Penny Johnson Jerald (born March 14, 1961) is an American actress with an extensive career in film and television, best known for her portrayals of Beverly Barnes on The Larry Sanders Show, of Kasidy Yates on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and of Sherry Palmer on 24.
Jerald began her career with small guest roles, and appeared on The Paper Chase from 1984 to 1986 and General Hospital in 1986, before she became recognised world over playing the title character's indispensable, unflappable personal assistant Beverly Barnes on The Larry Sanders Show.
Throughout the 1990s, Jerald guest starred in many television series such as Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Grace Under Fire, Cosby and Family Law.
Following Larry Sanders, Jerald appeared in the 1997 film Absolute Power and guest starred in 17 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine playing adventurous freighter captain Kasidy Yates, who was also the romantic interest for the series' main character Benjamin Sisko, a role which she held from 1995 to the show's end in 1999. She also had a recurring guest role on ER playing Lynette Evans from 1998 to 1999. She then appeared as Roscoe Dellums in the Emmy Award winning TV movie "The Color of Friendship."
More recently, Jerald has guest starred on Frasier, The Practice, Touched by an Angel and The X-Files.
Jerald earned her most well-recognised role in 2001 when she appeared in the pilot episode of the Kiefer Sutherland-led FOX series, 24, playing Sherry Palmer, the wife of African-American Senator David Palmer (character). During the first season, Palmer faced an assassination attempt as he ran for President of the United States. Sherry was ultimately revealed to be diabolical and manipulative, a personality at odds with that of her husband, and after her schemes almost cost the life of Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), Palmer told her he was filing for divorce.
An angry Sherry returned in season 2 - where she fought with Palmer's aide Lynne (Michelle Forbes) and it was ultimately learnt that she had helped smuggle a nuclear bomb into the country so that she could ultimately report the traitors to her ex-husband (now President) and win him back. It didn't work, and she was almost sent to jail but he intervened and saved her.
In the third season, massive fan response convinced the producers to bring her back, even though her return - along with the return of the show's other leading villainess Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) - strained credibility. Palmer called Sherry in to help him get rid of a threatening campaign financer, but this time she was just as interested in ruining him for turning her away. Her manipulations ultimately saw her be shot to death by her brother-in-law Wayne (DB Woodside)'s lover Julia (Gina Torres). Ironically, her manipulations and death were a significant factor in the destruction of Palmer's Presidency, her ultimate goal.
Given that each season of the show takes place over the course of one day, most actors on 24 are restricted to one or two outfits. To date, Jerald is the only real exception to this rule, having worn around six different costumes in the first season, two in the second season and at least three in the third season.
In 2003, Jerald played Condoleezza Rice in a TV movie about the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Jerald has been married for over twenty years and has an adult daughter.