Sela Ann Ward (born July 11, 1956 in Meridian, Mississippi) is an actress, perhaps best known for her Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning television roles as free-spirited Teddy Reed on Sisters (1991–96) and single mother Lily Manning on Once and Again (1999–2002). She currently portrays investigator Jo Danville on the CBS series CSI:NY.
Ward, the oldest of four children, was born to Annie Kate and Granberry Holland Ward, an electrical engineer. She attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she performed as one of the Crimson Tide cheerleaders, was homecoming queen, and double-majored in art and advertising. Ward dated football standout and future Miami Dolphin Bob Baumhower while at the Capstone. After graduating she moved to New York to pursue a career in modeling and show business.
While working in New York City as a storyboard artist for multimedia presentations, the 5'7" Ward began modeling to supplement her income. She was recruited by the Wilhelmina agency and was soon featured in television commercials promoting Maybelline cosmetics. Ward eventually moved to California to pursue acting and landed her first film role in the Burt Reynolds vehicle, The Man Who Loved Women, released in 1983. Her first regular role in a television drama series (as a beautiful socialite on Emerald Point, NAS) followed in the same year. Ward subsequently played variations on the same character in films and television guest spots throughout the 1980s, most notably opposite Tom Hanks in 1986's Nothing in Common. This pattern persisted until she aggressively pursued and won the role of the bohemian alcoholic Teddy Reed on Sisters, for which she received her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1994.
Ward also won a CableACE Award for her portrayal of the late television journalist Jessica Savitch in the 1995 TV movie Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story. But capitalizing on her accolades proved difficult as they coincided with a surge in films and programming marketed primarily at teenagers. A 39-year-old Ward was passed over for a Bond girl role, learning that even though then-Bond Pierce Brosnan was 42, the casting director said "What we really want is Sela, but Sela ten years ago". In response, she developed and produced a documentary, The Changing Face of Beauty, about American obsession with youth and its effect on women.
Ward succeeded actress Candice Bergen as commercial spokesperson for Sprint's long distance telephone service from 1999 until 2002, when landline long distance promotions fell out of favor. She also appeared on Frasier as supermodel/zoologist Kelly Easterbrook in the fifth season opener ("Frasier's Imaginary Friend"). When she read for the role of Lily Brooks Manning on the series Once and Again, its creators (Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz of thirtysomething fame) initially deemed Ward "too beautiful" for the average single mother to identify with. After landing the part, she received her second lead actress Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for her efforts.
In 2005, she began a recurring role in the series House as Stacy Warner, the hospital's former attorney who happens to be the ex-partner of the protagonist, Dr. Gregory House (played by British actor Hugh Laurie).
Ward was originally offered the role of Megan Donner on CSI:Miami and Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, but turned both down. The parts later went to Kim Delaney and Teri Hatcher, respectively. Ward says she does not want another lead role in an hour-long series due to the time away from her family it would require. She developed and produced a pilot for a half-hour situation comedy (in which she would also star) for CBS' 2006 season but it was not selected by the network for its roster.
She is the national spokesperson for Comcast digital voice.
She presently provides narration for the university's nationally-televised commercials. Since 1992, she has been married to venture capitalist Howard Sherman; they have two children, Austin and Anabella.
After meeting two foster children during a holiday trip home to Mississippi in 1997, Ward decided to initiate and partially fund the creation of an emergency shelter for those awaiting placement in foster homes. Housed on a 30-acre property once used as a Masonic orphanage, Hope Village for Children opened in Ward's hometown of Meridian in January 2002 and is intended to serve as a pilot for a nationwide network of similar shelters. In 2005, Hope Village provided shelter for more than 140 children in need.
A business district portion of 22nd Avenue in Meridian (from 6th Street to the I-20 interchange) has been named Sela Ward Parkway in Ward's honor.
In 2002, Ward published her autobiography, Homesick: A Memoir, through HarperCollins' ReganBooks imprint.
- Ward, Sela (2000) "Smack Dab in the Middle of it All" in Winston Groom. The Crimson Tide : An Illustrated History of Football at the University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press ISBN 0817310517
- Ward, Sela (2002) Homesick: A Memoir. New York: HarperEntertainment ISBN 0060394366
- "Sela Ward" (June 14, 2011) Wikipedia - accessed July 11, 2011
- Sela Ward official website