Kay Panabaker was born in Texas, but started acting in Community Theater while living in Atlanta. She made her professional stage debut at age 10 with Chicago's Shakespeare Theater. Told that all the big opportunities were in Los Angeles, Kay was encouraged by her agent to give the big city a try. During a one week visit to test the waters, Kay won a leading role in a feature for which they'd been seeing all the LA and NY talent - both boys and girls - between the ages of 7 & 12. This early success encouraged her family, and though still living near Chicago, Kay began auditioning in LA for TV and film roles.
After guest-starring roles in shows including "ER", "7th Heaven", and "Angel", in 2003 Kay was cast as Nikki Westerly on the drama "Summerland", and that necessitated a move to sunny California. The show was popular with young teens and ran for 2 seasons, during which Kay was singled out for her performance in the show with a Young Artist Award for "Best Performance by a Leading Young Actress in a TV Series - Comedy or Drama".
Kay has since been seen on TV shows including "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "Ghost Whisperer", "Boston Legal", "2 & 1/2 Men", "Medium", "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", and "Phil of the Future", as well as two Disney Channel Original Movies, "Life is Ruff" and "Read It and Weep". She was seen in 2007 in the feature film "Nancy Drew", and in the Lifetime movie "Custody". DVD releases for 2008 included the award-winning "Moondance Alexander" and "The Prince & the Pauper". 2009 will see Kay on the big screen, in the MGM remake of the 1980 film "Fame".
Not content to let her education suffer while she pursued these roles, Kay challenged herself by starting college classes while just 13 and working full-time on a television show. She was valedictorian of her high school and graduated from UCLA just 4 short years later - this despite consistent work on jobs that sometimes took her out of the country for weeks at a time. Kay was inspired by an elementary school teacher who made learning exciting, and she wants to do the same for others, hoping to teach 4th or 5th grade once she gets her teaching degree. In fact, she's hoping to return to the Chicago suburb where she went to school so that she can do her student teaching there. D
espite her busy schedule, Kay finds time to pursue other interests including arts and crafts (she's currently into beading) swimming, bowling, and dance. For her role as "Moondance Alexander", Kay learned to ride and jump horses, and she has continued to train, hoping someday to have her own horse. She also enjoys traveling, having visited all 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico, South America and parts of Europe. Favorite trips include the opportunity to be "zookeeper for a day", as well as swimming at different times with sharks, manatees, dolphins, sea lions and with a "wholphin" - the only documented dolphin/whale hybrid known to man.
Her own work in children's films led to Kay's appointment to the National Board of the Coalition for Quality Children's Media. Kay volunteers with children's charities including children's hospitals, Starlight Starbright, Young Storytellers Foundation, and others, and hopes that you will make a difference in someone else's life.