Warren was born in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, the daughter of Paula Bauersmith, an actress, and Barnet M. Warren, a dentist. Her uncle was Yiddish theatre actor and director Jacob Ben-Ami. Warren graduated from Elisabeth Irwin High School. Warren married producer Roger Gimbel in 1976. They have a son, Barney, a writer and editor. Gimbel died on April 26, 2011.
She made her Broadway debut in 1972 in 6 Rms Riv Vu, for which she won the Theatre World Award. She also appeared in the short-lived P. S. Your Cat Is Dead!. Warren's film credits include Slap Shot (as the frustrated wife of hockey coach Paul Newman), Night Moves, Ice Castles and "The Swap" (1969). She was listed as one of the twelve "Promising New Actors of 1975" in John Willis' Screen World, Volume 27.
Warren's small screen credits include numerous made-for-television movies and guest appearances on The Bob Newhart Show, Kojak, Cagney and Lacey, Hotel, Hooperman, and Murder, She Wrote, among others. She had a featured role as Dinah Caswell, a former model and mother of an aspiring model in the 1982 TV movie, Paper Dolls and the 1984 television series based on the movie. She and Jeffrey Richman were the only two actors who played their roles on both the movie and TV series.
Although best known as an actress in film, television and theater, Jennifer Warren was accepted into the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute, where she directed the short film Point of Departure and received the Cine Golden Eagle Award, Best Drama at Aspen Film Festival, and then opened the season for the Arts & Entertainment Channel on their World Premiere Short Film Series. Two years later, she formed Tiger Rose Productions, and co-produced the short documentary You Don’t Have to Die, which won the Academy Award in 1989 as well as the Cable Ace Award.
About that same time, Warren began to develop a feature film, The Beans of Egypt Maine, which she directed for American Playhouse and Live Entertainment. The film was selected as Best Pick of both the Seattle and Boston Film Festivals. It was invited into competition at the San Sebastian Film Festival and gathered wide critical acclaim and two Independent Film Spirit Award Nominations upon its release in 1994. It appeared on PBS for the American Playhouse series the following year.
Warren finished production on her second directorial feature, Partners in Crime, starring Rutger Hauer and Paulina Porizkova in 1998. Partners was distributed in America by Artisan Films during the 1999/2000 year and appeared on Direct T.V.
A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Women in Film, she was a founding member and past president of The Alliance of Woman Directors and continues to actively support the organization. She has taught at Wesleyan University, Johns Hopkins University, UCLA Extension, University of Tel Aviv and is now a Senior Lecturer at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.