The explosion of television shows via the popularity of the medium has had a beneficial effect on many actors. As several networks continue frantic searches to put the best talents on TV, unknown actors and actresses have found success, going from guest actors to lead roles. One of those talents is Vanessa Ray, an actress, and singer who was just 22 years old when her career took full flight.
More than a decade and seven years after, she has appeared in a variety of works, from Blue Bloods to Suits to Pretty Little Liars. Her personal life, which has witnessed a divorce, has also come under scrutiny. Still, it is Vanessa Ray’s rising career that keeps her in the news.
At 22 Years Old, Vanessa Ray Earned Her Actor’s Card Via Stage Musicals
Vanessa Ray was born on June 24, 1981, to Valerie Liptak and James Liptak in Livermore, California. Having been born and raised in America, she had the full American life experience growing up. However, the exact details of what her childhood life was like remain unknown.
While Vanessa certainly takes responsibility for the choices that have led her to become a famous television star, it isn’t without the influence of her parents who worked in theatre. Her father, James Liptak, was a music composer for various local productions across the theatre scene in California and New York.
Her career took off in 2003 after spending her teenage years through to the beginning of her adult years appearing in local theatre productions of Footloose and Finding Nemo: The Musical. Ray’s appearance in the musical at Disney World in Orlando was the origin of the role of Nemo.
During this period, she made other stage acting appearances like playing Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Ray’s stage experience took her to the big stage on Broadway where she starred in a production of Hair, playing Crissy. Her talents as a singer were crucial to her early acting credits which were deployed in several musicals.
So, when Vanessa got cast to play Chris in her first onscreen role in The Sparky Chronicles: The Map in 2003, she came with a bag of experience that had a mix of singing and acting. Although it was a short film, it signaled the arrival of a fresh talented actress. She followed it with appearances in another short film, Is He…
Her Onscreen Career Went into Full Gear in 2006
For a couple of years after she starred in Is He…, the Livermore-born actress did not star in any other project, until 2006. At 25 years old, Vanessa Ray began appearing in the soap opera, As the World Turns, as Teri Ciccone. She played the role for over four years, starring in 52 episodes.
Two years into the role, she made a three-episode recurring appearance in The Battery’s Down, a musical comedy show about a young actor’s struggle to make it in New York. The show was short-lived, and she played a version of herself, down to her character name.
In between her run on the soap opera, Vanessa Ray made an appearance in Bored to Death. She also had her debut film appearance in 2008 at the age of 27. She starred as Katrina in the medium-length drama, Finding Chance. In 2010, she added roles in works like Nice Guy Johnny and Damages to her expanding filmography. In the latter, she played Tessa Marchetti in seven episodes.
Overall, since she became a professional actress in 2003, Vanessa has recorded more than 29 credits across film and TV to her name. She has had appearances in films like The Rumperbutts, Serialized, and All in Time. However, for all her limited film appearances, she gained mainstream recognition on TV, with roles in shows like Suits and Pretty Little Liars, and the uber-popular CBS drama, Blue Bloods being her vehicle.
Vanessa Ray Solidified Her Place in Mainstream Television with Blue Bloods
Before she started appearing in Blue Bloods in 2013, Vanessa Ray first built the blocks of her mainstream presence with roles in Suits and Pretty Little Liars. The first was Suits, in 2011 as Jenny Griffith, where she played Mike Ross’s love interest and Trevor Evans’s girlfriend. Her character arc spanned eight episodes, between the first and second seasons.
After Suits, she got cast as CeCe Drake, in the ABC hit series, Pretty Little Liars. Although Vanessa was 30 at the time, she played the 22-year-old character, a sociopathic blonde stylist. She had a more extended stint on the show, spanning 19 episodes between 2012 and 2017.
However, Vanessa Ray’s big mainstream TV role came in 2013, at the age of 31 when she started playing Eddie Janko in CBS’s Blue Bloods. She joined the police procedural drama in season 4, as the partner and eventual life of Jamie Reagan, played by Will Estes. Since joining the law enforcement family in 2013, she has appeared in more than 144 episodes, as one of the show’s starring cast.
Vanessa Ray Got Married to Her First Husband at 22
In many ways, Vanessa Ray’s personal life has evolved alongside her career. In the same year she got her Actors’ Equity Association card, she got married to her first husband, Derek James Baynham. She was 22, and the couple had dated for several months after meeting in Las Vegas in 2001. At the time, Derek was in the boy band, 4 Now.
Like Vanessa, Derek, who is a native of Winnipeg, Canada, is also an actor. He began his acting career in 2002 and has appeared in works like Whistler, Instant Recall, and Parks and Recreation. They got married on January 8, 2003, and were together until 2009. To date, the cause of their divorce remains unknown.
During their time together, they never shared any children. They, however, appeared together on the HGTV series, Marriage Under Construction, in the show’s first season in 2007. Derek had previously hosted Design to Win for the network and filmed the episode following their decision to relocate to Toronto for work.
Her Current Husband is Also a Band Member
A decade after working the aisle for the first time, at the age of 33, Vanessa Ray said ‘I Do’ for the second time to Landon Beard. The couple got married on June 14, 2015, at the Condor’s Nest Ranch in San Diego County after five months of engagement.
Her second and current husband is a singer and theatre aficionado, who is part of Frankie Valli background singers. As part of his music group, he has performed on Broadway, in the play, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Landon Beard also sings and tours with The Modern Gentlemen.
We are not sure how they met, but considering their shared presence in theatre, they presumably met in the line of work. They started dating in 2011 and were together for six years before walking the aisle. They would have remained together ever since, celebrating five anniversaries as a married couple.