Mare Winningham is an award-winning American actress from Phoenix, Arizona, who started her career as a singer-songwriter. She was born in 1956 and moved to California after her father took a job at the California State University at Northridge. Winningham studied acting as a teenager, and she made her first stage performance in high school, playing a lead role in the musical, The Sound of Music, opposite classmate Kevin Spacey. In 1976, the actress sang on national television as a contestant on Chuck Berry's Gong Show. Winningham went on to do a guest appearance in the popular prime-time series, James at 15, paving the way for other prime-time guest roles, including spots on Police Woman and Starsky and Hutch. In 1980, Winningham won her first Emmy for her work in the TV drama, Off the Minnesota Strip. She made her film debut that same year playing opposite Paul Simon in One Trick Pony, and the actress entered the famed "Brat Pack" after playing a supporting role in the 1985 blockbuster, St. Elmo's Fire. Winningham has accumulated over twenty international awards and nominations during her forty-year career, capturing an Oscar nomination in 1996 and a second Emmy award two years later.