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Jennifer Lawrence was born on Aug. 15, 1990 in Louisville, KY. She performed in several local theater productions before heading to New York City at age 14 to become a professional actress. Lawrence quickly landed minor roles on such hit shows as "Monk" (USA Network, 2002-09), and on crime dramas such as "Cold Case" (CBS, 2003-2010), and "Medium" (NBC, 2005-2010). She made the leap to the big screen with starring roles in such low-budget films as "The Poker House" (2008), actress turned writer-director Lori Petty's grim dramatization of her youth, and "Garden Party" (2008), an ensemble melodrama about a group of young, sexually confused teenagers trying to make it big in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood.
But it was Lawrence's compelling performance as Kim Basinger's troubled teen daughter in writer-director Guillermo Arriaga's "The Burning Plain" (2008) that finally began to put the young actress on the critical map. In the little-seen, multi-narrative drama that co-starred Charlize Theron, Lawrence played a 16-year-old who journeys to a New Mexico border town to piece together the puzzle of her parents' shattered lives. At the same time, Lawrence showcased her light comic touch as comic Bill Engvall's daughter on "The Bill Engvall Show" (TBS, 2007-09), a sitcom about a family therapist trying to raise his hard-to-handle brood in a Denver suburb. During her tenure on the relatively popular cable program, Lawrence played a high school girl dealing with typical teenage issues with a depth and believability not usually seen on similar TV fare.
Not long after leaving the Engvall nest, Lawrence turned in one of the year's most riveting performances in the dark thriller "Winter's Bone" (2010), based on the 2007 novel by Daniel Woddrell. A contemporary noir set in Missouri's inhospitable Ozarks Mountains, the film followed Ree Dolly (Lawrence), a strong-willed, impoverished teenager caring for her siblings and ailing mother as she attempts to find her fugitive, meth-addicted father before they lose their home. Lawrence stunned critics with her riveting and realistic portrayal of a young girl struggling to keep the family together, despite the very real threat of physical danger. One of the most talked about films on the festival circuit that year, "Winter's Bone" won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Festival. For her role in the acclaimed feature, Lawrence racked up awards from groups like the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Seattle International Film Festival before receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making her the second youngest actress to have achieved the honor at the time.
Delayed for nearly two years, due to controversies surrounding its volatile star, Mel Gibson, "The Beaver" (2011) was directed by co-star Jodie Foster and featured Lawrence as a school friend of Porter Black (Anton Yelchin), the son of Gibson's schizophrenic character who uses a hand puppet to communicate with the world. Faring far better at the box office was the superhero blockbuster "X-Men: First Class" (2011), in which a blue-skinned Lawrence played Raven, a young mutant who would later betray her adoptive brother, Xavier (James McAvoy), and become known as the villainous shape-shifter Mystique. She then reteamed with Yelchin for the indie romance "Like Crazy" (2011), where she embodied just one of many complications for a pair of young lovers (Yelchin and Felicity Jones) trying to maintain a long-distance relationship. But it was as the star of the hugely-anticipated "The Hunger Games" (2012) that truly put Lawrence on the mainstream roster of young A-list talent. Based on the first volume of a best-selling trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, it was a grim yet gripping tale set in a dystopian future where a yearly televised competition pits children against each other in a battle to the death. Lawrence played heroine Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old who bravely volunteers to replace her younger sister as a selectee in the deadly Hunger Games. Benefiting from an established loyal fan base and an expertly deployed marketing campaign, the property was expected to even rival the success of the massively popular "Twilight" franchise.
Unbelievably, "The Hunger Games" exceeded all expectations when it surpassed even "Twilight" numbers, enjoying the third-highest box-office opening ever at the time of its release. Lawrence was now officially the most sought-after young actress of the day and studios looked to cash in on her popularity as quickly as possible. Filmed two years prior and held back in an effort to ride the "Hunger Games" wave of success, the horror offering "House at the End of the Street" (2012) featured Lawrence as a young woman whose new home sits next to the site of grim tragedy. Although it initially piqued the interest of moviegoers, the B-movie quickly departed theaters. Her next project that year, while a departure from her recent genre material, was a conscious decision to showcase Lawrence's impressive acting range. Written and directed by former enfant terrible David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012) was a romantic dramedy starring Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as a pair of neurotic outcasts who enter into an unlikely friendship. A surprise hit with critics, the simultaneously cynical and bittersweet romance was praised largely for the onscreen chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper. By the end of the year, she once again found herself on the short list for numerous accolades, leading to her Golden Globe and Oscar wins in early 2013 for "Silver Linings."
Although Lawrence broke up with boyfriend and "X-Men: First Class" co-star Nicholas Hoult in the beginning of 2013, by later in year they were back together after reuniting on the filming of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014). Late 2013 saw Lawrence reach even greater heights of fame, with the down-to-earth actress joking to Jon Stewart about how her new haircut had made national news. In November, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was unveiled to both huge box-office numbers and favorable reviews, proving that the series had longevity, largely due to Lawrence's compelling lead performance. She closed out the year with Russell's "American Hustle," where she offered up an outspoken and volatile turn opposite Cooper, Christian Bale and Amy Adams.