Texas native Jared Padalecki was only 12 years old when he started studying acting. He took to the stage all throughout high school, competing on his school's speech team and appearing in school plays. In 1999, the 17-year-old won Fox's "Claim to Fame" contest and had the chance to appear at the Teen Choice Awards. The opportunity led to the young actor signing up with an agent and beginning his professional career. He began scoring appearances on shows and in TV movies, playing the victim of a car accident on an episode of ER and a wealthy suitor in Ring of Endless Light. Then in 2001, Padalecki was cast as Dean Forester, love interest of Rory Gilmore on the hit series Gilmore Girls. He stayed with the show until 2005, when he joined up with the sci-fi thriller series Supernatural. Padalecki also ventured onto the big screen, appearing in films like House of Wax and The Christmas Cottage.