23 Stars Who Got Their Start on a Reality TV Show

23 Stars Who Got Their Start on a Reality TV Show

Beyonce photo

On days when we're feeling defeated, we find that it's nice to reflect on our lives to see just how far we've come. The person we are today is likely a bit different than the person we were a year ago, and going back even further -- say, to our high school days, or when we began our first job -- can really put things into perspective.

That's exactly what it's like with celebrities, too. 

Many of today's biggest stars used to be kids who simply enjoyed performing musicals at their community theater, while others appeared on soap operas before making it big in movies (all eyes on Michael B. Jordan). There have also been plenty of stars who kicked things off in an unconventional way, too.

Although reality shows are sometimes looked down upon, there have been plenty of competition series that have helped launch the careers of singers, actors, and designers who we love in 2019. Mini versions of our favorite pop stars sang their hearts out on the famous Star Search. So many icons came to our attention on the original American Idol. There were even quite a few well-known faces that appeared on the short-lived series Pop Stars.

And strangely enough, not everyone's original talent is what they're most known for today. Both singers and aspiring models eventually decided to to give acting a go, and while some folks simply wanted to win a trophy, or a date, or become someone's assistant, they managed to achieve a lot more than that.

Here's a list of 23 stars who surprisingly got their start on reality competition TV shows.

  • Beyonce


    Long before she was Beyonce-Beyonce, she was just a member of Girls Tyme, singing her heart out in a neon outfit and hoping to win Star Search.

  • Lucy Hale


    These days, when we hear Lucy Hale, we think actress. Pretty Little Liars. Life Sentence. We don't think singer, but maybe we should: She got her start belting out hits on American Juniors.

  • Emma Stone


    At one point, VH1 thought a great idea for a reality show was putting together a whole new Partridge Family, calling the competition In Search of the Partridge Family. Even weirder? Emma Stone signed up -- and she sang, too!

  • Laverne Cox


    Before Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox was competing to work for Diddy in a show called -- dun, dun, dun! -- I Want to Work for Diddy. She was eliminated in the sixth episode, but as it turns out, she didn't need him to find success, anyway!

  • Taryn Manning


    Another OITNB star with a reality past? Taryn Manning, who tried to make it as a singer on the competition show, Pop Stars, which produced the band Eden's Crush.

  • Nicole Scherzinger


    ... Guess who made the band, though? Nicole Scherzinger, who was also on Pop Stars.

    Bring back Eden's Crush!

  • Josh Henderson

    Many recognize Josh from Hallmark movies and the show The Arrangement. But true fans know that he, too, competed on Pop Stars back in the day, and actually made it into the band Scene 23.
  • Britney Spears


    Prepare to be amazed as a tiny, 10-year-old Britney Spears slays it on Star Search -- and somehow loses to another kid!

    We're going to need a recount.

  • Justin Timberlake


    Surprisingly, this is not the Walmart Yodel Boy. This is Justin Timberlake, who also sang on Star Search as a child.

  • Kelly Clarkson


    Isn't it weird how the first American Idol winner was Kelly Clarkson? And that she's still so good? And how we still remember every word to this song?

    America really got it right the first time!

  • Jennifer Hudson


    With a voice like hers, we're not sure why Jennifer Hudson didn't already have a record deal, but we're still glad we got to see her perform on American Idol -- even if she didn't win!

  • Carrie Underwood


    American Idol clearly had that whole idol part down. The show also gave us one of the top country singers of our time, Carrie Underwood.

  • Katie Stevens


    She only made it to the top nine, but fans of Freeform's The Bold Type might be pleasantly surprised to discover that the girl who plays Jane was also on American Idol.

    She even auditioned in front of guest judge Victoria Beckham!

  • Analeigh Tipton


    For those wondering if anyone ever made it after appearing on America's Next Top Model, Analeigh famously starred in Crazy, Stupid, Love. and has a handful of acting credits under her belt.

  • Yaya DaCosta


    Another ANTM success story? April from Chicago Med/Chicago Fire. Yaya also appeared in The Butler and had a role on Ugly Betty.

  • Christian Siriano


    Christian Siriano is one of the hottest designers of the moment, dressing actresses who rule the red carpet and including a diverse group of models on his runway.

    But remember when he was just a wannabe competing on Project Runway?

  • Camila Cabello


    If Camila Cabello had never auditioned for The X Factor in 2012, there wouldn't have been Fifth Harmony -- or her solo hits like "Havana" and "Never Be the Same."

  • One Direction

    One Direction photo
    Splash News

    The British version of The X Factor formed One Direction, and we've since learned that all of those guys are crazy-talented solo artists, too.

  • Miranda Lambert


    In 2003, Miranda Lambert popped up on the USA Network's Nashville Star as a 19-year-old aspiring singer.

  • Matt Lanter


    Yes, there was a Bravo show called Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model. Yes, Matt was on it. No, he didn't win.

    But, he did end up appearing on 90210 and becoming the lead in the NBC series Timeless!

  • Jon Hamm


    In 1996, Jon competed on a dating show called The Big Date ... and got rejected!

    We'd love to know what went through that woman's mind after she realized the same guy she turned down ended up as Don Draper on Mad Men.

  • Jamie Chung


    Technically, Jamie started her career on The Real World. But after that, she participated in Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II where her team won the competition.

    These days, she's on the Fox show The Gifted and even has her own shoe line! Plus, we'll always remember her as Mulan from Once Upon a Time.

  • David Giuntoli


    Another Real World/Road Rules Challenge participant? Nick Burkhardt from Grimm, and Eddie Saville from A Million Little Things -- actor David Giuntoli.


More Slideshows