These Celebrities Were Discovered In Unique Ways

Trying to make it big is even harder than it appears. While some stars might seem like they became famous overnight, it’s never really that way. Celebrities face rejection, doubt, and anger all the time on their way to the top. The journey rewards those who stick to it as it did for Friends star, Jennifer Aniston. Do you know what she did to be able to get into the limelight? No worries, continue reading and see her story and many others like her in Hollywood.

Theron Versus The Bank Teller

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Stephan Vaughan Miramax Films
Stephan Vaughan Miramax Films

Charlize Theron was 18 when she moved from South Africa to Hollywood. Her cash was about to run out while living in a sketchy hotel room when she got discovered at a bank. Theron yelled at the bank teller for not cashing her paycheck, which led to her discovery.

“I’m like, ‘It’s survival, people.’ If I didn’t cash that check, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep that night. I said to the teller, ‘You don’t understand – please!’ I was begging and pleading, and a gentleman came over and tried to help.” The man who helped was a talent agent. She ended up in her first feature film a few months later.

Jennifer Lawrence Vacationed In New York

young jennifer lawrence
Mark Bowen/Pinterest
Mark Bowen/Pinterest

Jennifer Lawrence was only 14 when she got her first taste of show business. The actress had been vacationing in New York City with her mom, and one day they were in Union Square. That’s when a man connected with modeling agencies walked by.

“My mom gave him her number because she didn’t know that was potentially dangerous and creepy, and then he called and said modeling agencies wanted to meet with me,” she remembered. The only stipulation was that she would agree if they would let her act too.

Johnny Depp Can Thank His Friend

young Johnny Depp
Deborah Feingold/Getty Images
Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

Before Johnny Depp made it big as an actor, he had aspirations of becoming a rock star. While those dreams seem lofty, his pal Nicholas Cage had a better idea in mind.

Cage got Depp an audition for Nightmare on Elm Street, and Wes Craven’s daughter thought he was the best option for the role. Depp would make his film debut in 1984 as Glen. He also had one fo the most famous death scenes in scary movie history.

A Jumbotron Helped Pamela Anderson

pamela anderson young getting her big break
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Baywatch star Pamela Anderson used to be a fitness instructor in the late ’80s, working in British Columbia. One day, she went to a B.C. Lions football game wearing a Labatt t-shirt. They decided to put Anderson on the jumbotron, and that crowd went wild.

Thanks to the rabid cheering from the fans, the Labatt company hired Anderson as a “Blue Zone Girl” spokesmodel. After modeling, Anderson received her big break as “Tool Time Girl” Lisa on Home Improvement.

Eating A Slice of Pizza Pays Off For Portman

close up photo of Natalie Portman
Ken Weingart/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Ken Weingart/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If eating pizza meant getting discovered, then that explains why people love it so much. Natalie Portman was only 11 when a rep from Revlon scoped her. Portman said to the rep that she had no interest in modeling but did have an interest in acting.

Then, Portman spent a couple of summers sharpening her skills by working in theater productions. In 1993, she auditioned for a role in Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional. They turned her away at first for being too young, but eventually cast her for the part of a hitwoman in training.

“It Was Like The Other Two Girls Didn’t Exist”

split image of childhood rihanna
Light Yagami/Pinterest
Light Yagami/Pinterest

Rihanna grew up on the small island of Barbados, where she formed a group with two of her classmates in 2003. Somehow, they managed to get an audition with record producer Evan Rogers.

Later, Rogers said of the audition, “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist.” Rihanna then performed Destiny Child’s “Emotion” by herself for Rogers. Next thing you know, Rogers invites The Fenty Beauty maven to America so she could record a few demos.

Kutcher Was Lounging At A Bar

young ashton kutcher
Barry King/WireImage
Barry King/WireImage

Ashton Kutcher was on pace to earn his engineering degree from the University of Iowa in 1996. One night he was out at a bar, and a talent agent spotted him.

The kind sir talked Kutcher into entering a modeling competition, and he ended up winning first place! Figuring he could take this to higher heights, Kutcher dropped out of college and went to New York so he could sign with an agency. Kutcher eventually landed some Calvin Klein ads before heading to Hollywood to officially pursue acting.

Ellen Pompeo Was A Bartender

pompeo
Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo used to work as a bartender in SoHo in New York City during the mid-’90s. One night, a casting agent saw her and attempted to offer her some advice, which the future Grey’s star mistook as flirting.

Soon enough, she began appearing in commercials and minor TV roles such as Law & Order and Friends. That soon turned into film roles. It wouldn’t be until her significant breakout role as Meredith Grey, which came in 2005.

Mel Gibson Was Being A Good Friend

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Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The story behind Mel Gibson’s discovery is more of folklore than factual, but many reports believe it to be true. Gibson had to give his pal a ride to an audition, but the previous night he found himself in a bar fight.

When they arrived at the set, his face wasn’t in the best condition, but it caught the attention of director George Miller. He thought Gibson would be an excellent fit for a villain background role in Mad Max. Gibson returned a week later with his face intact, and Miller decided to give him the lead role.

A Beach Day Changed Sofia Vergara’s Life

by the pool
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Light Yagami/Pinterest

From Colombia, Sofia Vergara developed an affinity for beaches at a young age. When she was 17, spent a day under the sun with her family when a scout asked to take a picture of her with a polaroid camera.

