Sydney Penny was born in Nashville, Tennessee to Hank Penny, comedian and pioneer of Western Swing music and his wife, Shari, an operatically trained singer. Sydney began her career at the age of three and a half, performing with her parents on stage.
At age 10, Sydney was chosen to portray “Young Meggie” in the ABC mini-series, “The Thorn Birds”. She held her own opposite heavyweights Richard Chamberlain, Barbara Stanwyck, and Jean Simmons, earning her critical acclaim. Her performance also inspired a personal note from Burt Reynolds who called her “the most beautiful girl on the silver screen.”
In 1985, Clint Eastwood cast Sydney as “Megan Wheeler,” the young girl who falls in love with the enigmatic preacher in “Pale Rider”; his return to westerns and her first feature film role. Her work earned her a Youth in Film Award.
Sydney shared her first on-screen kiss with Rick Schroeder in the telefilm “Two Kinds of Love,” was given hope to live by Art Carney in O. Henry’s classic, “The Last Leaf,” and was bought out of slavery by Martin Sheen in “The Fourth Wiseman,” who would also play her father in “News at Eleven.” In 1986, Sydney took to the beach as “Danni Collins” in the popular syndicated series, “The New Gidget”.
Famed French director, Jean Delannoy chose Sydney to portray Bernadette Soubirous in “Bernadette,” the story of the 15 year-old visionary from Lourdes. Although she did not speak French at the time, the film was shot in both English and French. Sydney worked with a coach to learn her lines phonetically, eventually becoming fluent.
Delannoy and Penny followed up with “La Passion de Bernadette,” the story of Bernadette’s life in the convent, in French only. Both films were lauded by Pope John Paul II for the accurate portrayal of her life, were critically well received and play in perpetuity in Lourdes, France.
Penny played Sophia Loren’s daughter, Rosetta in “Running Away,” a remake of the 1961 film for which Loren had won an Oscar.
Sydney appeared daily as “BJ Walker,” in NBC’s daytime series, “Santa Barbara”. Her portrayal of a young woman living with the secret of incest earned her a nomination for an Emmy for Outstanding Younger Leading Actress.
Penny moved to New York to appear as “Julia Santos” on the ABC daytime drama, “All My Children”. Penny and co-star Keith Hamilton Cobb were dubbed Soap Opera Digest’s hottest couple and Sydney earned a second Emmy nomination.
In 1997, Penny traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina to film “Enchanted,” a romantic comedy written, directed and produced by co-star John Ward. In 1999, Penny was crowned the Fifty-second Azalea Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival.
Sydney returned to television in the WB series, “Hyperion Bay,” created by “Thirtysomething” writer, Joe Dougherty, followed up by a recurring role as “Josie Oliver,” a cocaine-addicted kidnapper on “Beverly Hills 90210”.
Penny portrayed ex-CIA agent “Joy Arden” in the syndicated series, “Largo Winch,” co-produced by Paramount and M6, and filmed in Montreal and Paris. For the role she learned kickboxing and martial arts and wielded a variety of weapons.
Penny starred in the telefilm “Hidden Places” opposite Shirley Jones and Jason Gedrick. The story recounts a woman’s struggle to keep her orange farm during the Great Depression, for which she won a CAMIE award. (Character and Morality in Entertainment).
Sydney returned to All My Children, reprising her popular role for another three years in 2005. During this time she also served on the board of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Sydney played a murderously jealous bride in the popular Lifetime movie, “The Wife He Met Online”. Other recent film projects include “The Wish List” for Hallmark Channel and “Little Red Wagon”, a film about Zach Bonner directed by David Anspaugh. She also stars opposite country star Kix Brooks in 2013’s “Dark Canyon,” that premiered at the 2012 Austin Film Festival.
Sydney co-produced her first feature film in her adopted hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, a romantic drama entitled “Heart of the Country”, in 2012, in which she also played a supporting role. The film was picked up by 20th Century Fox for release in summer 2013.
Other projects include “The Perfect Summer,” a family drama written and directed by Gary Wheeler. Sydney plays Alyssa, a widow trying to create a new life for her and her son, forced to move in with her estranged father, ex-surfer Eric Roberts.
Sydney’s other professional and artistic interests include writing screenplays and poetry. She is completing a fictional novel as well as developing her own original ideas for television and film.
Sydney and her husband, Robert L. Powers have a son, Chasen, born in 2007 as well as two opinionated Siamese cats. Rob, a chef trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, is launching a line of barbecue sauces and gourmet seasonings in 2013 called Curly’s Q Sauce.
Sydney is an avid reader with a particular fondness for mysteries and historical non-fiction. Her other interests include competitive tennis, gardening, genealogy and watching BBC’s Top Gear.