Alicia Christian Foster was born in Los Angeles. Her parents divorced three years before she was born, and she was conceived when her mother, Brandy, was visiting her father, Lucius, for child support. Alicia's siblings nicknamed her "Jodie," a name she has used in her profession. When she was just three years old, Jodie began acting in commercials to support the family, most notably for Coppertone sunblock. When she was five, Jodie landed her first acting role on the TV show "Mayberry R.F.D." (1968). She stayed very busy as a child actress, working on television programs such as "The Doris Day Show" (1968), "Adam-12" (1968), "Gunsmoke" (1955), and Disney movies like One Little Indian (1973), then with the film Taxi Driver (1976) in which she played a prostitute at the tender age of twelve. This performance earned her an Oscar nomination, and she went on to have a very successful career in her early teens with roles in more Disney films, most notably the classics Freaky Friday (1976) and Candleshoe (1977). The last film Jodie made during this era was the coming-of-age drama Foxes (1980), before enrolling at Yale University when she was 17. Tragedy struck Jodie during her Freshman year when a crazed and obsessed fan name John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan to impress her.
Jodie graduated from Yale in 1985 with a degree in literature. Her main priority was now to become a successful adult actress. After a few forgettable B-movies, Jodie auditioned for The Accused (1988) and was cast Sarah Tobias, a party girl who testifies against the men who gang-raped her in a bar. For this role she won her first Academy Award and Golden Globe as Best Actress. But even though she had won an Oscar, Jodie had not yet established herself as a star. Her next film, Catchfire (1990), went straight to video, and she fought hard to get her next good role. In 1991 she starred as Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee who is assigned to track down a serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The film was a blockbuster hit, winning Jodie her second Academy Award for Best Actress and establishing her as an international star at the age of 28. With the wealth and fame to do anything she wanted, Jodie turned to directing. She made her directorial debut with Little Man Tate (1991) followed by Home for the Holidays (1995). These movies were critically acclaimed but did not do well at the box office, and Jodie proved to be a far more successful actress than she was a director. 1994 proved to be a huge triumph for Jodie's acting career. She played a sexy con artist in the hugely successful western spoof Maverick (1994) with Mel Gibson. She also played title role in Nell (1994) alongside Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. For her compelling performance as a wild, backwoods hermit who speaks an invented language and must return to civilization, Jodie was nominated for her fourth Academy Award and won a Screen Actors Guild Award as Best Actress.
Although Jodie was working far less frequently as an adult than she did as a child, the films she turned out were commercially successful and critically acclaimed. Her next big screen role was in the science fiction drama Contact (1997) opposite Matthew McConaughey. She played a scientist who receives signals from space aliens. The film was a huge hit and earned Jodie a Golden Globe nomination. She starred in the non-musical remake of The King and I (1956) entitled Anna and the King (1999), a film that was only modestly received in the U.S. but was very successful overseas. Three years after that she headlined the thriller Panic Room (2002), costarring Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker and Jared Leto. This film was a smash box-office hit and gave Jodie a $30 million opening weekend, the biggest of her career yet. She then appeared in two low-profile projects: the independent film The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and the foreign film A Very Long Engagement (2004). She returned to making Hollywood mainstream films, first with Flightplan (2005), in which she played a woman whose daughter disappears on an airplane that she designed. Once again Jodie proved herself to be a box-office draw, and the film was a worldwide hit. The following year she starred in another hit, a thriller about a bank heist titled Inside Man (2006) with Denzel Washington and Clive Owen. Jodie seemed to be on a pattern of non-stop success. She was paid $15 million for her next film, the revenge thriller The Brave One (2007), which once again opened #1 at the box office and earned her another Golden Globe nomination. After starring in a string of dark-themed films, she returned to comedy in Nim's Island (2008) with Gerard Butler and Abigail Breslin. Jodie will reunite with Mel Gibson in the upcoming movie The Beaver (2011), which is scheduled for general release in 2011.
Having spent nearly her entire life in the spotlight, Jodie Foster has had one of the most substantial film careers in Hollywood history. She is one of the most respected and highest-paid actresses working today, and there is no doubt that there will be many great things ahead for this child star turned two-time Oscar-winner.