Shannon Elizabeth may be best known for her role in the cult classic film American Pie, but acting wasn’t her first career or her last.
This actress has worked around the world in a variety of fields, including everything from modeling to professional poker.
10 Cold Hard Facts About Shannon Elizabeth
Shannon Elizabeth started as a poor kid from Texas with the dream of making her passions what helped her pay her bills.
She may have started her life in Texas, but her wild career has taken her all over the world.
Her entertainment career started before she even graduated high school and allowed her to make friends in the local entertainment industry, some of whom would go on to become influential leaders of their field.
Shannon Elizabeth has been a model, actress, director, producer, jewelry designer, and even animal rescuer.
While American Pie may have been her most iconic role, it is far from the most important thing that Elizabeth has done, in her eyes.
1. From Waco, Texas
Shannon Elizabeth was born in Houston, but she grew up and spent the majority of her teenage years in Waco, Texas.
She was born on September 7th of 1973.
Her father had come from the Middle East to the United States with his family, a fact that Elizabeth has always been proud of.
Elizabeth’s parents faced many financial struggles while she was growing up, and she was well aware of her family’s situation from a young age.
She rarely asked for things like toys or new clothes, instead choosing to focus on her love of dancing.
To support their daughter’s passion, her parents worked even harder to afford dance lessons and costumes.
Elizabeth studied multiple genres of dance as a child, including jazz, tap dancing, and even ballet.
It quickly became apparent to her parents that their daughter was meant to do incredible things with her life.
While trying to look for better opportunities, her family decided to move to Waco.
Elizabeth took opportunities she found while attending her new school to expand her interests.
During high school, Elizabeth found her love of tennis and began training for the professional league.
Shannon Elizabeth wasn’t just satisfied with being a dance and tennis star at her new school.
She also joined the cheerleading squad and student council.
Being such an active member of her school made her quite popular among her classmates.
Her parents were also active members of their community and were members of the Lebanese-Syrian club in Waco, like many other members of her family.
For the longest time, Waco has been a small, quiet town that was really only known for being where Shannon Elizabeth was from.
Nowadays, Waco is best known for being the location of HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines.
2. Was In A Music Video In High School
While Shannon Elizabeth was a senior in high school, she was asked to be a part of a music video for a local act.
This was her first taste of the entertainment world, and she knew that she wanted more.
The Urban Sound group Hi-5 was a band that was fresh in the music scene and was originally formed in Waco, Texas.
Although the group was fresh-faced at the time of Shannon Elizabeth working with them, they quickly became known as the music group that only had bad things happen to them.
Around the time that Elizabeth had appeared in their music video, Just Can’t Handle It, the music group was beginning to run into trouble.
The first occurrence of this arose in 1990 when original member Toriano Easley shot and killed a friend of his during an altercation.
Easley was only 17 years old at the time but was still charged as an adult and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
This caused him to miss out on the band’s later success.
Only a couple of years after Shannon Elizabeth worked with the local music group, the group got into a serious car accident that left another founding member, Roderick Pooh Clark, paralyzed for life.
The band would disband only a year later.
Although Hi-5 was going through troubling times, Shannon Elizabeth used her time with the band to create connections.
She had met director and producer Antoine Fuqua on the set of the Hi-5 music video.
Antoine Fuqua ended up being an excellent connection for Elizabeth.
Fuqua would later be known for directing The Equalizer, The Equalizer 2, and The Magnificent 7 with Denzel Washington.
Based on what she learned on set, Elizabeth decided modeling would be her first step in the entertainment industry.
3. Her Modeling Career Predates Her Acting Career
At the recommendation of Antione Fuqua, Shannon Elizabeth signed up with the Ford Modeling Agency when she was in her early 20s.
Her first job with the agency was a Taco Bell commercial that she got as soon as she joined the agency.
Elizabeth had to move all the way from her small Texas town to New York City to pursue her career, which ended up being one of the best decisions she’d ever made.
Thanks to her modeling career, Shannon Elizabeth quickly became a model who was recognized worldwide for her beauty.
By the time she was 22, Elizabeth appeared in a 10-page spread for Playboy Magazine in August of 1999.
Much later in her career, she regretted working with Playboy Magazine, despite still being proud of her sex symbol status.
Throughout her career, she became incredibly popular in countries such as France, Milan, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Although Shannon Elizabeth appreciated being able to see the many different cultures of the world, she quickly became homesick and made plans to return to the United States.
When she returned to the United States, she decided to move to South Beach in Miami, Florida.
This was only a stepping stone before making her way out to Los Angeles, where the competition for work was going to be much more fierce.
During her time as a model in Los Angeles, she became deeply interested in acting and began taking lessons in between modeling sessions.
