BIRTH NAME: Jean Paige Turco
DATE OF BIRTH: May 17, 1965
BIRTH PLACE: Springfield, Massachusetts
HEIGHT: 5′ 5″ (1.65 m)
ZODIAC SIGN: Taurus
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Jason O’Mara (since September 19, 2003)
CHILDREN: David O’Mara, born February 2004
Early Life – 1990
Jean Paige Turco was born in Springfield, Massachusetts (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts) on May 17, 1965 to Joyce Jean (Jodoin) and David Vincent Turco. She was raised and lived there with her mother and grandparents after her father died when she was just 9 months old. He had a cerebral hemorrhage at the early age of 27. She took ballet lessons as a little girl and planned to become a classical ballerina.
She attended Kiley Junior High School, in Springfield, where she helped as a librarian, played the flute in the school band, and worked for the school television station. At 13 she was already part of the Amherst Ballet Theatre Company as a soloist.
Paige attended Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts and took a degree in ballet. She was a dancer in “THE NUTCRACKER SUITE” with The Berkshire Ballet and performed as a soloist with such notable dance companies as the New England Dance Conservatory and the Western Massachusetts Ballet Company before an ankle injury terminated her professional dancing career at the age of 14. She remarked that after that,
“I went through a period where I couldn’t even go to the ballet and watch because it was so painful and I missed it.”
Forced to re-evaluate her career decision, and loving the arts, she focused her energy on drama and musical comedies. She graduated from Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Massachusetts (1987) and majored in drama with a BFA degree in acting from the University Of Connecticut.
Paige worked in the auditing department of a bank. She would go to auditions during the day and work later at night. On weekends she worked at Casual Corner. She then moved to Brooklyn and worked with summer theatre troupes in Upstate New York.
In 1987, Paige was cast in “BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY” opposite Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest and Jason Robards. Filming began in April with Joyce Chopra at the helm but a month later he was let go. The new director, Jim Bridges, wanted her to do nude scenes so she quit mid-film.
“My mother said I have to be true to myself, meanwhile, my grandmother said, ‘Honey, do it now, while you can.'”
In July 1987, she landed her first big role as Dinah Morgan Marler, a troubled teenager adopted by a wealthy woman on the popular CBS soap opera, “GUIDING LIGHT”. She starred as a series regular in episodes over the course of a year and a half and played the love interest of Ian Ziering and Carl Evans until February 1989. Dinah became a world traveler because Turco was fired,
“They let Ian go, and I knew I was next.”
After leaving “GUIDING LIGHT”, Paige auditioned for the role of Rocky McKenzie on the ABC soap opera “LOVING”. The role however went to Rena Sofer. Her screen test was with Trent Bushey and both Trent and Paige would end up working together on ABC’s soap opera “ALL MY CHILDREN”.
Paige originally auditioned for “ALL MY CHILDREN” but didn’t get the part. Instead, she got the role of Dinah on “GUIDING LIGHT” in 1987. She eventually did get a role on “ALL MY CHILDREN” in 1989 as Melanie “Lanie” Cortlandt-Rampal, a goody-goody niece of mean tycoon Palmer Cortlandt (played by James Mitchell), a week after being let go from “GUIDING LIGHT”.
“And then a week to the day I got fired from that show, I got “ALL MY CHILDREN”. It was a Wednesday; I’ll never forget it. Because I was either going to start work or go on unemployment.”
A series regular, she played Lanie from 1989 until March 18, 1991 and was half of the popular young couple of Melanie and David (Trent Bushey). When casting for the roles of Melanie Cortlandt and David Rampal, many factors were considered in creating their look, one being they had to seem right together.
“It’s really a look in David’s case that had to go with Jeremy. In terms of the two of them as a couple, it was supposed to be Wuthering Heights. I was looking for Laurence Olivier and Merrie Oberon, the romanticism of it all.” – Joan D’Incecco
1990 – 2000
She then moved easily onto the silver screen and in October 1990 she was cast as April O’Neil and started shooting the sequel to the mega hit movie, “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”. “ALL MY CHILDREN” was without Melanie for the full month of October, but episodes with her resumed airing around November 1. Paige had to work around her AMC schedule in order to shoot scenes for the movie that were filmed in New York City in December, but she did not take time off from the show.
“It was different, I knew there was enough child in me so I was ready to jump right into the part.”
The role of April O’Neil, an intrepid television reporter who aids the heroes on the half shell in their pursuit of villains, in “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE” (1991) marked Paige’s big-screen debut. Taking over the role from Judith Hoag, critics noted that she bared more of a resemblance to the character as she’s seen in the original Mirage comic book, than Hoag did.
“This April is my April, the way I perceived her.”
“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE” was released in theatres on March 22, 1991, in the United States, and subsequently in numerous countries from June through to August. It opened at number one in North America on its first weekend of release and was a success at the box office, but made less than the first film.
In 1991, Paige did several TV commercials, including some for Reebok sneakers, Special K cereal, and LactAid.
Having difficulty juggling both “ALL MY CHILDREN” and the bodacious TMNT franchise, Paige permanently left the role of Melanie Cortlandt and reprised her role as April O’Neil for the third installment, “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III”, released on March 19, 1993 in the United States. Despite most of the reviews from critics, “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III” debuted at No.1 at the box office and made twice its production budget.
“It’s a great thing to be the human kids identify with and can live through to relate with the Turtles, I tried to bring a certain amount of reality to her. She also has to be able to have some quirkiness to be able to accept the absurd – living with these Turtles.”
In 1994, she returned to series television as Terry Mears on the short-lived NBC television drama “WINNETKA ROAD”. It premiered on March 12, 1994, and concluded on April 16, 1994 after six episodes (1 unaired). The series followed the lives and loves of an oddly interconnected group of people in a suburban Chicago town. Paige was a series regular opposite Ed Begley Jr., Josh Brolin and Catherine Hicks, and played a struggling actress and single mother.
In 1994, she filmed the independent drama film “DEAD FUNNY” opposite Elizabeth Peña and Andrew McCarthy, as Peña’s best friend – Louise.
In 1995, she was cast in “THE FEMININE TOUCH” (also called “THE NOVEMBER CONSPIRACY”), a direct-to-video thriller film directed by Conrad Janis, opposite George Segal and Elliott Gould. It stars Paige as Jennifer Barron, a woman who is targeted after her boyfriend is assassinated, leaving secret documents in her possession.
In October 1995, “THE POMPATUS OF LOVE”, an independent film, was released at the Chicago International Film Festival and won several minor awards. Paige was featured in the ensemble of the romantic comedy, starring opposite Adrian Pasdar and Kristin Scott Thomas.
In 1995, she was cast as a regular on the CBS supernatural drama series “AMERICAN GOTHIC” that delved into the darker side of the Deep South, opposite Gary Cole, Lucas Black and Sarah Paulson, appearing in 19 out of the 22 episodes. The American horror series first aired on September 22, 1995, and was canceled after a single season on July 11, 1996, after being nominated for several awards. Paige played Gail Emory, a very successful criminal reporter who tragically lost her parents in a mysterious fire when she was 8. She comes back to Trinity to look after Caleb, her cousin, and guide him, but also uncover what truly happened to her parents. While starring in “AMERICAN GOTHIC”, Paige met and became engaged to John Mese shortly after the series ended. They went on to work together in “DARK TIDES” (1998) and “R2PC: ROAD TO PARK CITY” (2000), before calling off their engagement in 2001 and going their separate ways.
Another straight to video project was “VIBRATIONS”, released on July 2, 1996. It stars James Marshall and Christina Applegate, with Paige playing Marshall’s girlfriend, Lisa. Vibrations gained a loyal underground following and quickly became a cult classic, helping propel electronic music into the 21st century.
She auditioned for a part in “NYPD BLUE”, which she didn’t get. Co-creator David Milch was so impressed, he assured her that’d he’d write a role just for her. He wrote the role of Abby Sullivan.
“Part of me went, ‘I’ll never hear from him again.’ When I did, I thought, ‘Finally, somebody said something and meant it.’”
In 1996, Paige turned the tables on her good girl image and got a recurring role on ABC’s long-running drama “NYPD BLUE” as Abby Sullivan, a pregnant lesbian police officer. Her first episode premiered on October 15, 1996 and she appeared in a total of 10 episodes, until October, 14 1997.
“I wanted to approach it from… it was very important for me to play her as a woman who had the same problems that we all have within our lives – and [lesbianism] just happens to be her sexual preference.”
