Reiko M. Aylesworth (born December 9, 1972) is an American film, television and stage actress, best known for her role on the television series 24 as Michelle Dessler.
Life and career
Aylesworth was born in Evanston, Illinois, and is of Dutch, Welsh, and Japanese ancestry. She lived in Springfield, Illinois, from 1987 to 1988 where she first became interested in acting. After understudying in several productions at the Springfield Theatre Centre, Aylesworth was cast in the role of Consuelo in West Side Story, while her family was preparing to move to Seattle, Washington. When her family left for Seattle, she remained in Springfield with family friends for the duration of the play's run.
After joining her family in Seattle, Aylesworth attended the University of Washington and studied neuroscience. While attending the University of Washington, Aylesworth participated in several local theatre productions including Invisible Friends at the Seattle Children's Theatre and the Intiman Theatre Company's production of Peter Pan where she played Wendy.
Aylesworth's performance in Peter Pan brought her to the attention of talent scouts at ABC, leading to the beginning of her television and film career as Rebecca Lewis on the soap opera One Life to Live. After her character was written out of One Life to Live, she appeared in the independent film Childhood's End and the final episode of the HBO series Lifestories: Families in Crisis. During this time Aylesworth also appeared in at least three Off Broadway productions.
Following a guest appearance on Law & Order and a supporting role in the miniseries A Will of Their Own, Aylesworth had minor appearances in the movies Random Hearts and You've Got Mail followed by a guest star role in the CBS series Now and Again. Soon after NBC cast Aylesworth as Becca Coltrane in the pilot for the series Sherman's March, however, it was not picked up and aired as a standalone television movie.
Aylesworth continued her work on television with guest appearances in The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Ed as well as being cast in a lead role in the supernatural hospital drama All Souls. When All Souls failed to be continued, Aylesworth joined the cast of The American Embassy in the second episode, although she was also credited in the pilot.
Most notable role
Following the cancellation of The American Embassy, Aylesworth auditioned for the part of Nina Myers on Fox Network's 24 but the role went to Sarah Clarke. When casting began for 24's second season, Aylesworth again auditioned, this time for the part of Kate Warner, but the role went to Sarah Wynter. However, the producers were impressed with her and asked her to join the cast for a ten episode recurring role as Michelle Dessler, a CTU agent. Despite being credited as a guest star for the entire season, she appeared in all 24 episodes.
Director Jon Cassar quickly noticed the "chemistry" between Aylesworth and her costar Carlos Bernard, which led to a decision allowing the actors to develop their characters' onscreen relationship. The relationship between Tony Almeida and Michelle quickly became popular with many fans and later would resurface as one of the driving forces in 24's seventh season.
While on hiatus from 24 after season two, Aylesworth filmed an episode for the second season of The Dead Zone, playing a love interest for Anthony Michael Hall's Johnny Smith. By 24's third season, Aylesworth had become a main cast member with Tony and Michelle now married and holding leadership positions at CTU. However, when the season concluded, the writers announced only the characters of Jack Bauer, Chloe O'Brian and John Keeler would return, with the remainder of the cast being dropped. Upon being released from 24, Aylesworth was cast as Chandra Moore in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the lab's new DNA analyst, and while the role was intended to be recurring, it only lasted for the first episode of CSI's fifth season.
During 24 season 4, it was decided some of the cast from previous seasons would return including Carlos Bernard, Dennis Haysbert, and Reiko Aylesworth. In the twelfth episode, Aylesworth returned, with Michelle Dessler now a high level bureaucrat within the CTU hierarchy. Michelle served as CTU Director for the remainder of the season and resigned shortly thereafter in order to remarry Tony Almeida. Aylesworth's time on 24 came to a conclusion in the opening episode of the fifth season when Michelle was killed by a car bomb.
Following her departure from 24, Aylesworth has remained active in both television and movies as well as theatre. Her first leading role in a feature film was in the independent, romantic drama Crazylove where she worked alongside Bruno Campos and former 24 costar Paul Schulze. Crazylove tells the story of Letty Mayer, a school teacher who suffers a nervous breakdown and while institutionalized, meets Michael (Campos) and the two begin a dangerous and unpredictable romance. She partnered with her former 24 costar Xander Berkeley in the Sci Fi Channel made for television movie, Magma: Volcanic Disaster. In a guest start role on the short-lived series Conviction, she played a renowned attorney who killed her husband and then defended herself at the murder trial. When the cast was selected for the series 3 lbs, Aylesworth was chosen for the role of Dr. Adrienne Holland, but the pilot was rejected by CBS. The following season, CBS decided to buy the series for a late fall 2006 premiere, but the lead roles were recast, including Aylesworth's. It is unknown whether she declined the 3Â lbs role or she was not offered it again.
