Black History Month: Profiles of LGBT African-Americans of Note, Part 4: Raven-Symoné
Black History Month is observed every February to commemorate the important people and momentous events in African-American history. Hotspots honors Black History Month by profiling black LGBT people who have made noteworthy achievements in their personal or professional lives.
Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman was born on December 10, 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked as a model from an infant, being represented by Atlanta’s Young Faces Modeling Agency. She and her family moved to New York at the age of three and shortly after she landed a part on "The Cosby Show" as the precocious Olivia Kendall. Raven-Symoné had originally auditioned for a role in the movie "Ghost Dad," but Bill Cosby, impressed with the young girl even though she wasn’t right for his film, made room for her on his television series. At the age of seven, she signed with MCA Records and started her singing career, which she still pursues today. Over the past 20 years, Raven-Symoné has sold over 300,000 albums in the United States.
In 1993, Raven-Symoné moved on to her second television series, playing the role of Nicole Lee on the ABC sitcom "Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper"; she remained with the series until it ended in 1997. In 1999, she was cast as Eddie Murphy’s daughter in the film "Dr. Dolittle," which would be her first major motion picture role. The movie made nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office and it inspired a 2001 sequel, in which she also appeared. The sequel grossed over $175 million worldwide.
Raven-Symoné is well-known for her long association with The Disney Channel, which started in 1999 when she was cast as Kirsten Storms’ best friend in the film "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century." She would be cast as the lead in her own sitcom, "That’s So Raven," which premiered in January 2003. During this time she would appear in two Disney Channel original movies revolving around the manufactured pop group The Cheetah Girls (2003, 2006). "That’s So Raven" ran for 100 episodes and was still high-rated when it ended production in November 2007. In 2011 she appeared in her own sitcom for ABC Family, "State of Georgia," which lasted 12 episodes.
Raven-Symoné came out as a lesbian via Twitter on August 2, 2013, in response to then-recent court rulings that overturned key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act. "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you," she wrote in a tweet. A prepared statement released later that day said, "I was excited to hear today that more states legalized gay marriage. I, however am not currently getting married, but it is great to know I can now, should I wish to."