Erika Maya Eleniak (born September 29, 1969) is an American Playboy Playmate and actress, perhaps best known for her role in Baywatch as Shauni McClain.
Eleniak was born in Glendale, California. She is the eldest daughter in her family of four girls and one boy whose parents divorced. Her father, who was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is of Ukrainian descent and her mother is of Estonian and German ancestry. During the late 1970s, Eleniak’s father introduced her to her future career in the movie industry when his then girlfriend got Eleniak a part to model children’s clothing for TV commercials. Her first acting role was in the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)—as the girl kissed by Elliott in the school classroom scene. Eleniak attended Robert Fulton Junior High in Van Nuys, California and graduated from Van Nuys High School.
Eleniak had several roles in television. She played Jamie Coburn in Broken Angel. In 1989 Eleniak decided that appearing in Playboy would help boost
her career. Playboy featured her on two covers and later as the centerfold in the July 1989 issue.
After an audition and three call backs, Eleniak won a role in Baywatch as Shauni McClain. Eleniak was the lead female character for three seasons until Pamela Anderson replaced her in 1992. She also played the high-school girlfriend of Jesse (John Stamos) in a November 1990 episode of Full House.
In 1992, Eleniak returned to film acting, playing Jordan Tate, a Playboy Playmate hired to do a striptease for the captain of the U.S. Navy battleship, USS Missouri (BB-63), in Under Siege. In the film, she is described as “Jordan Tate, Miss July 1989″—which is the month that Eleniak was Playmate of the Month. She plays a character that is supposed to be purely decorative but is actually intelligent, brave, and resourceful.
She attempted to capitalize on this success by starring as Elly May Clampett in the screen adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies in 1993, but the film flopped. The next year she starred in the Dennis Hopper-directed romantic comedy Chasers. William McNamara, one of her costars in this film, also became her partner in life. Eleniak went on to shoot another movie with McNamara, Girl in the Cadillac (1995). Eleniak also starred in an interactive game during 1995; she played identical twins in Panic in the Park (1995). She continued to make more independent films including A Pyromaniac’s Love Story (1995), Bordello of Blood (1996) and Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Heatwave (1997). Eleniak has starred in a host of films, including The Pandora Project (1998) with Daniel Baldwin, One Hot Summer Night (1998) with Barry Bostwick, Final Voyage (1999) with Ice-T, Stealth Fighter (1999), The Opponent (2000), Vegas, City of Dreams (2001) with Angelica Bridges, Second to Die (2002), Snowbound (2001), Betrayal (2003) and Shakedown (2002).