“I was 17. I was at the beach with my parents, and some scout asked to take a Polaroid of me,” Sofia told E!” One year later and she filmed a Pepsi commercial, which led to a series of TV roles.

Carpenter Harrison Ford

younger harrison ford
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Much like many other aspiring actors, Harrison Ford made a move to Hollywood with the hopes of making it big. He became frustrated quickly and taught himself carpentry to make a living and support his family.

Ford found minor luck and landed a small part in Geroge Lucas’ film American Graffiti, but success wouldn’t come easy as Ford still had to do carpentry to make ends meet. One day, Lucas saw Ford doing work at a movie studio where auditions for the new Star Wars film were taking place. Lucas remembered American Graffiti, and Ford became Han Solo.

Rosario Dawson Was Just Hanging Out On Her Porch

close up of Rosario Dawson
Jim Spellman/WireImage
Jim Spellman/WireImage

Rosario Dawson’s dad saw potential in her daughter. In the past, getting discovered was a lot different than it is today. One day, they were filming a commercial in Dawson’s neighborhood of New York, and that’s when her father told her what to do.

“My dad had told me to go downstairs and get discovered because they were shooting this commercial on the block, so I was kind of hanging out and loitering,” the native New Yorker recalled. “They came up and said, ‘Will you come and audition?’ I did. And I didn’t think anything of it. And then I got the part.”

Bieber Stuck Gold With YouTube

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Irving Shuter/Getty Images
Irving Shuter/Getty Images

In 2007, the future pop sensation was one of the first to find success using YouTube. The platform was on the newer side then, but record producer Scooter Braun accidentally clicked on a Bieber video while searching for another singer.

After that, Braun hunted down Bieber and his family in Stratford, Ontario, and told them to come to Atlanta to meet record label execs. One week later, Bieber sang for Usher. Now, Bieber is a husband with a ton of number one singles.

One Performance From Jay-Z Was All He Needed

black and white photo of Jay-z
Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Now he’s the richest man in hip-hop, but in the past, he used the genre to help escape the violence and poverty at the Marcy Projects in New York. In ’89, he started collaborating with an older artist by the name of Jaz-O (left in image), and they made a song called “The Originators.”

The pair performed the song on Yo! MTV Raps and that’s when Jay-Z began gaining wide-spread recognition from more rap circles.

Jennifer Aniston Asked For Advice

a young and spry jennifer aniston
Art Zelin/Getty Images
Art Zelin/Getty Images

Jennifer Aniston struggled as a young actress living in Los Angeles. With four failed TV shows to her name, Aniston approached TV exec Warren Littlefield at a gas station and asked for advice about her career.

He told her not to give up. Then, a few months later, the NBC boss helped get her cast as Rachel in Friends, her most iconic role ever. That’s what happens when you don’t give up on your dreams.

Will Smith Met A Very Important Man

a younger will smith
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

At 16, Will Smith met Jeff Townes, and the two launched DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. They were mildly successful, but not at the top of charts quite yet. After one Smith’s albums didn’t do so well, he went on the Arsenio Hall Show, hoping to boost his career.

It was there he would meet Benny Medina, who had an idea for a TV show inspired by Smith’s life. After getting an introduction to the producer, The Gemini Man auditioned for and became the Fresh Prince.

Efron Was Destined To Shine

young zac efron
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Zac Efron’s future as a star was written in the stars. He had a natural charm on stage that caught the attention of his drama teacher during a theater production and proceeded to recommend him to an agent.

Efron began to set his sights higher and started auditioning for movie and TV parts. He stayed committed to it out and eventually landed the lead role in Disney’s High School Musical! Now he’s soaring; he’s flying, there’s not a role in Hollywood that he can’t play.

Katherine Heigl Posed For Hair Care Products

close up of Katherine Heigl
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

At nine-years-old, Katherine Heigl would pose for pictures for her aunt’s hair care products. Family members always see the best in you, so those photos got sent to modeling agencies, leading Heigl to sign with the Wilhelmina Models agency.

She eventually landed the cover of Seventeen magazine in 1994, which was huge for her career. In 1999, she landed a breakout role in the sci-fi program Roswell, and that lasted for three seasons. Soon enough, Heigl became Dr. Izzie Stevens in Grey’s Anatomy.

Burt Reynolds Sustained A Football Injury

old portrait of burt reynolds
Contributor/Getty Images
Contributor/Getty Images

The legendary Burt Reynolds had no interest in becoming an actor at first. The stud earned a football scholarship to play for Florida State University and then got drafted by the Baltimore Colts!

Sadly, his NFL dreams got crushed after he sustained a career-ending injury. He then took a chance at acting and earned a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York. He performed some and landed a TV contract, working for the next decade. Reynolds eventually appeared on the big screen in Deliverance and transformed into one of Hollywood’s most celebrated figures.

J. Cole Stood Outside In The Rain For Hours

artist j. cole
Bethany Mollenkof/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Bethany Mollenkof/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Since high school, J. Cole knew he wanted to be a rapper. That’s why he applied to college out there to be closer to the music scene, instead of his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He honed his skills and at one point, made a demo for Jay-Z.

Cole found out where Jay-Z had been recording in New York, so he stood outside in the rain for three hours to hand him the CD he made. “I can’t really speak, and he’s like, ‘Man, I don’t want that [expletive], man. Give that to one of those guys,'” Cole recalled. Cole remained motivated, and soon enough, he landed a meeting with Jay-Z and signed under his label.