This stint further expanded her dramatic range, bringing her more recognition, and in 1997 she landed a recurring role on FOX’s “PARTY OF FIVE” as Annie Mott. The series had a gang of ardent devotees, who famously saved the show from cancellation by bombarding the network with letters of support. Paige played an alcoholic, single mother from October 15, 1997 to May 13, 1998, and successfully drew attention away from Jennifer Love Hewitt and Neve Campbell during her 18 episodes stay.
Paige was working on both “NYPD BLUE” and “PARTY OF FIVE” at the same time, and being so busy with the role of Annie didn’t leave much time for her to return as Abby on NYPD. She eventually did so that Abby could deliver her baby.
“It’s been hard because I’ve been heavy on “PARTY OF FIVE”, so there hasn’t been much time for me to go into work on “NYPD BLUE”. Listen to me, I’m going to have that baby.”
In 1998, Paige gave an effective performance as Sara, an unhappily married woman, who plots the murder of her husband, in the straight-to-video movie “DARK TIDES”. She played opposite John Mese, her fiancé at the time.
In 1999, she appeared in Jeremy Workman’s award-winning short comedy, “CLAIRE MAKES IT BIG”, as Bronwyn Cole. The film provides a comedic look at Hollywood stereotypes as told through the story of a full-figured actress, who, fed up with losing parts to thinner rivals, levels the playing field with revenge on-the-brain, and a little ingenuity.
2000 – 2010
2000 proved to be a busy year for Paige. She appeared in several independent films and television movies. She garnered praise from critics and festival-goers for her work in “ASTORIA”, “URBANIA” and “R2PC: ROAD TO PARK CITY”, which was, suitably enough, about making a film for the Sundance Film Festival. Paige played the lead role in the independent feature “ASTORIA”, as Elena, a well-educated art restorer visiting from Greece. The film was released on DVD in March 2006. “URBANIA” was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and won a total of 6 “Best Film” awards. Released by Lionsgate, it was named “One of the Year’s Best Films” in over 35 publications. Paige played Cassandra, a hard-nosed businesswoman, opposite Dan Futterman and Alan Cumming.
On January 29, 2000, “RUNAWAY VIRUS”, a television movie about two virus experts who chase life and dead flu carriers to the corners of the world in a race against time to prevent a plague of pandemic proportions. Paige played the lead role, a vaccine specialist named Jenny Blanchard.
On October 6, 2000, she appeared in the “Pilot” episode of the CBS TV series remake, “THE FUGITIVE”, opposite Tim Daly and Mykelti Williamson. She played Laura Chereaux, a building safety inspector.
In 2000, she also filmed “SILENT WITNESS”, a made for TV movie, starring Jared Padalecki.
In October 2001, “DEAD DOG” was released and Paige played Perri Braeburn, the lead role, opposite Jeremy Sisto, as a successful couple residing in New York City with their dog, a Golden Retriever named Sophie. The movie is a tragic dramedy about people whose life gets turned upside down in the aftermath of a traumatic event (the death of the dog).
On December 14, 2001, Paige appeared on NBC’s critically acclaimed drama, “LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT”. She played Pam Adler in the 10th episode of season 3, “Ridicule”, a lawyer and woman in position of power in society, accused of sexually assaulting a male stripper. Paige would also guest-star ten years later, in a different episode, playing a different character.
September 27, 2001 marked Paige’s return to primetime series work as a series regular on the successful CBS action-packed drama “THE AGENCY”, as Terri Lowell. The series followed the inner-workings of the CIA and it lasted for two seasons, ending on May 17, 2003, after 44 episodes. The program featured unprecedented filming from the actual CIA headquarters.
“We actually filmed at CIA headquarters. They did a two-week background check on me. It creeped me out more than anything. I was like, God, are they bugging my apartment? Are they talking to my neighbors?”
“THE AGENCY” was the second time Paige worked with Shaun Cassidy. He was also the producer for “AMERICAN GOTHIC”. Paige’s character, Terri, a graphical technician, was a wizard in the CIA’s graphic design department, the OTS.
“Playing Terri, I wanted to take a very shy, wounded person and make her sexy. I think she’s very feminine and also very excited by the danger of espionage.”
Her ambition and good instincts made her a prime candidate for fieldwork and she became a field agent.
“It’s such a physically demanding part.”
