Today, television audiences are used to seeing Hilary Swank resplendently gowned, gliding over a red carpet at glittering Hollywood soirees, but her early years were anything but glamorous. She spent much of her childhood living in a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington. Hilary Swank began acting professionally in her teens, appearing in television shows such as Growing Pains.
Movie audiences got their first look at Hilary Swank in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Next Karate Kid. She was dropped from her regular role on Beverly Hills, 90210, a potential career disaster that proved to be a blessing in disguise. She was soon cast as the tragic Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry. Her devastating performance brought her the Oscar for Best Actress. The role had required a challenging physical transformation, but that was nothing compared to the grueling training regimen she undertook to convincingly portray a professional boxer onscreen. She received a second Best Actress Oscar for her physically demanding and emotionally wrenching portrayal of the doomed Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby.
Audiences, critics and Oscar voters alike are awed by Hilary Swank's conviction, dedication and emotional power as an actress, but she professes to be mystified by her extraordinary success. "I don't know what I did in this life to deserve this," she has said. "I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream."