They always say, “It’s not where you started from; it’s where you end up,” and the small screen was where these mega-stars got their start. We’re not talking about sitcoms here. Reality television used to be derided, but these celebrities show that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Cardi B, anyone?—reality TV is launching careers left and right. Here are several stars who rose to fame and increased their credit scores after appearing on reality television.
Every Oscar winner had to start somewhere, and Emma Stone has never shied away from revealing her humble beginnings. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she said, “Malcolm in the Middle was one of the shows I worked on. And then there’s an episode of Medium. On The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, I played the role of a puppy.” However, Stone earned her first acting credit in 2004 on VH1’s In Search of the Partridge Family. The program was a reality show competition series looking for people to star in a new version of The Partridge Family. Stone, who was still known as “Emily” at the time, was cast as Laurie Partridge, and everything worked out in her favor.
Girl’s Tyme, the group that would later become known as Destiny’s Child, debuted on Star Search as Girl’s Tyme and lost. Isn’t that true? It’s surprising to think that one of the members will grow up to be Queen Bey, Jay-Z’s wife, a cultural icon, and the face of a movement. Yet, despite the massive success and countless investments Bey has now, she remembers where she came from: in her song Flawless, she also uses the Star Search intro.
The Pretty Little Liars actress began her career in 2003 on a show called American Juniors, which was essentially American Idol for kids under the age of 18, but with the goal of forming a singing group rather than just finding a single star. Hale came in fourth place and was a member of the band until it disbanded in 2005. She is by far the most prolific of the Juniors’ alumni. She has continued to sing since the release of her debut album Road Between in 2014. Today, Hale has expanded her career into acting, earning performance credit in films like Fantasy Island and Truth or Dare.
One Direction came in third place in the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010. With their good looks and catchy songs, the boyband swept the globe, but Styles made a powerful impact on his fans. The Styles train didn’t stop when One Direction went on hiatus (or broke up—we’re still not sure) in 2016. He released his self-titled debut album, dabbled in acting, and even earned an acting credit in the Academy Award-winning film Dunkirk.
Jenner isn’t just Kim’s baby sister, as she was first introduced to the world on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kylie Cosmetics, the massive cosmetic empire established by the 21-year-old entrepreneur, has sold enough tocredither as Forbes’ youngest “self-made” billionaire ever.
The actress came in third place on the 11th season of America’s Next Top Model, and Tyra Banks mentioned to her that she could be more of an actress than a model during her elimination. That proved to be accurate, as Tipton starred in credit films such as Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Two Night Stand.
The Sucker Punch actress made her television debut in the 14th season of The Real World: San Diego. She went on to star in the spin-off series Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II (which she won!) and now plays Blink in Fox’s The Gifted. Given her success as an actress, we wouldn’t be surprised if Jamie also has investments outside of the limelight.
The rise to fame of the “Money” singer can only be characterized as meteoric. Cardi B starred in the sixth and seventh seasons of Love & Hip Hop: New York after becoming famous for her Vine and Instagram posts. She later left the show in pursuit of her music career and of bigger investments. The rest, as they say, is history.