Kristy was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, the daughter of physical education teachers Robert and Rosemary Swanson. Swanson graduated from El Toro High School. Swanson has one older brother, Rob.\n', 'Kristy\'s paternal grandfather was Swedish, and her maternal grandfather was of German ancestry. She has an uncle who taught English and Journalism in Anaheim, California.\n', '
At the age of nine, Kristy expressed interest in acting to her parents, and began pursuing roles in television commercials. She landed her first job appearing in a doll house commercial, which was followed with several more commercial appearances.\n', '
Swanson began her acting career at The Actors Workshop with R.J. Adams and promptly moved into TV advertising roles and several one-off appearances in TV series such as Cagney and Lacey and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In 1986, she debuted on the big screen in two John Hughes films: Pretty In Pink, in a non-speaking role, and Ferris Bueller\'s Day Off as a character who announces a convoluted excuse for Ferris\' absence in class. Her first starring role was later in 1986, in Wes Craven\'s Deadly Friend as Samantha – "the girl next door". The next year she played Cathy in the adaptation of V. C. Andrews\' best-seller Flowers in the Attic.\n', '