Paula Abdul is easily one of the most successful Laker Girls to date. In the early 1980s Abdul was head captain of the squad, creating the routines that people paid hundreds of dollars to see. Not only was it a stepping stone for her choreography career, but it was her step in the door for the music business as well.
After her time on the squad, Abdul went on to have a handful of number one singles, including “Straight Up,” the video she also choreographed. She quickly became one of the music industry’s dance queens, alongside Janet Jackson (who she also choreographed). Few times has Abdul spoke about her experience on the famous cheerleading squad. However, in 1989 she told the LA Times that she auditioned “for fun.” Her entire career on the squad lasted for six years. Most girls leave after one or two seasons. The dancer is first to point out that the position proves that a basketball game is more than a sport, it’s a place people go to be entertained- even important people in the business. “There’s a lot of people in the entertainment business in the stands.” The kind of people who can spot real talent.
Recently Abdul admitted that it wasn’t easy to be noticed during auditions. “I was the girl no one picked,” she told Sunday Magazine. “I was too short, casting people overlooked me. At my third audition to be cheerleader for the L.A. Lakers, I stood at the front, where they couldn’t miss me and I was selected.” It wasn’t long before her choreography skills were showcased on the court. Though she was little, everyone noticed the future star.
“Being a Laker Girl changed my life,” she explained. The offers rolled in, everything form TV commercials and shows to music videos. “I realized I could make money from dance. I was hired to choreograph commercials, the Jacksons’ reunion tour, and I worked with Janet Jackson. At age 17 I started winning awards for my work.”
In a way Abdul was a pioneer. “No one believed a cheerleader could make it,” she said. “I had to create my own success. There have been times I’ve manifested opportunities for myself, it had nothing to do with luck.”
Since her days on the squad, Abdul landed a number of roles on TV and film. Most recently she’s attempted to revive her singing career while taking part in talent competitions The X Factor and American Idol.