A farm girl and the eldest of eight siblings, D.J. (short for Debra Jo) graduated from Millikin University in Illinois before moving west with her musician husband to pursue an advertising career. Her love of acting and two children ultimately took focus.
Since then, she’s portrayed a mom, a doctor, a nurse and a secretary in such prime-time TV dramas as Monk, Crossing Jordan, L.A. Dragnet, Boston Public and The Guardian. Her work in more than a dozen film shorts leans toward quirkier comic characters (a desperate wife in Natural Selection, finalist in Netflix’s 2009 “Find Your Voice” competition or a droll saloon keeper in Dartsville, winner of more than 10 festival “best short” awards). In 2010, she landed her first feature lead in the indy film,
3 Days in L.A., winning the best actress award at the Milan International Film Festival.
In theatre, D.J. has played more than 50 leading roles, garnering numerous L.A. critics’ awards and nominations for The Traveling Lady, Nightbreath, The Roads to Home, Eleemosynary, Grace and Glorie, The Quality of Light, Eric LaRue, The Clean House and State of the Union. She’s cried and laughed her way through a roller-coaster 300+ ten-minute plays in a Honda, a Kia and an Acura (as part of the acclaimed Car Plays at Radar L.A., La Jolla Playhouse and the Segerstrom Center in Orange County) and has performed Shakespeare on the outdoor stages of Theatricum Botanicum, where she manages a classical actor training program for adults.
Building on her considerable behind-the-scenes experience as a publicist and marketing consultant, D.J. also has occasionally joined forces with friends to produce projects, including the long-running, critically lauded Los Angeles stage premiere of Eleemosynary (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award, outstanding production) and the short film, Dog Math (screened at the St. Louis and International Family Film festivals, among others). She prefers just being an actor, but as Better Half’s talented writer/ director Michelle Clay can vouch, it never hurts to create your own opportunities!