“I’ve really gotten to be around so many different kinds of people and cultures… it really opened me up to so many different things in the world.” Named after the leading lady in one of her mother’s favorite films, All I Want for Christmas Is You, Hallie Eisenberg might be better known today as Jesse Eisenberg’s younger sister but she was the first to find fame long before her big brother’s award-nominated performance in The Social Network. So, how did the dimpled darling from New Jersey become one of the most recognized stars of the late 1990s and early 2000s? We thought you’d never ask!
Years before she was known as “The Pepsi Girl,” Hallie Kate Eisenberg was born on August 2, 1992 in East Brunswick, New Jersey where her father worked as a college professor and her mother ran the drama program for the local public schools while she spent her weekends and evenings acting in community theater and working as a professional clown. It was because of her mother’s connections in the industry that both Jesse and Hallie were introduced to theater with Jesse often performing in school and community theater before signing on with a commercial agent named Bonnie Shumofsky. Coincidentally, Shumofsky spotted the young Hallie when she accompanied her mother and Jesse to her office one afternoon. “Shumofsky was struck by Hallie’s dimples, charm and overall look, and asked to send her out took. Hallie’s first job was a commercial for a Nickelodeon children’s program, Blues Clues,” The Guardian reported. “She’s booked work ever since.”
With Hallie joining her brother in show business, her parents quickly set a few rules for the youngster as she snagged a handful of commercials before catching a huge break when she was cast in the first of many Pepsi commercials in the late 1990s. “Hallie knows if it’s ever not fun anymore, if she feels forced to work, she can speak up and that’s that,” her father, Barry, said of his daughter’s growing fame. Hallie, of course, had a natural talent for the work and found fame as the Pepsi-loving youngster as Pepsi’s creative team cashed in on her charm and paired her with NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, not to mention dubbing her voice with a character straight from The Godfather. “I say the lines and they put the voices in later,” Hallie explained of the trick.
Before long, Hallie became known as “The Pepsi Kid” and was an even bigger star than her brother as offers, scripts and invitations poured into her agent’s office. For Shumofsky, striking gold with Hallie wasn’t hard, however, because of Hallie’s natural talent and the fact that her parents weren’t interested in cashing in on their daughter’s growing fame. “When you can see a child performing only because the parent wants it, rather than the child naturally enjoying it, that shows. It doesn’t work,” Shumofsky said. With Hallie obviously enjoying the work, it wasn’t long before she made her way to the silver screen with her feature film debut coming in the 1998 children’s flick, Paulie.
Finding her niche in film, Hallie joined Al Pacino and Russell Crowe in The Insider and then starred opposite the late Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man but started looking for projects that wouldn’t take her as far from her normal life in New Jersey, at least not for too long. “For me, it would just be hard to leave,” Hallie said of her life at home. “I have five pets at home, my brother and sister, my parents and my horse, so it would just be really hard for me to leave all that for so long.” Taking on smaller projects over the next few years with credits in Get Real, Beautiful, The Miracle Worker and The Goodbye Girl, Hallie returned to the silver screen in How to Eat Fried Worms in 2006.
Although she admittedly enjoyed filming How to Eat Fried Worms, Hallie became more and more selective with her projects and spent the next two years focused on her interests outside of Hollywood, specifically horseback riding and circus performing. “I horseback ride pretty much every day,” she said. “Even when I don’t ride, I’m at the farm making sure he has food and water. I’m also very into circus performing. I love going to local circuses. I don’t go to the big ones with the animals, because I don’t like how they treat them; I’m a vegetarian and an animal rights person. But I go to the performing circuses all the time, and I was actually in the circus. I do the devil sticks.”
Amid her interests in circus performing, Hallie made her way back to film in 2008 with credits in P.J. and Wild Child before making her last film appearance at 18 years old in the 2010 flick, Holy Rollers. Although she made her way to Broadway and appeared in a production of The Women, she put her career as an actress on hold and finished her senior year in high school before enrolling at American University in Washington, D.C. So, what’s she been up to over the last seven years?
Although she once hinted that she was considering medical school, the 25-year-old Hallie doesn’t seem to have an MD or a PhD behind her name, at least not that we’re aware. Instead, the former “Pepsi Girl” seems content with her life outside of the spotlight as she supports her brother, Jesse, who’s made quite the name for himself as an award-winning actor, author and playwright, as well as her boyfriend, singer Owen Danoff. In fact, she was last spotted in the audience on an episode of The Voice in March 2016 where she happily supported Danoff as he competed on the popular talent show. Since then, Hallie and her beau have moved to New York City where they’re currently sharing an apartment with Jesse, which leaves us to wonder what’s next for the former child star who once said, “I love everything about acting. I like meeting so many people and I like just getting up there and doing it.” Will she ever return to television and film? We’ll simply have to wait and see!