Also Credited As:Raven, Raven Symone, Raven-Symone, Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman
|Actor, Producer, Music|
|Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman on December 10, 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA|
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Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman was born on Dec. 10, 1985 in Atlanta, GA. She began her career as an infant modeling in local print advertisements before signing with Ford Models in New York City. By age two, Symoné appeared in advertisements for major brands such as Ritz crackers, Jell-O, Fisher-Price toys, and Cool Whip. The following year, her family moved to Ossining, NY where she attended Park Elementary School. One of Symoné's first film auditions was for a part in the Bill Cosby comedy feature "Ghost Dad" (1990). She was reportedly deemed too young for the role, but Cosby was impressed with the talented young actress. With Cosby's help, Symoné landed a part on his long-running family comedy series "The Cosby Show." She played the adorable step-granddaughter of Cosby's Cliff Huxtable, a fun loving and fast-talking doctor raising a large family with his wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad). Playing the part of Symoné's step mom was Lisa Bonet, who also launched her career as a child actress on "The Cosby Show" several years prior. Even though Symoné only appeared on the last three seasons of the show, viewers fell in love with the precocious star, especially when she traded one-liners with Cosby onscreen.
After "The Cosby Show" ended its eight-year run, Symoné portrayed the younger version of Halle Berry's character, a biracial woman born into slavery, in the television miniseries "Alex Haley's Queen" (1993). That same year, Symoné pursued a music career and became the youngest artist to sign with MCA Records. She worked with Missy Elliott to produce her debut album Here's to New Dreams (1993), which yielded the Billboard Hot 100 single "That's What Little Girls Are Made Of." When the album did not do well as expected, MCA dropped Symoné from its roster. She returned to acting by joining the cast of "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" (ABC, 1992-97). The show centered on a former NBA player-turned-high school basketball coach (Mark Curry) and his family. Symoné played the zany cousin of Mr. Cooper's, whom he treated like his own daughter. While on the show, Symoné's appeal with the preteen audience grew, setting her up for bigger acting projects. She co-starred opposite Eddie Murphy in the 1998 remake of "Dr. Dolittle" as Murphy's eldest daughter. She reprised the role for the 2001 sequel "Dr. Dolittle 2."
In 1999, Symoné starred in the Disney Channel Original Movie "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century," about a 13-year-old who lives in an orbiting space station with her family and transports to Earth after her parents "ground" her. Symoné played the eponymous heroine's friend in the made-for-television film that was also her first project with Disney. The company asked Symoné to audition for a supporting role on a new Disney Channel series called "Absolutely Psychic." The show's creators were so impressed by Symoné that they offered her the lead role of a teenager who could see into the future and changed the show title to "That's So Raven." The series debuted in 2003 to high ratings, and spawned a tween franchise that included soundtrack albums, dolls, video games and clothing. During that time, Symoné and "Lizzie McGuire" (Disney Channel, 2001-04) star Hilary Duff established Disney Channel's reputation as a launch pad for teen stars, including Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. In addition, her young fans looked up to Symoné for proudly speaking out on her curvy shape and healthy body image. She even proclaimed in a People magazine interview that she was "thick and fabulous!" Parents also viewed the actress as a positive role model, unlike other teen celebrities of her time such as Lindsay Lohan and Mary-Kate Olsen, who made tabloid headlines with their wild partying, drug use and eating disorders.
As one of Disney Channel's teen queens, Symoné also starred in the musical comedy "The Cheetah Girls" (2003). The made-for-TV film followed four city girls who form a superstar pop group, and learn how to balance fame with friendship. Symoné played the Cheetah Girls' headstrong and oftentimes bossy lead singer Galleria, which she reprised in "The Cheetah Girls 2" (2006). Symoné's success with "That's So Raven" and "The Cheetah Girls" reignited her music career. She signed with Disney-owned Hollywood Records and released This Is My Time (2004). Fueled by the upbeat R&B track "Backflip," the album peaked at No. 51 on the Billboard 200 chart. Songs from the album also appeared in soundtracks to feature films such as "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" (2004) and "Ice Princess" (2005).
After "That's So Raven" wrapped in 2007, Symoné starred in her first feature film "College Road Trip" (2008), in which she played a college-bound teen looking forward to independence, but must first endure a driving trip with her overbearing father (Martin Lawrence). The film opened at No. 2 during its opening weekend and received positive critical reviews. In 2010, Symoné surprised everyone with a leaner, yet still healthy body shape at the Heart Truth Red Dress Collection runway show during New York Fashion Week. The actress outgrew her child star image with a starring role in the ABC Family movie "Revenge of the Bridesmaids" opposite Joanna Garcia. The following year, Symoné returned to television as the star of "State of Georgia" (ABC Family, 2011- ). The series centered on an aspiring actress from the South who moves to New York City to pursue her acting dreams.