Jena Malone (born November 21, 1984) is an American actress and musician. She made her movie debut with the film Bastard Out of Carolina (1996) and has appeared in films including Ellen Foster (1997), Contact (1997), Stepmom (1998), Donnie Darko (2001), Saved! (2004), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Into the Wild (2007), The Ruins (2008), Sucker Punch (2011) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). Malone is also an experimental musician who has released music both under her own name and as The Shoe.
Early life and education
Malone was born in Sparks, Nevada to Deborah "Debbie" Malone. She was raised by her mother and her mother's girlfriend at the time, whom she has called "Godmom". Malone has stated that her biological father's surname was "Berge" or "Bergen", and that he was of part Norwegian descent; she also has Irish ancestry. By the time she was 9 years old, she had already lived in 27 different locations. Malone began taking an interest in acting after watching her mother, who was involved in community theatre. In 1995, she moved to Las Vegas, and later persuaded her mother to move toLos Angeles to pursue a career in acting. In Los Angeles, California, Malone has stated that she and her mother struggled with money. Malone was home-schooled from sixth to eighth grade. She attended the Professional Children's School, for the ninth grade in New York, and quit it after a year, when she became legally emancipated, in January 2000. At some point she later obtained her General Educational Development (GED). She has one younger sister, Madison Mae Malone (born 1997).
Malone progressed to professional acting with the 1996 film Bastard Out of Carolina. She was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries for her role in the film, Ruth Anne 'Bone' Boatwright. From there, her roles have grown to include several Hollywood features. In 1997, she was nominated for a Golden Globe, Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie, for her role in Hope.
After working on various TV projects, and as a supporting actress in films such as Contact and Stepmom, Malone had her first cinematic leading role in the 2001 cult hit Donnie Darko as Gretchen Ross, the new girl in town who becomes the girlfriend of Jake Gyllenhaal's title character.