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People In Film | Tempestt Bledsoe

Tempestt Bledsoe: A Child at Heart

Like a number of her PARANORMAN co-stars – such as Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse – Tempestt Bledsoe found fame unusually early as an actor. Bledsoe was just 11 when, in 1984, she was cast in the life-changing (and career-defining) role of Vanessa Huxtable in the beloved TV sitcom The Cosby Show. Ironically, almost 30 years on, she still feels like a child at heart, which was a major reason why she empathized with the title character in PARANORMAN and was attracted to appearing as Sheriff Hooper in the new animated horror comedy from LAIKA Studio. “As a kid, I was what people would call an old soul and my name was different; if you’re not in step with everybody else, you’re going to get teased a lot,” she says. “But I do feel that everyone’s been in a position where they feel different and awkward, so in this story you identify immediately with Norman.” In addition to connecting with the story, she was thrilled “to be a part of the amazing world made with the creativity of stop-motion” –– and also to be delving into one of her favorite genres. Bledsoe declares herself “a huge fan of horror films,” saying, “I’ve always had a taste for spooky things ever since I was a kid. I even experienced a ghost story myself, in an Albuquerque hotel for a film shoot…”

Tempestt Bledsoe: Growing Up Cosby

Chicago-born Tempestt Bledsoe essentially grew up on screen. She entered showbiz at the age of four, starting off as a pint-size songstress and then progressing on to acting shortly thereafter. Though she was thrust into the spotlight at the age of just 10, when she was cast as cute, sassy Vanessa Huxtable in The Cosby Show, she never got carried away by fame and success. While the sitcom ruled the airwaves for eight years during the 80s and early 90s, Bledsoe remained a diligent high school student, even becoming a finalist in the National Achievement Scholarship Program for Outstanding Negro Students. She was also a spokesperson for both D.A.R.E., and The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during those years. Though The Cosby Show is firmly behind her now, Bledsoe is still regularly identified by members of the public as “Vanessa” and says that the iconic sitcom continues to have a profound effect on her life and career. “That show was my childhood,” she said in a 2012 interview. “It did so many things. It greatly influenced the kinds of projects I did. It helped form my core values, like my work ethic.”

Tempestt Bledsoe: Always Growing Up

When The Cosby Show shuttered in 1992, Tempestt Bledsoe –– then 18 –– took a break from her career to attend NYU, where she studied finance. On graduation, she moved in a different direction, hosting the Oprah-esque talk show The Tempestt Bledsoe Show. “I don't feel it was hard for me to reinvent myself,” she said in a recent People magazine interview, recalling her time after The Cosby Show ended. “I wanted to try new things, and I feel really blessed to.” In the late 90s, she appeared in a string of guest-starring roles on TV shows, had supporting roles in a handful of TV movies in the early 2000s, and then in 2008 played the character of Abbey in the third season of the animated Disney action adventure series The Replacements. In 2006, she entered the world of reality TV by becoming a contestant on Celebrity Fit Club, and since then she has also appeared with her longtime partner Darryl M. Bell, another actor, on Househusbands of Hollywood, while in 2011 she became the host of the Emmy-winning makeover show Clean House. Meanwhile, she will soon return to network TV on the family sitcom Guys with Kids. “This is a tough business for anyone, especially if you start out young,” Bledsoe told People. “I feel really lucky about the way things have turned out.”

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