Patty Jenkins' family travelled all over the world due to her father's job as a fighter pilot. When she was six they lived in Kansas for a while and eventually settled down in Washington D.C. after stints in New York City and England. Following high school, Jenkins studied at The Cooper Union school of Art in NYC, then enrolled in the director's program at the American Film Institute.
She began by making short films, and one of them, Velocity Rules (2001), was the Short Film Winner at the Telluride Indiefest. Jenkins then became interested in the life story of Aileen Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was convicted of killing seven men in the state of Florida. She contacted Aileen to discuss the project with her, but while it was still in preparation, Wuornos received a date of execution and she was killed before the movie was filmed. However, she left Jenkins her personal letters, enabling Jenkins a clearer look into Wuornos' thoughts. When the screenplay was finished, Jenkins gave it to her producing partner, Brad Wyman, to submit to production companies. They received several offers and were able to get A-list actors such as Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci involved. Theron won several awards, including a Golden Globe for her role as Wuornos, and the movie has received several nominations from various film festivals.