Keshia Knight Pulliam
Birth Date:
April 9, 1979
Birth Place:
Newark, New Jersey, USA
5' 0½" (1.54 m)
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Keshia Knight Pulliam
The Cosby Show


“My parents and my family really tried to maintain as much of a normal environment as possible. When I went home it wasn't Keshia Knight Pulliam the actress, the glitz, the glamour. It was Keshia the daughter. Oldest of four children, who washed the dishes and did everything she was supposed to do.” Keshia Knight Pulliam

Keshia Knight Pulliam came to prominence as a child actress thanks largely to her portrayal of  Rudy Huxtable on the long running NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show” (1984-1992). In 1986, at age 6, she became the youngest performer ever nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. She also picked up a 1988 Image Award, a 1989 Young Artist Award, a 1991 Kids' Choice Blimp Award and a 2011 TV Land's Impact Award  for her work on the show. Pulliam was named Favorite Young TV Performer, alongside Kirk Cameron, at the 1988 People's Choice Awards, and was once ranked No. 19 on the VHI's list of the “100 Greatest Kid Stars.” Now as an adult, Pulliam is perhaps best known for playing Miranda on the TBS comedy/drama series “Tyler Perry's House of Payne,” a role she has played since 2007. She has received two Image Awards for her work on the show. Pulliam also has appeared in several films, including “Beauty Shop” (2005), “Death Toll” (2008) and “Madea Goes to Jail” (2009).

Newark Girl

Childhood and Family:

Keshia Knight Pulliam was born on April 9, 1979, in Newark, New Jersey, to James Pulliam Sr. and Denise Pulliam.  Her father serves as her manager. She has three younger brothers. Keisha was educated at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey until her family moved to Virginia after “The Cosby Show” ended. She then enrolled at the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia and Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. Currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia, she received a BS  degree in sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta. While in college, she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

House of Payne


Keshia Knight Pulliam kicked off her showbiz career when she was three years old. She first appeared in television commercials before breaking into television with a stint on an episode of the PBS children's show, “Sesame Street.”

Pulliam's big break came in 1984 when she landed the role of the pigtailed and outspoken youngest daughter, Rudy Huxtable, on the NBC television sitcom “The Cosby Show,” starring Bill Cosby. She was on the show throughout its eight season run from 1984 until it ended in 1992.  In 1985, Pulliam received a Young Artist Award in the category of Best Young Supporting Actress in a Television Comedy Series for her performance, but it was not until the following year when a then six year old actress made a history for becoming the youngest actress to be nominated for an Emmy Award. She earned a Young Artist nomination for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress, Starring in a Television, Comedy or Drama Series in 1987 before winning the award in the category of Best Young Actor/Actress Ensemble in a Television Comedy, Drama Series or Special in 1989. She also picked up a 1988 Image Award for Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress and the 1991 Kids' Choice Blimp Award for Favorite TV Actress for her performance.       

The success of “The Cosby Show” gave Pulliam the chance to take other acting projects. In 1985, she was cast as Sophia in the Golden Globe nominated action/drama film “The Last Dragon,”  which was directed by Michael Schultz, written by Louis Venosta and starring Taimak, Vanity and Christopher Murney, and reprised her role of Rudy Huxtable on the made for television film “ Back to Next Saturday.” In 1987, she portrayed Molly in the holiday drama “The Little Match Girl” (NBC), opposite Maryedith Burrell, William Daniels and William B. Davis. She also appeared in three episodes of “A Different World,”  a spin off from the hit “The Cosby Show,” as Rudy Huxtable, between 1987 and 1988. In 1989, Pulliam played the title role in the NBC TV film “Polly” and received a 1990 Young Artist nomination for     Best Young Actress Starring in a TV Movie, Pilot or Special for her work. She also reprised the role in the 1990 sequel, “Polly: Comin' Home!.” Besides, she played Karen in the Mark Twain classic “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court” (NBC, 1989), with Jean Marsh and Rene Auberjonois.

Five years after “The Cosby Show” left the airwaves, Pulliam made a cameo appearance as a guitarist in an episode of CBS' “Cosby” called “The Return of the Charlites” (1997). However, she disappeared again and did not make another appearance until after she completed college. In 2001, she  reentered the showbiz on the celebrity edition of the game show “Weakest Link,” where she won the first place. In the following year, she became the winner of a celebrity edition of the reality TV show “Fear Factor.” The year also saw Pulliam star as Temple in the made for television film “What About Your Friends: Weekend Getaway,” opposite Angell Conwell and Monica McSwain. For her bright acting, she was nominated for an Image Award for Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series or Special. Pulliam definitively left a little girl image behind by posing in a swimsuit in a racy photo shoot for “Black Men” magazine.

In 2004, Pulliam starred as Leila Turner in the Lee Davis directed TV film “ Christmas at Water's Edge,” opposite Pooch Hall and Earl Billings, and supported Vivica A. Fox, Shemar Moore and Golden Brooks in the direct to video “Motives,” helmed by Craig Ross Jr.. The same year, she also competed in the ABC reality game show “The Mole.” In 2005, Pulliam worked with Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone and Djimon Hounsou in the comedy film “Beauty Shop” and with Boris Kodjoe, Nona Gaye and Idris Elba in the Rob Hardy drama film “The Gospel.”

Pulliam returned to series television as a regular in 2007 when she joined the cast of “House of Payne,” a TBS comedy/drama series created and produced by playwright, director, and producer Tyler Perry, in the role of Calvin (played by Lance Gross)'s girlfriend turned wife, Miranda. She took home two Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2009 and 2010 for her performance. She also was nominated for a 2009 NAMIC Vision Award in the category of Best Performance – Comedy for the role.

In 2008, Pulliam appeared with Brandon T. Jackson, Paige Adkins and Tangie Ambrose in the Reed R. McCants comedy film “Cuttin Da Mustard” and starred with Lou Diamond Phillips and DMX   in the action/crime film “Death Toll,” helmed by Phenomenon. In 2009, she was cast as Candace Washington in the Tyler Perry film “Madea Goes to Jail.” She made a guest appearance as Stranjay in a 2010 episode of “ Psych” called “ The Polarizing Express.”

In 2011, Pulliam was handed the TV Land  Impact Award for “The Cosby Show,” which she shared with former co-stars Sabrina Le Beauf, Bill Cosby, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Geoffrey Owens, Raven-Symoné, Tempestt Bledsoe and Phylicia Rashad. The same year, she also was nominated for an Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “House of Payne.”


TV Land: Impact Award, “The Cosby Show,” 2011
Image: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “House of Payne,” 2010
Image: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “House of Payne,” 2009
Kids' Choice: Blimp Award, Favorite TV Actress, “The Cosby Show,” 1991
Young Artist : Best Young Actor/Actress Ensemble in a Television Comedy, Drama Series or Special, “The Cosby Show,” 1989
Image: Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress, “The Cosby Show,” 1988
People's Choice: Favorite Young TV Performer, 1988
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