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Born Dec. 3, 1980 in Hartford, CT to parents Darryll Dewan and Nancy Lee Bursch Smith, Dewan grew up in Dallas, TX after her parents split while she was still a child. Taking up dance at the tender age of six, Dewan found she had a passion for the performing arts and continued to dance throughout her childhood and high school years, studying ballet and other forms of modern dance. After moving to Los Angeles for college, Dewan began the arduous process of auditioning for music videos. Proving that she had a natural talent for her craft, Dewan booked her first video in 2001, landing a back-up dancing gig in the Janet Jackson video “All For You.” Performing well in the video, Dewan went on to tour with Jackson for over a year on the “All For You” World Tour. She went on to land gigs in music videos for N’Sync, Justin Timberlake (whom tabloids falsely reported her to be dating), Ricky Martin, Missy Elliott, Toni Braxton, and Mandy Moore, as well as tour as a back-up dancer on Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” World Tour and P. Diddy’s “We Invented the Remix” Tour in 2003.
Eager to make the leap from dance floor to the silver screen, Dewan made her acting debut a 2004 episode of the Fox sitcom, “Quintuplets” (2004-05). More small roles followed for the actress, including parts on the short-lived WB series, “Dark Shadows” (2004); the less-popular “Friends” (NBC, 1994-2004) spin-off, “Joey” (NBC, 2004-06); and the low-budget film “Waterborne” (2005). Landing her first leading role in the 2005 horror flick “Tamara,” Dewan portrayed an outcast high school girl who returns from the dead to take revenge on her classmates. Next, Dewan tapped into her dancing background to portray a high school student who learns ballroom dancing from Antonio Banderas in “Take the Lead” (2006).
That same year, Dewan’s dancing landed her a role that would put her name on the map – portraying a performing arts student in need of a dance partner in the break-out hit, “Step Up” (2006). With this film, Dewan got the recognition she needed. Though the flick was panned by most critics, Dewan and co-star Channing Tatum struck up enough on-screen chemistry to score the number two position during the film’s opening weekend. Rumored to have taken up with Tatum off-screen as well, Dewan went on to appear opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar and Amber Tamblyn in the horror sequel, “The Grudge 2” (2006).