This article is testimony to the fact that if you work hard, strive to better yourself, and are willing to do the not so glamorous jobs first, better times will come. You may think that the majority of celebrities out there haven’t ever been through strife, or don’t know the struggles of the average person doing the daily grind. You may think that most people who are celebs today have just followed in their family’s footsteps, that they already had a foot in their respective industries due to family connections, or have just been lucky and have had everything handed to them on a plate. Sure, you see some of these world-famous celebs, see the lives they live, and it’s hard to fathom that they’ve ever done anything else, that they were once upon a time average Joes trying to do what they needed to do to make a living. But even these celebs, who many of us hold in such high esteem, started somewhere and worked their way up to where they are today.
This is not quite a rags to riches article – it’s about embarrassing jobs that these celebs did before fame – but in many of their cases, that may just be the perfect way to describe what they went through, what they once endured.
Look at where these 15 celebs are today, and you wouldn’t believe they once did these jobs. A lot of them probably don’t want to believe it either, and they probably think back to where they once were and what they once did to earn a bit of cash with at least a little embarrassment. These are 15 celebs and the embarrassing jobs they had before finding fame.
15. Jon Hamm – Adult Film Set Designer
The dapper star of the hit TV series Mad Men, Jon Hamm has led a somewhat complicated life. But credit to him – he knew he wanted to be an actor as he was growing up and put everything in place that he could in order to make it happen. Initially, things weren’t working out. He finished uni, and had to find whatever work he could find, so he took up a teaching role – he became an acting teacher at his old high school. That’s not the embarrassing job, teaching’s a well-respected profession after all.
But after a while, his thirst for acting resurged, and he went off to L.A. in search of employment. That’s when things got tough, and again, while he was going to auditions, in the meantime he had to find whatever work came his way. One of those jobs was as a set designer for porn movies! I suppose that still kind of counts as a job in the acting profession! Yes, Jon spent some time moving around ash trays, props, and cameras – a job which he’s described as being seriously depressing. Luckily he found his mojo again and his big gamble to up sticks and relocate to L.A. paid off as he began getting acting roles, roles in front of the camera this time, which would’ve made a nice change.
14. Al Pacino – Janitor
Even one of the best actors of all time once started off doing what many people would deem to be quite a menial job, especially in comparison what he then went on to achieve in the acting world. Al Pacino is up there with the best and the most recognized actors of all time. His role as the hot-headed gangster Tony Montana made Al a legend, as did his portrayal of Michael Corleone in the epic Godfather movies. But when Al was an ill-disciplined, troubled youngster, he wouldn’t in his wildest of dreams have envisaged that he’d one day achieve legendary status in the movie industry. Drinking, drugs, crime, and homelessness – Al went through a lot, and it was during this time, he worked many different jobs, including being a janitor, until he gained membership of the prestigious Actor’s Studio following a successful audition. This enabled him to quit being a janitor and focus on what he loved to do, acting full time.
13. Barack Obama – Ice Cream Scooper
Former President Barack Obama wasn’t born into riches, didn’t have famous parents, or anything like that. He wasn’t poor by any means, but his was just a conventional middle class family. It meant that everything that came to him in the future was his own doing, due to his own hard work and desire to succeed and make a difference.
Like most kids in middle class families, when growing up, Barack got a job in order to make some extra cash. When he was 16 years old, during his summer break, Barack worked scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins around the corner from his grandparent’s house, where he stayed. It was his first summer job and he’s said, as you’d expect, it wasn’t exactly glamorous. But having said that, it gave him plenty of life skills; it taught him how to be responsible, the meaning of grafting and hard work, so all in all it was a valuable experience.
12. Victoria Beckham – Sex-Ed Mascot
The sour-faced Victoria Beckham isn’t one to be seen cracking a smile. The ex-pop star turned business woman and fashionista is today famous for her fashion label, although she’s equally as famous for having ex-soccer star and now avid philanthropist, David Beckham, as her hubby.
She started out her career in the limelight when she was just 20, but before that, her first job was actually something I’m guessing everyone would find quite comical, especially considering she’s now all about fashion and looking fabulous. The young Victoria’s first stint on TV was for a BBC sex-ed show called “Body Matters.” You may be thinking, wow, being on TV at such a young age, that’s great, what’s the big deal? Well, she was on the show dressed up as a giant sperm on roller skates. It’s safe to say that that was one of her early fashion disasters. Thinking about the job is sure to make Victoria’s frown grow even deeper.
