During her childhood, Lawrence performed in church plays and school musicals. At age 14, she was in New York City, when a talent scout spotted her. Lawrence then moved to Los Angeles and began her acting career by playing guest roles in television shows. Her first major role came as a main cast member on the sitcom The Bill Engvall Show (2007–2009). Lawrence made her film debut in a supporting role in Garden Party (2008), and had her breakthrough playing a poverty-stricken teenager in the independent drama Winter's Bone (2010). She achieved wider recognition for starring as the mutant Mystique in the X-Men film series from 2011 until 2019.