If early career praise is any indication of future success, singer/actress/dancer Erika Christensen may have a rewarding and fruitful career ahead of her. Refining her diverse talents in such early projects as Michael Jackson's "Childhood" video, as well as singing on Neil Diamond's The Christmas Album II, Christensen's demanding turn as the drug-addicted daughter of the drug czar in Steven Soderbergh's critically acclaimed Traffic has recently focused much attention on the young actress.
Born in 1982 and training as an actress since childhood, Christensen began her career in live theater. With early television credits including Frasier and Third Rock From the Sun to her name, Christensen made her film debut in 1997's Leave It to Beaver as Wally Cleaver's girlfriend Karen. Christensen's early roles were of mostly light comedic substance, a trend she has recently countered by gravitating toward more dramatic roles in both television and film. Nominated for the 1998 Young Star Award for her performance in the television series Nothing Sacred, Christensen continued her dramatic turn in such television series as The Practice and Touched by an Angel.
In addition to her television roles, Christensen's film credits have also progressed into the more dramatic. Following Leave It to Beaver with the Disney film Can of Worms, Christensen's next role would face her with the formidable challenge of sympathetically portraying a broken, drug-addicted teen in Traffic. The following years found Christensen leaning toward more dramatic roles, which worked to her advantage in terms of developing as a serious-minded young actress, and despite roles in such popcorn-munchers as Swimfan (2002), the actress continued to challenge herself with roles in such films as that same year's Home Room. An unflinching journey into the dark heart of post-Columbine high school America, Christensen's role as a once popular student thrust into despair after being wounded in a high school shooting proved she had not lost her dramatic edge. On the lighter side, Christensen would next turn up alongside actresses Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon in the comedy drama The Banger Sisters before conspiring to ace her SAT in a less-than-legal fashion in The Perfect Score (2003).
In 2004 she played one of the daughters of Joan Allen in Mike Binder's comedy/drama The Upside of Anger. She continued to act steadily, though she found her next big success on the small screen when she became part of the ensemble in NBC's hour-long version of Parenthood that debuted in 2010, a role she stuck with through the show's end in 2015.