About this Famous Person
Source : Tim DOWLING
Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother, Judy Kay (née Clough), was a secretary and dancer, and her father, Stephen Michael Swank, was an officer in the Air National Guard and later a traveling salesman. She has a brother, Daniel, who is eight years her senior. Her surname, originally Schwenk, is of German origin. Many of Swank's family members hail from Ringgold County, Iowa, and her maternal grandmother was of Spanish and Shoshone (Native American) ancestry. After having lived in Spokane, Washington, Swank's family moved to a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington when Swank was six.
She attended Happy Valley Elementary, Fairhaven Middle, then Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was sixteen. She also competed in the Junior Olympics and the Washington state championships in swimming; she ranked fifth in the state in all-around gymnastics.
Swank made her first appearance on stage when she was nine years old, starring in The Jungle Book. She became involved in school and community theater programs, including those of the Bellingham Theatre Guild and The Seattle Children's Theater.
When she was fifteen, her parents separated, and she and her mother, supportive of her daughter's desire to act, moved to Los Angeles, where they lived out of their car until Swank's mother saved enough money to rent an apartment. Swank has called her mother the inspiration for her acting career and her life. In California, Swank enrolled in South Pasadena High School, dropping out later. She described her time at South Pasadena High School: “I felt like such an outsider. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t belong in any way. I didn’t even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn’t seen or understood.” She explained her becoming an actress out of feeling as an outsider: “As a kid I felt that I belonged only when I read a book or saw a movie, and could get involved with a character. It was natural that I became an actress because I longed so much to be those other people, or at least to play them”.
- Category Actor