Hilary Ann Swank (born July 30, 1974) is an American actress. Her Hollywood film career began with a small part in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and then a major part in The Next Karate Kid (1994), where she played Julie Pierce, the first female protégé of the sensei Mr. Miyagi. She has become known for her two Academy Award-winning performances: first as Brandon Teena, a transgender man (FTM) in the movie Boys Don't Cry (1999), and a struggling waitress-turned-boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, in Million Dollar Baby (2004).
Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Judy (née Clough), a secretary and dancer, and Stephen Swank, who was an officer in the Air National Guard and later a traveling salesman. She has a brother, Dan. Many of her family members hail from Ringgold County, Iowa. Swank came from humble beginnings, particularly as a child growing up in a trailer park near Lake Samish in Bellingham, Washington, to which she moved at age six, after having lived in Spokane, Washington. Swank has described her younger self as an "outsider" who felt that she belonged "only when [reading] a book or [seeing] a movie, and could get involved with a character," and was thus inspired