Jennifer Shrader Lawrence was born on August 15, 1990, in a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky. She has two older brothers, Blaine and Ben, and her parents, Karen and Gary, owned a farm just outside the city.
Lawrence was an athletic child, involved in cheerleading, field hockey and softball, and thought she might be a doctor when she grew up. She did some modeling and community theater, but never dreamed that she’d become an actress.
Lawrence’s big break came when she was discovered at 14 while on spring break in New York with her family. A stranger asked to take her picture and took her mother’s phone number, then called the next day to ask her to do a screen test. Things happened quickly after that: Lawrence stayed in New York City for the summer, acting in commercials for MTV and filming the thriller Devil You Know with Lena Olin. Soon after, she and her family moved to Los Angeles, where she had small roles on the series Medium, Monk and Cold Case, before landing a part on the TBS series The Bill Engvall Show. While working on the series, she also appeared in feature films like The Poker House and The Burning Plain alongside Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.
After The Bill Engvall Show was canceled after three seasons, Lawrence went on to appear in the critically acclaimed Winter’s Bone in 2010, which earned her nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Opportunities continued to pour in, and in 2011 Lawrence appeared in The Beaver with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and Anton Yelchin, and played Mystique in X-Men: First Class.
In 2012, Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen, the lead in The Hunger Games, the film adaptation of a novel by Suzanne Collins. Set in a post-apocalyptic state, Lawrence’s character must participate in an event in which 24 teens fight to the death as televised entertainment. The film broke box-office records on opening weekend, and Lawrence was asked to reprise her role for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013.
Other 2012 releases include the thriller House at the End of the Street, co-starring Elisabeth Shue, and two dramas with Bradley Cooper: The Falling and Silver Linings Playbook, which has garnered several award nominations, including a Golden Globe nomination (best actress in a comedy or musical) for Lawrence. She took home the Academy Award for best actress in February 2013. Lawrence seemed overcome with emotion as she accepted the honor. In her characteristic frankness, she told the audience that “this is nuts” and went on to thank the cast and crew of Silver Linings Playbook.
In early 2015, Lawrence, Cooper and Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell signed on to bring the story of inventor Joy Mangano to the big screen, with Lawrence taking on the lead role.