A Child Star Grows Up, Raven Symoné on State of Georgia

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“State of Georgia” stars Raven Symone and Majandra Delfino.

As an adorable five-year-old, Raven Symoné made her big debut on The Cosby Show. At such a young age she seemed to instinctively know how to milk a laugh alongside comedy legend Bill Cosby. That was the start of big things for the little girl.

Now she’s all grown up at age 25, and Raven’s new series State of Georgia reflects her maturity, as well as the seasoned comedy chops she has honed over her 20 years in show business. Much like Lucille Ball — and I do not use that comparison lightly — Raven has an extraordinary gift for physical comedy.

State of Georgia is a great showcase for that talent. Airing Wednesdays, it is an ABC Family Channel sitcom that has Raven and Majandra Delfino playing two college friends who move to New York City to pursue their dreams. Raven describes her character Georgia Chamberlin as “the type of girl whose dreams overshadow everything else in her life. Her best friend Jo [Majandra] and her Aunt Honey [Loretta Devine] keep her grounded, and she will always listen to them at the very end. But until then, she’s on a mission to be famous.”

With all her credits, fame has never been Raven’s main focus. The Atlanta, Georgia, native explains, “I’ve just enjoyed performing, ever since I can remember. But I do share the ambition part of my character. You know, having a dream and going full force to achieve it.”

In addition to The Cosby Show, among her outstanding TV credits have been That’s So Raven, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and The Cheetah Girls Disney Channel movies. Her feature films have included Doctor Dolittle with Eddie Murphy and The Princess Diaries 2, which also featured her singing talent. She was the youngest person ever to sign with MCA Records, and has enjoyed a successful recording career. She boasts of being on tour with ‘N Sync, and having her own concert tours. Behind the cameras, Raven has produced hits such as The Cheetah Girls movies and College Road Trip, plus a number of That’s So Raven episodes. But she’s happy to just focus on “finding the funny” with her new show, produced by Kirk J. Rudell and Jennifer Weiner for ABC Studios.

Raven appreciates having Loretta Devine (also a great singer) playing her aunt, and there’s a mutual respect of their backgrounds in the business. “There’s a great transfer of knowledge among us. She cares about what we have to say, and we benefit from her knowledge and experiences.” There was excitement on the set when it was announced that Loretta has been nominated for an Emmy Award this year, for Outstanding Guest Actress on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. Loretta was equally as excited for Raven when she was nominated for a Teen Choice Award, in the category of Choice Summer TV Star Female, for the new State of Georgia comedy.

Playing Jo Pye, Georgia’s science geek bff, is Majandra Delfino of Roswell fame. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Majandra has been on her own adventure ever since her family moved to Florida when she was three. She also sings and had a small memorable role in the film Traffic. She says, “I do love all things science, but I’m not nearly as educated as my character is supposed to be. Jo wants to win a Nobel Prize someday for making a scientific discovery that benefits humanity. Until then, she gets caught up in crazy adventures with her best friend Georgia.”

Since her early days on Cosby, I’ve seen Raven grow into a wonderful young lady — thanks to her great mom. It has to be said that child actors don’t get to survive the Hollywood jungle without terrific parents who put them on a path that leads to success. Raven’s been on that road for a long time.

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