So many people star in reality TV nowadays, it’s almost no big deal when someone is on TV. But, when a reality star can make the jump to celebrity-status— that is a big deal. Here are 15 celebrities you forgot started out as reality stars.
1. Heather Morris
She may be Brittany S. Pierce to Glee fans, but Morris also auditioned for a different TV series — So You Think You Can Dance. She made it to Vegas week in Season 2 but failed to move on. She seems to be doing just fine, of course.
2. Emma Stone
Stone is a huge movie star now, but she could have been big in the reality TV world as well. In 2004 she was in the pilot of In Search Of A New Partridge Family, which not-so-sadly never made it to series.
3. Lucy Hale
The Pretty Little Liars star recently released a country album, but in 2003 she was a hopeful contestant on American Juniors. The starlet made it to the Top 5 on American Juniors and formed a quintet with the four other contestants.
4. Jennifer Hudson
It’s hard to remember that Hudson came in seventh (yes, seventh) place on the third season of American Idol in 2004. It’s much easier to remember her huge Oscar win for Dreamgirls in 2007.
5. Carrie Underwood
Another American Idol contestant and winner of season 4 of the show, this is how a sweet girl from Oklahoma with a big voice got her start. Now, you know her best as a country music mega star.
6. Kelly Clarkson
So, she’s an international pop star now…but did you know that Clarkson was the very first person to ever win American Idol?
7. Analeigh Tipton
You may know Tipton from her role as the babysitter who fell in love with Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid Love, or from her upcoming ABC series Manhattan Love Story, but the actress got her start on a reality series. Tipton was a finalist on Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model.
8. Elizabeth Hasselbeck
The former panel member on The View and current Fox & Friends host finished in fourth place on Survivor: Australian Outback in 2001.
9. Jamie Chung
Chung plays Channing on NBC’s Believe and Mulan on Once Upon a Time, but before she was a TV actress she was just another housemate. She was a castmember on Real World: San Diego in 2004 and one on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II in 2005.
10. Nicole Scherzinger
The Pussycat Dolls front woman first showed us her pipes (and her dance moves) on competition show Popstars in 2001. She later won Season 10 of Dancing With the Stars. (No surprise there.)
11. Katharine McPhee
Smash alum McPhee will star in the upcoming series Scorpion but the now-actress originally wanted to make it as a pop star. She was the runner-up to Taylor Hicks on Season 5 of American Idol.
12. Josh Henderson
You may know him as the younger J.R. on TNT’s Dallas, but the actor actually had boy band aspirations back in the day. He won the second season of the WB reality series Popstars and credits the show for jump-starting his success in the industry.
13. Nicole Richie
Can you believe that there was a time when this woman was referred to simply as “Paris Hilton’s friend?” Richie originally rose to fame as sidekick to Hilton on their reality show The Simple Life, which aired from 2003 to 2007.
14. Julianne Hough
Hough still has the dancing chops, but now she’s more interested in acting on the big screen than sashaying across a stage. Hough started her career as a professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars. Now she’s back to her roots as a judge on the new season of the dance show.
15. Chris Daughtry
The vocalist and lead guitarist of the band Daughtry kicked off his music career on American Idol when he came in fourth place during the show’s fifth season. That wasn’t the end of his reality TV career though — Daughtry sings the theme song to Fox reality show Utopia.