Everyone has to start out somewhere. No matter how talented celebrities are, they don’t go from writing a song in their bedroom to performing it on the Grammys. Some celebrities get their start performing in clubs or bars then moving on to bigger venues until they catch their big break – namely the eye of some talent executive. Others hope that a reality TV show will be their golden ticket to Hollywood.
There are tons of reality TV shows, and talent competitions make up a large portion of the shows. They offer people a chance to show off the singing, dancing or acting chops to a panel of influential judges, as well as an audience of millions. If they win, the rewards often include singing contracts, albums and high profile appearances. It is easy to see why lots of hopefuls consider reality TV as their big shot to making a name for themselves.
We all know that Kelly Clarkson got her start as the first-ever winner of American Idol but there are other celebrities that started on reality TV shows that you have probably forgotten about. These 10 celebrities began their careers on reality TV show competitions and went on to do great things.
10. Lucy Hale – American Juniors
There are lots of American Idol alumni who have gone on to have extremely successful careers in the music business. Lucy Hale actually got her start on the show’s spin-off, American Juniors back in 2003. Thirteen-year-old Lucy had a successful run on the show and ended up being part of the five-member band the show created. They released an album in 2004, but it received little acclaim.
American Juniors may not have turned out to be as successful as American Idol, but Lucy Hale has enjoyed a lot of success since the show. She stars on Pretty Little Liars, which is based on the popular book series. Lucy plays Aria Montgomery. Lucy has had lots of acting success but she hasn’t abandoned her singing roots. She released a country album in 2014 entitled “Road Between.”
9. Heather Morris – So You Think You Can Dance?
You might think that Glee alum Heather Morris got her start on a singing competition but it was actually a dance competition where she first had a taste of stardom. Heather auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance? in 2006. Surprisingly, she didn’t make the cut.
The show’s rejection didn’t negatively impact Heather because she went on to become a backup dancer for Beyonce. This led her to her most famous role as Brittany Pierce on Glee, which is where she will be remembered for some epic song and dance routines. Heather is currently expecting her second child with husband Taylor Hubbell.
8. Laverne Cox – I Want To Work For Diddy
Most people consider Laverne Cox’s breakout role to be Orange is the New Black but she was actually on the 2008 VH1 reality TV show I Want to Work For Diddy. The show was about 13 contestants who competed for the job of becoming Sean “Diddy” Combs’ personal assistant. Laverne did not get the job. She was eliminated in the sixth episode.
Since the show, Laverne has gained A-list status thanks to her role on Orange is the New Black as Sophia Burset. She has received many awards nominations for her role and she won the SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.”
Laverne is also known for being an influential spokeswoman. She has helped to raise awareness about the LGBT community. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and she was the first trans woman of color to produce and star in her own television show, TRANSForm Me, a makeover show.
7. Elisabeth Hasselbeck – Survivor
Elisabeth Hasselbeck got her start on the unlikeliest of reality TV shows. Instead of a talent competition, we first saw Elisabeth on Survivor: The Australian Outback in 2001. She ended up finishing fourth in the competition after lasting a month in the wild.
Following Survivor, Elisabeth hosted the makeover show The Look for Less. In 2003, she was made one of the co-hosts of The View, after Lisa Ling left the show. She became known for her conservative point of view. In 2013, Elisabeth announced that she was leaving The View to join FOX News’ Fox & Friends as co-host.
6. Beyonce – Star Search
You probably can’t remember a time before Beyonce was a mega superstar. Before the countless Grammys, the empire and even before Destiny’s Child, a young Beyonce appeared on Star Search in 1993. Beyonce went on the show with her hip hop and rap group Girls Tyme. Surprisingly, Beyonce and her group lost a battle against a rock band called the Skeleton Crew.
Beyonce may have lost that challenge but she has gone on to prove that girls do run the world. She enjoyed massive success with Destiny’s Child before embarking on a solo career. However, she hasn’t forgotten about the moment she lost to the Skeleton Crew back in 1993. On her surprise self-titled album, she included an audio clip from the Star Search performance on her track “***Flawless.” She also has called it one of the defining moments of her childhood.
5. Nicole Scherzinger – Popstars
Nicole Scherzinger’s career has seen her appear on various television shows but she drew attention to herself back in 2003 when she appeared on the reality TV show Popstars. She secured the spot as the lead singer in the all-girls group the show created, Eden’s Crush. The group had a single on the Billboard chart but disbanded shortly after.
Following the show, Nicole became the lead singer of the popular singing and dancing group the Pussycat Dolls. They released two successful albums before Nicole embarked on a solo career. Nicole also went back to her reality TV show roots. She appeared on Dancing With The Stars and won the mirror ball trophy with her partner Derek Hough. She has also served as a judge on the American and UK versions of The X Factor.
4. Britney Spears – Star Search
Britney Spears was another celebrity who appeared on Star Search. Ten-year-old Britney was a champion on the show before she was beaten by 12-year-old Marty Thomas, who attended the Professionals Performing Arts School in New York City. The judges gave him a slightly higher score than Britney.
Britney went on to appear on The Mickey Mouse Club, a popular television show that featured numerous young cast members that went on to become A-list stars. From there, Britney has had a massive career as a singer which has spanned over fifteen years and counting. She has also built a successful empire with her perfumes and lingerie line.
3. Janel Parrish – Star Search
Lucy Hale wasn’t the only Pretty Little Liars star to appear on a singing competition show. Fourteen-year-old Janel Parrish appeared on the Junior Section of Star Search in 2003. Janel had previously done some theater work and small roles but this was a big platform to showcase her singing talent. Sadly, Janel was eliminated from the competition after failing to get enough judges and viewers’ points.
After the show, Janel went on to secure more television parts. Her most famous role to date is as Mona Vanderwaal on Pretty Little Liars.
Janel even went back to reality television. She competed on the 19th season of Dancing With The Stars. Janel and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy had a successful run on the show and she ended up placing third. It made her a true triple threat.
2. Justin Timberlake – Star Search
Most people think that Justin Timberlake got his start as a Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club but he appeared on Star Search, like many other celebrities. Justin performed in a country-inspired number, complete with a cowboy hat, and went by the name “Justin Randall.” Eleven-year-old Justin ended up losing to Ana Nardona.
Star Search loss aside, Justin has had an extremely successful career. He was a Mouseketeer along with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. He went on to dominate the music industry. First, he enjoyed success as the youngest member of the boy band *NSYNC. From there, he launched a successful career as a solo artist and he has had numerous Billboard hits.
1. Emma Stone – In Search Of the New Partridge Family
Emma Stone is one of the biggest young actresses in Hollywood right now but she actually first started out on the reality TV show In Search Of the New Partridge Family back in 2004. As you can probably guess, the show was about searching for people to star in a new show called The New Partridge Family. Fifteen-year-old Emma got to show off her impressive singing vocals and ended up securing the spot as Laurie Partridge. Alas, the show never aired.
We may not have gotten to see Emma in The New Partridge Family, but we have seen a lot of her on the big screen. She appeared in popular movies including Superbad, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Easy A. She has received multiple nominations including an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Birdman.