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Producers asked Reed to play a role in the film because they had trouble casting it, considering it an "uncomfortable" role for most young actresses.
The film, starring Evan Rachel Wood, was released in 2003 to glowing reviews, giving Reed recognition in Hollywood as both an actress and a screenwriter.
The relationship between Reed and her mother became strained when Reed experimented with drugs, alcohol, and sex.
At the age of fourteen, Reed was emancipated; she then moved out and began living on her own. Reed and director Catherine Hardwicke finished the script for the semi-autobiographical film, Thirteen, in six days, a relatively fast time for a Hollywood script to be written.
Reed was born on May 17, 1988, in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Cheryl Houston, a hairdresser, and Seth Reed, a set designer. Proof of her younger brother Reed's father is Jewish and her mother is of Cherokee and Italian descent; Reed was raised without religion though grew up around Judaism (her brother had a Bar Mitzvah).
Reed has described her home life as "complicated." She attended Palms Middle School.
Reed has noted that she disagrees with what she describes as the "trendy and shallow things" that The O. promotes, and that she appeared in the series only on the advice of her agents.
Her most distinctive recent role is in Mini's First Time, which received a limited release in the United States on July 14, 2006.
She describes herself as having been "shy and a bookworm," but at the age of twelve she became rebellious and emotionally volatile.
Reed married singer-songwriter Paul Mc Donald, whom she met in March 2011 at the premiere of Red Riding Hood, on October 16, 2011 in Malibu, California.