Image: 20th Television
The story goes that once Poppy Montgomery decided she wanted to be an actress, she employed a unique strategy to get discovered: She mailed her headshot every day to Julia Robert's then-manager Bob McGowan until he agreed to take her on as a client. Her bold strategy worked, and the TV redhead found herself rising up as an actress in the genre that would later make her famous: crime drama.
Montgomery's debut role came in a two-part episode of Silk Stalkings in 1994. Then 22, she was cast as a runaway teen in the fourth season premiere "Natural Selection." Although her arc was abruptly ended by the episode's dismal plot - where a serial killer was targeting vulnerable street workers, including Montgomery's character Angel, billed as a hustler - she was the central victim who the audience forms the strongest attachment to, as she tried to save herself from the streets and go legit, just before the serial killer comes after her. In her charged scenes, Montgomery gives a nuanced performance, projecting confidence while exhibiting vulnerability.
Through the 1990s, Montgomery would continue to appear on hit shows like NYPD Blue and Party of Five, and by 1996, she joined the cast of the short-lived series Relativity. Although that show's premise didn't prove a hit, the actress gained more notice and in 2001, she was cast as icon Marilyn Monroe in the sensational TV adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' novel Blonde.
Once that police procedural wrapped in 2009, Montgomery had found her niche leading crime dramas, stepping next to the starring role on Unforgettable.
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