15/03/2012 10:28 GMT

Jennifer Lawrence: From 'Winter's Bone' To 'The Hunger Games' - Who IS She? (PHOTOS)

At the ripe age of 21, Jennifer Lawrence is about to take her place among the select group of action heroines on the big screen. With a lead role in the much-trumpeted Hunger Games, and the prospect of a franchise the likes of Twilight and Harry Potter to follow in its wake, Lawrence has effectively capitalised on her stunning breakthrough last year. But who is she, and where did she come from?

It turns out Lawrence had one of those only-happens-in-movies moments when she was 14 and in New York on a work-finding mission from her native Kentucky. After reading for an ACTING agent, it was a MODELLING agent who spotted her, basically in the street, and signed her up for work - don't you just hate it when that happens? Like buses... anyway...

So, by the age of 14, Lawrence was a seasoned screen presence (MTV, commercials, the like) and up-footed with her family to LA, where she was cast in sitcom The Bill Engvall Show, as well as for a couple of walk-on roles in films.

If life spins on a tuppence, however, Lawrence's career coin was her casting as Ree Dolly in Winter's Bone. The chilling drama won Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2010, and garnered Lawrence an Oscar nomination, making her the second-youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Actress.

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Since then, she's survived being cast against Mel Gibson and his Beaver, and sharpened her acting chops in X Men: First Class. Oh, and helpfully, she was voted one of People Magazine's Most Beautiful People in the World last year, and cemented her place on Hollywood's bench by presenting the Oscar nominations earlier this year.

But it's The Hunger Games that has already put her face on the side of a bus, and will ultimately decide where she sits in the firmament. Is she ready? Well, this is just one of her bon mots thus far:

I'm doing what I love, and then I get months and months of rest. I have a lot of money for a 21-year-old. I can't stand it when actors complain.

Here she is in pictures, not for the last time: