Tea Leoni had originally hoped to get her degree at Harvard, but after winning a starring role on the revamped Angels '88, she dropped her studies and took up the pursuit of full-time acting. Following a few years of low-profile modeling work and television commercials, Leoni made her film debut in 1991, and hasn't looked back since.
Tea's portrayal of a divorced photojournalist working for a sleazy tabloid on The Naked Truth helped make her a near household name and established her as a gifted and agile comic actress. While every indication pointed toward movie stardom, Leoni never quite made it to the levels anticipated by her supporters.
Tea Leoni was born Elizabeth Tea Pantaleoni on February 25, 1966, in New York City. Her father Anthony was a corporate lawyer, while her mother Emily was a professional nutritionist. She went to Brearley, a prominent private all-girls school on New York City's Upper East Side, graduated from a boarding school in Putney, Vermont, and then attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied anthropology and psychology.
Leoni decided to take a break from her collegial studies to experience other parts of the world. Her journey took her to Italy to discover her Italian roots, to Japan, where she worked as an athletic model and taught businessmen how to relate to American women, and finally the isle of St. Croix, where she worked on a commercial sailboat as a crew hand.