Soon after the conclusion of 24's fifth season, Aylesworth and her 24 costar D. B. Woodside filmed the short, First which was also written, produced, and directed by Woodside. Aylesworth's character, Angelina Marveau, was "a fallen French nun" who was fighting to choose between her religious beliefs and first love, a nihilistic, American professor, who was portrayed by Woodside.
In 2006 Aylesworth filmed roles for two feature movie along with an independent production. In the Kevin Costner movie, Mr. Brooks, Aylesworth portrayed a divorce lawyer, Sheila, who was representing the husband of Demi Moore's character, Detective Tracy Atwood. Departing from her previous type of characters, Aylesworth played the femme fatale Audrey Levine in the Gideon Raff independent thriller, The Killing Floor.
Aylesworth played one of the two lead roles in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). Her character, Kelly O'Brien, an Army pilot and soldier returning home after being deployed overseas, arrives in Gunnison, Colorado the day before the Aliens and Predator invade the town.
In January 2007, Aylesworth had a guest role in two episodes of the ABC comedy, The Knights of Prosperity, where she played the head of Mick Jagger's security company, Simone Cashwell. The Knights attempt to seduce her character in order to obtain the necessary security codes to access Mick Jagger's apartment and later trick Simone in order to get her thumbprint which is also needed to open the door. Soon after she filmed a supporting role in Hannah Davis and David Conolly's The Understudy where she played Police Chief Kinsky. While it has appeared at numerous film festivals, a DVD release date for The Understudy has not been announced.
Roles of 2008
Aylesworth continued her work in independent productions, filming a small part for Steven Kampmann's independent movie, Buzzkill. It is not known when Buzzkill will be released as it has not been shown at any film festivals and the movie's website has not been updated since April, 2008. A month later, Aylesworth was cast in a recurring role on ER, playing hospital chaplain Julia Dupree. Originally, Dupree was to appear in 5 episodes with the purpose of attracting the lecherous attention of Dr. Gates (John Stamos). Her role was extended for two additional episodes, but concluded due to the suspension of filming resulting from the 2007-2008 WGA Strike. In May, 2008 Aylesworth filmed a supporting role in the Steve Morris, independent, comedy The Assistants,, which tells the story of a group of Hollywood assistants who are scheming to have their script turned into a feature film. Aylesworth has often said independent productions like these and past films such as No Deposit, No Return, are her preferred types of film.
The next big role
Since filming The Assistants, Aylesworth has focused on television work starting with a recurring role on the ABC series Lost. The character, Amy, was originally described as "a smart and successful professional woman with a love for the outdoors who is looking for the right man" and would appear in at least four episodes. However, the character would only be in three episodes, and was a married member of the Dharma Initiative, not a woman looking for a husband.
Soon after her role on Lost concluded, it was announced that Aylesworth had joined the cast of Jerry Bruckheimer's new ABC crime drama, The Forgotten. When first made public, The Forgotten was to focus on a group of amateur detectives, The Identity Network, who are led by Linda Manning (Aylesworth), and focused on identifying murder victims after the police were unable to do so. After the official network upfronts, as well as previews and promotional pictures had been released by ABC, it was announced for reasons as yet unknown that ABC had decided to recast the series and replace the two lead characters, portrayed respectively by Rupert Penry-Jones and Aylesworth.
Aylesworth has resided in New York City since 1993 and when not appearing on screen, she is often involved in Off Broadway productions. Her most recent was the 2006 production of Etan Frankel's The Fearless at the Summer Play Festival and The New Group (naked)'s 2007 production of Heather Lynn MacDonald's Expats.
Reiko Aylesworth appeared in a recurring role in the third season of Damages and on Stargate Universe.
Most recent roles
Aylesworth is most recently known for her portrayal of the recurring character Dr. Malia Waincroft in CBS' Hawaii Five-0 in 2011. She has also appeared in Elementary as Miranda Molinari and in Person of Interest as Agent Vickers in 2012.
- Reiko Aylesworth at the Internet Movie Database
- Reiko Aylesworth at AllMovie
- BBC Drama Faces - Reiko Aylesworth