Keshia Knight Pulliam has been acting since the age when most people are learning to crawl, so after 13 years in the business she took a much-needed break. Well, now she's back, and with the help of Chingy she's set out to show everyone she's not the same little girl you see in reruns of "The Cosby Show."
"I'm not topless, I have on a bra," the former Rudith Lillian "Rudy" Huxtable said, blushing and giggling as she talked about her role in Chingy's video for "One Call Away," which has made it's way to the "TRL" mountaintop.
In the clip, her character meets Chingy when he visits the bank where she works, and then she begins to pursue him. Toward the end of the clip, Keshia is seen taking off her shirt as "Ching-a-ling" emerges from the shower.
"I knew it was going to be a shock for people because people are used to seeing me as a little girl, as Rudy from 'The Cosby Show' at 10 years old. I have to let them know that now I'm a woman," she said.
Keshia also agreed to the two-day shoot in ATL, she said, because "I really liked the song. I liked the treatment they came up with. It was young, it was a little sexy. Slightly edgy from what people expect from me, but it wasn't all the way over the top. I think Chingy is a great artist. I had so much fun working with him."
Being courted by the prince of St. Louis hasn't been the only place viewers have seen Keshia log airtime recently. She was part of the second season of "Celebrity Mole" along with the likes of Corbin Bernsen and Dennis Rodman.
" 'Celebrity Mole' was like no other," she said. "It was an interesting experience. Unlike other shows, the cameras are always running. You're constantly playing the game. They had such a diverse, eclectic group of people together, it made it very interesting. The crazy thing is you see so little of what was going on when we were in Mexico. If they were ever to release the uncut [footage] of that, it would be outta control."
Away from Hollywood, Pulliam has been able to steer clear of feral activity. But then, even when she was on TV's top-rated program she enjoyed a pretty normal life.
"My parents and my family really tried to maintain as much of a normal environment as possible," the 24-year-old said. "When I went home it wasn't Keshia Knight Pulliam the actress, the glitz, the glamour. It was Keshia the daughter. Oldest of four children, who washed the dishes and did everything she was supposed to do."
Pulliam said her lengthy hiatus from acting was deliberate.
"I think that's the mistake that a lot of people make," said Pulliam, whose first job was at 9 months old for a Johnson & Johnson print ad. "They don't take that time to grow holistically. If your only importance and self-worth is placed in entertainment, then you're bound to be unhappy. I took some time off and now it's time for me to continue doing what I love. I've kind of been waiting for the right time, the right project."
Keshia graduated from Spelman College in 2001 with a degree in sociology and is now concentrating on producing and starring in her own projects. She hasn't forgotten where she came from, though. Pulliam stills watches the reruns and talks to most of her former cast mates, especially Deon Richmond, who played Bud.
She said the 1985 episode "Happy Anniversary" brings back the fondest memories. In that one, the Huxtables celebrate Cliff's parents' anniversary by lip-syncing Ray Charles' "Night Time Is the Right Time."
"Mr. Cosby and I, we had a competition going on to see who would do a better job at lip-syncing," Keshia revealed. "That was our little inside thing. I think I did a better job."