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10 Stars You Forgot Got Their Break on Reality TV

StyleCaster | Jason Pham

It’s probably common knowledge by now that Lauren Conrad and Kelly Clarkson found stardom on reality TV, but what about big names like Emma Stone and Nicole Scherzinger? Yup, you might be surprised to learn that these A-listers are among the ranks of reality TV’s most notable finds.

Long gone are the days of working your way up from indie darling to box office queen. (Though that definitely still happens, too.) Nowadays, celebrities take any chance they get to make it big – even if that means starring on the Real World for a few episodes. And we don’t blame them! Hollywood is a difficult place to be (or so we’ve heard… ). Have a peek at all the surprising celebrities who got their start on reality TV.

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Emma Stone

Before the Oscar winner made it big, she initially tried to break out on VH1’s In Search of the Partridge Family in 2004, when she was among hundreds of actors who went through a series of grueling auditions to nab a spot in 2005’s The New Partridge Family. The La La Land star obviously had the chops to make it to the end, when she scored a role in one episode of the subsequent series.

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Lucy Hale

Before the star became known as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars, the actress found her start in 2003 on the singing competition, American Juniors, a spin-off of American Idol. Though she effortessly pivoted into acting, Hale’s singing competition background wasn’t entirely a bust. In 2014, she released her first album, Road Between, which quickly climbed to the top of the country charts.

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Aaron Paul

Though it’s unlikely that the Breaking Bad producers discovered the actor from his 2000 stint on The Price Is Right, it is interesting to note that the game show appearance was among Paul’s first on-screen creds.

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Janel Parrish

Like her PLL costar Lucy Hale, Parrish also got her start on American Juniors. The actress’s performance failed to woo the judges, but luckily, like Hale, she scored a role years later as Mona Vanderwaal in Freeform’s popular teen series.

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Nicole Scherzinger

Before the singer locked down her role as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, she actually auditioned for a spot in another girl group, which she later won. The process was televised on the reality show Pop Stars, where Scherzinger got her start in the music biz by scoring a place in the early 2000s girl group Eden’s Crush.

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Fans of the “Tik Tok” singer might not know that before she started waking up feeling like P. Diddy, she actually woke up with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie when she made a cameo on their reality show, The Simple Life.

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Jamie Chung

Before she started wielding a sword as Mulan on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the actress was just a cast member on Season 14 of MTV’s the Real World, where she lived with a bunch of strangers and was portrayed as a responsible college student. She hasn’t dropped the squeaky-clean image since.

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Jon Hamm

As a 25-year-old, the Mad Men star apparently had a problem with the ladies – which is why his first TV appearance was on the 90s dating show, The Big Date, where he was turned down by a woman named Mary Carter. Better luck next time, Jon.

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Tori Kelly

Before the singer made it big in the music world, she actually auditioned twice on two singing competitions. When she was 12, Kelly found herself belting Christina Aguilera on the stage of America’s Most Talented Kids. (She eventually lost to country singer Hunter Hayes, another reality-TV find.) The YouTube star tried her luck again on Season 9 of American Idol, where she was cut by Simon Cowell before the top 24. We need to talk, Simon.

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Laverne Cox

Prior to the actress scoring a role in Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, she tried out to be P. Diddy’s hostess on the first season of VH1’s I Want to Work For Diddy. Despite getting cut in eighth place, we’re sure the Emmy nominee isn’t mulling over it.

This article was written by Jason Pham from StyleCaster and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to


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