Not only is Bianca Lawson known for being the eternally youthful actress, who’s been playing teenage roles in shows and films since the 1990s, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star is also Beyonce’s stepsister, and has had family ties to the industry for decades.
Bianca was born in sunny Los Angeles, California, USA, on 20th March 1979. Her notable works include roles in “Pretty Little Liars”, “Dawson’s Creek”, and “Witches of East End” to name a few. Since 2016, Bianca has also starred in “Queen Sugar”, an Oprah Winfrey Network drama series with high ratings.
Bianca was born to parents Denise and Richard Lawson, and was primarily raised by her mother following their divorce. Richard, an actor who has been active in the entertainment industry for over half a century, was born in Loma Linda, California, and became a medic after being drafted into the US Army at a young age.
After serving 21 months in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and being wounded in action, Richard worked on his acting career, appearing in memorable movies such as “Scream Blacula Scream” and “Streets of Fire”.
Three years after divorcing his first wife Denise in 1989, Richard welcomed a son named Ricky. In March of 1992, he was one of the survivors of the tragic US Air Flight 405 plane crash. Richard made headlines in 2013 when it was revealed that he was dating Tina Knowles, known for being the mother of Beyoncé and Solange Knowles. As it happens, Tina was Richard’s late sister’s best friend and had been considered part of the family for years; the couple married in April 2015, celebrating the big day with a classy all-white ceremony.
Moving back to Bianca, she matriculated from Marymount High School, and furthered her studies at the University of Southern California, eventually graduating with a film and psychology degree. Although the actress’s parents are both African-American, she also has Portuguese, Native American, Creole and Italian ancestry.
At the young age of nine, Bianca began appearing in Revlon and Barbie commercials. Her first regular role came in 1993 when she was cast as Megan Jones in “Saved by the Bell: The New Class”. Megan’s character was described as an overachiever; she was attending Bayside High in the show’s first and second seasons. Her father, Judge Jones, was played by Bianca’s real-life father.
Around the same time, Bianca also appeared in episodes of “Sister, Sister” and “The Steve Harvey Show”, playing Rhonda Coley and Rosalind respectively. In 1996 she landed her first co-starring role, as Bianca Goode in the family sitcom “Goode Behavior”; however, the show was quietly shelved after just one season.
Nevertheless, Bianca then excelled in her role as vampire slayer Kendra Young in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Kendra was activated after Buffy’s temporary death, and became completely dedicated to her calling, having been trained by Sam Zabuto. Kendra’s character had a tragic backstory, as she had been given up for training by her parents when Sam identified her as a potential vampire slayer.
By the time Kendra was activated, she had no memories of her parents despite being allowed to see photographs of them. Sam was strict with Kendra and forbade her from having a romantic or social life, as he believed it would distract her from her duties. This led to Kendra fully immersing herself in learning the Slayer Handbook and different fighting techniques.
After completing her work in Sunnydale, Kendra left on good terms with Buffy. She returned a year later, having been informed by Sam that a dark power was about to rise – namely, a demon named Acathla who wanted to suck the world into a hell dimension. To aid her in her mission, Sam gave Kendra a sword that had been blessed by the knight who first slew Acathla; both believed that the weapon could be their last hope if Acathla were to rise.
In a violent fight against groups, Kendra was outnumbered by multiple attackers until a vampire named Drusilla decided to fight her one on one. Kendra’s predictable fighting style proved to be her downfall, as Drusilla got close enough to hypnotize her, put her in a trance, and kill her by slitting her throat.
After being written out of “Buffy”, Bianca was cast as Nikki Green in “Dawson’s Creek”. From then on, her acting career slowed down somewhat, although she still appeared in a handful of movies over the years, including “The Feast of All Saints” and “Flip the Script”. In 2009, she was cast as supporting character Shawna in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and as the witch Emily Bennett in “The Vampire Diaries”.
In December of the same year, Bianca landed a role as Maya St. Germain in “Pretty Little Liars”, based on Sara Shepard’s book series of the same name. The TV show was phenomenally successful; Bianca first appeared in the pilot episode, with her character being killed off in August 2012. Maya was a somewhat problematic teen who was exposed for using illegal drugs and running a secret website; even so, the main characters were devastated when she was murdered by her stalker ex-boyfriend Nate.
Also in 2012, Bianca was cast as Marin Morell in “Teen Wolf”, the MTV series based on the original 1985 film. Marin appeared in the show’s second and third seasons, and was introduced to viewers as Alan Deaton’s younger sister; much of her life was shrouded in mystery, with the other characters never really knowing how much of what she shared was true, and how much was part of her cover story.
At some point, Marin obtained her master’s degree in psychology, and became a licensed counselor and therapist. She was also the Alpha Pack’s emissary. As a Druid, her role was to maintain the balance of nature, meaning that she had a neutral stance when it came to most issues.
Apart from film and television, Bianca has also done voice work for the 2011 videogame “Star Wars: The Old Republic”.