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Keri Russell was born on 23March 1976 in Fountain Valley. Her father was an automotive executive, which led to several family relocations including a move to Mesa, AZ when she was young. While in Mesa, Russell began studying ballet and jazz dance, eventually touring the country with a dance and drill team.

A chance discovery by a talent scout who saw photos of her performing led to various television appearances and culminated in a three-year gig as a regular performer on The Disney Channel's "Mickey Mouse Club" from 1991 through 1994. Russell's co-stars during her tenure included fellow future stars Justin Timberlake.

Eventually, Russell left the Disney fold to try her hand at different television series and movies, including the short-lived Dudley Moore sitcom "Daddy's Girls" (1993-94). She moved on to play an innocent babysitter trapped in a web of deceit when she is framed for her employer's murder in "The Babysitter's Seduction" (1996), and snared a starring role in the indie "The Lottery" (1996), a small town thriller loosely based on the Shirley Jackson short story.

Back on television, she played a high school senior and single mom determined to build a better life for her and her child by going to college in "When Innocence Was Lost" (Lifetime, 1997). After a guest spot on "7th Heaven" (WB$2C 1996-2007), Russell made another attempt at landing steady series work with the offbeat "Roar" (Fox, 1997), a medieval action-drama for teens that featured an up-and-coming Heath Ledger.