As a child growing up in New York, she regularly auditioned for advertising work. But the youngster's distinctive features and husky voice didn't sit well with ad execs in search of the all-American kid. Despite numerous rebuttals, however, the youngster was determined not to give up; she planned on following in the footsteps of another child star, Jodie Foster all the way to the top.
She enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute For Young People and within just a few months won a speaking part opposite Ethan Hawke in the Broadway play Sophistry. But it was in the 1998 romance The Horse Whisperer, as Kristin Scott Thomas' troubled daughter, that she caught Tinseltown's attention. The movie's leading man Robert Redford described her as "13 going on 30" and top casting agents immediately realised there was a hot new talent in town.