Reality television has become very popular over the last number of years. It seems every time we turn on our television we can’t help but grab the popcorn and get ready to watch some “drama” unfold.
Most reality stars have big dreams of gaining fame and fortune, but only a selective few can actually achieve that goal. Many stars start out their career by making their singing debut auditioning on national television, while others bring you into their private lives and act out scripted scenarios for the viewer’s enjoyment. One thing they all have in common is the desire to attain stardom and see their name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day. Some reality stars have their dreams crushed when they get rejected multiple times, but it’s all about landing that one opportunity that can kick-start their career.
When it comes to breaking into the industry, it’s very competitive. Some fortunate celebrities have broken the reality TV star stereotype, becoming successful working actors starring in feature films and popular television shows. In this article, there are 15 celebrities who we all know and love who started out in reality television. Some of them have managed to become some of the biggest actors in Hollywood today!
15. Johnny Knoxville
Johnny Knoxville is best known for performing extreme maneuvers on the MTV reality series Jackass. Growing up Knoxville always wanted to become a successful actor but the industry kept rejecting him. With perseverance and determination, his antics eventually fell into the lap of MTV executives. With the support of director Spike Jonze, who was impressed by his pitch, the network gave Knoxville and his team money to create a television pilot for a show that would later become known as Jackass.
As soon as the show took off, Knoxville became well known and then went on to appear in Hollywood films, such as Men in Black II and The Dukes of Hazzard. He also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Nowadays, Knoxville is a very successful actor and still very much involved with the Jackass franchise. That being said, he’s not doing too bad for just some guy who injured himself for viewers’ enjoyment.
14. Jamie Chung
Jamie Chung is best known for playing herself on MTV’s reality show The Real World: San Diego, but before her fame she was working in a sports bar when she was approached by MTV. When they held auditions, she tried out and made it on the show.
After Real World, Chung auditioned for many movie roles, but was only cast in several television shows. She wanted to prove that she could be an actress in films, so she worked really hard to prove the industry wrong. Before she knew it, she gained fame and stardom as a Hollywood actress. Her career started to take off when she landed films such as Princess Protection Program, The Hangover Part II and Big Hero 6. Nowadays, Chung is married to actor Bryan Greenberg and keeps a low profile.
13. Nene Leakes
Nene Leakes is best known for being one of the cast members on Bravo’s hit reality television show The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Before she was famous she worked as an exotic dancer and used the stage name Silk. She’s left that stage for marriage and motherhood.
The mother of two is known for speaking her mind, having no filter and not apologizing for what she says. That being said, when she was approached to appear as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, she accepted right away, gaining Leakes even more fame and exposure. While her career was taking off, she made several appearances on television shows, such as Glee and The New Normal. Nowadays, Leakes is married to husband Greg, and is the founder of The Twisted Hearts Foundation, which is a foundation that brings awareness to the issue of domestic violence.
12. David Giuntoli
David Giuntoli is best known for being on MTV’s Road Rules: South Pacific. Before he got his stardom, he studied under director and acting teacher Chris Fields and joined the Echo Theater Company.
Once the MTV show aired, Giuntoli was spotted by several talent scouts and finally got his big break from being a reality star to a Hollywood actor. He relocated to Los Angeles to develop a professional career in acting. During his career, Giuntoli landed many guests appearances on several television shows, such as Nip/Tuck, Grey’s Anatomy and Veronica Mars. Nowadays, Giuntoli continues to act and go on auditions. In fact, he recently landed the role of Detective Nick Burkhardt on NBC’s supernatural show Grimm.
He likes to keep his personal life very private, but we do know currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his co-star and girlfriend Bitsie Tullochis.
11. Katharine McPhee
Katharine McPhee is best known for being a runner up on the fifth season of the popular reality series American Idol. Before we all knew and loved her, McPhee was just some girl, who attended Boston Conservatory and majored in musical theatre.
She left college before graduation and returned to Los Angeles to audition for television shows, one of which was American Idol. After losing the competition, her singing career didn’t go as planned so she decided to give acting a try. She landed a role as Harmony in the comedy movie The House Bunny.
From being in films, she later transitioned to television and even landed a lead role in the musical drama Smash, where she could showcase both her acting and singing skills. Nowadays, she is acting in a show called Scorpion.
10. Josh Henderson
Josh Henderson is best known for being a reality star that become a famous Hollywood actor. Before he rose to fame, Henderson was one the contestants on the WB reality series Pop Stars, which he competed on and won. After he show ended, his band Scene23 recorded an album, but, unfortunately, their record label went bankrupt before the album’s release.
After his music career was officially done, Henderson got the acting bug. He went on multiple auditions before he finally landed the role of Austin McCann on the hit television drama/comedy series Desperate Housewives. From there, he landed roles in a plethora of television shows.
Besides television, he starred in films such as The Girl Next Door, Step Up and Yours, Mine and Ours. Nowadays, Henderson is a successful Hollywood actor, who landed the iconic role of villain J.R. Ewing on the remake of the television show Dallas.
9. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson is best known for competing in the third season of the hit reality series American Idol. After coming in seventh place, Hudson was ready to prove everyone wrong. She left the music scene and tried her hand in acting.
