Paula Abdul
Birth Date:
June 19, 1962
Birth Place:
San Fernando, California, USA
5' 2
Famous for:
Her 1988 release of Forever Your Girl featuring the hit single Straight Up
actress, musician, choreographer
Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California (graduated in 1980)
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Cheerleader's Choreographer


Paula Abdul, a Syrian-Palestinian/French-Canadian actress and musician, started her career as a cheerleader for the LA Lakers. She has recorded three albums, had four hit singles, choreographed videos for several stars, choreographed movie's scenes, starred in some films and has netted a Grammy, two Emmys and more.

Paula fought hard to reach her long-time dream of becoming an entertainer. As one of the cheerleaders for the LA Lakers, she also worked on the team's choreography and to this day the team, and others, enjoy the benefits of her work. Her career really began to take off when she choreographed and appeared in a Janet Jackson's video.

In spite of her success, Paula's personal life has not been as secure. She was unsuccessful in her marriage and many of her difficult trials seem to begin there. Paula fought bulimia, then learned to love herself and worked on building her self-esteem. Due to her strong will and determination, Paula seems to have dealt with her personal problems in a positive manner.

Paula's Dos and Don'ts

Childhood and Family:

Paula Julie Abdul was born to parents Harry Abdul, a livestock trader in Brazil, and Lorraine Abdul, former assistant to film director Billy Wilder, in San Francisco, California on June 19, 1963. Paula started walking at the age of 10 months and knew she wanted to plunge her feet into dance at the tender age of 4.

The younger of two daughters, Paula attended Van Nuys High School and applying her choreography skills as the leader of the cheerleading team, influenced the style of the team's cheerleading. Paula was an amazing student and involved with many school activities and school clubs. Graduating in 1980, Paula was offered a dance scholarship from Julliard School of Performing Arts in New York City but she decided to attend Cal State Northridge as a TV and Radio student instead. Paula then became a LA Lakers Cheerleader full-time and gave up her college studies.

Paula was married to actor Emilio Estevez (son of actor Martin Sheen) and for a while they appeared to be Hollywood's perfect and very successful couple. However, after two years of marriage the couple divorced in 1994. Two years after that, in 1996, Paula married second husband Brad Beckerman. Paula and Brad divorced in 1998, just a year and half after their nuptial "I do."

Ups and Downs


After showing her skills as a choreographer for the LA Lakers, Paula was hired by the Jacksons to choreograph their "Torture" video. Paula was then hired to choreograph Janet Jackson's video "Nasty" and danced in it as well. Other 1980s pop star artists who worked with Paula include ZZ Top, Debbie Gibson, and George Michael. However, her choreography didn't stop with music. Paula choreograph scenes in movies such as Coming to America, Dragnet, Can't Buy Me Love, Big, Bull Durham, The Doors, Jerry Maguire and American Beauty, as well as television shows such as The Tracey Ullman Show which netting her an Emmy Award in 1989.

Unsatisfied with being behind the scenes of music and films, Paula made a demo tape of her voice and succeeded in convincing Virgin America to give her a record contract. She released her debut single, "Knocked Out" in 1988 followed by the release of her debut album, Forever Your Girl. The response on the album was not satisfying until the release of the single "Straight Up" in 1989.

"Straight Up" became number one on the charts for three weeks. The successful title track to Forever Your Girl was released followed by the hit single "Cold Hearted." The release of "Opposites Attract" in 1990 added to her success and it became Paula's fourth number one hit from her debut album. With Paula's extremely growing fame and popularity, she released her second album, Spellbound, in 1991, which proved to be a much different album from the previous one. Paula was unsure if her new vocal growth and music style would catch the attention of her fans. The album wasn't as successful as the former but sales still topped over three million.

After the average success on Spellbound, Paula took a break from the music business but was kept in the media because of her personal life: her marriage and divorce to Emilio Estevez, her battle with bulimia and a lawsuit filed by a former backup singer.

Paula released Head Over Heels, her third album, in the summer of 1995. She returned to acting with cameo appearances in Cybil, The Single Guy, Spin City, All That, The Wayans Bros., and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Paula also landed some made-for-TV movies such as Touched by Evil and The Waiting Game, and appeared in Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Allan Freed Story.

Her strength and enormous spirit to be successful helped Paula get another chance in the spotlight when she was hired as a judge on the hit show American Idol. Paula proved herself as an asset to the show and continues to gained new fans.


  • American Music Award for Choreography, ZZ Top Velcro Fly Video, 1987
  • American Music Award for Favorite Pop-Rock Female, 1990
  • American Music Award for Favorite Dance Artist, 1990
  • American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, 1992
  • American Dance Award for Choreographer of the Year, 1990
  • Emmy: The Best Choreography of a TV Series, The Tracey Ullman Show, 1989
  • Emmy: The Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for American Music Awards, 1990
  • Grammy: The Best Music Video - Short Form, Opposites Attract, 1991
  • MTV Movie Award: The Best Choreography, Janet Jackson Nasty, 1986
  • MTV Movie Award: The Best Choreography in a Video, Straight Up, 1989
  • MTV Movie Award: The Best Dance Video, Straight Up, 1989
  • MTV Movie Award: The Best Female Video, Straight Up, 1989
  • Soul Train Award: The Best Choreography, Straight Up, 1990
  • Soul Train Award: The Best Video, Straight Up, 1990
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