11. Brad Pitt – Fast Food Mascot
Growing up, Brad Pitt was obsessed with films. It was like escaping into a different world for him, and so he made a concerted effort to do whatever it took to make his dream a reality and appear on the other side of the screen. So, after his university education, Brad decided to go where it was all going on in the film world, and he decided to up and move to L.A. That initial period after he’d first made the move was tough. He took acting lessons and eventually began getting the odd acting role, but to fund his life in L.A. and those acting lessons, he had to work. He took whatever work he could find and worked a number of odd jobs, one of which entailed dressing up as a chicken and handing out flyers for a local restaurant. He worked for El Pollo Loco Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and his job was to attract people to come in and dine – that’s the meaning of doing whatever it takes, and it’s certainly paid off.
10. Ellen DeGeneres – Door-To-Door Saleswoman
Can you image the host with the most, the queen of TV, a figure who’s loved by one and all, Ellen DeGeneres, being anything other than a talk show host? She’s been hosting her show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, for so long now, it’s hard to envisage her doing anything else. Those of you who are Ellen fans and have followed her career will know that she’s also famous for having starred in the popular short-lived sitcom Ellen, for her acting, writing, and producing too. But something she’s certainly not famous for is her brief career as a vacuum cleaner saleswoman. Before making it as a comedian, that’s what Ellen did to earn her corn – sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door, in addition to working many other odd jobs. We’ve come to know of her past profession after she joked about it with musician Willie Nelson, who was also a vacuum cleaner salesman, when he came on her chat show.
9. Hugh Jackman – Professional Clown
The macho man that is Hugh Jackman has gained fame mainly due to his portrayal of the mutant Wolverine, but has also received a ton of recognition for his major roles across many different genres. His versatility has meant that he’s a global superstar, but I’m pretty sure not many of you can guess what his first bit of acting experience was. I’m not talking about his first stint on TV, or when he went off to London, England to act in theatre. I’m talking way before that, when the young Hugh had to work conventional – although a lot of you may disagree when I say conventional – jobs, such as being a high school PE teacher – not the embarrassing job – and working as a professional clown. The all-around man’s man once made a living dressing up in clown gear bedecked in makeup as a clown for kid’s parties. By his own admission, Coco The Clown sucked. He’s even said he remembers a six year old kid complaining to his mom, because he as Coco was so awful and didn’t know diddly squat in terms of doing magic and entertaining. Hugh has said that he’s serious embarrassed by that incident, but admits that all the criticism that came his way from the discerning crowd of children was all completely justified.
8. Sylvester Stallone – Adult Film Actor/Zoo Cleaner
Here’s another superstar that had to struggle, really struggle, before getting his big break. In fact, Sylvester Stallone was in the industry for a good six years just trying to survive and make it work before the first major success of his career – Rocky – came along, and those who know the story of him refusing to sell the script unless he played the lead would know that even that was all thanks to his own doing.
The young Sly actually worked a couple of embarrassing jobs growing up. After getting rubbish grades at school at the age of 16, his mom put him to work in her beauty salon. When he left, got his own apartment and tried to make it as an actor, that’s when things began getting tough. During this time, he took any work he could find, including his first role, which was in a porn movie. But he desperately needed cash, any cash, so resorted to working at the zoo. Yes, Sly once worked at New York’s Central Park Zoo and was employed as a cleaner. He cleaned out lion’s cages for a measly $1.12 an hour, but hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
7. Matthew McConaughey – Cleaned Chicken Coops
Today, Matthew McConaughey has reached a stage in his career where pretty much every movie he does is a super duper hit. He’s been around for years and is a versatile actor, although he’s best known for his roles as the romantic comedian, “The McConaissance” effect as he puts it.
Matthew has a special place in his heart for Australia. That’s because as a teenager, he went off to find himself and took a gap year, but rather than stick to somewhere closer to home, he opted to travel to the other side of the world. A local family took him in, but he still need to pay the bills, fund his lifestyle for that year down under. So, what did he do? Like Sly in the previous entry, he cleaned out animal cages, more specifically, chicken cages. He was tasked with shovelling chicken manure out of their cages, and has said about that job, and his whole experience in Oz, that it really helped shape him and left a lasting impression.
6. Johnny Depp – Phone Salesman
Look at Johnny Depp, and he gives off the appearance of being a musician, a bit of a rock star. Well, that was very nearly the case; instead of being into films, the young Johnny was a real music nut and spent his childhood strumming his guitar with various garage bands around Florida.
At the age of 20, he still had a love for music, but now he was married so decided to get a more conventional job, something that would keep the cash coming in and ensure he and his wife had a steady income. During that brief two-year marriage, Johnny still hadn’t found the acting bug. Instead, he took to working a number of odd jobs, one of which was as a salesman; he sold ballpoint pens over the phone – or at least that was his job description – although he never actually made a sale. During that period, he was just trying to keep the money coming in, but, if like most sales people, he worked on commission, that job turned out to be an epic fail.
5. Lada Gaga – Go-Go Dancer
Look at Lady Gaga, her antics in the music industry, what she gets up to in the limelight, what she says, her provocative outfits, and it’d be a safe guess to say that she had a bit of a racy past. You’d expect that to be the case, but having said that, her previous profession might raise a few eyebrows when you consider that unlike most people on this list, she didn’t really have a tough upbringing – from a financial standpoint that is.
She had a wealthy family who were prepared to support her, but she really wanted to go out on her own and make it happen by herself. So, at the age of 18, so she could get her own cash and no longer rely on her parents, she began stripping and go-go dancing, and stayed in the clubs waitressing too, for quite some time. She’d dance to rock ‘n’ roll numbers in black leather outfits, and although we might deem it to be embarrassing, she actually loved it, saying it gave her huge body confidence and it gave her the chance to express her own sexuality.
4. Whoopi Goldberg – Morgue Beautician
Spooky! Whoopi Goldberg once spent a lot of time around the recently-deceased. She was actually a trained beautician, and her boss at the time felt she needed to be eased into the role. So, instead of putting makeup on the living, her first job as a beautician was putting makeup on the dead; it’s great to practice on something not moving. Most would have practiced on one of those head makeup thingies, but Whoopi was given the task of putting makeup on those who are no longer with us. It’s a pretty important job actually, relatives of the recently-deceased would want their loved ones to look good when everyone pays their respects and says goodbye to the body a final time.
3. Megan Fox – Smoothie Shop Mascot
Regarded to be a modern female sex symbol, it’s safe to say that Megan Fox wasn’t feeling that sexy working the job she did during her younger days. She actually got into acting at the age of 15, but before her acting career properly got underway and she started getting recognized, Megan had to find another means of making some money.
Megan relocated to Florida at a young age to continue her dance training. Just three years later at the age of 13, she began entering and winning modeling contests, but as she grew up, she needed something that would make her some money. So, she took a job working at a smoothie shop. That’s not the embarrassing part, a lot of people start off working in such shops. But on Fridays, someone from the team would be nominated to dress up as a piece of fruit and go out by the highway to drum up business, and on several occasions, it was Megan’s job to do just that.
2. Cameron Diaz – Bondage Film Star
Before finding fame and eventually fortune with The Mask in 1994, a film that launched her as a sex symbol, Cameron did a bit of modeling work, but that work just wasn’t paying the bills, so she took work wherever she could find it. She contemplated getting into acting, but didn’t actually have any acting experience. So, when she got offered a job as an actress, she snapped it up. Her acting career actually began when she was just 19, but it wasn’t a mainstream Hollywood acting role. She actually appeared in a soft-core porn bondage shoot. Yes, Cameron took part in a kinky S&M topless photoshoot which turned into a video session. It’s obviously something she’s embarrassed about, because the guy in charge of the shoot tried to blackmail her, a “pay up unless you want the footage to be made public” kind of deal. Some pics and some of the video footage was released, despite Cameron’s best efforts to keep everything under wraps. She took the sleazy photographer to court and he even ended up doing prison time.
1. George Clooney – Women’s Shoe Salesman
George Clooney is one of the biggest, most recognized, and much loved stars in the industry today. He keeps producing hit after hit, and his good looks, his personable nature, and his prowess as an actor combine to make the complete package, one that’s ideal for the big screen.
When he was growing up in Kentucky, life as an actor wasn’t really on his agenda. He was more preoccupied with making it big in sports, but it didn’t happen for him in basketball or baseball – his sports of choice. He attended two universities but failed to graduate from either. Clooney was floundering and didn’t really know what to do or where he was headed. He therefore took whatever work he could find; he worked a number of odd jobs, including work as a door-to-door salesman, cutting tobacco, stacking shelves, but his most embarrassing job by far would have to be the fact that he sold women’s shoes. Can you imagine, George Clooney, even a young George Clooney, selling women’s shoes? It’s hard to believe but it did happen; he probably used his suave and sophisticated nature to charm the ladies and make quite a few sales too, although he has admitted it was a terrible job and that he felt really embarrassed, especially around his older clients.
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