Amy Lou Adams (born August 20, 1974) is an American actress. She began her performing career on stage in dinner theaters before making her screen debut in the 1999 black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous. After a series of TV guest appearances and roles in B movies, she landed the role of Brenda Strong in 2002's Catch Me If You Can, but her breakthrough role was in the 2005 independent film Junebug, playing Ashley Johnsten, for which she received critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination.
Adams subsequently starred in Disney's 2007 film Enchanted, which was a financial and critical success, and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance as Giselle. She received her second Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations the following year for her role as a young nun named Sister James in Doubt. Though she has appeared in a range of dramatic and comedic roles, Adams has gained a reputation for playing characters with cheerful and sunny dispositions.
Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy, the fourth of seven children of American parents Kathryn (née Hicken) and Richard Adams. She has four brothers and two sisters. Her father, a U.S. serviceman, was stationed at Caserma Ederle at the time of her birth, and took the family from base to base before settling in Castle Rock, Colorado when she was eight or nine years old. Thereafter, her father sang professionally in restaurants, while her mother was a semi-professional bodybuilder. Adams was raised as a Mormon, although her family left the church after her parents' divorce when she was 11 years old. Regarding her religious upbringing, she said, "... it instilled in me a value system I still hold true. The basic 'Do unto others...', that was what was hammered into me. And love."
Throughout her years at Douglas County High School, she sang in the school choir and trained as an apprentice at a local dance company with ambitions of becoming a ballerina. Her parents had hoped that she would continue her athletic training, which she gave up to pursue dance, as it would have given her a chance to obtain a college scholarship. Adams later reflected on her decision not to go to college: "I wasn't one of those people who enjoyed being in school. I regret not getting an education, though." After graduating from high school, she moved to Atlanta with her mother. Deciding that she was not gifted enough to be a professional ballerina, she entered musical theater, which she found was "much better suited to [her] personality". Upon turning 18, to support herself while performing in community theater, Adams worked at Lenox Square's Gap store as a greeter. She took her first full-time job as a hostess at Hooters, a fact that became her "entire press career" for a while. Adams left the job three weeks later after having saved enough money to buy her first car. She admitted: "... there was definitely an innocence to my interpretation of what Hooters was about. Though I did learn, quickly, that short shorts and beer don't mix!"