Scout Taylor-Compton was born Desariee Starr Compton in Long Beach, California, and is half Mexican American on her mother's side. Taylor-Compton says she "grew up in that whole [horror] genre and visiting my dad at the mortuary. I have no problem with that stuff. Whether it was a coffin or my dad bringing his work home." Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides, her ex-boyfriend whom she dated for six years, composed the song "The Mortician's Daughter" about her.
In 1998, Taylor-Compton began her acting career with an appearance in the film A.W.O.L. with David Morse, and later in the short film Thursday Afternoon. She went on to have small roles in both television and film including Ally McBeal, ER, Frasier, The Guardian and The Division. She appeared in several student films, commercials for Fuji Film and the Disney Cruise Line, and various skits on The Jay Leno Show. November 2000 saw Taylor-Compton make her stage debut as the title character in a production of Annie Warbucks at The Grove Theatre in Upland, California, and a stage production of Footloose at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.
In 2001, she had a recurring role as Clara Forrester, the younger sister of Dean Forrester (Jared Padalecki) in the television series Gilmore Girls, appearing in a total of four episodes until 2004. Taylor-Compton was nominated for "Best Performance in a TV Series – Recurring Young Actress" for her portrayal of Clara. She made a comedic appearance in the film Four Fingers of the Dragon (2003) playing herself auditioning for a role in a fictional Kung Fu film. Later in 2004, she appeared in the teen comedy Sleepover, which had been her first large Hollywood film role. The cast of the film was nominated for "Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Ensemble Cast" at the Young Artists Award. Following Sleepover, she appeared in numerous television series including Hidden Howie, Unfabulous (2 episodes), Cold Case, That's So Raven, Charmed (appearing in 8 episodes between 2000 and 2006 as various Fairies), and Without a Trace (in which she portrayed a runaway teenager).
In 2007, Taylor-Compton joined the cast on ABC'S Friday Night Live. That year as well, she starred in the drama Tomorrow is Today and the horror film Wicked Little Things. Tomorrow is Today features Taylor-Compton as Julie Peterson, a girl who saves the life of and befriends a hapless drifter. The film won over six awards at various festivals which included the California Independent Film Festival, the Garden State Film Festival, Method Fest Independent Film Festival, and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. She won "Best Actress" for her performance in the film at the Method Fest Independent Film Festival. Wicked Little Things was one of the films featured in After Dark's 8 Films to Die For and saw Taylor-Compton star as Sarah Tunny. Following these films, she appeared in Standoff and Close to Home.
In 2007, Taylor-Compton appeared in the film An American Crime which told the true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who had kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s. Taylor-Compton then returned to the horror genre as Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie's remake of the classic Halloween. She endured a long audition process, but as director Zombie explains, "Scout was my first choice. There was just something about her; she had a genuine quality. She didn't seem actor-y." Halloween currently stands as the highest grossing overall film in the Halloween franchise.
She starred in the television movie Love's Unfolding Dream, which premiered on November 24, 2007, and in the horror film April Fool's Day, a remake of the 1986 film of the same name, filmed in North Carolina, that had a March 25, 2008 DVD release. Taylor-Compton explained at the time on the starring in the role of Torrance: "I'll just be playing another wholesome 'good girl' that screams a lot." She also made another horror film, the 2009 film Life Blood, in which she had a cameo as Carrie Lain.
However, in an interview conducted in July 2007, Taylor-Compton did report that after completing April Fool's Day she wanted to stay away from roles in the horror genre for her next film projects. Although she has received many horror film scripts, she believes that she "need[s] to move on from horror. Just drift away a little bit and do something else so I don't get stuck in that" and although she "love[s] doing horror films" and are her "favorite", she'd "like to do other stuff in between." She has recently been influenced by the career of Scarlett Johansson, wanting to choose scripts and roles based on personal interest as she views Johansson does. Taylor-Compton went on to explain, "That's what I kind of want to do. I love just being passionate about something rather than just caring about the money or who's in the movie. 2009 saw Taylor-Compton alongside Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci in Love Ranch. Then she went on to star in the film Obsessed alongside Beyoncé Knowles. Her following film to hit theaters was Halloween II, Rob Zombie's sequel to the 2007 remake. The movie opened the same day as The Final Destination, another high profile horror film, and had disappointing box office returns as a result.
In 2010, she appeared in The Runaways, where she plays Lita Ford, alongside Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Stella Maeve.
In 1998, she appeared in The Adventures of Lily music video for "Femme Fatale". In 2001, Taylor Compton provided voice overs for I Am Sam, and continued with voice over work with appearances in The Core (2003) and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). The next year, she provided voice over work for the teen hero comedy Sky High. She sang the theme song "Jet Set" for her film Chicken Night (2001). 2002 saw Taylor-Compton appearing briefly in the Will Smith music video for "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)" for the Men in Black II soundtrack. She appeared in the music video for "Sweet Valentine" by the band Born the Sky in 2007.
In 2003, Taylor-Compton had taken vocal lessons with Diane Gillespie and Vocal Power Institute, guitar, drums and keyboard lessons, and was member a theatre group called "Shenanigans," where she performed and took weekly tap and jazz lessons. She attended the Hollywood Pop Academy for additional vocal training.
In 2007, Taylor-Compton was also working on her debut rock/pop album, in which she will sing and play drums. She cites Cyndi Lauper, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Kelly Osbourne and the band Green Day as her musical influences. Taylor-Compton has been working with ERA Productions and "with a very well known punk/pop singer", Vitamin C.
While on the set filming Halloween (2007), Taylor-Compton had received "a few pointers" from director Rob Zombie, who had also fronted a band and continues his singing career. She has stated that singing is a side project and "is just a little talent that I have on the side, and if it does something then I'll do that, but I'm not gonna give up acting."
In 2005, she went missing for a couple of weeks, until she was found and it was revealed she had run away from home.