Much of her success is down to her determination to get to the top.
She started singing and dancing in local dance shows and church choirs as a youngster.
At the age of eight she auditioned for Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club. She was too young to join the show, but a producer spotted her talent and introduced her to a New York agent.
She then spent three summers at the Professional Performing Arts School Center and was in a few off-Broadway productions, including Ruthless (1991).
She tried out again for the Mickey Mouse Club and was successful this time, appearing on the show from the age of 11 to 13.