While starring in the thrilling drama, Paige met co-star Jason O’Mara, who played A.B. Stiles in the second season. During their first scene together, in the “French Kiss” episode, Jason threw a theatrical punch but Paige forgot to duck. It broke the skin over her eye and she had to go to the hospital to get stitched up. After this, he got her a rubber duck as a gift – to say sorry, and a reminder to duck the next time. They kept their relationship quiet on the set of the show and based on the couple’s first scene together, the rest of the cast probably wouldn’t have guessed any romance was in the making. After their first nine months together, they got engaged while in Jamaica, and married on September 19, 2003 during Hurricane Isabel‘s visit to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where the wedding was held.
“They said they were going to get married even if they had to wear fishing gear.” – Joyce Turco
The auspicious start to the couple’s history led to their choice of Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky” as their first dance song. The lyrics contain the lines:
“I was walking along minding my business / When love came and hit me in the eye / Flash! Bam! Alakazam! / Out of an orange-colored sky.”
They had residences in Connecticut, New York and Los Angeles, and visited Jason’s family in Ireland often. At the beginning of 2004, their son, David, named after Paige’s father, was born. In 2013, they permanently moved to the West Coast, where they now reside.
In 2002, she starred alongside John Shea in the independent film, “THE EMPATH”.
On September 6, 2003, she appeared in the indie film “RHINOCEROS EYES”, an American drama written and directed by Aaron Woodley. It was awarded the Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and had its US premiere on April 23, 2004. Paige played Fran, a beautiful Film Production designer.
In November 2004, Paige filmed an independent movie in NJ called “THE FAVOR”. It was released on October 15, 2006, at the Morelia Film Festival in Mexico, had its official world premiere in Mexico on October 19, 2007, the US one on May 2, 2008, and won two awards. Paige played Caroline, a mother with a troubled teenage son who returns to her hometown to care for her sick father, and rekindles her relationship with her high school sweetheart.
In 2006, Paige signed on for the ABC one-hour pilot “THE HIGH BAR”, a comedy-drama about women working at a law firm. Paige played Carolyn Fordham, a lawyer at the firm. The show was formerly known as “WOMEN IN LAW” and “SISTERS IN LAW”, also starring Regina King and Kelli Williams. Unfortunately, ABC did not pick up the series.
In 2006, she joined the third season of FX’s “RESCUE ME” in a recurring role, as science teacher Mrs. Nell Turbody. She starred in four episodes in total, from May 30, 2006 until July 7, 2006.
In 2006, Paige finished filming the independent film “WALTZING ANNA”, which was filmed in New Jersey and New York. It was released on August 11, 2006. She played the character of Barbara Rhoades.
On August 15, 2006, Paige played Carol Vermeil, wife of Eagle’s coach Dick Vermeil in Disney’s compellingly touching movie “INVINCIBLE”. “INVINCIBLE” was based on the story of Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender from South Philadelphia who overcame long odds to play for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in 1976, and stars Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear and Elizabeth Banks.
On September 28, 2007, Paige appeared in Disney’s movie “THE GAME PLAN”, also known as “DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL”, opposite Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, Madison Pettis, Roselyn Sanchez and Kyra Sedgwick. She played Karen Kelly, Peyton’s aunt who takes care of her after her mother dies in a tragic car accident 6 months prior.
On September 27, 2007, Paige joined the pilot “PERFECT GENTLEMEN”, renamed – “BIG SHOTS” – for ABC, as a series regular. It received a 13 episode order from ABC, but as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike in Hollywood, only 11 were made. The final one aired on January 24, 2008. Her involvement in the project came from a talent holding deal with ABC. She portrayed Lisbeth Hill, the ex-wife of Dylan McDermott’s character, Duncan Collinsworth, a cosmetics company CEO.
In 2009, Paige taped “TAKING CHANCE”, the HBO historical drama film based upon the experiences of Marine Lt. Colonel Michael Strobl, portrayed by Kevin Bacon. She played Bacon’s wife, Stacey Strobl. The film premiered on February 21, 2009, and it was the most-watched HBO original in five years.
In 2009, she joined the second season of FX’s “DAMAGES”, in a recurring role. She appeared in 6 episodes from January 7, 2009 to March 25. 2009, and played Christine Purcell, wife of William Hurt’s Daniel Purcell.
On March 18, 2009, she guest starred on ABC’s American science fiction crime drama television series “LIFE ON MARS”, starring her real life husband Jason O’Mara. She played Colleen McManus in the episode All the Young Dudes, a vicious gang leader’s sister and Jason’s “Sam Tyler” love interest. This marked their second on-screen project together.
