The daughter of an Anglo-German father and a Filipino-Hawaiian mother, Shannon Marie Kahoolani Sossamon was born October 3, 1978, in Honolulu, Hawaii. At age three, Shannon moved with her family to Reno, Nevada. In the mid-1980s, Shannon's mother Sherry split up with her father, Todd Lindberg, and remarried.
While in Reno, Shannon attended Galena High School, and during those years spent much time dancing, often competitively, while getting her first job as a receptionist for her stepfather's car dealership.
In 1995, Shannon changed her name to "Shannyn," then moved to Los Angeles to study dance the following year. She attended Dance Unlimited, and during this time began to work as a DJ in small local clubs. But the pay was hardly spectacular. Sossamon made ends meet by working in coffeehouses and a cigar-espresso store; she also worked briefly as a telemarketer for a carpet cleaning service.
Living in LA, it was only a matter of time before Shannyn the dancer became Shannyn the actress. She first appeared in a Daft Punk music video as an extra, and would later move on to videos for Goo Goo Dolls, Korn and Mick Jagger. Sossamon made appearances in commercials for everything from Oldsmobile and Kmart to Kodak and The Gap. But Sossamon's big break came in 1999, when as a favor to a friend, she helped out as a DJ (for about 30 minutes) at Gwyneth Paltrow's birthday party. Francine Maisler, a casting director whose credits include The Usual Suspects, spotted Shannyn, but didn't approach her right away; Maisler got the striking beauty's number from someone else at the party.
In a matter of months, Shannyn was cast as Jocelyn, opposite Heath Ledger, in 2001's A Knight's Tale. Her parents, who were worried about the lack of direction in her life so far, were skeptical at first, but when they visited Shannyn on set in Prague, they were impressed. Sossamon next appeared alongside Josh Hartnett in 2002's romantic comedy, 40 Days and 40 Nights. Bored with Hollywood and feeling somewhat dejected, she considered giving up acting and worked for a few months at a used record store.
Not long after, Sossamon was offered a part in The Rules of Attraction, a satirical film about college life. Not having to audition for the role of Lauren, a virgin who catches the fancy of Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek, made "a huge psychological difference," she says. Rules renewed her interest in acting, and she is slated to appear with Heath Ledger again in the upcoming horror movie, The Order (which was called The Sin Eater before its release was delayed, apparently in order to fix the special effects). She is also slated to star in The Other Side of Simple with Vince Vaughn and Don Cheadle, which is still in pre-production.
In the meantime, Shannyn continues to enjoy herself, whatever her film career may hold. She still spends her time dancing and DJing, as well as writing and taking pictures. For the last few years, she's been seeing LA artist and DJ Tex Salem, though Shannyn admits to being attracted to her The Rules of Attraction co-star Eric Stoltz. Hopefully one of us has a chance...