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The Hollywood Insider Raven Symone Journey, Child and Adult

Video Version of this Article

Photo: Raven-Symoné/Tinseltown/Shutterstock

Booked, Busy, And Bold

According to VH1 and the common agreement of our generation, American actress, singer, and songwriter, Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman-Maday is known as one of the greatest child stars of all time. Professionally known as just Raven-Symoné, she has either starred or appeared in some childhood classics such as ‘The Little Rascals,’ ‘The Cheetah Girls,’ ‘Tinkerbell,’ ‘Doctor Dolittle,’ and, who could forget, Disney’s ‘That’s So Raven.’ Raven has even been on our television screens as recently as 2017 with her spinoff show ‘Raven’s Home,’ which has led her to be nominated for a ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Performer in Children’s Programming.’ You could also find her on older seasons of the ABC talk show ‘The View’ from the year 2015-2016.

She served as one of the show’s hosts, alongside Whoppi Goldberg and Joy Behar. Raven-Symoné has earned a plethora of accolades for her work; for instance, she has won two ‘Kid’s Choice Awards,’ three ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ nominations, three ‘Young Artist Awards,’ and finally five ‘NAACP Image Awards.’ Such an amazing feat for such a young girl. We know by now that things only get better for Raven as the years go on. However, many may not know that Raven-Symoné has been involved in the entertainment industry since infancy. 

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Raven-Symoné – Early Life and Professional Start

Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1985, Raven already worked for ‘Atlanta’s Young Faces Inc. Modeling Agency’ as an infant. She was already having her image put out in local advertisements. By the time Raven was two years old, she booked a few modeling gigs in New York City with an agency called ‘Ford Models.’ It was there that she was given opportunities to be featured in advertisements for brands such as ‘Ritz Crackers,’ ‘Fisher-Price,’ ‘Cool Whip,’ and ‘Jell-O.’ Raven began her career in acting at the age of four, when she appeared on ‘The Cosby Show’ as Olivia Kendall. Since then, she has continued to book gigs one after the next. She had earned a number of awards and many nominations for her role as Nicole Lee on the ABC sitcom ‘Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.’ Once Raven became a young adult, she landed roles in numerous box office successes such as ‘The Princess Diaries 2,’ ‘College Roadtrip,’ both of the ‘Doctor Dolittle’ films, the first two ‘Cheetah Girls’ films, ‘For One Night,’ and the 2010 ABC Family original film ‘Revenge of the Bridesmaids.’ She has even dabbled in a few voice acting gigs, as she voiced the character Monique in the ‘Kim Possible’ series and even lent her voicework to the 2008 animated film ‘Tinkerbell.’

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Undeniably Talented

Though Raven has an outstanding track record when it comes to her acting performances, she also has an impressive history with music. In the year 1993, Raven released her very first debut studio album called ‘Here’s To New Dreams.’ She was only seven years old. Raven later found a few successes in her later albums, ‘Undeniable,’ released in 1999, ‘This Is My Time,’ released in 2004, and finally, Raven-Symoné,’ which was released in 2008. The albums made it on the United States’ ‘Billboard Top 200’ chart. A few of her songs were even integrated into the soundtrack for the legendary Disney animated film ‘The Lion King 1.5.’ We can’t forget her vocals for the originals and sequels of ‘That’s So Raven’ and ‘The Cheetah Girls.’ It isn’t only her talents that make Raven-Symoné an iconic figure in the childhoods of many people. It is also her values, and everything she is fighting for, that make her a great role model then, and now.

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Addressing The Controversy

I appreciate Raven’s transparency with the public about her sexuality. She has been a huge, outspoken, and unapologetic advocate for the LGBTQIA movement. In 2013, she expressed her excitement for states legalizing same-sex marriages. Then, in a 2014 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Raven makes her stance clear. Raven had received intense public controversy after her statements refusing to be labeled as an African-American or being labeled as Gay. Without proper explanation, it could have been seen as Raven denouncing her race and sexuality. However, Raven explained to Winfrey that she didn’t want to be recognized by any sort of label. She couldn’t have been embarrassed or ashamed of who she was. After all, she was in a public relationship with the actress and model AzMarie Livingston during this time. She is proud of who she is, but wants to be seen as a human first. It is to be understood that she wants people to start looking past all the differences between us, and just accept one another as a human being. The labels can be tools for diversity, but they can also be tools for division. Some people feel that once we eliminate all of these sub-divisions of the human race, then we can all come together as one. 

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Her comments about labels weren’t articulated in the best way, but they could be a product of all of the images she had to maintain being a child star. She comments on feeling like she was diluted to just being the sassy Black girl trope, and wanted to feel other than a puppet that would dance, sing, and entertain strangers at their disposal. She also mentions how she felt she didn’t have a voice or opinion other than what was written for her in a script. This is what made a host position of ‘The View’ so attractive to her, which is where she made the controversial statements. Despite the controversy, in the year 2016, Raven received the title of Grand Marshal for the ‘Montreal Pride Parade.’ In June of last year, Raven tied the knot with Miranda Maday, a social media manager. She has mentioned her wife’s influence on her having a healthier lifestyle. I would say she is doing really well these days. I hope someday Raven decides to come back into the spotlight with either a new song, or a new part in a film. She is a creative individual through and through, and I hope she is well received by audiences of today, just as she was back then. 

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Hinting: Raven-Symoné stars in the 2021 ‘What Not To Wear’ spinoff show, ‘What Not To Design.’ Pilot available on HGTV.

By Danessa Naj’e Lopez 

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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Author

  • Danessa Naj'e Lopez has an intense passion for pop-culture and cinema. Writing and indulging in current events have always been Danessa's favorite pastimes since childhood. She takes her time analyzing media, then contextualizing her thoughts in a tasteful, factual, and respectful manner for all readers to enjoy. Danessa enjoys sparking interest and perspective in readers, challenging them to engage in a positive discourse surrounding a topic she may cover. She hopes to share her knowledge and spread her love for media to readers - like you!

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