First person: "I've always been very, very independent. In first grade, when I was finished with my work, I would gather my things and go sit at the teacher's desk until it was time to go home. Whether that was four hours away or four minutes away."
Second opinion: "She has had an unswerving individual will since the day she was born," says father Henry Groppe, 70, an energy consultant. "You couldn't 'oochygoo' her into anything she didn't want to do, even as a baby."
Vitals: Youngest of five children; raised in Hedwig Village, an exclusive Houston suburb; 32 years old; lives in a rented two-bedroom Austin condo (with no computer); and recently broke up with an L.A. auto-parts importer.
Report card: Majored in philosophy at Virginia's all-female Sweet Briar College; after graduating, spent 18 months teaching English (and aerobics) in Japan.
Biggest sacrifice: Her waist-length tresses, lopped off when she started trying to raise capital for Girl Games. "My father said people might take me a little more seriously if I didn't look like a surfer rat."
Up next: Another haircut, most likely. Groppe wants to raise up to $1 million to develop You Go Girl, a CD-ROM travel game for 8-to-12-year-olds that she hopes will be in stores late next year.
After sharing a Best Short Film Oscar in 1992 (for Session Man) and four 1994 MTV Video Awards (for R.E.M. 's "Everybody Hurts "), film producer Laura Groppe put Hollywood on hold and $75,000 of her life's savings on the line. Two years later she presides over Girl Games, Inc., the Austin, Texas-based software company she founded to provide girls 7-to-17 with an alternative to the traditionally boy-oriented, often violent computer games that dominate the market. The company's first effort, the just-released CD-ROM Let's Talk About ME!, is a funky, feminist guide to adolescence stocked with quizzes, celebrity reminiscences, games and candid advice on everything from dating to dream interpretation. The company motto: "Not your brother's software."