It’s understandable that celebrity would change a person. Going from occasionally impoverished beginnings to the heights of expensive superstardom, a person could afford all the stylists, trainers, and makeup artists required to look photo ready every morning.
A person is also not typically fully formed in high school. They might have baby fat to lose, braces to get removed, or hair that will change color and consistency. But those are little changes that onlookers don’t necessarily notice because they happen so gradually.
But celebrities have certain things that are their “thing.” You know it’s a Pitbull song because at a certain point you’re going to hear “DALE!” or “Mr. 305!” A lot of the time, these “things” are looks. Nicki Minaj has her legendary all-encompassing butt. Ariana Grande has her hair. Even though celebrities reinvent themselves continually, there’s always a default, reference point.
These are ten famous celebrities from before they reached their final form as public figures. It’s not so much funny because of an attractive/ unattractive thing. Most of them in high school were perfectly unremarkable. It’s more funny because they were unremarkable, and now they are the most remarked upon people in the world.
Drake is now known for his hella rhymes and stylish dance moves (#HotlineBling), but he wasn’t always the symbol of romantic sensuality that he is today. Once upon a time, before his days on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) was just a geeky high school kid trying to “make it through” (for all those who don’t know, that’s a lyric from the Degrassi theme song.) Just check out this picture of Drake from his high school yearbook. From the unkempt hair to the good-at-science eyewear, no one would have looked at the would-be ultra successful rapper and thought: “Oh, yeah. We can make this guy a star.”
9 Calvin Harris
Okay, admittedly in the picture here, Calvin Harris is 24. It was taken in 2008. But we can only extrapolate backwards that he probably didn’t get weirder looking after high school to only get as ruggedly handsome as he is today (in the second picture, he’s modeling for Armani.) Based on the typical trajectory of the farther behind you high school is, the more self-possessed and attractive you are, we can only imagine what a geeky trainwreck Calvin Harris was in high school (or college, as the Scot would call it.) He’s almost unrecognizable now, having traded in his dark, greasy hair, for beachy, tousled, sandy blond highlights and graphic teeshirt for designer underwear suctioned to his chiseled bod.
8 Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has gone through many transformations in the public eye. Most notably, she traded in her hyper-theatrical wigs and outfits from for haute couture on The Pinkprint; it was time to get serious. So looking at a picture of her from high school is like a peek into a past that she would desperately prefer to keep secret. Above is a screenshot of a video clip that recently surfaced of her performing a skit at New York’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, where she majored in drama. Unfortunately, the clip has been removed from YouTube. But reports say that the clip was of Nicki Minaj (real name: Onika Maraj) “arguing” with a classmate and getting so into it that she throws a prop.
Today, we know Madonna as being an over-the-hill pop superstar who makes headlines with her shredded arms and tongue antics (kissing Drake at Coachella 2015, kissing like ten people in her “Bitch, I’m Madonna” video). But before she was over the hill, and even before she was going up the hill, she was in high school like the rest of us. There, instead of being her usual blond, she had dark, long hair. And instead of being in daring fashion, she was wearing a conservative vest and sweater. It seems as though before anyone can become someone meriting a “Bitch” introduction, they need to go through a period of conventionality.
6 Katy Perry
Katy Perry is now the high-earning female in the entertainment business. She beat out Taylor Swift for 2015 earnings, according to recent financial reports. Everyone knows Katy Perry for her signature look: jet-black hair (occasionally colorful), long toned legs, bountiful bosoms, and a face beat for the Gods. But take a look at the “Teenage Dream” singer as a teenager: goofy smile, short seemingly blond hair, and a “Bebe” teeshirt – far from the fashions we expect from her today. It’s normal that she’d seem a little clean cut: both her parents are born-again Christian pastors in California, and her household was so pious that her mother required that deviled eggs be called “Angeled” eggs.
5 The Rock
Dwayne Johnson, otherwise known as “The Rock,” got himself a real tough reputation as a wrestler. Before he was a semi-comedic actor in blockbuster movies, he was a professional wrestler for the WWE. Comfortably ensconced in middle-age, Dwayne Johnson is still known for his amazing physique, one that could turn a man’s spine into gravel if he were hugged too enthusiastically by The Rock. Oh, he’s also completely bald. So take a look at him in high school: thick hair, near-unibrow, and a double chin! Before becoming an internationally renown fitness icon, The Rock was more like A Rock With A Squishy Coat of Moss. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but drinking too much Rolling Rock will leave The Rock with a gut.
4 Tom Brady
Before being a cheater quarterback for the New England Patriots and before marrying one of the sexiest women alive, Gisele Bundchen, to form one of the sexiest families alive, Tom Brady was just a regular high school punk. How can we tell? Check out this pic of him at the Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California. Before embodying bare-chested virility for Stetson, Tom Brady came to school with no jawline and a haircut presumably given to him by his mother. Although he was probably tall back then (he’s 6’4” now) and had the natural bearing of an athlete, this photo of a gangly and unprepossessing high school kid does not bespeak the football superstar he’d go on to become.
3 Kim Kardashian
Today, Kim Kardashian is married to a veritable god of rap and has almost 50 million followers of Instagram. This is pretty astounding for someone with, honestly, no discernible talent. Her success can be attributed to her die-hard momager, Kris Jenner, who, with her natural pushiness and her celebrity-lawyer/ deceased-husband Robert Kardashian’s money managed to catapult her, like, eleven children into superstardom, creating “America’s First Family.” But before Kim Kardashian was an Armenian-American princess, she was just a not-that-pretty high school girl. Check out the contour queen before contouring, before Instagram, and before Kanye West took her under his sartorial wing and taught her how to dress to catch the camera’s eye.
2 Jimmy Fallon
In twenty years, we as a nation will have the same relationship towards Jimmy Fallon as our folks have towards Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. We’ll think: “Those were great days in talk television.” But also, there’s an obvious similarity between those men: they’re all vaguely yet unthreateningly handsome, white, and with names so un-ethnic even they sometimes wonder: “Which one is he, again?” Take a look at Jimmy Fallon in high school, from the cheap haircut to the whiskery moustache to the 99c clothes, he doesn’t seem anything like the extra polished, quick-on-his-feet talk show host we know today, having cut on his teeth on the world’s longest running sketch comedy show.
Kesha, born Kesha Rose Sebert, but passing through Ke$ha before landing on this spelling, was at one point of the biggest pop stars in the world, having had such #1 single as “We R Who We R” and “Tik Tok”. She’s known for her bangin’ bod, her crazy hair, her crazy clothes, and her breath that smells like Jack Daniels in the morning (mine smells like mint…) That’s why this picture of her is so astounding. Look how frumpy she was! Not only was she not completely fabbed up, she was androgynously wearing a Lakers teeshirt to go with her Twister Sister hair and puka shell necklace. Homegirl needed to pick a lane! Well, she eventually grew into her sense of style and her sense of self and became more famous than most people can dream of. Guess that teaches us to tease nerds, albeit behind their backs.