Raised in the 1970s bohemia of New York's Greenwich Village, Yancy Butler dabbled in acting in college at Sarah Lawrence, but didn't decide to make it her career until after graduation. After guest appearances on TV, including 1990s New York stalwart Law & Order, and featured roles in the short-lived series Mann and Machine (1992) and South Beach (1993), the husky-voiced Butler made her film debut opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in John Woo's inaugural American effort, Hard Target (1993). Aided by her exotic good looks as well as her acting chops, Butler became the action babe du jour with subsequent starring roles in Drop Zone (1994) opposite Wesley Snipes and B-actioner Fast Money (1995). Breaking away from the genre, Butler joined the cast of the ill-received ballroom dance comedy Let It Be Me (1995) and played the titular psycho in B-thriller The Ex (1997). Butler got a potentially major career break when she was cast in distinguished TV producer Steven Bochco's 1997 TV police drama Brooklyn South, but the series failed to catch on with viewers; Butler returned to B-movies, including the thriller Witness Files (1998). Her father is Lovin' Spoonful drummer Joe Butler.