When she was three years old, Texas native Madylin Sweeten attended the Kay Scott School of Performing Arts in San Saba, Tex. The next year, she was cast in the TV movie A Promise to Carolyn as the younger version of Delta Burke's character - coincidentally named Debra, like Sweeten's TV mom on Everybody Loves Raymond. She then appeared in several commercials in Dallas. Her family traveled to L.A. for pilot season, where she landed her role as Ally Barone. During her nine-year stint on the show, she appeared in films The Christmas Path, American Splendor, Toy Story 2 and A Dog in Flanders, as well as appearing alongside fellow former child star Shia LaBeouf in Eagle Eye.
She is the oldest of four children, including her twin brothers Sullivan and Sawyer, who portrayed her Barone TV siblings on Everybody Loves Raymond. Along with the rest of the cast, Sweeten was nominated seven times for the Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, winning in 2003.
We get to know Alexandra Barone from age 5 through 14, plus her delivery after Debra goes into labor in Robert's police car. Ally starts off as a bit of a bully on the bus, needs to sleep in her parents' bed and gets an "F," but she's not stupid: She even asks her dad what the meaning of life is. Ally has been known to lie, especially when it comes to shopping, but as she gets older, she ends up a responsible older sister. In fact, Marie accuses Debra of turning Ally into a slave when she takes care of her twin brothers and does some of the housework. Ally is active in the Frontier Girls, and is best friends with "cookie lady" Troop Leader Peggy Ardolino's daughter, Molly, who is portrayed by Ray Romano's real-life daughter (who's also named Ally).