The native New Yorker broke into showbiz at age 12 as the object of a wealthy schoolmate's crush in The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid, a 1979 ABC Afterschool Special, and made her feature debut shortly after alongside fellow campers Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neal in Little Darlings (1980), but it was her award-winning Broadway debut as the bratty Dinah Lord in a 1980 revival of The Philadelphia Story that established her credentials on the boards, where she has enjoyed her greatest success. Alternating among the three media, she continued to deliver solid work in projects like the 1982 ABC-movie My Body, My Child, the features Prince of the City (1981) and I Am the Cheese (1983) and the 1982 off-Broadway production of John Guare's Lydie Breeze.

      While a freshman at Barnard College in 1984, Nixon made theatrical history, simultaneously appearing in two hit Broadway plays directed by Mike Nichols. The much-hyped feat saw her play the precocious English daughter of Jeremy Irons and Christine Baranski in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing while portraying a teenage runaway who encounters slimy Hollywood types two blocks away in David Rabe's Hurlyburly. That year's Oscar-winning Best Picture Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman, also featured her in a brief but memorable role as Mozart's tearful maid, hopelessly confused by the mad goings-on in her master's house. She then landed her first major supporting part in a movie as the intelligent girlfriend who aids her teenage boyfriend (Christopher Collet) in building a nuclear bomb in Marshall Brickman's The Manhattan Project (1986). Nixon was part of the all-star cast of the NBC miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan (NBC, 1988) starring Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey and essayed the daughter of a presidential candidate (Michael Murphy) in Tanner (also 1988), Robert Altman's sharply-observed, episodic political satire for HBO--she would later reprise the role for the 2004 follow-up Tanner On Tanner.

      On stage, Nixon portrayed Juliet in a 1988 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Romeo and Juliet and acted in the workshop production of Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles, playing several characters after it came to Broadway in 1989. She replaced Marcia Gay Harden as a pill-popping Mormon wife whose husband reveals his homosexuality in Tony Kushner's landmark two-part Angels in America (1994), received a Tony nomination for her performance as the headstrong young woman who falls for a mama's boy in Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles) (1996, her sixth Broadway show) and, though she originally lost the part to another actress, eventually took over the role of Lala Levy, the aspiring Scarlett O'Hara in the Tony Award-winning The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1997). Nixon was also one of the founding members of the theatrical troupe The Drama Dept., which included Sarah Jessica Parker, Dylan Baker, John Cameron Mitchell and Billy Crudup among its actors, appearing in the group's productions of Kingdom on Earth (1996), June Moon and As Bees in Honey Drown (both 1997) and The Country Club (1999).

      Nixon has contributed fine work in small roles to such varied pictures as Addams Family Values (1993), Marvin's Room (1996) and The Out-of-Towners (1999) but did not find that breakthrough role to propel her to full-fledged feature stardom.

      She did, however, raise her profile significantly as one of the four regulars of HBO's successful comedy Sex in the City (1998-2004), inhabiting her role as the no-nonsense lawyer Miranda with full-bodied believability in support of series star Sarah Jessica Parker. After Emmy nominations as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2002 and 2003, Nixon took home the trophy in 2004 for the series' final season.

      The immense popularity of the series led Nixon to enjoy her first leading role in a feature, playing a video artist who falls in love, despite her best efforts to avoid commitment, with a bisexual actor who just happens to be dating a gay man (her best friend) in Advice From a Caterpillar (2000), as well as starring opposite Scott Bacula in the holiday telepic Papa's Angels (2000). In 2002 she also landed a scene-stealing stint as Mrs. Piggee in the much-admired indie comedy Igby Goes Down, and her turn in the theatrical production of Clare Booth Luce's play The Women was captured for PBS's Stage On Screen series.

      Post-Sex, Nixon remained in demand, enjoying a guest stint on ER in 2005 as a mother who undergoes a tricky procedure to lessen the effects of a debilitating stroke. She followed up with a turn as Eleanor Roosevelt for HBO's Warm Springs (2005), which chronicled Franklin Delano Roosevelt's quest for a miracle cure after discovering he had polio. Nixon earned an Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her sharply drawn performance. She then has a 2005 stint on the ABC hit medical series House as a patient who suffers a seizure and matches wits with Dr. House (Hugh Laurie).

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