Elizabeth would make her television debut in 1995 on the sketch comedy show MADtv.
Two years later, Elizabeth would make her first movie appearance in the slasher and comedy film Jack Frost.
In the same year, Shannon Elizabeth was given the small role of a hostage in the action film Blast, which also featured Rutger Hauer and Linden Ashby.
4. A Professional Poker Player
Poker has always been a big part of Shannon Elizabeth’s life, starting from an early age.
When she was a child, she would join some family games of draw and stud poker
Despite being from Texas, Elizabeth had never played Texas Hold ’Em before getting into her acting career.
She didn’t like the popular version of poker at first, but she eventually came to enjoy it after frequently playing with friends such as Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, and Antonio Esfandiari.
After being mentored by famous poker player Daniel Negreanu, Elizabeth joined the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event.
By the following year, Elizabeth had become one of the best celebrity poker players and frequently visited Las Vegas.
Her love of poker quickly became what she described as her second job.
Elizabeth was becoming just as well known for her poker skills as her acting skills.
Elizabeth appeared in the 4th Celebrity Poker Showdown but didn’t win.
She quickly turned her luck around by winning the inaugural Nicky Hilton New Year’s Eve Poker Tournament, which was held to celebrate the opening of the new poker room at Caesar’s Palace.
During the competition, Elizabeth beat 83 celebrities and brought home $55,000 in total winnings.
By 2006, she had caught the attention of Poker Royalty, the best poker marketing and representation agency.
Following the leadership of her representation agency, Shannon Elizabeth was able to cash out at four different World Series of Poker events.
In 2007, she made her way to the semi-finals of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, where she ended up losing to Paul Wasicka.
Between 2006 and 2010, Elizabeth was able to cash out at 12 different major tournaments.
Her biggest poker accomplishment was when she placed second in the Ante Up for Africa Charity Event and won $79,776.
5. A Music Video Director
As Shannon Elizabeth’s career was expanding, she began to take an interest in making the dreams of others a reality by offering behind-the-scenes support for smaller, lesser-known entertainers.
Her first step into the world of entertainment production was directing a music video, just as she had started her career in front of the camera.
The first music video that Elizabeth has produced was More Than Friends by Tha Vill and featuring Kele Le Roc.
Shannon Elizabeth met with the musicians in Los Angeles in 2010 to shoot the music video.
Thanks to the boost in attention coming from Shannon Elizabeth’s involvement, the song saw an impressive amount of success around the world.
It was able to reach the DMC Chart Top 10, number one on Australian Radio, and became a Music Week Key Release.
The music video she directed is still the most popular video on the channel by far.
Out of the channel’s 173,783 views, 58,424 of those views are from Elizabeth’s music video.
This was all Elizabeth needed to prove her diverse talents and get a taste of directing and producing her own work.
It would be the catalyst for her next big move in the entertainment industry.
Shannon Elizabeth is known for always giving her all to any project she works on, no matter how big or small the project may be.
She is an incredibly driven person who strives to do her best in all that she does.
6. Started Her Own Production Company
Shannon Elizabeth created Ganesh Productions in 2011 and was set to produce three different movies through her production company.
Sadly, the production company was overwhelmed by the uphill battles it was finding while attempting to produce the movie Fated.
Although her own production company never got off the ground, Shannon Elizabeth never let go of her producing dreams and decided to produce movies alongside other producers.
She found much more success this way as a producer.
This five-minute comedy sketch followed Jenna Lewis after returning to the city from her time on the hit show Survivor.
In the sketch, Jenna Lewis is seen having a difficult time readjusting to her original urban lifestyle.
Viewers watch as Lewis is found sleeping out, eating rats for lunch, and other tactics she used while on Survivor.
The comedy sketch was co-produced by Jenna Lewis, allowing Elizabeth to work with her celebrity friend.
Shannon Elizabeth can also be seen in the short as an office worker alongside Heather Ankeny but is uncredited for her small role.
For Elizabeth’s next producing job, she was given much more responsibility when becoming executive producer of Swing Away.
This 2016 movie was a much bigger job than her last, meaning the project demanded more hands on deck.
Shannon Elizabeth was one of six executive producers.
The comedy movie stars Elizabeth in the lead role as Zoe, a professional golfer who gets suspended from the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
In an attempt to escape all of her troubles, Zoe leaves for her grandparents’ village in Greece.
Once she arrives, she proposes a golfing showdown to chase a greedy American developer out of her family’s hometown.
7. Has Her Own Animal Rescue
In 2001, Shannon Elizabeth started her own non-profit dog and cat rescue in Los Angeles called Animal Avengers.
Her rescue would hold weekend adoption events, get children involved in animal rescue with its youth program, and make sure that the animals rescued got the care and training they needed to succeed in their future homes.
