Let’s be honest – not all celebs have talent. Some just get to be famous because of their families but that doesn’t mean they have any real skills. It just means that they were born under the right star, or in the right place at the right time. Paris Hilton is a fine example. Can Paris act? No – but she has enough influence to land herself the occasional film role. Not because she’s a good actress, but because people know who she is. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, you get people who are really talented but struggle to get noticed.
If you have a dream, you need to realize that things don’t just happen overnight. It can take years, and when you’re in the performance industry the competition is tough. But you only fail when you give up. These stars might have received negative feedback about their performances, but they didn’t let it break them. They picked themselves up and tried again – and just look at them now!
The point is that we shouldn’t believe everything people tell us – sometimes they might see our talent and lie about it, just because they are jealous or envious.
15. Gary Oldman Was Flat-Out Rejected From The Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art
Gary Oldman is famed for being one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood and is well-known for his roles in films like The Professional, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Harry Potter.
But believe it or not, there was a time when Oldman struggled to even get a place in acting school. In the late 1970s he applied to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) but was flat-out rejected. They even added that they thought he should find something else to do for a living!
But he didn’t hold a grudge. When asked in an interview if he ever reminded the RADA of this slight he simply replied, “The work speaks for itself.” It sure does Gary. You can catch him as Winston Churchill in his latest film Darkest Hour.
14. J.K. Rowling Was Told There’s No Money In Writing Children’s Books
Breaking into the world of writing is not a task for the faint of heart. If you like getting brutally rejected after pouring your heart and soul into a project, over and over again – just try writing.
Joanne Rowling (known to the world by her pen name, J.K. Rowling) felt that she was a complete failure when she started writing the first Harry Potter book in 1990. She was a divorced woman, jobless, with a dependent child, suffering from crippling depression. But she managed to finally finish her manuscript and sent it to twelve publishing houses – who all rejected it straight away.
She persevered and managed to get a publisher to do a small print run, although they encouraged her to get a day job as “there is no money in children’s books.” Today the Harry Potter brand is worth an estimated $15 billion.
13. Winona Ryder Was Told She Wasn’t Pretty Enough To Be An Actress
Some people think they can spot talent but everyone can be wrong sometimes. And we’re sure that somewhere out there, there is a casting director who cringes every time he watches Stranger Things.
Winona Ryder is often described as one of the most successful and iconic actresses of the nineties. But before the Beetlejuice star got her big break, she endured her share of negative feedback and criticism.
According to her, while auditioning for a film role, a film director stopped her in mid-sentence and told her, “’Listen, kid. You should not be an actress. You are not pretty enough. You should go back.” She didn’t get the role, but she refused to let the rebuff get her down and vowed to continue pursuing her dream.
12. Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Told He’d Never Make It
Arnie is a self-made man in every sense of the word. Even after making a name for himself in the world of bodybuilding he still wanted more and decided to pursue an acting career. And although he faced up against some pretty big odds he still managed to make it happen.
“It was very difficult for me in the beginning – I was told by agents and casting people that my body was ‘too weird’, that I had a funny accent, and that my name was too long. You name it, and they told me I had to change it. Basically, everywhere I turned, I was told that I had no chance,” he said about his early days in the industry. It just goes to show that it’s all about determination!
11. Millennium Records ‘Passed’ On Madonna’s Demo
Getting rejected is the worst feeling, but we always have a choice about how to react. We can quit or just keep trying – which is what Madonna did.
As a young woman, Madonna relocated to New York City with $35 in her pocket, a move she described as “the bravest thing I’d ever done”. She collaborated with a few bands before deciding to market herself as a solo artist. She sent demos to a number of record labels, one of which was Millennium Records. The President of the label, a man named Jeremy Inner, reviewed her demo but felt that her sound was not quite ready and rejected her for a recording deal.
But instead of becoming discouraged she used the rejection to spur her on. She sent her demo to Seymour Stein of Sire Records, who was in the hospital at the time. He knew a good thing when he heard it and summoned her to his sick bed so that he could immediately sign her to his label.
10. This Director Didn’t Believe Keira Knightley Could Act
You’d think that after winning over audiences with her performances in films like Pirates of the Caribbean and Bend it Like Beckham, an actress like Keira Knightly would simply be able to pick and choose the parts she wanted, but when it came to her audition for The Jacket that simply wasn’t the case.
Director John Maybury didn’t think she was the right choice and had no problem telling her that. “There’s been a lot of hype about you, but I don’t think you can act,” he said. “You’re completely wrong for this part. I absolutely don’t want you.” But Knightley insisted on auditioning anyway, and her reading eventually won him over. “OK,” he told her, “here’s my home phone number and here’s my mobile number and I’ll see you in about a month.”
9. A Casting Agent Told Brad Pitt To Get Acting Lessons
We have this idea in our minds that Thelma and Louise was Brad Pitt’s first film but it wasn’t. Before he landed his break-out role he acted in several movies, although most of his roles were uncredited and the movies didn’t attract much attention.
