Not many people know exactly what career path they want to follow at age 11 and even fewer manage to follow through successfully on their plans. But Calgary-born Elisha Cuthbert is one of the lucky folk who has done just that. "I think about my life growing up and the path I took and I'm constantly amazed at how little I was when I knew what I wanted to do in life," admits the 24 star.
The eldest child of Kevin and Patricia Cuthbert she has three siblings, sister Lee-Ann and brother Jonathan Elisha made her debut into the world on November 30, 1982. Though she was born in Alberta, the actress who is a fluent French speaker grew up in Longueuil, Quebec, near Montreal.
Treading a path pursued by many before her, the pretty blonde started her career as a model, getting her first taste of life in front of the camera when, aged seven, she was signed up to promote a line of childrenswear.
Her first TV appearance came in 1996 when she landed a recurring role in the children's series Are You Afraid Of The Dark?. Her big break came, however, when she was invited to host the ground-breaking Popular Mechanics For Kids, a documentary-style show aimed at showing children how things work. Reporting for the show introduced her to a globe-trotting lifestyle which in turn brought her to the attention of Hillary Clinton. The then-First Lady was so impressed by the youthful reporter's skills she invited her to visit the White House.
Shortly after her Washington jaunt, 17-year-old Elisha relocated to Los Angeles intent on pursuing her dream of breaking into Hollywood. She was five weeks into the month-and-a-half deadline she had given herself in which to succeed, when she scored a role as Kiefer Sutherland's daughter Kim in TV action series 24. While the award-winning show gave Elisha's career a major boost, the actress continued to take on roles in a number of TV flicks, one of which - Lucky Girl - earned the ambitious youngster a prestigious Canadian Gemini gong in 2001.
Then, in 2005, she took a gamble by dropping out of 24 to concentrate on launching her film career. Initially the parts that came her way were relatively minor - but they were all in major movies. And before long she was landing bigger parts, like that of a former teenage porn star in the 2004 flick The Girl Next Door. While she had no problem with the role itself, Elisha drew a line at the nude scenes, insisting on a body double instead. "I'd like to keep some things to myself... my breasts being one of them," she explained.
Despite her youth, hard-working and dedicated Leesh as she is known to her friends - is already keen to expand on her skill base. And for 2005 film The Quiet, she took on the role of producer, as well as starring alongside fellow Canadian Shawn Ashmore.
When she's not busy lensing movies, hockey fan Elisha who holds season tickets for the LA Kings - maintains a NHL.com blog called Hollywood Hockey Thoughts. And although she doesn't take to the pitch herself - unlike her brother and her 40-something mother who are both keen players the blonde actress has her own romantic link to the onscreen action. After breaking up with Justin Timberlake's personal assistant Tracy Ayala, to whom she was engaged for a year, she struck up a relationship with Ontario-born LA King Sean Avery in November 2005. It wasn't meant to be for the pair, however, who split in August 2007. But Elisha showed she clearly has a soft spot for hunky hockey players when she began dating Calgary Flames' defenseman Dion Phaneuf a year later in the summer of 2008.
And while she's enjoying considerable success in California and facing a bright future in Hollywood, Elisha hasn't lost touch with her Canadian roots. "It's funny. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was to leave and make it in LA," she says. "But once I make it once I reach for higher goals and feel content I think I'm going to find myself back home again."