In 2014, Elizabeth shifted her focus from adopting out animals to getting to the source of animal abuse and mistreatment.
Animal Avengers became an animal advocacy group that focused on ensuring that proper legislation and actions were taken to prevent animal abuse or extinction.
The main issue that Shannon Elizabeth focuses on is the poaching crisis in Africa.
To be an active participant in the fight against poaching, she decided to settle in Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.
Animal Avengers now focuses on inspiring the youth to join the fight against animal cruelty and wildlife preservation.
Elizabeth is an extremely passionate animal advocate, going as far as to say that animals mean everything to her.
Because animals are so often the voiceless victim of crimes and abuse, Elizabeth believes it’s the duty of animal lovers to be their voice and their protectors.
In particular, Shannon Elizabeth has focused on the preservation of rhinoceroses.
Her multi-focused charitable organization, the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation, has continuously raised and given large amounts of money to the Rhino Pride Foundation.
Through her foundation, she has also teamed up with Flying for Freedom South Africa.
Other focuses for her foundation include lobbying for animal rights and the Wildlife Review Initiative.
In 2019, the Shannon Elizabeth Foundation looked to hold a special trip for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
During the Worldwide Experience African Youth Trip, Shannon Elizabeth planned on taking attendees through wilderness camping, rhinoceros feeding, and more.
8. Is A Vegan
Shannon Elizabeth has been vegan for 20 years, but it wasn’t an overnight process for the actress who came from a Lebanese and Syrian family.
Although many of her favorite childhood dishes contained meat, she quickly found that she preferred other dishes from her family’s favorite recipes like vegan falafel.
Her diet journey began by cutting out red meat from her diet after high school.
Elizabeth chose to quit eating red meat because of how dense the food was in her stomach.
Before going vegan, Shannon Elizabeth tried a vegetarian diet during her early days of entertainment.
However, she quickly found that she had a difficult time finding food to eat in her area.
The nail in the coffin for her vegetarian diet was her workdays.
Elizabeth would often find that there wasn’t food that fit her diet while doing shoots and would go hungry all day.
These eating behaviors proved to be damaging to her health, so she took a break from meatless diets.
What moved her to veganism was her experience at the Genesis Awards, which was an award event that celebrated animal rescuers, advocates, and those making a major difference in the lives of animals.
While at the event, two articles were read and won awards.
One article covered the story of how some cows were slaughtered before they were fully dead.
The thought of these animals being able to feel as a butcher cut off their limbs deeply bothered Elizabeth and kept the poor cows on her mind.
The second article discussed the treatment of chickens in the poultry industry.
The article talked about how chickens would be locked in tiny metal cages from such an early age that their bodies would begin to grow around the metal bars of their cage.
9. Was On Celebrity Big Brother
Shannon Elizabeth appeared in the 2018 season of Celebrity Big Brother and was expected to be a fierce competitor on the show.
From the very start, Elizabeth announced what a super fan she was of the series and was well-studied on the best tactics to win the game.
All of the other members of the Celebrity Big Brother house saw Elizabeth as a major threat to their chances of winning and voted to evict her from the house based on her likelihood of winning the competition alone.
It was a near-unanimous vote that sent Elizabeth out the door.
At first, she felt like she had been stabbed in the back by her housemates.
However, she felt much better after some fresh air, a good view of the sunrise, and a treat from Starbucks.
While she was sad at first to see her time on her favorite show get cut so short, she really wanted to see another one of the female contestants win the competition.
Despite not winning, Elizabeth was just glad to get the word out about her charity and to raise awareness for animal rights.
Instead of trying to defend why she should stay in the house, Shannon Elizabeth took her rebuttal time to talk about her work with Animal Avengers and extended the opportunity for her housemates and the viewers at home to join her efforts.
By the end of the show, Shannon Elizabeth was just glad to be a part of the show that she spent many nights watching herself and had a lot of fun on the show.
Although she may not have gotten to the end, she was excited to be a member of the jury and help choose the winner of the show.
10. Has Her Own Jewelry Company
Shannon Elizabeth and her cousin Tamsen Fadal joined together to create their own jewelry company called Shansen Jewelry.
The cousins serve as designers and proud co-founders of their new family business.
The materials used in each piece are mindfully chosen to help promote healing energies and are handmade in order to ensure quality.
Some of their biggest celebrity fans are Mario Lopez, Andy Cohen, Wendy Williams, and Ali Landry.
The jewelry company was started in 2012 and looks to teach the public about different types of semi-precious stones while also offering beautiful designs that speak to the heart of the wearer.
Shansen Jewelry is also made from completely vegan materials.
Sadly, the company hasn’t been active since 2014 and its website is no longer functional.
However, Elizabeth was able to show off another one of her creative talents while also spending time with her family.