Ginnifer Goodwin (born Jennifer Michelle Goodwin; May 22, 1978) is an American television and film actress, best known for her role as Margene Heffman on the HBO series Big Love and starring in the movies Mona Lisa Smile and He's Just Not That into You.
Goodwin was born Jennifer Michelle Goodwin in Memphis, Tennessee. Her mother, Linda Goodwin-Parkinson (née Kantor), is a former educator who now works for FedEx, and her father, Tim Goodwin, formerly owned and operated a recording studio. She changed her name from "Jennifer" to "Ginnifer" to distinguish her name, and to assist in pronunciation of her name in her regional dialect. Her younger sister, Melissa Goodwin, is a stop motion animator on shows such as the Emmy Award-winning Robot Chicken, on which Ginnifer has also appeared as voice talent.
Goodwin was affiliated with the North American Federation of Temple Youth and was active in BBYO at the Jewish Community Center in Memphis growing up; she had a bat mitzvah. After graduating from Lausanne Collegiate School in 1996, Goodwin attended Hanover College (majoring in Theatre) for one year before moving on to Boston University's College of Fine Arts, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, with honors, in 2001.