Clea Lewis' role as Audrey Penney, with her squeaky voice and totally negative attitude about everyone and everything which constantly annoys her neighbor Ellen DeGeneres on "Ellen" (ABC, 1994-98), turned out to be her breakthrough part. The petite Ohio-born actress began as a child performer with the Cleveland Playhouse. After receiving her degree from Brown, she headed to Chicago where she spent three years with the famed Second City improvisational troupe. Lewis then moved to California expecting to earn an MFA degree at the University of San Diego. While on summer break, she began auditioning in Los Angeles, and won a guest appearance on "Doogie Howser, M.D.", followed by one on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air". In 1992, Lewis had landed a regular role as the secretary on "Flying Blind", a short-lived Fox sitcom, and a part in her first feature, Stephen Frears' "Hero". Still, it was what was supposed to be guest appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' ABC show that launched Lewis. She was a person Ellen did not wish to socialize with, but felt obligated to do so. The audience soon understood Ellen's reluctance, but also enjoyed the character of Audrey. The producers asked Lewis to return and eventually signed her as a regular on the revamped show, "Ellen". Lewis also played a small role in the remake of "Diabolique" and won praise for her role in "The Rich Man's Wife" (both 1996).