Yancy Butler is an American actress whose ticket to fame was her role as Detective Sara Pezzini from the supernatural TV series, “Witchblade.”
Yancy Victoria Butler was born on 2 July 1970 in Greenwich Village, New York City, USA. Her parents are Joe Butler, a former drummer now the lead singer of the band, “The Lovin’ Spoonful,” and Leslie Vega Butler, a former actress now Broadway company manager.
With parents as artists and having grandparents with a theatrical background, Yancy was fascinated by the performing arts while growing up. To prepare for her future in the entertainment business, at the young age of 13, she attended workshops at the illustrious HB (Herbert Berghof) Studios, one of the original performing arts studios in New York.
“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.” – Rumi⠀
Pre-quarantine 📸 by @davidsobel28 ⠀
⠀#Thebutlerdidit #rumiquotes #prequarantinepics #yancybutler #rumilove #witchblade #witchbladejacket pic.twitter.com/OQItcJT4SC
— Yancy Butler (@RealYancyButler) May 29, 2020
She also took ballet classes at the famed Joffrey Ballet School and dance classes at the prominent The Ailey School. Yancy was also able to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts at Sarah Lawrence College in 1991 and was conferred the honor of being a Griggs Scholar.
After college, she was able to get a role in 1991 in “Law & Order,” a newly launched television show aired at NBC, which starred Steven Hill and Jerry Orbach. This guest appearance paved the way for producer Dick Wolf along with Robert DeLaurentis to offer Yancy her first lead role as Sgt. Eve Edison for “Mann & Machine” in 1992. It started airing at NBC on 5 April 1992 but it was canceled after nine episodes with the last five episodes treated as burnoff – being aired during unpopular timeslots.
It was under heavy criticism for being too similar to another failed comedy series in the 70s. However, she was able to get generally favorable reviews for her performance.
In 1993, Dick Wolf/Robert DeLaurentis production created “South Beach” just for her. It was a Modesty Blaise-inspired action-drama TV series. This time she played the role of Kate Patrick, a criminal who was given a choice of working for the government instead of going to prison. However, it was another failed project because after filming for seven episodes, only the first six was aired before it was canceled by NBC network. It ran from 6 June to 12 August.
The dismal turnout of her TV series made her accept movie roles in between filming of the television shows. In 1992, she filmed the movie, “Hard Target,” with Jean Claude Van Damme. It was her first foray into the movies and it was also acclaimed director John Woo’s first Hollywood movie.
The movie was released in 1993 and grossed around $74 million against a budget of $19.5 million.
It was followed by another action movie, “Drop Zone,” in 1994 with Wesley Snipes and Gary Busey directed by John Badlam. It was a commercial failure although it started with a decent opening debut. It did not attract more viewers with earnings of $28 million against a budget of $45 million.
To avoid being type-casted in action films, Yancy accepted a movie role of a sexy dance instructor in 1995 with Patrick Stewart and Campbell Scott in a movie entitled, “Let It Be Me.” It was followed by “The Ex,” an erotic thriller film based on a John Lutz novel with Nick Mancuso and Suzy Amis. She played the role of an ex-wife hell-bent in destroying her former husband’s newfound happiness.
Yancy went back to the small screen and took part in the “Brooklyn South,” police drama TV series, which ran from 22 September 1997 up to 27 April 1998. Just when she thought the show would be renewed for a second season with 22 episodes already aired, network executives canceled right after the final episode of Season 1 was aired. It had a difficult time with the TV ratings even with 10.5 million viewers as it went up against Monday Night Football at ABC and Dateline Monday at NBC.
Her biggest break
In 2000, she was given a lead role in a made-for-TV supernatural action film based on a popular comic book entitled, “Witchblade,” for the TNT network. She played the role of Detective Sara Pezini, who can wield a magical artifact weapon to deliver justice.
It was a commercial success and it was highly watched during its airing on TV with 5.2 million viewers. The result was so competitive that it was comparable to the figures that popular TV shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” made during that time. After its success, the same network ordered a full-fledged TV series version of it with 11 episodes for the first season and was renewed for a second season with 12 episodes. It ran from 12 June 2001 up to 26 August 2002. The series gained a cult following and would have lasted longer, but Yancy’s personal life was getting out of hand and it was affecting her work. It was cancelled after the second season. TNT network, on the other hand, claimed that they wanted to end the series on a high note.
After “Witchblade,” she took a much-needed break and took care of personal issues. In 2004, she started to make movies again and the most notable ones were “The Last Letter” with William Forsythe and Grace Zabriskie, “Wolvesbayne” in 2009 as the powerful ancient vampire Lilith, and the “Lake Placid” franchise movie series where she played the role of a bad-ass hunter named Reba.
Yancy is still active in making movies for television and independent films as well appearing in some TV series with minor roles.
Yancy is currently single and has no children. There was no news of her being engaged to anyone, but she was believed to have been in a relationship with Jeff Havey, her costar in “The Hit List” in 1993.
The relationship did not last long and no one knew the reason for the breakup. She also dated Earl Ward Jr. in 2007 as well as a certain James Driscoll who stalked and harassed her after their breakup.
While her dating history was scarce, she was on the headlines many times due to her long battle with alcoholism. She was arrested several times by the police. The first one was back in November of 2003 in Delray Beach, Florida due to disorderly intoxication. She was sentenced to undergo a substance abuse rehabilitation program.
The second one was in 2007 when she crashed her car in a guard rail and police found out she was driving under the influence. Yancy was detained for several hours and was released after she posted bail of $500.
Days before this arrest happened, her boyfriend at that time, Earl Ward Jr. called 911 to ask for help in placating Yancy after he refused to hand her the car keys. Apparently, the police found out that she was heavily intoxicated and was believed to smoke crack cocaine as well.
The last one was in 2017 in Sag Harbor when she was charged with drunk driving after someone found her passed out slumped over the steering wheel of her car, which she drove onto a sidewalk. She was slurring when she was asked by the police officers and her breath test result was way over the limit of 0.18. Additional charges were made after 14 pills of Xanax were discovered in her purse and after allegedly spitting on the face of the officer-in-charge.
Interesting Facts and Rumors
- An ex-boyfriend stalked and harassed her by making threatening phone calls after she broke up with him. He even posted several defamatory posters outside the treatment center where she was undergoing a substance treatment program. He entered a plea deal when he was arrested and charged.
- The network executives of TNT thought that her “Witchblade” series would be another “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” after achieving high ratings and a loyal audience. An additional budget was approved for the production of the show as well as for promotional purposes. Due to her personal problems, they decided to just cut it short so as not to risk tainting the “Witchblade” brand with scandals for future rebooting plans.
Yancy is 5ft 7ins. (1.73m) tall and weighs around 124lbs (56kgs). She is Caucasian with long wavy dark brown hair and hazel green eyes.
Sources estimated her net worth to be about $2 million as of early 2020. She is still making movies and TV guest appearances up to this day.