Before: Academy Award-winning actress and rocker Gwyneth Paltrow inspires emotion: either you love or hate her. Once voted “Most Stuck-up” in Movieline’s 100 Most, she finally won many of us over during her successful turn as a sultry sex ed teacher on Glee.
Before: Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow started as a back-up singer for Michael Jackson. While she may wanna have some fun, she knows when to get serious: A mother of two, she’s also an activist for causes like animal rights and combating global warming.
Before: Eva Longoria steamed up the set of Desperate Housewives when her character seduced a neighborhood teen. Women across America reconsidered who they hired to mow their lawn.
After: Off the set, the place Longoria turns up the heat is in the kitchen. She grew up on a Texas ranch, and each meal was based on what her family culled from the fields. The recipes in “Eva’s Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family and Friends,” tell her life story through food. She’s also a restaurateur; she owns Beso Restaurant and Kiss Nightclub, which takes a Latin approach to classic Steakhouse cuisine.
Before: Screen legend Sophia Loren was born dirt poor outside of Naples. She starred in her first film at 16, and quickly became a pinup girl in Italy. Soon she crossed the Atlantic to reign in Hollywood. People named her one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world.
After: Loren once famously claimed when it came to her voluptuous figure, "Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti." For her, cooking is an act of love and friendship. And, over time, her recipes became her memories. In her cookbook, "Sophia Loren’s Recipes and Memories," she shares those and vintage photos with you.
Before: Comedian and actress Amy Sedaris doesn’t hesitate before throwing herself headfirst into awkward moments. You’ll either laugh or think she’s crazy, but either way she wins. It’s sort of how her twisted humor works.
After: Her New York Times best-selling book, “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence,” teaches you not to take yourself so seriously in your role as hostess. Just play to your strengths, hide your weaknesses, and laugh at the rest. ‘Cause there are a lot of party tricks you can do with pantyhose.
Before: Seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight is rightfully known as “The Empress of Soul.” Formerly the lead singer of the Pips, her distinctive voice still influences R&B singers today. When the Pips retired, she went solo--and at 67 years young, continues touring.
After: Want a bit of soul food? Knight co-owns a chain of restaurants called Gladys Knight and Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Hmm, wonder what dish they’re known for?
Before: She got our hearts beating as a paleobotanist running from dinosaurs in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, and was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Katherine Harris in Recount. This fall she moves to HBO with her dark-comedy, "Enlightened."
After: Dern, Rose McGowan and musician Ben Harper brought New York’s Little Italy to West Hollywood with their Italian eatery, Dominick’s. Spaghetti and meatballs, anyone?
Before: Emily Saliers met Amy Ray in elementary school. Now they’ve performed together as the folk rock music duo The Indigo Girls for over 20 years, standing up for what they believe in, holding benefits for causes ranging from gay rights to abolishing the death penalty.
After: Saliers opened Watershed Restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, with three other women in 1998. It served Southern cuisine, using local organic seasonal foods. This month it closed, and its owners announced they’ll soon re-open at an undisclosed relocation.
Before: Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is a survivor. She broke onto the scene in Speed, became America’s sweetheart with her romantic comedies, and then successfully took on a dramatic role with The Blind Side. Then she got blindsided by husband Jesse James’ affair, but refused to trash him. Rather, she spent her time nurturing her adopted son, Louis.
After: She opened a Cajun style restaurant called Bess Bistro in Austin, and then followed up with Walton’s, a gourmet deli.
Before: There’s something about actress Cameron Diaz, and it’s not just that she’s a tall, leggy blond. With her carefree spirit, she seems to have escaped the everyday stresses that bog the rest of us down.
After: Diaz is a part owner of Bambu, an Asian restaurant in South Beach that feels more like a nightclub.
Before: Author and poet Maya Angelou can change your thinking through her written words, starting with her memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She’s experienced the brutality of the human condition, and emerged from it with compassion as well as unshakable faith.
Before: Lead singer Patti LaBelle’s voice is as memorable as her lamé space-cadet suit. Her 60s’ girl group was the first black act to perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, where they debuted “Lady Marmalade.” Christina Aguilera ain’t got nothing on her.
After: She’s struggled with diabetes, and her mother succumbed to it. She’s penned two cookbooks to teach you how to “treat your body like a temple,” called “Recipes for the Good Life” and “Patti Labelle’s Lite Cuisine.” And she launched a now-defunct nightclub, Chez LaBelle, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.