Paula Abdul has had many ups and downs in her life, but seems to always know how to land on her feet.
The resilient singer, dancer, choreographer, judge and America’s sweetheart was born to Syrian Jewish parents who moved around quite a bit when she was young, which influenced her worldview heavily.
Her family lived in Canada, Brazil and Syria, and the influence of different cultures, religions and customs, has influenced not only Abdul’s music, but her dancing, as well.
Although her parents divorced when Abdul was just a child, they instilled in her the roots of her Syrian ancestry, which has stayed with the star all her life. This helped her reach into her Arab roots and combine that with contemporary American pop music to create something unique, which set her apart from all the other artists of her time.
As a precocious child growing up in Hollywood, she was always front and center on stage as either a singer or dancer in the community musical theatre groups or tap dancing her way to fame.
Her natural talent and hard work propelled her to excel at the arts, even going as far as leading her to become a cheerleader as a young college student for the Los Angeles Lakers—a prestigious and highly sought-after position in the bustling city.
Her time on the cheerleading squad helped lead her to more lucrative choreography gigs, working for big names like Janet Jackson, Deborah Gibson, Dolly Parton, George Michael, and ZZ Top, and the Rolling Stones on their worldwide tours.
She then jumped from dancing to singing at the insistence of her peers, releasing two #1 hit albums and seven hit singles that reached the top of the charts.
Her single, “Straight Up,” became hugely popular and highlighted not only Abdul’s vocal abilities, but her dancing in the iconic video.
After taking a break from the show business for a few years, Abdul appeared as a judge on the brand new TV show, “American Idol,” which became immensely popular, and thrust her back into the spotlight.
She was known as the sweetheart of the reality TV singing competition, often trying to soften the other judge’s harsh critiques and encouraging young singers to follow their passion.
Her tête-à-tête with the surly British judge, Simon Cowell, was often the highlight of the show, as well as the comedic relief.
After several successful seasons on the show, Abdul left, and now organizes dance camps for young children and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Currently, she has been cast as the new judge on a brand new reality TV dancing competition, which Abdul says will become a great new outlet for young and aspiring dancers to make it in the cutthroat business.