Shahi — who made the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader roster in the late 1990s in her home state of Texas — used her time on the field as training for being an actress.
“It was very competitive I will say that, it was a great learning experience at the same time,” the Sex/Life star told Fox411 in April 2016. “Those cheerleaders make show business look like babies foreplay. They weigh you to the 100th of a pound. If you’re above your goal weight you have to sit outside of that week’s game.”
The Rookie alum recalled that when the team took water breaks “the veterans go first,” noting that the squad was “not a democracy.”
Shahi continued: “With all that being said, I’m not trying to paint them out to be villainous in any way. I learned a great deal about what it’s like to be disciplined and rehearse. We rehearsed for eight hours a day every single day and I was a full-time college student. To be able to have that kind of foundation going into Hollywood was fantastic.”
Smith, for her part, was one of the first round of NFL cheerleaders for the St. Louis Cardinals’ squad when she joined in the 1970s. (The Cardinals team, which had its first cheer team in 1964, later moved to Arizona and became the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams played in St. Louis from 1995 to 2015 before relocating to California and morphing into the Los Angeles Rams.)
“I auditioned for the Municipal Opera of St. Louis. Out of that audition the lady, who was also the choreographer for the St. Louis Cardinal cheerleaders, asked me to audition for the cheerleading squad — and I made it!” The Office alum told Yahoo! Entertainment in September 2012. “It was just the perfect job for me at the time.”
The former OA actress added: “I really enjoyed it because I loved football, so I was able to watch the game, dance, and be there and look at the cute guys across the field. So it was the triple threat there.”
Bachelor Nation star Melissa Rycroft gave back to her former team the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders by serving as a showmanship coach at the Texas training camp for years. She even made cameos on the CMT series Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team as a mentor for the athletes trying to earn a spot on the field.
Scroll down to see other noteworthy celebrities who were professional cheerleaders: