Raven-Symoné was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Lydia ( and Christopher B. Pearman. At age three, her family moved to Ossining, New York where she attended Park School. As an infant, she worked for Atlanta's Young Faces Inc. Modeling Agency and was featured in local print advertisements. At age two, she worked with Ford Models in New York City and appeared in ads for Ritz crackers, Jell-O, Fisher-Price, and Cool Whip.
In 1989, Raven-Symoné auditioned for a part in the Bill Cosby movie, Ghost Dad. At three years old she was considered too young for the role, but Bill Cosby liked her so much that he found a part for her on his show, The Cosby Show, as his granddaughter Olivia. Raven-Symoné played the part of Olivia until 1992. She then appeared as the younger version of Halle Berry's starring character, a headstrong biracial slave, in the TV movie Queen: The Story of an American Family, based on the book by Alex Haley.