wellesley coed (no major stretch given her background) in Mike Newell's female-driven period drama Mona Lisa Smile (2003), opposite Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and others. Allen then made an impression as a recurring cast member on two television series. On the sci-fi drama The 4400, she played Lily, one of four thousand MIA people disgorged by a falling meteorite. As the series rolls forward, the character must not only contend with the fact that the life of her family has continued, more or less unabated, without her, but deal with a mysterious pregnancy by an unknown progenitor. Allen then essayed a much different role on the prime-time melodrama Dirt, as a beloved young actress who finds her life and world destroyed by a nefarious tabloid. She was cast in The Collective and From Within, and then appeared in the box office smash Old Dogs. In 2012 she landed a leading role on the TV drama Awake. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi