Fame is a powerful thing. As Harvey Mackay once warned, “Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.” The rich and famous nowadays enjoy extremely luxurious lifestyles, but the insatiable hunger of the public for novelty means it can be difficult for celebrities to stay relevant. And so, many famous names in showbiz feel the need to constantly rebrand themselves in order to keep the public’s attention. There are numerous celebrities who have changed their image drastically once they found themselves in the spotlight – others changed themselves drastically to earn their place in the spotlight.
This is particularly true in the case of child stars. The struggle of child stars to escape their juvenile persona is a common sight in the media. A prime example is Justin Bieber, who shot to fame as the 14-year-old baby-faced pop star who captured the hearts of young girls around the globe. However, Bieber has made a huge effort to distance himself from his cutesy image in recent years. The star has adopted an edgy urban style, as well as investing in huge amounts of body art. Bieber has also experimented openly with drugs. Bieber’s attitude has changed immensely recently, too – his behaviour in the past year has shocked many, including one incident in which he allegedly spit on his fans from a hotel balcony.
These major changes in a celebrities’ public image are almost always directly linked to a clever marketing and PR strategy. Once you understand that a controversial and newsworthy persona can ultimately translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s understandable that tired celebrities might be interested in investing in an image shakeup.
One can only wonder whether or not these stars are sacrificing their integrity for money: As Douglas Adams once said, “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” Decide for yourself, as you find out more about these 5 celebrities who completely changed their image for fame.
5. Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant in 1986. Later known as Lana Del Rey, the young singer became a star seemingly overnight with her 2011 viral hit Video Games. However, Del Rey hasn’t always been the siren she is today. Lana Del Rey was once Lizzy Grant, a young woman who performed in bars in New York to little success. Lizzy Grant eventually snagged an album deal, but her self-titled debut ‘Lana Del Rey’ bombed immediately following its release. However, Grant caught the attention of some music moguls via her Youtube account. Soon, Grant emerged from the Interscope marketing machine as Lana Del Rey, a 1960s heroine who sang about love and loss.
It is undeniable that Lana Del Rey’s image is constructed very carefully. Del Rey purposely oozes floaty, morose and dark vibes to create a parallel with her music. Del Rey draws on themes from America’s golden era and classic silver screen sirens. Recently, Del Rey claimed that she actually wished she was dead in an interview with The Guardian. Interestingly, the story hit the headlines just as her new album Ultraviolence was released on iTunes…
4. Die Antwoord
Die Antwoord is a popular rap group who hail from Cape Town in South Africa. Die Antwoord rose to fame in 2008 when the song ‘Enter The Ninja’ went viral online. To ensure they permeated the consciousness of a newly internet-based audience, the band released their debut album for free online. This brought them the audience they needed to snag a record deal with Interscope in 2010. Their second album, ‘Ten$ion’, was released just as things went pear shaped between Die Antwoord and their label, due to a dispute over their lyrics. The pair split with Interscope and released ‘Ten$ion’ under their own record label to massive success. The band are known for promoting the South African ‘zef’ culture (what Yolandi defines as “poor but fancy”). However, there is much speculation about the group’s past.
Amidst claims that the pair hail from a wealthy, privately educated background, Die Antwoord have also marketed themselves under suspiciously differing images in various bands throughout the years. From hip rappers in MaxNormal.TV to their acid-trip music project The Constructus Corporation, the pair have gone through various transformations and have released plenty of high quality – yet incohesive – music during their career. In MaxNormal.TV interviews, both Ninja and Yolandi behave markedly different to their Die Antwoord personas.
3. Victoria Beckham
Victoria has changed her image hugely in the past couple of decades. From British girl pop sensation to out-and-out WAG to international haute-couture queen, Victoria has certainly gone through a huge metamorphosis. Victoria first tasted fame in the band the Spice Girls, when the group achieved worldwide fame in the 1990s with their hits including ‘Wannabe’ and ‘2 Become 1’. Victoria was known as ‘Posh Spice’ and lived up to the name with her neat haircut and her little black dresses. In 1997, Victoria met her future husband David Beckham. Since the pair became a couple, they haven’t left the media spotlight. Marrying one of the most famous footballers on the planet had a huge effect on Victoria’s image – Victoria began to market herself as the head of the WAGS. Her signature style at the time included long highlighted hair extensions, giant sunglasses and a dramatic breast augmentation.
This WAG image is a world away from the high-fashion image she now promotes. According to numerous sources, Victoria had always had a big interest in fashion. Posh took very careful steps to morph herself from WAG royalty to a high fashion superstar. It must be said, however, that Victoria is coming into her own – she is now known worldwide as a highly talented fashion designer. Her creations are adored by celebrities the world over. Posh’s image has become more and more haute-couture focused in recent years. The only thing that has remained constant is her infamous pout!
2. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera started out on the Mickey Mouse Club, just like her fellow musicians Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Christina became a pop star, and her image at the time was super preppy: blonde, all-American and wholesome. Her single ‘Genie In A Bottle’ reached number 1, and Christina was instantly one of the biggest pop stars in the world. However, despite her success, Christina later felt the need to radically market herself in a new way. After gradually becoming more urban both in looks and sound, Aguilera shocked both fans and critics with the release of her album Stripped. Most of the controversy orbited the album’s lead single ‘Dirrty’. Aguilera displayed a shocking new look; skimpy clothing, piercings and black highlights in her peroxide hair. However, the media spotlight soon left Christina’s “Dirrty” image, and she soon reinvented herself again.
With her album “Back to Basics” came Xtina’s radically different 40’s pin-up girl image. Her new style coincided with the classic tone of her new album, and launched Aguilera back into the spotlight once more. In recent years, the buzz around Aguilera has quietened, and the star has focused more on her private life. Still, Aguilera has proven the power of reinvention, having successfully marketed herself under three distinct personas.
1. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is a celebrity who has changed her image dramatically over the past couple of years. Miley, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, rose to fame on the Disney channel in the show Hannah Montana. Hannah Montana made waves worldwide and launched Cyrus to international stardom. However, she long remained in her innocent pop princess role. Hannah Montana was marketed to young girls, and this encased Miley in a sugar coated pop bubble for most of her teenage years. Understandably, Cyrus had difficulty transitioning from a child star to a grown woman in the limelight. And so, Cyrus began to make drastic steps to market herself in a new way. This change would stun the world.
Cyrus broke free from her former image in the most vulgar way possible. Starting by chopping off her trademark wavy locks, Cyrus began to rock a crazy bob and more adventurous clothing. Her video for ‘We Can’t Stop’ hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. From provocative actions to drug references, many were appalled at Cyrus for sending such images to her predominantly young fan base. Yet it seems that Miley is unstoppable. From her now-infamous performance at the MTV Music Awards to her collaboration with the highly controversial photographer Terry Richardson, Cyrus will seemingly stop at nothing to change her image and make headlines. As she told V magazine, “I’m going to change, I’m going to be different, I’m going to do what I want to do.”