Stars Who Got Their Start on Reality TV
The road to success in Hollywood is a little different for every would-be actor, but these days, reality TV is becoming a major launching pad for some of the industry’s biggest stars. Before they were red-carpet regulars, NeNe Leakes, Jennifer Hudson, Julianne Hough and Lucy Hale were among those who broke through as reality stars
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Before she was an A-list star, raking in roles opposite some of Hollywood's biggest hunks, including Ryan Gosling and real-life boyfriend Andrew Garfield in Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Amazing Spider-Man, respectively, Emma Stone competed to be Laurie Partridge on the 2004 VH1 reality competition In Search of The Partridge Family.
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Though she's now cemented herself as one of this generation's powerhouse singers (and an Oscar-worthy actress, after winning the award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007), Jennifer Hudson's start in the spotlight began with season three of American Idol. The Dreamgirls actress didn't ultimately win the competition, but she's stayed at the top of the Hollywood game since.
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She's since moved onto other pursuits, but who can forget NeNe Leakes' sassy debut on The Real Housewives of Atlanta in 2008? The sharp-tongued reality star would go on to compete on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2011 (she famously feuded with fellow competitor Star Jones) before breaking into the sitcom world with The New Normal and Glee.
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American Idol alumni strike again! Katharine McPhee first graced the stage as a competitor on season 5 of American Idol, eventually losing out to country singer Taylor Hicks. But McPhee made a comeback in a big way by tackling one of the lead roles on now-canceled NBC series Smash, opposite Debra Messing and Jack Davenport.
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Before Safe Haven, before Rock of Ages, and even before Burlesque, Julianne Hough was lighting up the dance floor on Dancing With the Stars for four years, partnering with the likes of Apolo Anton Ohno, Adam Carolla, and Helio Castroneves.
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Johnny Knoxville's name is still synonymous with MTV's hit Jackass, but the former reality star has since moved on to star in several films, including 2005's Dukes of Hazzard and Men in Black II.
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Heather Morris' dance skills are obvious on Fox's hit series Glee as ditzy cheerleader Brittany S., but before the actress hit the big time, the bubbly blonde was struggling to get her foot in the door, auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance in 2006. Spoiler alert: she didn't make the cut.
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Jamie Chung is a familiar face on TV these days, most recently starring as Mulan on ABC series Once Upon a Time and showing up for bit roles in The Hangover series. But the petite California native didn't initially intend to go into Hollywood -- in 2004, she auditioned for MTV's The Real World: San Diego, and the rest is reality history.
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Lanky Analeigh Tipton may have looked familiar to audiences in 2011's Crazy, Stupid, Love -- and for good reason. The actress, who has also had roles on the big and small screen in The Green Hornet and on TV series Hung, got her start as a competitor on America's Next Top Model back in 2008.
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Another America's Next Top Model alum who found her way to Tinseltown was Yaya DeCosta (who now goes by stage name Yaya Alafia). The slender New York City beauty has had guest spots on Ugly Betty, House, and even Tron: Legacy since her 2004 reality TV debut.
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Before she was a Pretty Little Liar, Lucy Hale was experimenting with another talent of hers -- advancing to the top three in short-lived Fox singing competition American Juniors in 2003. The actress also played several minor roles on shows like How I Met Your Mother and Wizards of Waverly Place before hitting it big on the ABC Family series.
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Elisabeth Hasselbeck's early exit from The View in July 2013 may have seemed like history repeating itself from the former reality star's perspective -- the headstrong talk show host first made her TV debut as a competitor on Survivor: The Australian Outback, back in 2001. She was voted off on Day 39.
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Colleen Haskell charmed audiences with her quirky naivete on the very first season of Survivor in 2000, and her natural on-screen likability translated into a lead role in 2001's The Animal, opposite funnyman Rob Schneider.
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