Shannon Elizabeth

What's an ambitious, part-Syrian, all-beautiful girl like Shannon Elizabeth supposed to do in sleepy Waco, Texas? Figure out how to escape, of course.

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"I was bored off my ass," says Elizabeth, who fled her hometown after high school. "I felt like I had goals and most people I knew were happy doing nothing--or working in gas stations. That's not me."

L.A. has proven a better fit: Shannon has completed three films in eight months, playing a fashion designer opposite Steven Seagal's son Kentaro in Seamless, an exotic dancer opposite Sean Astin in Dish Dogs, and, most significantly, making her studio-film debut in the teen sex flick American Pie, in which she portrays a Czech exchange student who's the object of young male lust. Touted as Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets There's Something About Mary, the flick's generated maximum heat in industry screenings. "Everybody I run into who hasn't seen it wants to see it," Elizabeth says, quite accurately.

In person, Elizabeth exudes the no-nonsense energy of a hardworking young thespian, which is exactly what she intends to remain, having already observed the darker side of being female and attractive in Hollywood. "I meet girls all the time in bad situations--they're being kept by someone with money, or they're with someone with a name and they hope it'll rub off on them. They say they're actresses--but they never work at it."

She has opted instead for domestic tranquility with her serious beau, actor Joseph Reitman (of the '96 sitcom Townies), in the house they bought and share with five dogs. There's lots of cocooning and cleaning to keep her occupied: "I like keeping things straight. With five dogs, I kinda have to." Is she obsessive, in other words? "I'm a Virgo," responds Elizabeth. "We're artistic, perfectionistic or neat-freaks--or all of the above."

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Joshua Mooney



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