Danneel Ackles (née Elta Danneel Graul; March 18, 1979), better known by her stage name Danneel Harris, is an American actress and model. She is best known for her roles as Shannon McBain on One Life to Live and Rachel Gatina on One Tree Hill.
Elta Danneel Graul was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and was raised in the small town of Eunice in St. Landry Parish. Her father is a practicing Ophthalmologist and her mother works as an interior designer. She was named after her great-grandmother. Her first name is Elta, but she goes by her middle name, Danneel, professionally. The name “Danneel” was inspired by Danneel Street in New Orleans. Her cousin is actress Mary Lou. She moved to Los Angeles and continued her acting training.
Before she landed her first acting role, Harris worked as a model with such companies as Big Sexy Hair and Juicy Jeans. She first appeared in a television commercial. In 2003 Harris landed her first role on the American Broadcasting Company Soap Opera television series One Life to Live as Shannon McBain a student attending the fictional Llanview University. Harris relocated to New York for the role and left the series in December 2004. Harris has since gone on to appear in shows such as How I Met Your Mother, What I Like About You and CSI: Miami.Harris’s first film role was in the short film The Plight of Clownana. Harris has appeared on the Maxim Hot 100 in both 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2005 Harris was announced to have a major recurring role in the third season of The CW Teen Drama television series One Tree Hill. Harris portrayed the role of Rachel Gattina a bad girl who creates havoc for the residents of Tree Hill and returned to her role as a series regular for the shows fourth season. However in season five, Harris only reprises the role of Rachel in two episodes due to the seasons format change. Harris appeared on the cover of Maxim in November 2006 alongside both One Tree Hill cast members Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton. In June 2009 Harris was confirmed to reprise the role of Rachel in the series seventh season over the course of seven episodes.Harris was in-talks to return for the series eighth season but due to scheduling conflicts these plans never materialized.
In January 2007 Harris was cast as the female lead in the New Line Cinema Comedy film Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay the sequel to the 2004 film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Filming took place in Shreveport, Louisiana that same month. The film was released in April 2008 to mixed reviews and went on to gross over $43,439,123 worldwide. Harris reprises the role of Vanessa Fanning in the third and final film of the trilogy A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas which was released in November 2011. In both 2009 and 2010, Harris had major supporting roles in both films Fired Up! and The Back-up Plan.
In May 2009 Harris was announced to have been cast in the Screen Gems Thriller film The Roommate. The film which stars Leighton Meester and Cam Gigandet centers on a college freshman who’s roommate has a violent obsession with her. Harris portrays the role of Irene Crew, a high-profile fashion designer. The film was shot on location at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles suffered numerous push-backs due to unknown reasons. Eventually the film was released in February 2011 to a $15.6 million opening weekend despite negative reviews from critics and went on to gross over $40 million worldwide.
In September 2009 Harris appeared in the Sitcom television series pilot Friends with Benefits which was picked up by NBC. It was originally set to air on NBC as a midseason replacement during the 2010–11 television season but was delayed till August 2011. Harris portrayed the role of Sara Maxwell a doctor desperate to find the right guy. The series premiered to a low 2.34 million viewers and mixed reviews from critics. The series was not renewed for a second season due to low ratings.
In June 2012, Harris was announced to have a major recurring role in the second season of the TV Land Sitcom television series Retired at 35. (Johnathan McClain).
After three years of dating, Harris became engaged to actor Jensen Ackles in November 2009. The couple married on May 15, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. Their daughter, Justice Jay (“JJ”), was born on May 30, 2013.