Most of us know Raven Symone for her role in the Emmy nominated Disney Channel comedy series That’s So Raven. Symone played a quirky teen with psychic powers whose visions of the future often got her into some (usually hilarious) trouble. Leaving her unforgettable vision face in the past, Symone has come a long way from her Disney Channel days and the now 26-year-old actress has just started her run in Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act on Broadway.
Playing the lead character Deloris Van Cartier in her Broadway debut, Symone says she’s having a great time. “It’s absolutely so much fun,” she says. “I love the cast and crew, and it’s really a great experience overall.”
But it’s far from all fun and games—Symone admits that being on Broadway is definitely a challenge. “Every night it’s curtain call, and you better know your lines,” she explains, “and it feels kind of like a TV show mixed with a concert.”
Though That’s So Raven ended its successful run in 2007, Symone looks back on her role on the show, and in other projects she has worked on, fondly. From her days on The Cosby Show when she was just a kid, to her appearance in Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement, Symone says that she learned a lot from each acting experience.
“It’s hard for me to say what role I enjoyed the most because I took a lot from all of them. They were all different but each helped me grow as an actor,” she says.
A talented actress and singer, Symone is also a humanitarian. She is a member of the Make A Wish Foundation, an organization that fulfills wishes of children with serious and terminal illnesses. She is also a member of Girls Incorporated, a national nonprofit company that works with girls in impoverished areas of the U.S. and provides them with various educational programs.
Most recently, Symone has partnered with Merck as the ambassador of their Plan It Forward campaign, an initiative that gives young women a tool that helps them create a road-map for achieving their life goals. The tool is available on the HerCampus website, and allows users to input their goals, deadlines and potential roadblocks, and then develops a timeline with tips to help women reach their goals.
According to a Merck-sponsored survey of 700 women ages 18 to 25, one third (32%) say that they don’t know where to start when it comes to planning their future, and Merck believes that their tool—the Plan It Forward Course Creator—will help solve this problem.
The cause is important to Symone because she believes that the best way to get to where you want to go in life is to plan. “If you want your dreams to come true, you have to plan. It doesn’t just happen if you don’t take it into your hands,” she says.
Symone is proud to be Merck’s Plan It Forward ambassador, and a role model for young women. “When I was growing up, I was surrounded by people who helped me. My mom…my grandma…they were great female role models,” she says, “and it’s important for young women to have that.”
When Symone isn’t acting, singing, or saving the world one girl at a time, she opts for a relaxing, quiet lifestyle but likes to have her fun as well.
“I love to just be home and go online,” she says, “but don’t get it twisted! I like to party and go out with friends, too. I just like to keep that part of my life private.”
A Message for Seniors
With graduation right around the corner for college seniors, Symone has a message for 2012’s grads.
“Congratulations! Now’s the time to look towards the future,” she says, “make a plan, and take charge of your life.