Previously Known For: As Six LeMeure on Blossom and as Stevie van Lowe on The Parkers
|Currently Known For: Friendship with Mayim Bialik, her debut country album Breathing Room, The Cradle Chronicles blog, and her book Situation Momedy|
“I think motherhood is like the grand bridge. It really brought me together with a lot of people that I lost touch with over the years. In a way, I feel like we are closer now because we have this connection of our children we can talk about.” From the bright lights of Hollywood to the southern hospitality of Nashville, Tennessee, Jenna von Oy has come a long way since launching her acting career over three decades ago on an episode of ABC Weekend Special. Born as Jennifer Jean von Oy in Danbury, Connecticut on May 2, 1977, von Oy was barely six years old when she first took the stage in a handful of regional productions before she found herself standing next to Bill Cosby filming a Jell-O Pudding Pop commercial in the early 1980s. By then, however, she was already calling herself Jenna rather than Jennifer.
“I was born with the name Jennifer, however, when I was two years old, my guardian angel came to me in a dream and told me her name was Jenna,” von Oy recalls. “She said my name was supposed to be Jenna also. After that, I refused to answer to the name Jennifer anymore. No one has called me Jennifer since then. I legally changed my name a few years later (by then even my parents were convinced it was meant to be!).”
Making her television debut as Jenna von Oy on an episode of ABC Weekend Special, she followed up with appearances on episodes of Tales from the Darkside, Kate & Allie and Monsters before she was cast as Suzanne Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July starring Tom Cruise. She gave an outstanding performance in the 1989 film and returned to television in the early 1990s as Kelly Callahan in the new sitcom, Lenny. Although the series was short-lived, von Oy had made a lasting impression in the industry and won the part of the fast-talking, hat-wearing Six LeMeure on Blossom starring Mayim Bialik in 1990.
Praised for her on-screen charm, von Oy spent the next five years on the show and earned a nomination at the 1992 Young Artist Awards before she took home wins as Best Young Actress in 1993 and as Best Youth Comedienne in 1994. The series wrapped up in 1995 and, despite making appearances on popular series like Chicago Hope, 7th Heaven, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Unhappily Ever After and Moesha, von Oy was happy to finally have the chance to sit back and take inventory of her life and what she wanted. “I think it was getting off the show and having time to figure out what it was that I really wanted, not what other people wanted of me,” von Oy said of her decision to step back from acting and enroll in film school at the University of Southern California.
Eventually dropping out of college and bidding farewell to the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, von Oy returned to Hollywood in 1997 and spent the next two years making one-episode appearances before she was invited to voice Trinket in six episodes of Pepper Ann from 1999 to 2000. She found another recurring part in 1999 and was cast as Stevie van Lowe on The Parkers, which ran until 2004 as she appeared in episodes of What’s with Andy?, Cold Case, Family Guy and Dr. Dolittle 3. She also launched her music career with the release of her debut album—Breathing Room—in 2007 followed by her 2009 EP, Coffee & Men: An EP for Childish Adults.
Embracing her love of country music and songwriting, von Oy settled down in Nashville, Tennessee where she found love at a downtown wine bar when she met a computer data consultant named Brad Bratcher. Dating for two years, the couple tied the knot on October 10, 2010 at a bed and breakfast in von Oy’s hometown of Newton, Connecticut where the couple’s dog served as their ring bearer. During the reception, von Oy even serenaded her husband with a song she’d written for the occasion and later gushed that the day was more than she ever dreamed. “It truly was the best day of my life… it was more fun than we ever expected,” she told People magazine.
von Oy started a new chapter of her life in 2012 when she and Brad welcomed their daughter, Grey Audrey, into the world on May 21st. Sharing her experience as a new mother in an online blog for People magazine, von Oy used the opportunity to launch her own blog, The Cradle Chronicles, where she’s known for her brutal honesty in tackling motherhood especially now that she’s a mother of two after the birth of her daughter, Marlowe, in November 2014. “Not everyone is going to be a supermodel and whip back into shape,” von Oy said in one post addressing the demands of losing her pregnancy weight. “I really feel it’s imperative that I make sure there’s honesty and vulnerability in my words. I appreciate the celebrity bloggers who are telling the truth, who are willing to stand up and say, ‘Okay, I am totally imperfect; I am very flawed.’ …I have the same worries that every mom out there has and if I don’t share that, if I am not honest about it, what’s the point of being out there to begin with?”
Still running the blog today and promoting her newest book, Situation Momedy: A Very Special Episode in Toddlerdom, where she describes herself as the “quintessential best friend from the hit series Blossom and mom of two,” von Oy is grateful for the boost Blossom gave her career and the lessons she learned that she hopes to one day share with her daughters. “I wish I would have allowed myself to be a kid a little bit more. I wish that I had looked in the mirror and understood that I was beautiful at that moment, that it didn’t take another ten years when I knew how to kiss boys and walk across a room wearing tight jeans to feel good about myself. I wish that I had felt that I could give some of my own validation instead of expecting it from everybody else,” she says. “I hope that, if I can teach my daughters anything, it is to be true to themselves. If I had been truer to my heart and a little less concerned about being flawless, I might have indulged my sarcasm a little earlier and allowed my convictions and my voice to come through a little sooner. And those are the things I love most about myself now… I wish I had understood that coloring outside the lines was okay, that conforming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”