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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 2, 2006

So totally Raven

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Raven-Symoné, star of the Disney family-friendly TV show "That's So Raven," is also a recording star. She'll perform tonight and Saturday night at the 50th State Fair at the Aloha Stadium as part of a national tour that takes her mostly to theme parks and fairs, where many of her young fans are.

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8 p.m. today and Saturday

Hip-Hoppin' Concert stage

50th State Fair

Aloha Stadium parking lot

Free, with fair admission

Fair hours:

6 pm.-midnight today and Thursday, noon-midnight Saturday and Sunday; continues June 9-11 and June 16-18


$23 Fun Pass, includes a wristband good for one gate admission and unlimited rides noon-6 p.m. Saturdays, noon-6 p.m. or 6 p.m.-midnight Sundays and 6 p.m.-midnight Thursday.

General admission, $3 noon-6 p.m. and $5 6 p.m.-midnight for adults and children 40 inches or taller; free for those under 40 inches tall

Pepsi Days, noon-6 p.m. Saturday and June 11: Bring an empty Pepsi can and buy an $18 Fun Pass for admission and wristband for rides.

Ticket sites:

www.ticketmaster.com, www.ekfernandez.com, or at Ticketmaster outlets (Times Supermarkets, Blaisdell box office, BYU)

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Raven-Symoné has grown up in front of television cameras — first as young granddaughter Olivia Kendall on "The Cosby Show" and then as a teenager on "That's So Raven."

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A sea lion looks on after entertaining 50th State Fair attendees last weekend at the Aloha Stadium. The fair continues next weekend, too.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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  • Real name: Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman

  • Birth date: Dec. 10, 1985

  • Birthplace: Atlanta, Ga.

  • Parents: Christopher Pearman and Lydie Gaulden

  • Sibling: A brother, Blaize

  • Answers to: Rae or Rave

  • High school: Graduated from Atlanta's North Springs High School, 1993

  • Lives in: Atlanta and Los Angeles

  • Acting debut: As Olivia Kendall on "The Cosby Show," 1989-1992

  • First movie: "The Little Rascals," playing Stymie's girlfriend, 1994

  • First Disney project: TV movie, "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century," 1999

  • Other TV shows: "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," 1992 for four seasons

  • Other films: "Dr. Doolittle," "Dr. Doolittle 2," "All-American Girl," "The Princess Diaries II"

  • Little-known fact: Toured with 'N Sync

  • Milestone: At age 5, she was signed to an MCA Records contract — the youngest on a major label

  • Secret desire: To own her own restaurant

  • Down-time activities: Cooking, painting, jet-skiing

  • Next up: "The Cheetah Girls 2: When In Spain" this summer on Disney Channel, on DVD in December

  • Rumors: "That's So Raven Too," a 2007 reunion show focusing on Raven in college; pilot for an ABC series

  • Notable 'n' quotable: "Acting has one side of my heart and ... music has the other side. And if I stop one, I'll have half a heart. I can't live with half a heart, so I like both of them equally."

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    Raven-Symoné was a mere tyke when America first saw her on "The Cosby Show." She was 4 years old.

    Now, at 20, she's a workaholic who has completed about 100 episodes — including her fourth and final season — as the wildly passionate, versatile teenager Raven Baxter on Disney's popular family comedy "That's So Raven."

    From the time she portrayed Olivia Kendall, the granddaughter in the Huxtable household headed by Bill Cosby, Raven has grown up in front of a camera — in films as well as television.

    "Normal for me is what I know, what I did, what I'll do," she said in a telephone interview from Richmond, Va., where she was prepping for a mammoth summer-fall concert tour displaying the latest Raven: an in-the-flesh no-longer-a-kid trouper with a flair for theatrics and singing. She'll share that slice of her bustling life with local fans in a free concert at the 50th State Fair tonight and Saturday.

    "I've felt more comfortable on a set than in school," she admitted. "But I had a 'normal' life, too, which, for me, was doing shows while attending public schools. What is normal is what's normal for you."

    Not since the days of Mousketeer Annette Funicello in the 1950s has Disney had a triple-threat such as Raven. Through "That's So Raven," she has evolved into the brightest star in the Disney constellation. Some call her Disney's It Girl.

    She plays the sitcom Raven as a teen with confidence to spare, unafraid to stretch the boundaries of a kiddie-oriented show by doing impersonations with Tracey Ullman-like fervor. She sings, too, and has recorded three albums during the show's run. And she was a producer of "Raven" during its final season, adding a behind-the-scenes credit to her bulging portfolio.

    Raven is also busy as a member of The Cheetah Girls — she has completed CDs and a Disney Channel movie with the all-girl act, earning a platinum award for the movie's soundtrack album.

    Concurrently, Raven provides the voice of Monique in a still-recurring role on Disney's animated action-comedy "Kim Possible." She also co-stars in the just-completed sequel to the Disney Channel original feature "The Cheetah Girls."

    Now she's engaged in a full-on tour, providing a glimpse of her talent not fully explored in the TV vehicles: concert attraction.

    "It's really fun, singing and dancing and making the crowd laugh," Raven said about her 30-city itinerary crisscrossing America. She's mostly performing at theme parks and state fairs, venues her core youth fans frequent, but there are also some arena stops on her calendar.

    "There's a really big stage crew in some dates, and I have dancers," she said. "It's my formal concert, based on my 2004 Raven-Symoné album, and it's not like when Raven Baxter sings to get a laugh (on TV)."

    Raven says she's been a life-long learner, picking up knowledge as she goes. She was earning a star's wage at an age when most people are still learning to read. And through the years, she become attuned to the business, the producer role being the latest tangent in her show-biz journey.

    "When you're young, it's osmosis," she said. "I saw everything, but I didn't know I was learning."

    From Cosby, she acquired a warehouse of lessons. So what sticks in her mind?

    "I learned (from him) to be professional; I learned to respect others," said Raven. "I call him Mr. Cosby. I still communicate with him — but not as often as I should."

    On the tube, Raven is something of a free spirit who has premonitions ("visions") of the future, and who does girlie things like shop and date and dance — resulting in misadventures.

    So how much of her off-screen life is captured in her TV roles?

    "I think on any show, you portray a little of yourself in the part," she said. "Raven Baxter is somewhat like Raven-Symoné — when I was 13. But not now."

    Her passion for fashion was part of an episode in which Raven Baxter gets an internship with fashion diva Donna Cabonna. "I love her to death; the internship is part of my basic growing-up dream. There's a lot you can do with teenage roles, but the parts I choose ... must be people I can do."

    She is very protective of her private life. Although there are online reports of a Raven boyfriend, she simply said, "I don't discuss it."

    Consequently, she dismisses idle gossip. "You know how the industry is — sometimes, my best friend is supposed to be mad with me. Can't believe it."

    She said the "Raven" episodes are filmed in front of a live audience, so the laugh tracks are real.

    "For the live audience, it's just as fun, or more fun, than watching at home. You get to see Raven Baxter do all kinds of crazy things."

    There's also a clear divide between the work Raven and the home Raven. "To be myself, I work at keeping the Raven Baxter on stage."

    And she's game to try almost anything for the show. "I've had all kinds of gook poured over me, I've played a baby, I've skateboarded. It's all in a day's work."

    That's so ... Raven!

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.