Lawrence shines in tough roles

Actress won kudos in Venice, L.A. film festivals

Jennifer Lawrence always wanted to be a doctor. Luckily for Hollywood — “and maybe also the medical profession,” she jokes — the Louisville, Ky., native quickly abandoned that notion after being discovered on the streets of New York at the age of 14.

“It was a complete fluke,” she recalls. “I was there for spring break with my mom, someone took my photo and suddenly all these agencies wanted to meet me.” Auditioning and reading scripts “was like meeting my soulmate,” she adds. “I knew I was destined to do this.”

Her first break was “The Bill Engvall Show,” but Lawrence really got noticed for playing a teen violated by her mother’s pimp in “The Poker House,” a tricky role that earned her kudos at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Fest. She followed that up with another powerful performance in “The Burning Plain,” for which she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice Festival.

Now 19 and based in Los Angeles, Lawrence recently wrapped “The Beaver” with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster (who also directed). –

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