18 Big-Time Celebs Who Got Their Starts as Models
by Alyssa K. Priebe
Tons have celebs have done double duty as models, hawking all sorts of goods, but what about the other way around? Well that’s just as popular! Here are the celebs who graced runways, posed in magazines and went on to have successful careers in the entertainment industry.
This one is only a surprise if you’ve never read anything about her or seen a single episode of her hit TV show America’s Next Top Model. But there’s no denying Tyra’s successful career started when she signed with Elite Model Management. As the first black women to appear on popular magazine covers like GQ and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, Tyra’s been breaking barriers since the age of 17, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Before he became a successful actor, Josh Duhamel tried his hand at modeling. He may have told Bazaar he was unsuccessful at it, but we beg differ. Especially since he won the International Modeling and Talent Association competition in 1997, which also meant beating fellow famous model-turned-actor Ashton Kutcher.
Oh Ashton. He’s definitely a heartthrob for many—and one of the highest paid celebrities in Hollywood. But before all that, the Iowa man paid the bills by modeling. He may have lost the IMTA competition to Duhamel, but he still earned a contract from Next modeling agency, which got him jobs with Calvin Klein and Versace. He could’ve gone on to Paris or Milan, but he decided to move to L.A. and pursue acting.
Before she was the Girl on Fire, Jennifer Lawrence was better known as the girl who modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch—and failed. According to an interview with E! News, Lawrence said “You’ll never see the pictures I did for Abercrombie & Fitch.” Though the shots never made it into a campaign, they were released a couple years ago. We’re not seeing a problem.
Charlize Theron started modeling due to her mother. But after a few years of working for companies like Guess jeans, Theron told People she grew tired of modeling. “Modeling just wasn’t artistically satisfying for me because I like to say what’s on my mind,” she said. Theron turned to acting so she could have her voice back. But not before attempting a career as a ballerina.
Unlike Lawrence, Cameron Diaz’s modeling career was very successful. Starting at age 16, the celeb traveled to Japan, Australia, Morocco and Paris. She also appeared in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola and Levis. But what there’s more! Diaz even scored magazine features in Mademoiselle and Seventeen. Now, she manages modeling with acting, using her celeb status to appear in several magazines like Women’s Wear Daily and Cosmopolitan.
Honestly is this one even surprising? With his beautiful blue eyes and incredible cheekbones, of course Pattinson had a successful modeling career. He modeled swimwear and underwear for South China Morning Post (again not surprising, he’s got abs for days). But then he became Cedric Diggory and Edward Cullen, and his acting career eclipsed his modeling one.
Reese Witherspoon is hands down one of our favorite models-turned celebs. Mostly because she started at the young age of 7 and had her intense model pout down pat. She shared the photo here on her Instagram account for #TBT! On The Conan Show, Witherspoon opened up about her childhood modeling career, saying she made $75 a day, and worked two days out of the year, making her the richest of her friends. Yup, too cute.
On the Inquisitr, Angelina Jolie told a reporter that she started modeling at age 14 due to her mother. However, Jolie says she felt terrible doing it. Agencies told her to lose weight (despite being thin already) and put her in a room wearing a bathing suit while measuring every part of her. Naturally, she left the industry and went on to have a very successful acting career.
Ah, good ole’ Channing Tatum. We’ve fallen for him over and over whether he’s playing the bad boy or hopeless romantic, and now we’re falling in love with his past. Yup, Tatum was a very successful model back in the day. After being signed with Ford Model Management, he appeared in TV and print ads for Nautica, Gap and American Eagle. He also walked the runway for several designers. *swoon*
She may have made a mistake that practically ended her entertainment career, but back in the day this actress was a successful model. In 1994, she landed the cover of the August issue of Seventeen, which then earned her several more gigs with the publisher. She modeled until she got her breakthrough role as Dr. Isobel Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy.
Amanda Seyfried’s modeling career was a little more unconventional compared to her fellow celebs. It started when she posed for the book series, Sweet Valley High at age 12, scoring her three covers in the series. She also modeled for Limited Too, the popular girls’ clothing store now known as Justice.
In another modeling career that started with a book series, Scott Disick became the face of romantic interest Ty Baldwin in the young adult novel series Heartland. As ususal, Disick steals the show with his brooding, handsome gaze. Sure we know him now as one of the most fashionable men in Hollywood, but it’s fun to think about him working as a stable boy. We’re sure he’d still be accessorized to perfection though.
Mila Kunis may have known she wanted to act since the young age of 9, but her first jobs included modeling for popular children’s brand Lisa Frank, where she appeared on the cover of several catalogs. Of course her acting career blossomed after she landed her role as Jackie Burkhart in That ’70s Show and Meg in Family Guy, but it’s nice to remember her as a carefree kid hugging a teddy bear.
Before he became Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey, this Hollywood hunk had a very successful modeling career. And we mean successful. He worked with Calvin Klein, Banana Republic, Christian Dior, and Abercrombie. In most of his ads, Dornan poses shirtless and sometimes even nude. Huh, turns out being nearly naked on set is nothing new for him, no wonder he slayed as Mr. Grey.
Turns out her Gossip Girl character Blair wasn’t the only one with the desire to model. Meester signed with Wilhelmina Models and appeared in ads for Ralph Lauren and Limited Too during her younger teen years. Her big breakthrough came at age 21, when she earned the role of New York socialite (and Queen B) Blair Waldorf.
Sofia Vergara is known as a TV host, Broadway babe and sitcom star. However, in 1989 her career began when a modeling scout found her walking on the beach in Colombia. Vergara was 17 and pursuing a career in dentistry. She dropped out and began to pursue an entertainment career. And good thing too, she may have a beautiful white smile, but we sure are thankful where her career took her.
Jamie King is one of the most successful models on this list. At age 15 she’d appeared in Vogue and Seventeen. By age 18 she was working the runway for Alexander McQueen, Chanel and Christian Dior—and owning it. She left the fashion industry after she received her role as Southern belle Lemon Breeland in Hart of Dixie, but hey, we wouldn’t be surprised if she tackled modeling again.