WHILE SHE HAS TRAVELED THE WORLD, THIS ACTRESS LOVES TO SPEND TIME WITH HER FAMILY.
By Linda Marx
She has played a sexy vixen on dozens of TV movies and the two successful soap operas Melrose Place and All My Children, an FBI investigator on NBC-TV’s popular show Profiler, and on the California stage, she starred as a civil rights activist in Jerry Mayer’s controversial play Black and Bluestein, touted as a serious comedy.
Jamie Michelle Luner, born in Palo Alto, California, is a versatile and talented actress who started her career at age three appearing on a variety of television commercials, one with the actress Suzanne Somers.
While her father Stuart was a sales representative, her mother Susan performed in movies and stage productions, and encouraged her daughter to pursue her dreams. “I come from a gregarious Jewish family,” says Luner, now 40, and a resident of Los Angeles. “I was always performing, and wanted to do a song and dance routine since I was a little baby.”
Since her parents divorced early, Luner and her older brother David, now in public relations and licensing for TV’s American Idol, were raised by Susan, who insisted her daughter take dancing, singing and other classes in the performing arts to help broaden her skills.
“I got tall as a young girl and that was bad, so it was good to engage in the other areas to help get noticed,” says Luner, who also did a stint studying acting at the Professional Children’s School in New York City.
In 1985, when Luner was 15, and a student at Beverly Hills High School—later she was the winner of the single monologues category in the L.A. Shakespeare Festival—the aspiring actress got her first break.
She was hired for several episodes of the ABC-TV comedy Growing Pains, cast as Sheena Berkowitz, series star Kirk Cameron’s date. Her success in the role got her a part in the network’s 1988 spin-off Just the Ten of Us, where she played sexy, scatterbrained, boy-crazy Cindy Lubbock in a crazy family relocating to Eureka, California.
When that show ended about three years later, Luner took a break from acting to attend culinary school and eventually became a chef at Drai’s, a popular French restaurant in Los Angeles frequented by stars such as Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and Madonna.
“Besides acting, my other passion is cooking,” says Luner, who is single and looks great whether her trademark long hair is red or dark brown. “I love the Epicurean style and learned a lot about sauces. I enjoyed the break although I still did auditions for acting. I just wasn’t desperate.”
In 1993, she returned to acting in the made for TV movie Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter? starring with Linda Gray. Multiple TV movies followed. The most interesting, Confessions of a Sorority Girl, began her professional relationship with the late producer Aaron Spelling, who cast her as the southern vixen Peyton Richards in the Warner Brothers primetime soap Savannah.
“I moved to Atlanta for this amazing experience,” she recalls vividly. “It was the first time I had lived in an area with four seasons. It was beautiful and a great town for the arts. I worked and immersed myself in the part. I thought Savannah was an incredible show with drama, riverboats, southern politics and grandiose soapy themes. I still don’t know why it was canceled.”
In 1997 she was cast in the Fox soap Melrose Place as bad girl Lexi Sterling, and went back to work. Although her fellow actors call her “turbo” because of her high energy level and ability to drink 10 cups of coffee a day, the show wasn’t quite so supercharged and died in 1999.
After TV’s Profiler ended, Luner appeared on other shows, like The Outer Limits, CSI: Miami and That’s Life. In 2005 and 2006, she was cast in starring roles for two-hour Lifetime Network movies: Blind Injustice, Stranger in My Bed, The Suspect and The Perfect Marriage, all exciting, sexy thrillers in which she excels. This year, Walking the Hall will air on the network.
In addition to an expressive face and caring eyes, Luner has a natural quality that lights up the screen with excitement and wonderment of what she will do next.
Since her latest soap, All My Children, which she joined in 2009 before it was unexpectedly canceled, Luner has spent time singing, taking ballet lessons three days a week, looking for a regular part in a comedy show, and doing charity work for L.A. based Project Angel Food, a nonprofit that feeds cancer and AIDS patients.
“I keep my charity and art going while seeking new work challenges, and I still love cooking and spending time with my family,” says Luner.
She may play one of Hollywood’s bad girls, but the actress is at the top of the ring as a good person with a big heart and a sensitive soul.