Kay Panabaker, the younger sister of child actress Danielle Panabaker, actually preceded her older sibling in tackling feature roles. A wunderkind to end all, Kay grew up in the Atlanta area and discovered a love for community theater at an early age, then made a swift and easy transition to Los Angeles at the behest of her agent. She landed her first major part voicing characters for the 2001 Disney/Pixar blockbuster Monsters, Inc., and subsequently assumed countless guest roles on series programs including Angel, ER, Summerland, and CSI. Like many of her teenage and preteen predecessors, however, the young actress achieved lead status via original movies on The Disney Channel -- in vehicles such as Life Is Ruff (2005) and Read It and Weep (2006). An early and much-publicized college graduation, reportedly before the age of 18, only boosted her recognition.
2007, however, marked the budding actress' breakthrough year; that fall, she realized her first theatrical lead with the issue of the feature Moondance Alexander, a National Velvet-like outing about a young lady determined to turn an ordinary horse into a champion racer, despite the objections of his curmudgeonly owner (Don Johnson). At about the same time, Panabaker tackled a supporting role in the much-anticipated cinematization of Nancy Drew, adapted from the books by Carolyn Keene. She had a small part in the remake of Fame, and went on to appear in The Lake Effect, Little Birds, and Cyberbully.