Katherine Marie Heigl was born in Washington, DC, on November 24, 1978, to Nancy Heigl and Paul Heigl. A short time afterward, the family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where Katherine was to spend the majority of her childhood; the youngest member of her family, Katherine--or "Katie" as she is nicknamed--has two elder siblings, John and Meg. Tragically, her older brother Jason died in 1986 of brain injuries suffered in a car accident, after being thrown from the back of a pickup truck. When doctors determined he was brain-dead, the family made the difficult decision to donate his organs. Not only did this painful chapter give Katherine a greater perspective and appreciation for life, but it motivated her to use her celebrity to promote the importance of organ donation.
Heigl's life took another turn when she was 9, after an aunt sent pictures of her to modeling agencies. After signing with the internationally renowned agency Wilhelmina Models, Heigl began modeling, starring in commercials, and auditioning for television and film screen roles. She appeared in her first feature film, That Night, at age 11, and took her first lead role at age 14 in 1994's My Father the Hero. While still attending her local public school, she accepted a wide variety of acting and modeling jobs. Additionally, in August 1994, she appeared on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.
Heigl appears in saucy photo spreads, even gracing the cover of Maxim in June. The actress uses her hotness for the teen romance 100 Girls in September with Jaime Pressly, telling Maxim, "It's a cute movie. I just wish I wasn't wearing only jeans and a bra in this one scene…I didn't realize exactly what they do when you're moving around a lot. If they were fake it'd probably look better."