Jennifer Lesley Ellison (born 30 May 1983) is an English actress, former glamour model, television personality, dancer and singer. Ellison is perhaps best known for playing Emily Shadwick in the television soap opera Brookside until 2003, and as Meg Giry in the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. Ellison also starred on the reality TV show Dance Mums the UK version of the American reality TV show, Dance Moms.
Ellison studied dance from the age of three, first at a dance school in Liverpool, then later[when?] at the Elizabeth Hill School of Dancing in St Helens. She has achieved examination passes with the Royal Academy of Dance and appeared on instructional videos for the academy. She has also taken examinations with the International Dance Teachers Association and won Ballet and Modern Dance titles at the IDTA Theatre Dance Championships in 1996 and 1997, and in addition was awarded the Carl Alan Award for ballet in 1998. Choosing to pursue a professional career in dance, she successfully auditioned for the Royal Ballet Lower School. She left dance to pursue acting.
In 2012, Ellison was a contestant on Dancing On Ice and made it to the semi-final stages. She currently hosts the UK version of Dance Moms on Lifetime, Dance Mums with Jennifer Ellison.
From 1998 to 2003, Ellison played Emily Shadwick in the soap opera Brookside. Emily was killed off when she fell from a window during a heist involving drug dealers that had invaded the close. In 2003, Ellison appeared in the travel documentary Jennifer Ellison does Thailand and in 2004, she appeared on the reality television show Hell’s Kitchen, which she then went on to win. In 2005, she appeared on the celebrity challenge show With a Little Help From My Friends.
In spring 2007, Ellison appeared in the BBC reality TV show The Verdict, based on a fictional courtroom, alongside the likes of Jeffrey Archer and Sara Payne. That same year, she appeared as a judge on Dirty Dancing – Time of your Life a United States-based reality television show for the Living TV network. By December of that year, Ellison began appearing as a guest panellist on the ITV daytime show Loose Women.
Additionally, Ellison has also acted in episodes of the British television series The Brief, Hotel Babylon, New Street Law and The Commander. In September 2008, she appeared in a 2-hour long show, called Ghosthunting with Paul O’Grady & Friends, filmed in Sicily, with fellow Liverpudlians Paul O’Grady, Philip Olivier and Natasha Hamilton.
After success in television and men’s magazines, Ellison pursued a pop music career. She released two pop rock singles before giving this venture up for acting and glamour modelling. Her first single was “Baby I Don’t Care”, released in June 2003, which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was originally released by Transvision Vamp in 1989. The following year in July, after being brought back into the public eye after winning Hell’s Kitchen, Ellison released her second single, “Bye Bye Boy” a song originally recorded by the Japanese singer Nanase Aikawa – which reached No. 13 in the UK chart.