While singing came naturally to her, acting was a whole different story. After going on a few movie auditions and getting rejected by most of them, she was cast for the role of Effie in Dreamgirls. Hudson impressed many by her moving performance, so much so that it earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
During her career, Hudson has also appeared in Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, and others. After transitioning from films to television, she landed a part on the second season of NBC’s Smash as Veronica Moore. Nowadays, Hudson is a wife and mother, who is doing what she loves: performing. She was recently cast in the musical Hairspray.
8. Analeigh Tipton
Analeigh Tipton is best known for being a model who competed and came in third place on Tyra Banks’ popular reality competition America’s Next Top Model. Tipton continued modelling for a few years before trying her hand in acting.
After being rejected on auditions because she was labeled a model and decidedly not an actress, Tipton proved she can act by landing the lead role of Dana on the television show Manhattan Love Story. When the show got canceled, she decided to pursue a career in film. Later, she got her start by being in movies such as The Green Hornet and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Nowadays, Tipton continues to act, and even has a few movies coming out later this year.
7. Emma Stone
Emma Stone is best known for being a Hollywood actress, but before she got her fame, she was the winner of VH1’s reality show In Search of the New Partridge Family. After winning the role of Laurie Partridge, she left reality television to pursue her dreams of becoming a successful actress.
Stone has made guest appearances in television shows such as Medium, Malcolm in the Middle and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. What took off Stone’s career was her feature film debut in the teen comedy Superbad, playing the role of Jules. When that movie became a hit, she went on to star in such films as The House Bunny, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Birdman, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Nowadays, Stone continues to act and recently landed the role of Cruella de Vil in Disney’s live-action movie Cruella.
6. Lucy Hale
Lucy Hale is best known for playing Aria Montgomery on Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars, but before she became a successful young Hollywood actress she got her start on the reality show American Juniors.
During her career, Hale made appearances on many television shows, including Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Drake & Josh, How I Met Your Mother, The O.C. and Wizards of Waverly Place. She got her big break when she landed the show Pretty Little Liars. Once the show aired, it became a huge success and fans fell in love with her charming personality. She even took home a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable TV Actress and a Teen Choice Awards for Choice Summer TV Star. Nowadays, Hale is still acting but her passion and her first love will always be music. She hopes to become a country star one day.
5. Heather Morris
Heather Morris is best known for playing the role of the ditzy cheerleader Brittany S on Fox’s hit series Glee. Before Morris got her fame and stardom, she was struggling to get on television. She always had a love for musical theatre and dance, so she auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance. Unfortunately, she didn’t make the cut. Later, Morris kept on going on auditions, and eventually she booked the job of a lifetime as a back-up dancer for Beyonce Knowles.
Since the tour ended, Morris knew she was meant for the spotlight. Once her dancing days were over, she wanted to try acting. She never gave up and proved she can be a Hollywood actress on television by booking the role of Brittany S on the hit show Glee. Since the show ended, Morris married her childhood sweetheart Taylor Hubbell.
4. Yaya DeCosta
Camara “Yaya” Da Costa, who now goes by stage name Yaya Alafia, is best known for being a model and actress, who came in second place on the third season of the popular reality television show America’s Next Top Model. Before she got her fame, Da Costa was an Ivy-League educated student. She focused on African Studies at Brown University.
After she decided to end her modeling career, she was in a plethora television shows such as All My Children and Ugly Betty. She transitioned from television to film when she was cast in such films as Tron: Legacy and Take the Lead. Her most recent role was playing the role of Whitney Houston in the Lifetime movie, Whitney. Nowadays, she continues to act, playing the role of April Sexton in the show Chicago Med. She also is currently divorced from her husband of two years, with whom she shares a 15-month-old son, Sankara.
3. Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Elisabeth Hasselbeck is best known for being the politically conservative co-host on The View. On the show, she had no filter and was not scared to express her opinion. Before she got her stardom, in 2001 she received a place on the reality television competition Survivor: The Australian Outback. She lasted over a month in the game, finishing in fourth place. When she returned home, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a serious immune-system reaction to gluten.
Later, Hasselbeck got a call one day that would change her life – she was hired as a co-host of the popular daytime television talk show The View. She went on to another network and became a co-host of Fox’s early morning show Fox and Friends. She decided to leave shortly after due to the fact that she wants to spend more times with her children.
2. Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough is best known for being on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Before this dancer tuned Hollywood actress rose to fame, she was trained professionally by a couple of dance coaches and even studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts. Growing up with a dancing background, she became the youngest to gain the titles of Junior Blackpool World Latin Champion and International Youth Champion.
Hough’s career took off when she was on the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, competing with various celebrities and winning, which made Hough the youngest professional dancer to win on the show. During her career, she’s acted in films such as Safe Haven, Rock of Ages and Burlesque.
Nowadays, after her personal life made headlines when she broke up with Ryan Seacrest, Hough finally found her prince charming and got engaged to hockey player Brooks Laich. She is planning a very small and intimate wedding.
1. Jacinda Barrett
Jacinda Barrett is best known being an Australian model turned Hollywood actress. Before she got her stardom and fame, she was one of the cast members who let us into her private life on camera on MTV’s The Real World: London.
After the show aired, fans fell in love with her charismatic personality. She gained a fan base and later, she decided to pursue a career in television and film. During her professional career she appeared in a plethora of films such as Ladder 49 and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Nowadays, Barrett is still acting. In fact, she is a recurring character on the hit television USA series Suits. She also just signed on to appear in the FOX television series The Following. Besides her professional life, she is married to co-star Gabriel Macht and they have two children together.