Surprising Celebrities Who Started Out on Reality TV


If you’ve ever dreamed of walking the red carpet, draped in designer clothes, flashbulbs capturing your every movement as you sashay into the latest movie premiere, then the chances are that you will have considered going on reality TV at some point. But for many people, the 15 minutes of fame that often comes with an appearance on reality TV can often be over before they’ve even started.

Reality TV is a springboard into stardom for some

There are those times when the exception beats the rule, however. For example, this glittering array of superstars started out on the small screen and used it as a celebrity launchpad into the heady realms of Hollywood and award-winning careers. Just remember that it can often take more than professional makeup artists and a team of stylists to make that dream happen!

Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Laverne Cox

Now an internationally recognized actress and LGBT advocate thanks to her role on Orange is the New Black, fans might be surprised by the fact that Laverne Cox got her first break on reality TV. Back in 2008 Cox appeared on the VH1 reality show I Want to Work for Diddy, a show in which 11 contestants compete for a job working with Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy). Though she didn’t win, it gave her the opportunity to produce and star in the VH1 reality TV series TRANSform Me in 2010. This made her the first African-American trans woman to produce and star in her own show. Go, Laverne!

Nicole Scherzinger

Before the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger had her first break on reality TV

Many people recognize Nicole Scherzinger as the lead singer of one of the world’s best-selling girl groups the Pussycat Dolls, but in actual fact, she first started out on a reality TV show. In 2001, Scherzinger quit the band she was in to audition on the Warner Bros TV show Popstars in which she sang Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” which landed her a winning place in the girl group Eden’s Crush. Their debut single “Get Over Yourself” was released in 2001 and reached number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 but the band split by the end of 2001 leaving Scherzinger free to join the Pussycat Dolls in 2003. The rest, as they say, is history.

Photo: Gage Skidmore / CC BY 2.0

Jennifer Hudson

Grammy award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson not only has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but she has also performed at the White House! Not bad for someone who started their journey to fame on the reality TV show American Idol. In 2004 Hudson auditioned for the show after spending the previous few months singing on a cruise ship. Although she received the highest number of votes in the Top 9 show, she was eliminated in a shock exit in the Top 7 show. This didn’t harm her career in any way, as she subsequently went on to star in Dreamgirls with Beyoncé and won a Golden Globe for her performance.

Liv Boeree

Professional poker player and TV presenter Liv Boeree might well be known for her huge wins in the poker circuit and engaging coverage of the poker world, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Boeree got her initial 15 minutes of fame through a reality TV show called Showdown which aired on Five in 2005. She was coached by top players Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, and Dave Ulliott and fell in love with the game so much that she won the 2008 Ladbroke Ladies European Championships for $30,000. In 2010, she won the European Poker Tour main event landing a cool €1,250,000 making her the third woman to ever win an EPT title. Now she spends half of the year exploring the States and taking acting classes in a bid to launch her acting career.

Emma Stone

Even Emma Stone’s biggest fans might be surprised by the fact that she originally started out on a reality TV show! Way back in 2004, Stone appeared on VH1’s In Search of the New Partridge Family, auditioning for the chance to become a part of their TV series The New Partridge Family. Singing Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” and Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” she won the role of Laurie Partridge, but the show never aired so we will never know just how great she would have been at it!

So, if you’re thinking about getting your break on reality TV, just look to these amazing stars for inspiration on how to make that break work for you!


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