Fast food is a common first job for a lot of teenagers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.1 million people work in the fast food industry. Whether working as a fry cook, line chef, cashier or drive-thru operator, a job in fast food can be a stepping stone to better things. In fact, there are many famous, wealthy and successful people who have worked in fast food. Some only spent a short time slinging burgers while others worked there for years. Either way, these successful people got their start just like everybody else.
Read on for our list of 10 famous people who have worked in fast food.
10. Queen Latifah Worked at Burger King
Everyone has to start somewhere, and Queen Latifah is no exception. She told Parade Magazine, “If my brother and I wanted money in our pockets, we had to get jobs—my first was at 15, at Burger King.” According to her biography, Queen Latifah by Simone Payment, she would close at the fast food restaurant Saturday nights and spend the rest of the evening at hip hop clubs. While she’s spent most of the rest of her career in music and movies, she has recently gone back to burgers. This time, she launched a Fatburger franchise in Miami, Florida, according to Forbes.
9. James Franco Worked at McDonald’s
James Franco has had a lot of jobs over the years: actor, teacher, author, poet and painter, to name a few. It should be no surprise that he can also add a career in fast food to his resume. After he stopped attending UCLA in order to focus on acting, he still needed to supplement his income from a more reliable source. Because of this, he started working the drive-thru at a local McDonald’s. He liked to mess with the customers by using different accents while taking their order. He told the Chicago Sun Times, “I’d be French and then Italian. One girl who liked me came around the drive-thru again and said, ‘Could you give me some Italian lessons?’.”
8. Pink Worked at McDonald’s
To say that pop singer Pink is a hard worker would be a bit of an understatement. Anyone who sees her current performances where she sings and trapezes at the same time would know how hard she works, but that work ethic started when she was young. Although she started singing in clubs at the very young age of 14, that didn’t exactly pay the bills. She decided to work at McDonald’s for the extra money. Still, she’s happy she doesn’t have to work there anymore. She told Bosh.com, “Sometimes I dream I am back there, broke and working at McDonalds. It’s like the worst nightmare because I would never want to be back there.” Her over 50 awards, including a 2013 Billboard Music Award for Woman of the Year, should help keep her out of fast food from now on.
7. Jason Lee Worked at Taco Bell
Before Jason Lee became a famous actor, known for his work in Kevin Smith movies and on his hit TV show My Name is Earl, he was also a professional skateboarder. He was prominent on the scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s and even co-founded Stereo Skateboards. Still, being a professional skateboarder didn’t keep him from working at a fast food joint. According to the book Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction by Jake Halpern, Jason worked with American-Mexican fare at Taco Bell. Luckily, he’s built up enough of a career that he won’t be working at another Taco Bell any time soon.
6. Eva Longoria Worked at Wendy’s
Before she ever became an actress, Eva Longoria worked at Wendy’s. She worked at the burger-centric fast food restaurant for three years in the early 1990s while attending high school in Corpus Christi, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. After three years, she moved on to other things: she got a Bachelor degree in kinesiology and earned the title of Miss Corpus Christi. After all of that, it was acting where she decided to spend her career, starring in Desperate Housewives, among other things. Still, she never forgot about the Wendy’s she worked in so long ago. She served food from the Corpus Christie Wendy’s in 2008 to help raise money for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
5. Russell Simmons Worked at Orange Julius
Even super successful businessmen can have an early career in fast food. One example is Def Jam Records co-founder and fashion line creator Russell Simmons. Before he earned a fortune of well over 100 million, he started small. His very first job was at an Orange Julius, working there for only a month while he was in high school. He told Forbes, “I got $2.25 an hour, as I remember. I was fired after a month, so I learned you need to be inspired about work.” It seems that was a good lesson, judging by how successful he has become.
4. Rachel McAdams Worked at McDonald’s
Before she graced the screen as Regina George in Mean Girls or as the object of Ryan Gosling’s affection in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams got her start in a Canadian McDonald’s. She worked there for three years before making the move to America. She told T Magazine, “I’m not sure why they kept me: I am something of a daydreamer and a dawdler, so they would only let me be the ‘friendly voice’ that greeted you when you entered the restaurant. I was slow — I would be organizing the sweet-and-sour packets in the customer’s takeout bag while the line snaked out the door.”
3. Brad Pitt Worked at El Pollo Loco
While most people who work in fast food have to stand behind a counter or in front of a grill all day, that’s not always the case. For Brad Pitt, his work was just outside of the restaurant. The Golden Globe-winning actor dressed as a chicken to entice potential customers driving by to come into the El Pollo Loco. According to People Magazine, this was just one of the many odd jobs he took in the mid-’80s after he dropped out of college to pursue his acting career. If you saw an El Pollo Loco chicken in California in the ’80s, that might have been him!
2. Star Jones Worked at McDonald’s
Star Jones has had a wide variety of careers. In recent years, she was a talk show host for The View alongside Barbara Walters and Joy Behar. Before that, she was a prosecuting attorney for Brooklyn’s district attorney. She had to start somewhere, though, and that was at McDonald’s. According to Business Insider, she worked as a fry cook at the popular fast food chain. Those familiar with Star’s struggle with weight loss may not be surprised at that choice of job. Still, she had success in her weight loss after a gastric bypass surgery in 2003.
1. President Barack Obama Worked at Baskin-Robbins
Baskin-Robbins, the popular ice cream chain, holds two significant personal events for American President Barack Obama‘s life. It was his first job. He scooped ice cream at the Honolulu, Hawaii Baskin-Robbins, according to the Los Angeles Times. He may very well have learned some leadership skills while working among all of that cold dessert. Later in life, he had an encounter with Baskin-Robbins again. This time, he had his very first kiss with his now-wife Michelle right in front of a Chicago location of the chain, according to Huffington Post. The city even erected a plaque there to commemorate the event.