Kimila Ann (Kim) Basinger was born on December 8, 1953, in Athens, Georgia. She was the third of five children and born to parents who were both in the entertainment industry (her father was an introvert who played jazz and her mother was a flamboyant water ballet performer). Kim studied ballet from the age of 3 and was a cheerleader in high school.
At age 16, Kim won the Athens, Georgia Junior Miss Pageant and went on to the National competition in New York. After great success at modeling (Kim was offered a contract with the Ford Modeling Agency and at age 20 was considered a top model), Kim decided to move to Los Angeles in 1976 to pursue a career in acting. In New York, she had taken acting classes and performed and sang onstage, so she was well-prepared for this career transition.
Kim was so withdrawn as a child that her parents had her tested for autism and other psychiatric disorders; however, the tests did not reveal any issues. Growing up, her worst fear was reading aloud in class, to the point that teachers believed she was having a nervous breakdown.
When Kim took the podium to accept her Oscar in 1997 for “LA Confidential,” she couldn’t find the words to speak, even though she had practiced for days.
Kim has spoken publicly about her struggles with panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety, appearing in the HBO film, “Panic: A film about coping.” Kim received psychological therapy for her anxiety but still remains shy and susceptible to panic and agoraphobia.