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Pauley Perrette (born March 27, 1969) is an American actress, best known for playing Abigail Sciuto on the U.S. TV series NCIS, a role that has made her the most popular actress on U.S. primetime television. She is also a published writer, a singer and civil rights advocate.
Perrette was born in New Orleans and raised all over the southern United States. She told Craig Ferguson, on The Late Late Show, that she lived in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, and California. In a 2011 interview with the Associated Press, Perrette confessed her early ambitions were to work with animals, be in a rock and roll band or be an FBI agent. She attended Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, where she studied criminal justice, and later moved to New York City to study at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. While in New York she held a variety of jobs: Not only was I bartending in club-kids scene, with a bra and combat boots and a white Mohawk, but I also wore a sandwich board on roller skates passing out fliers for Taco Bell in the Diamond District. Perrette also worked as a cook on a Manhattan dinner cruise boat.
Perrette has worked for years in television and film, mostly doing commercials, voice-overs, music videos and short films, and worked as a bartender in New York City. It was while working odd jobs in New York a friend introduced her to an advertising agency director. From then on according to Perrette started booking commercials like crazy!. This prompted her move to Los Angeles, where she had a variety of bit parts and made several guest appearances.
In 2001, as a recurring character introduced in Season 2 of Special Unit 2, she played Alice Cramer, the Unit's public relations person. She then landed her current role, playing Abby Sciuto, an eccentric forensic scientist, on NCIS, a TV series based on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Perrette's initial appearances as the character were on two episodes of JAG aired in spring of 2003 that served as a backdoor pilot and introduced the characters. She has since appeared as Abby in two 2009 episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles. She also appeared as a waitress at Cafe Nervosa in Frasier during season 4 (in the episode "Three Dates and a Break Up"), and later guest starred in season one of 24. She has made appearances in several films, including The Ring and Almost Famous.
In addition to acting, Perrette is a published poet, writer (her short story "Cheers..." appears in the anthology Pills, Thrills, Chills, and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person), photographer, and spoken-word artist, a lover of music of all kinds, and a passionate advocate for civil rights. In 2007, she produced a documentary about U.S. civil rights attorney and author Mark Lane. In an 2005 interview with Craig Ferguson, the host of The Late, Late Show, Perrette said she has a lifelong crime obsession. She was an undergrad student in sociology, psychology, and criminal science. She started her master's degree in criminal science before ending up in the entertainment industry. She now plays a forensic scientist, her former career goal.
In the January/February 2010 Performer Q Score, Perrette tied in the top 3 alongside Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman. She was also the only female to make the top 10.
Perette started appearing in television commercials for Expedia.com in late 2010. She made a guest appearance as a judge on Season 4 Episode 6 of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Perrette recorded her song, "Fear" (co-written with Tom Polce) under the name "Stop Making Friends". The song was recorded for NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack which was released on February 10, 2009. "Fear" was featured in a Season 6 episode of NCIS, according to the soundtrack's website. The episode is the Season 6 finale, "Aliyah".
Prior to this, Perrette was the lead singer in the Los Angeles-based, all-female band Lo-Ball, using the stage name "Pauley P.".
A song by Lo-Ball, "Can't Get Me Down", can be heard during the movie Legally Blonde. Perrette appeared in "The Unnamed Feeling" video for heavy metal band Metallica from their album St. Anger.
Most recently, Perrette was the featured vocalist on a song called "Fire in Your Eyes" by B. Taylor, a Las Vegas based hip hop artist.
Perrette was married for three years to actor and musician Coyote Shivers. She has been granted restraining orders against him since leaving him. Perrette supports many charitable organizations, including animal rescue, the American Red Cross, civil rights, and gay rights. During the fall of 2008, Perrette opposed the California ballot initiative Proposition 8, writing a public letter urging Californians to vote against the measure. She is a member of the Hollywood United Methodist Church.
She was engaged with cameraman Michael Bosman, however the two were not legally married; saying they would wait until everyone can get married in the United States. They instead filed for all the legal protections that are available to same-sex couples. The couple had dated for four years, but Bosman did not propose until the legalization of same-sex marriage in California in June 2008. The couple then campaigned very publicly against California's Prop. 8. Perette and Bosman later split, and in December 2011 she announced her engagement to former British Royal Marine and actor Thomas Arklie. She has again announced that the couple will not marry until Proposition 8 is invalidated.
Perrette toured the real NCIS offices on September 30, 2005, accompanied by an Entertainment Tonight camera crew. During the tour, NCIS Regional Forensic Lab director Dawn Sorenson (Abby's real life counterpart) told Perrette, "You make us all look good, so we're grateful."
The character Abby Sciuto was created by Donald Bellisario, who "wanted to create...a character who was seemingly an 'alternafreak,' while portraying her as perhaps the smartest, most capable person on television. Not a junkie, killer, loser, or television stereotype." Perrette added some of her own "contributions" to the character, and also conferred with her friend Clint Catalyst, the "author of Cottonmouth Kisses [who is] often brought in as a guest on TV shows when they are doing pieces on goth or alternative culture." Perrette explained that "Clint and I and our 3,000 closest friends all play together...We've never sat around and labeled each other. Sure, there are nights when a certain event leans more towards one style than the other, but it's not like some turf war with gang colors." Like her character, Perrette has often been asked if she's goth or punk, to which her response is "Who cares?" Consequently, she told her employers that her character isn't the type to seek out a label; Abby "wouldn't call herself anything but Abby...What she represents is a smart, capable chick that cannot be reduced to a stereotype."
Perrette worked with America's Most Wanted in February 2004 to present the city of Prattville, Alabama with a check for $10,000, which will be used to supplement the reward offer for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed Shannon Paulk. Paulk was from Prattville, Alabama, near where Perrette had once lived as a child. Perrette also donated $10,000 to Detroit law enforcement officials to be used as a reward for information regarding the disappearance/murder of Raven Jeffries, a 7-year-old Detroit girl. (Perrette's husband was from Detroit.)
The story originally aired on America's Most Wanted on September 8, 2007 on Fox. She also asked them for help in finding the person(s) who killed her friend, Lisa Williamson, who was murdered in 2007 after her Detroit home was set on fire.