The world of modeling is competitive, exciting, and – at least on the surface – ridiculously glamorous. Not all of us can be models, whether because we don’t have the right body type, the perfect teeth – or the competitive spirit and motivation. But if you have the height and body type, you could be strutting the catwalk with Hollywood big shots looking upon you with envy as you tote the latest fashions. Modelling, though, is a notoriously time-limited occupation and the bright young things are always ready to dethrone the old hats.
So a clever model (there are some…) will make his or her way out of the industry and into an equally lucrative one when the opportunity arises; and modeling opens the door to many opportunities in the entertainment industry, including acting. Of course, not every model has what it takes to make a smooth transition and flawlessly pull off demanding on-screen performance (and if it goes wrong, it can make for some ‘ouch’ cringey moments) but some of the big time Hollywood actors that we know today got their start in the modeling industry. Take Josh Duhamel; named Male Model of the Year in a competition in 1997, and now he’s a big time Hollywood actor. James Marsden is another pretty boy who got his start in modeling before breaking into acting.
But regardless of talent, the fame and exposure gained from being a successful model certainly does create more opportunity to break into the world of acting. Many models will perform cameo appearances on television shows and films, while some will turn their cameos into more permanent roles. Models already have the look for Hollywood, and acting can be taught – up to a point. So, which gorgeous model has been the most successful in making the transition?
Here are the top ten models that went from cat walk to Hollywood walk of fame. Some have never looked back, while others will still alternate between the two worlds. Being blessed with the looks and (even better) the talent not only means more opportunity, but a bigger paycheck for the more work you do, as these ten pretty and talented model-turned-actors demonstrate.
10.Kim Basinger – $36 Million
We suppose we can’t call Kim Basinger a “former” fashion model since she just signed a new modeling contract at the age of 60. But Kim did get her start in modeling after winning the Athens Junior Miss contest when she was in the teens and then went on to win the Georgia Junior Miss contest. While she was competing in the national competition, she was offered a modeling contract through Ford Modeling Agency. She initially turned down the offer to focus on her studies but later accepted and became a Ford model. Even though modeling gave her start in the industry, Basinger admits that she didn’t enjoy it much.
9. Milla Jovovich- $36 Million
Milla Jovovich’s mother began putting her daughter up for modeling calls at the tender age of nine. When Milla was 12 years old, she was discovered be Herb Ritts through Gene Lemuel, and she promptly graced the cover of the Italian magazine, Lei. She signed onto a modeling agency soon after, and in 1988 became a professional model. Milla appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vogue even at a young age, and quickly became a high-demand model in the industry. Forbes named her one of the richest supermodels in the world in 2004. With this much exposure, it wasn’t hard for Milla to transition to film with the movies “The Fifth Element” and “Resident Evil”.
8. Monica Bellucci – $45 Million
The Italian actress began modeling at the young age of 13, and in 1988 Monica Bellucci found herself living and modeling in Milan, considered to be one of the biggest fashion empires of the world. It didn’t take her long to become one of the most prominent models in the industry regularly traveling to Paris and New York City to work. In the early 90’s, her film career began to take off with films like Dracula and The Apartment putting her on the Hollywood radar. Today, she both models and stars in movies on a regular basis. Even today, Bellucci is considered to be an Italian sex symbol and models for some of the finest brands in the world such as Dior.
7. Channing Tatum – $50 Million
Of course it’s easy to believe that Channing Tatum started out as a male model given his physique and good looks. Long before his days as “Magic Mike” and gaining roles in film, Tatum was one of the most in-demand models in the industry, even if he was sporting the Zoolander face. Tatum modeled clothing for several high-end brands on the catwalk in Los Angeles and New York City. Given his capability to strut his stuff on the stage – and his experience as a dancer – it’s no surprise that his transition from model to actor was swift and flawless.
6. Halle Berry – $70 Million
Oscare winner Halle Berry actually started out as a beauty pageant queen, which is no surprise given her looks and her natural confidence in front of an audience. After becoming successful and a regular winner on the pageant scene, she moved to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling. Her brief modeling career eventually led her to a role in the television series, “Living Dolls” in 1989. Berry got positive reviews for her role in the series – and we all know what that means. One door opens more doors, and Berry soon found herself on the upward climb of Hollywood stardom – including a role as one of the legendary Bond girls and several awards to her name.
5. Cameron Diaz – $90 Million
Cameron Diaz began her career in the entertainment industry as a fashion model. At the age of 16, she signed a contract with Elite Model Management. Diaz traveled the world as a model for Calvin Klein and Levi’s and she appeared on the front cover of Seventeen magazine in 1990. In 1994, thanks to her agents at Elite Model Management, she booked an audition for the 1994 film, “The Mask”, and after she was cast Diaz enrolled in acting lessons. The hard work paid off because since “The Mask”, Diaz has found consistent work as an actress and has become one of the blonde darlings of the rom-com world.
4. Charlize Theron – $95 Million
Charlize Theron actually started out as a dancer, and at the age of 16 the South African-born actress won a one-year modeling contract in a local competition. She traveled throughout Europe as well as to New York City and Miami, Florida to work as a model. But she eventually admitted that she didn’t enjoy modeling so she soon quit and returned to dancing. At the young age of 19, Theron moved to Los Angeles to break into the movie business and got her first role in a direct-to-video film and the rest is history for this A-list Oscar winner.
3. Ashton Kutcher – $140 Million
Back in the mid to late 90’s Ashton Kutcher was in the modeling industry, and in 1998, he actually lost to Josh Duhamel in a modeling competition known as IMTA. But the competition wasn’t a waste of time, as the “That 70’s Show” star got a modeling contract with Calvin Klein and modeled in cities such as Paris and Milan – you might remember those iconic shots of Kutcher sporting Calvin Klein jeans. This model got the exposure he needed to break away from the still camera to the movie camera for television and film – a lucrative move indeed.
2. Angelina Jolie – $145 Million
Before she became one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses, Angelina – already of famous pedigree – graced the world of modeling at the young age of 16. Even back then she had a face that was beautiful and unique, and every camera around wanted to capture a shot of her. At a young age, she was a swimsuit model, but she had a mature demeanor – which is perhaps no surprise since she was allowed to move in with her older boyfriend at the age of 14. Granted, Angelina’s modeling days didn’t last for long as she broke into Hollywood as an actress not too long after.
1. Mark Wahlberg – $200 Million
As the younger brother of New Kids On the Block member Donnie Wahlberg, Mark was actually one of the original members of the group, but decided that singing and dancing weren’t for him. So what did he do instead? He became an underwear model for Calvin Klein and quickly found that his physique was in high demand. Not only did he model the underwear in print, but he also modeled for the brand’s television advertisements and was even photographed by Annie Liebowitz for Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame issue. Looks like leaving the boy band to become a model was a good career choice for the famed Hollywood actor, who made a splash as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights and became one of the most sought-after actors in the biz.