Shawn Weatherly is an American actress and beauty queen, who is best known for her roll as Jill Riley on Baywatch.
Weatherly was born on July 24, 1959, in San Antonio, Texas. Her father Lt. Col. Albert Thomas Weatherly, Jr. spent 27 years in the USAF and her mother sadly passed away from cancer when Shawn was only 9 years old.
Weatherly’s pageant journey started when she won the title of Miss Sumter Teen USA 1977. She then competed in the Miss Teen USA 1977 pageant and placed in the Top 10. This initial success led her to participate in the Miss South Carolina USA pageant, which she won in 1980.
Following her victory as Miss South Carolina USA, Shawn Weatherly represented her state in the Miss USA 1980 pageant. She emerged victorious and was crowned Miss USA 1980, earning the opportunity to represent the United States in the Miss Universe 1980 pageant. Weatherly went on to win the Miss Universe title, making her the second American to hold that prestigious title.
Before relinquishing her crown, Shawn Weatherly visited various modeling agencies in New York. However, they advised her to lose 15 to 20 pounds, even though she believed she was already thin enough. She attempted to meet their expectations but ultimately decided that runway modeling wasn’t the right fit for her body type or personal interests. Weatherly did some modeling in San Francisco, but it wasn’t financially lucrative enough to dedicate her full effort to it. As a result, she shifted her focus towards pursuing acting, which led her to acquire a theatrical agent and start attending auditions.
Weatherly’s first acting role was in the popular television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” in 1983. She appeared in an episode titled “Coy vs Vance,” playing the character of Billie Ann Baxley. Weatherly would also make guest appearances in various television shows during the 1980s. She appeared in series such as “The A-Team,” “T.J. Hooker,” and “Happy Days,” among others.
In 1982, Weatherly made her film debut in “Cannonball Run II.” She would have a small part in the film and played ‘Blake’s Girl’. Weatherly shares that she had a brief scene in “Cannonball Run II” alongside Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. She amusingly mentions her father’s cautionary advice about Dean Martin but appreciates Martin’s kindness towards her despite her nervousness.
Police Academy 3
However, it was her role in the comedy film “Police Academy 3: Back in Training” (1986) that gained her wider recognition. Weatherly portrayed Cadet Karen Adams, a cadet at the police academy. The movie was a commercial success and contributed to her rising popularity. She would appear in the movie alongside, Leslie Easterbrook.
Weatherly fondly recalls the humorous moments between takes, with Michael Winslow entertaining the cast with his voices and sounds. She praises the entire cast, stating that they were all delightful to work with.
She would round out the 80s with one of her most prominent acting roles, when she joined the cast of Baywatch in 1989.
Weatherly portrayed the character of Jill Riley during her time on the series. Initially Pamela Bowen was cast as Jill Riley, however her debilitating fear of water caused her to drop out and Shawn Weatherly stepped in to replace her.
Jill, a determined and diligent lifeguard, possessed a strong will and unwavering dedication to her duties. Fearlessly, she put her life on the line to rescue others without hesitation. There was an instance when she defied lifeguard policy to investigate an extraordinary rescue she was involved in, despite Mitch’s objections. Among the lifeguard team, Jill formed close bonds with her colleagues, and her closest confidante was Shauni McClain (Erika Eleniak).
Weatherly appeared in 18 episodes of the show from 1980-1990.
Why Did She Quit Baywatch?
According to an interview, Shawn Weatherly’s decision not to continue with “Baywatch” was influenced by several factors. One of her main concerns was the dialogue in the show. While she appreciated the storylines, Weatherly felt that the promised emphasis on character-driven narratives, akin to the TV show “Thirtysomething,” did not materialize. Instead, the focus became more visually oriented. She understood that the visual appeal was what attracted a large audience and secured funding for the show’s continuation, but it wasn’t aligned with her personal career aspirations.
At the time, Weatherly had recently married and had plans to pursue more serious acting roles. She was also considering starting a family. She couldn’t envision herself committing to another year or two of running around as a lifeguard on the show. Although she jokingly mentioned that a pregnant lifeguard might have been interesting, she believed it wouldn’t have been accepted or appropriate for the show’s context in 1989. Ultimately, her desire for more substantial acting opportunities and the considerations of starting a family led her to decide against continuing with “Baywatch.”
Shawn Weatherly’s character, Jill Riley, was written off “Baywatch” by being killed by a great white shark. She became the first on-duty female lifeguard to be killed in the show, though the second to be seen killed after a rescue.
What is Shawn Weatherly Doing Now?
Shawn Weatherly got into real estate due to personal circumstances and a desire to be present for her family. After moving to Orange County for her husband’s business and experiencing her daughter’s open-heart surgery, Weatherly felt a strong need to be close to her children. Given the flexibility and the ability to be home, she saw real estate as a suitable career choice.
Her mother-in-law, who had been working in real estate for around 30 years, was considering retirement. They discussed the possibility of Weatherly joining her in the business for a few more years, allowing Weatherly to have a job where she could be present for her family. Weatherly obtained her real estate license and started working with her mother-in-law, benefiting from her expertise and learning a great deal from her.
Weatherly found the real estate field to be a whole new area of knowledge and enjoyed the learning experience. She continued working in real estate for approximately five years until her mother-in-law retired. Afterward, Weatherly made the decision to primarily stay at home, focusing on her family.
Shawn Weatherly has led a relatively private personal life. She is married to Chip Harris, a managing director of a private equity firm, and they have two children together.