before rising to prominence in the 1980s as a highly sought-after choreographer at the height of the music video era.

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Abdul was born in San Fernando, California, to Jewish parents.

Abdul's father, Harry Abdul, was born into the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo, Syria, was raised in Brazil, and subsequently emigrated to the United States. An avid dancer, Abdul was inspired towards a show business career by Gene Kelly in the classic film Singin' in the Rain.

Abdul began taking dance lessons at an early age in ballet, jazz, and tap.

She attended Van Nuys High School, where she was a cheerleader and an honor student.

After her initial period of success, Abdul suffered a series of setbacks in her professional and personal life.

She saw renewed fame and success as an original judge on American Idol in the 2000s, which she left after the eighth season.

She went on to star on CBS's short-lived television series Live to Dance, which lasted one season in 2011, and was subsequently a judge on the first season of the American version of The X Factor along with her former American Idol co-judge Simon Cowell, the creator and producer of the show.

She was also a guest judge on the All-Stars edition of Dancing with the Stars in 2012 and the tenth season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2013, and more recently became a permanent judge for that series along with the Australian version of the show for its 2014 revival.

At 15, she received a scholarship to a dance camp near Palm Springs, and in 1978 appeared in a low-budget Independent musical film, Junior High School.