Yancy Butler is an an American actress. producer and voice over artist who was born on July 2, 1970, in New York City. She grew up in the Greenwich Village. She began making showbiz inroads at an early age. In 1979, she made her film debut at the age of seven with a small appearance in the slasher thriller Savage Weekend (1979).
Yancy went on to study at New York’s prominent HB Studios when she was 13. She also attended dance and ballet classes at the notable Joffrey and Ailey schools. Yancy comnes from a fmaily of entertainers. Her father, Joe Butler, was the drummer for The Lovin’ Spoonful, and her mother was a company manager on Broadway. Her grandparents also had theatrical roots. Yancy went on to study at Sarah Lawrence College, where, in 1991, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. Yancy was then able to land a guest spot on the hit show, Law & Order (1991). Her performance caught the eye of Law & Order’s creator-producer, Dick Wolf, who offered Yancy the lead role on his new science-fiction show, Mann & Machine (1992), the following year. Unfortunately, despite a nascent fan following, the series was canceled after a mere nine episodes. Soon after, she had a lead in another Dick Wolf production, South Beach (1993), but it too was short-lived.
Yancy played the damsel in distress to Jean-Claude Van Damme in Hard Target (1993), the Hollywood debut of legendary Hong Kong action filmmaker John Woo. In 1994, she co-starred with Wesley Snipes in the skydiving suspense, Drop Zone (1994). The next few years saw Yancy taking roles in some less-known and independent films, such as Annie’s Garden (1994) and Let It Be Me (1995), as well as some direct-to-video releases, including Fast Money (1995) and The Ex and Ravager (1997). Butler guest appeared on NYPD Blue (1997), which landed her another TV role, this time on the Emmy-winning Brooklyn South (1997-1998). Despite critical acclaim, the series was canceled after one season. Yancy found work in more less-than-memorable films including The Treat (1998), The Witness Files (1999) and Doomsday Man (1999), and The New Adventures of Spin and Marty: Suspect Behavior (2000).
Yancy got the lead role in the TNT made-for-TV movie version of the popular comic book, Witchblade (2000). She portrayed Detective Sara Pezzini, a troubled New York cop who becomes the keeper of the Witchblade; an ancient and magical weapon handed down through the ages. The movie was such a hit that TNT decided to expand it into a full-fledged series. And the decision was a good one. Soon Witchblade became the network’s top draw, and spawned a solid fan following. This in turn led to more successes for Yancy, such as appearances on the The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn and Politically Incorrect, where she contributed to a discussion on gender roles by citing famous psychologist Carl Jung. However, these accomplishments took their toll: In the summer of 2002, while in production of Witchblade’s second season, Butler spent a month in rehab for alcohol abuse, but was able to return to finish taping the show. However, in a surprising move in September 2002, the network decided to pull the plug on “Witchblade”, despite its success. While TNT executives claim they wanted the show to end on a high note, insiders and fans suspect that Yancy Butler’s battle with alcoholism was the real culprit.
After taking a year off from acting, Yancy returned with lead and supporting roles in various independent film productions, and landed a part on the TV daytime soap opera As the World Turns (2007) for a number of episodes. In spite of her substance abuse problems which led to some brushes with the law in 2007, she has been able to rehabilitate and to continue performing in more notable roles in movies and on television.