It was during this difficult stage in his career when Brad auditioned for a role in The Accused (a 1988 film starring Jodie Foster) but the casting agent didn’t think very much of him. His performance was followed by a long silence before the agent told him that he should take acting classes. Ouch. But he persisted, and today he commands respect wherever he goes. In 2014 he even won an Academy Award as a producer for Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave.
8. Coaches Told Kate Winslet She’d Have To Be Happy With ‘Fat Girl’ Roles
English actress Kate Winslet is best known for her portrayals of distressed women, mostly in period dramas and tragedies. Most people remember her from her most famous role as Rose in Titanic, one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Winslet was born into a very poor family but they supported her acting ambitions. She was heavy as a child, but even though she didn’t have the typical leading lady body they still believed in her. Some of her coaches, however, weren’t that sure that she would succeed. “When I was younger, when I was 14, I was told by a drama teacher that I might do OK if I was happy to settle for the fat girl parts, “ she said.
7. Steven Spielberg Was Rejected By The University Of Southern California’s Film School
When Steven Spielberg was still in high school, he decided that he wanted to a film director.
He applied to the University of Southern California’s film school, but they turned him down, citing that he only had “average grades”. Not deterred, he applied and was accepted to California State University. While he was still a student, he landed a small unpaid intern job at Universal Studios doing editing.
He was given an opportunity to make a short film and the end result impressed studio vice president Sidney Sheinberg so much that he offered Spielberg a seven-year directing contract, making him the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio.
6. A Choir Teacher Told Shakira She Sounded Like A Goat
Shakira started writing poetry on a typewriter at the age of seven and by the time she was eight she had already written her first song.
But she struggled at her Catholic school; she enjoyed entertaining her friends and the nuns with her singing, but she was often sent out of class for being disruptive and hyperactive. She was also rejected for the school choir because her vibrato (which would later become her trademark) was considered to be too strong. The music teacher remarked that Shakira sounded “like a goat” when she sang. “It sounds comic now, but back then it was very traumatizing,” she said.
5. Kerry Washington Waited 10 Years For Her Breakout Role
Kerry Washington began acting in 1994 but she had to wait ten long years before she would start getting recognition for her work.
Washington started gaining attention for her roles in films like Ray, The Last King of Scotland, Fantastic Four, and Django Unchained, but it wasn’t until she picked up her role as Olivia Pope in Scandal that she would become a household name. Between starting her career and Scandal, Kerry appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, some of which were pilots that didn’t even make it past the first episode.
For her role in Scandal, she’s been nominated twice for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series.
4. The Queen Of All Media Was Once Called Unfit For TV News
Today she is by far one of the most powerful and influential women on the planet, not to mention one of the richest, but believe it or there were plenty of people who didn’t believe that Oprah Winfrey had the talent to succeed in the cutthroat world of TV.
By the age of 19, Oprah had already worked at a radio station and was co-anchoring the local evening news. The viewers loved her, but she found herself dismissed after her boss accused her of being “too emotionally invested” in her stories.
3. Lady Gaga Was Dropped From Her First Recording Deal
During the early stages of her career, Lady Gaga established a company to promote her music. She recorded and sent several electropop tracks to music industry execs, including Joshua Sarubin, the head of Def Jam Recordings. He liked her sound and signed her on as one of their artists. But just three months later, she was dropped from the label.
She could have thrown in the towel right then and there, but she pressed on, performing on her own in clubs and venues on New York City’s Lower East Side. Just over a year later, she was discovered by Akon, who signed her under his label. She began working on her debut album and in 2008 her debut single “Just Dance” was nominated for a Grammy Award.
2. Stephen King Threw His First Manuscript Away After it Was Rejected Dozens Of Times
Between 1966 and 1970 Stephen King studied at the University of Maine, finally graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English. During this time he supported himself with a number of menial jobs and following his graduation, he wrote short stories to earn money as he worked on his first book, a story called Carrie.
But Carrie was rejected numerous times by publishers and at one stage King became discouraged and threw the draft in the trash. His wife retrieved the manuscript and encouraged him to try again, which he did. Finally, in 1973 Carrie was accepted by a small publishing house who gave him an advance of $2,500. The paperback rights would later earn him around $400,000.
1. Jerry Seinfeld Was Fired – And No One Even Bothered To Tell Him
Funnyman Jerry Seinfeld started his career as most comedians do – by appearing at open mic nights.
During college years he often performed at Budd Friedman’s Improv Club and it wasn’t long before he was noticed and picked up for a small recurring role on the sitcom Benson (where he played a delivery boy called Frankie). It looked like his big break but then, all of sudden, he was abruptly fired from the show. They fired him but neglected to actually tell him so he only found out when he arrived for a read-through rehearsal and found there was no script for him.
Eight years later he made the first season of Seinfeld, a show that was so successful that it ran for 9 years and won him a Golden Globe.
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