In 2009, she returned to the big screen in “THE STEPFATHER”, an American horror thriller film and a remake of the 1987 thriller film of the same name. Paige plays Jackie Kerns, a realtor who hires the stepfather to do some work for her, but begins to grow weary of him. Her character is in a relationship with Sherry Stringfield’s Leah. The movie had its release on October 16, 2009.
2010 – Present
In 2010, she landed the lead role of Dana James in NBC’s “SECRETS OF THE MOUNTAIN”, the first in a series of made-for-TV movies aimed at families, opposite Barry Bostwick and Adelaide Kane. Shot in Montreal and Magog, Quebec, the movie centers on Dana, a single mom with three kids who inherits a remote mountain cabin from a supposedly dead uncle. It was released on April 16, 2010.
“It’s important, now more than ever, to offer family-friendly programming on television.”
In 2011, Paige was attached to the project “TO APPOMATTOX” as Sallie Corbell Pickett, alongside Damian Lewis, Jason O’Mara, Richard Speight Jr. and Helen McCrory. The television mini-series depicts the emotional lives of America’s Civil War generals, their wives and families – from West Point to Appomattox – against a backdrop of a war. Filming is expected to begin in 2016.
On May 11, 2010, Paige guest stars as Alicia’s client in a divorce case in the first season of CBS’s critically acclaimed “THE GOOD WIFE”. She plays Caroline Wilder, the wife of a famous rock star who wants to divorce her and refuses her request for material support.
On May 15, 2011, she was the recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa bestowed by the Bay Path College, where she originally graduated as part of the class of 1984.
“I was shaped as a young woman by Bay Path, and by Paul’s influence. I was taught that I could achieve my dreams, but only with hard work and sacrifice.”
On February 9, 2011, she guest stars in the first season of CBS’s drama “BLUE BLOODS” as a detective named Patricia Ryan assigned to investigate a robbery.
On October 5, 2011, she returns to NBC’s season 13 “LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT” as the charming, charismatic and fiercely protective Kathleen Raines, opposite Kyle MacLachlan. They play a well-heeled political couple whose son and housekeeper’s son are both suspected of raping a young girl.
On October 27, 2011, Paige guest stars as Zoe Morgan on CBS’s American science fiction crime drama television series, “PERSON OF INTEREST”. An immediate fan favourite, who captivated not only the attention of Reese, but the general public’s too, her role would soon turn into a recurring one. To present day, she has appeared in 9 episodes over the years, with her most recent being season four’s April 7, 2015 episode. Zoe Morgan is a high priced “fixer” who specializes in crisis management. Finch and Reese first meet her as a person of interest and help save her life. Later on, she works with them on cases that require her skills. She and Reese have a casual and sporadic physical relationship.
“Paige is spectacular, and sometimes you get that rare alchemy of a piece of casting and a character that just connects, so she’ll come back to further complicate things.” – Jonah Nolan
On March 25, 2014, she appeared in “NCIS”, CBS’s critically acclaimed American police procedural drama television series. The eleventh season episode introduced the characters for its spinoff, “NCIS: NEW ORLEANS”, starring Scott Bakula. Paige’s role was a recurring one, and she played Linda Pride, the wife of NCIS Special Agent Pride (Bakula). Her NCIS: New Orleans episode in season one aired on October 28, 2014.
On March 7, 2013 it was reported that Paige had joined CW’s “THE 100” as the chief medical officer of The Ark space station, as a series regular. The first episode premiered a year later, on March 19, 2014 and the series is currently in its third season. Paige plays Dr. Abigail “Abby” Griffin, the Chief Medical Officer, a former Council member of the Ark, and the current Chancellor of Arkadia. She is a strong willed woman who always fights for what is right, regardless of the risks of her decisions and the harm that might come her way because of this. She is righteous in what she does and willing to face the consequences of her actions. Her driven force is her daughter, Clarke, and most of her actions are because of her, or impacted by her.
“I think what makes it interesting is when you have a strong woman and the strength is coming from vulnerability and being flawed. And the strength coming from there, as a woman, is more empowering. It’s very interesting to play. For myself as well, being older, I’m so grateful. It’s rare to have so many women on one show.”
Note: This is not an official biography. All information has been gathered from various interviews and articles and is accurate to the best of our knowledge.
Biography © Paige Turco Network, 2016
Last Updated: March 2016