While growing up, Hill took acting lessons in Manhattan. She began her acting career in 1991, appearing with Jean in Club XII, MC Lyte's Off-Broadway hip-hop rendering of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. While the play was not a success, an agent noticed her. Later that year, Hill began appearing on the soap opera As the World Turns in a recurring role as troubled teenager Kira Johnson. She subsequently co-starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the 1993 release Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, playing Rita Louise Watson, an inner-city Catholic school teenager with a surly, rebellious attitude. In it, she performed the songs "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" (a duet with Tanya Blount) and "Joyful, Joyful". Director Bill Duke credited Hill with improvising a rap in a scene: "None of that was scripted. That was all Lauryn. She was amazing. " Critic Roger Ebert called her "the girl with the big joyful voice", although he thought her talent was wasted, while Rolling Stone said she "performed marvelously against type . . . in the otherwise perfunctory [film]. " Hill also appeared in Steven Soderbergh's 1993 motion picture King of the Hill, in a minor but pivotal role as a 1930s gum-popping elevator operator. Soderbergh biographer Jason Wood described her as supplying one of the warmest scenes in the film. Hill graduated from Columbia High School in 1993.
Lauryn Noelle Hill was born on May 26, 1975,  in East Orange, New Jersey  to English teacher Valerie Hill and computer and management consultant Mal Hill. She has one older brother named Malaney (born 1972).    Her Baptist  family moved to New York and Newark for short periods until settling in South Orange, New Jersey.