Most of us know actress A.J. Cook as the brilliant and beautiful Jennifer “JJ” Jareau from the hit crime show “Criminal Minds.” She graced our screens every week for over a decade with her killer moves and witty dialogue, until the show ended in 2020 (via Country Living). But ever since the 1990s, Cook has appeared in over 30 projects, ranging from blockbuster hits to miniseries. At only 19 years old, A.J. Cook got her start in a McDonald’s commercial, which is bonkers to think about considering where she ended up not even a decade later (via TV Over Mind).
While “Criminal Minds” may have ended, our love for her is nowhere near over. From humble beginnings to relaxing getaways, her fans get to see her on social media, and they are pumped to see what she’ll do next. But let’s take a look back at where the Canadian beauty started.
A.J. Cook was legally blind as a child
Born July 22, 1978, Andrea Joy Cook, known by her stage name A.J. Cook, had an interesting childhood. Born in Oshawa, she spent most of her time in the town of Whitby, in Ontario, Canada, along with her parents, Michael and Sandra, and her three siblings, Nathan, Paul, and Angela.
When she was very young, she was declared legally blind due to her severe astigmatism and had to get corrective surgery. However, none of that stopped her from pursuing her dancing career. At age 4, Cook began taking multiple dance classes such as jazz, tap, and ballet. She loved it so much that she started competing and teaching until 16, when she decided to try her hand at acting. However, she’s stated that if acting didn’t work out, she would’ve opened a dance studio. And she also confided that she still tap dances to this day (via The Famous People).
AJ Cook got her big break in The Virgin Suicides
A.J. Cook fell in love with acting (and her husband) while attending Utah Valley University. She started professionally acting in the 1990s, guest appearing in “Goosebumps” and multiple TV movies. Her breakout role was in the 1999 Sofia Coppola cult classic “The Virgin Suicides,” where she played troubled Mary Lisbon. The drama is based around five men remembering their times with the neighborhood Lisbon sisters, and their untimely suicide pact. Later that year, she starred as the lead, Shelby Merrick, in the short lived series “Higher Ground.” This American-Canadian show was based around teens at risk, and takes place in the mountains (via IMDb).
Then she starred in multiple hit films like “Final Destination 2,” “Ripper,” and “Out Cold.” She came back to the small screen by guest-starring in the series “Tru Calling.” So the first decade of Cook’s career was a crazy one, and it only got crazier after “Criminal Minds” (via IMDb).
A.J. Cook was sadly fired from Criminal Minds
In 2005, A.J. Cook was cast as one of the leads of “Criminal Minds.” The iconic Jennifer Jareau, or “JJ,” continues to be a fan favorite for her 15-year run. Despite taking a hiatus from the show to do other projects, she continually came back to play her part. On her time during “Criminal Minds,” her character did just about everything, from having babies to helping hunt down killers from all over the United States. However, she ended up getting fired (reportedly for cost-cutting measures), and viewers were highly upset with the decision (via The Things). Due to overwhelming fan support, the show brought her character back.
Despite having a hectic schedule with the CBS hit, she had time to star in other projects like “Vanished,” “I’m Reed Fish,” and “Wer” (via IMDb). She’s consistently worked for the past two decades, but now Cook has taken a step back to focus on her loving family.
She has two sons with her husband of 20 years
As previously mentioned, A.J. Cook met her loving husband, Nathan Andersen, while attending university (via Paramount Plus). They married in August 2001 and have had a beautiful, low-profile relationship that keeps us all envious, which she sometimes showcases on Instagram. In September 2008, their first son was born. And because they’re an adorable, awesome couple, they named their child Mekhai Allan (via People). Seven years later, in July 2015, she gave birth to Phoenix Sky, and “Criminal Minds” fans have definitely seen his adorable face (via People). He appeared as JJ’s son on quite a few occasions, and he stole everyone’s hearts.
Now Cook has stated that she’s taking a year off from acting and just living her life for the next year. She’s posted things on her Instagram such as the newest book to read, her car travels, and pictures of her amazing family. Fans are excited to see what A.J. Cook will do next, even if it’s just on-the-road videos.
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