Paula Abdul grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California. She began taking dance lessons when she was eight. She attended Van Nuys High School, where she was senior class president and head cheerleader. After graduating in 1980, she started college at Cal State-Northridge, majoring in TV and radio. After joining the L.A. Lakers cheerleaders, she became head cheerleader/choreographer after only a few months, eventually dropping out of college to dance and choreograph full-time. She was recruited by The Jacksons to choreograph their 1984 “Torture” video, the first in a long list of videos and movies she would choreograph. She branched out into singing with her first CD, “Forever Your Girl”, which had lackluster sales until the single “Straight Up” exploded onto the charts in December 1988 and she has been a popular singer/dancer ever since, enhanced by her stint as a judge on the hit series American Idol (2002).
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