Keshia Knight Pulliam was born in Newark, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Denise and James Pulliam, Sr., a manager. She has 3 younger brothers. Pulliam attended Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey. After The Cosby Show ended her family moved to Virginia, where Pulliam attended the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia and Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. She received a bachelor of arts degree in Sociology from Spelman College in 2001. Pulliam is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, initiated through the Eta Kappa chapter.
She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
Pulliam became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Emmy, at age six for best supporting actress. Even before that – at age 3 – she played Keshia on Sesame Street. Her character on The Cosby Show, Rudy, was known for being the “baby” of the family. She is ranked #19 in VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Kid Stars”. In a 2008 interview, she revealed that when she read for the role of Rudy, when she was only 5, she kept looking away from the director (Jay Sandrich), who finally asked her what she was looking at. She said when pointing to a monitor, “How can you make me on the TV?” Apparently, the director thought her role would be perfect for her: smart as a whip – cute as a bug, or a goldfish. Throughout the show’s eight seasons, Pulliam had a wonderful on- and off-screen chemistry with Bill Cosby, as the two shared their own friendships, when not filming. She also said of her TV father and her favorite episode of The Cosby Show, “Mr. Cosby and I, we had a competition going on to see who would do a better job at lip-syncing. That was our little inside thing. I think I did a better job.” She also appeared on a 1997 episode of Cosby, playing a different character. Today, she is still friends with Cosby.
Pulliam won a celebrity version of Fear Factor in September 2002. She also won a celebrity version of The Weakest Link and participated in “Celebrity Mole 2: Yucatan”. In 2004, she performed in Chingy’s music video for “One Call Away”. In 2005, she played Darnelle in Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah.
According to an interview on Real Talk with Jeanne Roberts of St. Louis, Pulliam performed in Donald Gray’s play The Man of Her Dreams in the fall of 2006. In 2008, she joined the cast of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne as Miranda, the new wife of Calvin Payne. The role earned her the 2009 and 2010 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
In 2009, she portrayed Candy in the film Madea Goes To Jail.
In 2011, commenting on the fact that no Black actors had won Golden Globe Awards that year, she said:
I think that there is definitely work to be done. It can always be more diverse. We live in a very multicultural and global society. More needs to be done to increase the representation of all people and really show the world for what it is. It’s not just one color.