After a string of guest roles, actress Kay Panabaker, the younger sister of actress Danielle Panabaker, earned recognition as Nikki Westerly on The WB's dramatic series “Summerland” (2004-2005), from which she won a 2005 Young Artist award. She was also popular as Debbie Berwick on several episodes of the Disney series “Phil of the Future” (2004-2005), a role that brought her a Young Artist nomination. Since then, Panabaker has acted in several television and large films, including “Life Is Ruff” (2005), Disney Channel’s “Read It and Weep” (2006), “Moondance Alexander” (2007), “Nancy Drew” (2007), “Custody” (2007) and “Modern Twain Story: The Prince and the Pauper” (2007). Her more recent credits include “Fame” (2009), “The Lake Effect” (2010) and “Little Birds” (2011), to name a few. She also portrays Daphne in the television series “No Ordinary Family” (2010-2011).
Panabaker enjoys traveling, bowling, swimming, arts and crafts, and dance in her spare time.
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Donna and Harold Panabaker, Stephanie Kay Panabaker was born in Orange, Texas, on May 2, 1990. Raised in such places as Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta, she attended Crone Middle School in Chicago when she was in 6th grade before moving to Los Angeles. A superior student, Kay graduated high school when she was only 13 years old and earned her Associate's Degree by age 15. She gained two academic scholarships from a community college and was on the Dean's list. At age 16, Kay was admitted to UCLA as a junior with a history major.
Kay has an older sister named Danielle Panabaker, who is also an actress and graduated high school at 14 years old.
Kay Panabaker began acting at various community theatres in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Chicago and starred in such productions as “The Herbal Bed,” “Once Upon A Time” and “Winnie-the-Pooh.” Following the suggestion of her agent, she headed to Los Angeles to further pursue her acting career.
Panabaker's first major part arrived in 2001 when she did voiceovers for the Disney/Pixar hit “Monsters, Inc.,” in which she had the opportunity to work with John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Tilly. A series of guest role followed, including roles in episodes of “ER,” “7th Heaven,” “Angel,” “The Division,” “The Brothers Garcia” and “Medium.” She made her feature acting debut as Sam LaRoche in “Dead Heat” (2002), an action comedy starring Kiefer Sutherland, Anthony LaPaglia and Radha Mitchell that was written and directed by Mark Malone.
The young actress, however, did not experience a big breakthrough until she won the role of Nikki Westerly on the series “Summerland,” which ran on The WB from 2004 to 2005. The show was a favorite among young viewers and she was singled out for her performance in the show with a 2005 Young Artist for Best Performance by Leading Young Actress in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama). Panabaker doubled her fame with her recurring performance on the Disney Channel series “Phil of the Future,” where she portrayed straight laced Debbie Berwick during 2004 and 2005. She was nominated for a Young Artist in the category of Best Performance by Recurring Young Actress in a Television Series for her performance.
In 2005, Panabaker starred as Emily Watson in the skateboarding television movie “Life Is Ruff,” alongside Kyle Massey and Mitchel Musso. After voicing Lacey in an episode of “American Dragon: Jake Long” (2006), she starred in a TV film called “Read It and Weep” (2006), adapted from the book “How My Private Personal Journal Became a Bestseller” by Julia DeVillers. She starred in the Disney film with her sister. It was also in 2006 that Panabaker began her role of Lindsey Willows in the series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Panabaker continued to make guest appearances in such series as “The Winner,” “Two and a Half Men,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “Boston Legal” and “Ghost Whisperer” (all 2007). She revisited the big screen in the family film “Moondance Alexander” (2007). Her costars in the film included Don Johnson, Sasha Cohen and her former “Summerland” costar Lori Loughlin. She also supported Emma Roberts in the highly anticipated big film version of “Nancy Drew” (2007), based on the books by Carolyn Keene, portrayed Amanda in the Lifetime Television movie “Custody” (2007) and teamed up with twin actors Cole and Dylan Sprouse in “Modern Twain Story: The Prince and the Pauper” (2007), a modern day telling of the Mark Twain classic. Her more recent credits include appearances in the television series “Lie To Me” (2009), “Brothers & Sisters” (2010) and portraying Daphne in “No Ordinary Family” (2010-2011), to name a few. Film credits include roles in “Little Birds” (2011) and “The Lake Effect” (2010).
Young Artist: Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Leading Young Actress, “Summerland,” 2005