Renee Olstead is the only child of creatively supportive parents, and she grew up in Houston, Texas. She is of Norwegian descent. As a child, she practiced singing by singing along with the radio. She subsequently entered talent contests and local musical productions.
She has been a child actor, working in commercials and films since she was eight years old, including parts on “Touched By An Angel,” “End of Days” and “Space Cowboys,” among others.
Aside from acting, she is known as a jazz singer and can sing a range of four octaves. Renee Olstead said after seeing “Pleasantville” that she fell in love with the music of Etta James.
At the age of 13, in 2003, she performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival and earned a standing ovation.
In 2004, Renee Olstead released a self-titled album of jazz songs. (Though she had previous releases, they were distributed on a limited basis, so this one was considered her debut.) Her albums include: Renee Olstead, Skylark, Stone Country and By Request…. She said of writing her single “She’s Got Your Name,” “I realized I’d never heard song lyrics from this perspective of being in love with someone who’s taken…all of the good songs come out in five minutes, and I wrote it on my iPhone.”
She said, “Some kids my age experiment with drugs, I experiment with music.” Renee Olstead is a vegan and has appeared in a PETA ad, encouraging her fans to go vegan.
In 2011, she was the victim of a hacking that included 50 other celebrities.
Renee Olstead also supports charities, writes op-eds for “The Huffington Post,” and as reported by teenvogue.com, is working towards an undergraduate degree in psychology at Mount St. Mary’s, a private women’s college. “I love psychology and learning about people.”
With singing and acting, she said, “I’ve been so lucky to do both. It’s like trying to pick a favorite arm…. I love singing…I love acting and I love being someone else for a couple hours a day. It’s just fun to kind of play pretend and imagine what it’s like to be someone else!”
Renee Olstead resides in Hollywood, California.