How they got their start: Jennifer Love Hewitt

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: April 23, 2019, 3:15PM

Image: The Everett Collection/MGM/UA Entertainment Co. Television

In the mid-1990s, Jennifer Love Hewitt became a household name in her late teens, thanks to her hit TV drama Party of Five. Soon after, Hewitt would transition to the big screen in hit movies, starring in the thriller I Know What You Did Last Summer and the teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait. She'd soon share the screen in the early 2000s with stars as big as Sigourney Weaver (Heartbreakers) and Jackie Chan (Tuxedo), but as her star was rising, it's likely many fans missed out on the very beginnings of the burgeoning star.

Hewitt's TV debut was actually well before Party of Five, which introduced many fans to Hewitt when she was just 16. But if you were a kid paying close enough attention to Mattel toy commercials in the late 1980s, you would've glimpsed the star just before the Disney Channel discovered her and inserted her into the cast of their popular variety show Kids Incorporated. That was in 1989, when viewers saw Hewitt in her first role ever as a kid named Robin, who joined the Kids Incorporated band and memorably learned karate to fight off bullies from martial arts guru Billy Blanks.

Other celebs we saw on Kids Incorporated include Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) as a dancer/drummer and pop singer Fergie, who was named Stacy on the show after her real name Stacy Ann Ferguson. In case you are curious, most of the characters on Kids Incorporated just took the actor's real first name, but Hewitt is an exception because she was hired to replace an actor named Robin who had quit.

After Kids Incorporated ended, Hewitt released her debut album Love Songs and joined the casts of three short-lived shows: Shaky Ground, The Byrds of Paradise and McKenna. Nothing stuck until Party of Five, which Hewitt managed to spin off into a second series Time of Your Life.

More recently, Hewitt has stood out as a recurring character on 9-1-1 and Criminal Minds, and in 2010, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the TV movie The Client List. Later, she'd try to spin that movie into a series, too, but nothing captured audiences the way Ghost Whisperer did when Hewitt stepped into the starring role of the acclaimed supernatural series in 2005.

As Melinda Gordon on Ghost Whisperer, Hewitt took on her most dramatic role yet, stepping away from teen angst and toward troubled spirits trapped between two worlds. And it wasn't just her history as a star of thrillers that made her a natural for the part. According to an interview with the Ghost Whisperer Fan Club, Hewitt is a true believer who backs up Melinda Gordon's experiences: "There are people that are working on this show who don’t believe, and then there’s me who’s like an uber-believer.”

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