Cates was born on July 16, 1963, in New York City to a family of insiders in Broadway and television production. There is no such thing as Cates’ twin..
She is the daughter of Lily and Joseph Cates, who helped create The $64,000 Question and was a major Broadway producer and television pioneer.
Joseph Cates’ original name was Joseph Katz. Cates attended both the Juilliard School and the Professional Children’s School.
Cates began modeling at the age of ten, and she has since appeared in Seventeen and other teen-targeted publications. She later decided she wanted to pursue a career as a dancer.
She eventually won a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, but she left at age 14 due to a knee injury.
She then started a brief but fruitful career as a model. Cates declared that she didn’t like the business: “Over and over, it was just the same thing. I eventually started doing it just for the money.”