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22nd of July 2018


12 Surprising Ways Your Favorite Celebrities Were Discovered and Made It Big

Though it might be hard to believe, celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Charlize Theron, and Natalie Portman weren’t born famous. They came from ordinary families and ordinary beginnings until one day someone noticed them and gave them a chance at stardom. These stars’ rags-to-riches stories prove that the right opportunity, at places from pizza parlors and banks to family vacations, can mean everything.

Wondering how your favorite celebrities made it big? Click through to read about the inspiring—and surprising—ways stars worked their way up Hollywood’s food chain, starting from the first time they caught the eyes of an industry bigwig. Whether you’re an aspiring actor or not, these celebrity discovery stories will be sure to motivate you. And who knows? Maybe you’ll also be discovered on your next trip to the bank.

Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence

Lawrence, who was 14 at the time, was vacationing in New York City when she was scouted by a talent agent. That same week, she visited the agency and did a cold read for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial.

“I didn’t know that kind of thing was creepy,” Lawrence told T: The New York Times Magazine. “Then I went into the agency and did a cold read for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. They told me it was the best cold read they’d ever seen from a 14-year-old. My mom told me they were lying.”

Photo: ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images. Mandy Moore Mandy Moore

The summer before she started high school, Moore bought some time in a recording studio to increase her experience. That studio session happened to be her big break after a FedEx deliveryman heard her and connected her with his friend who was the head of urban A&R at Epic Records. After meeting with a label representative, Moore was signed and soon released her first single. “The meeting was the same day as my high school homecoming football game, and I was more concerned about making sure this meeting was done in time so I could hang out with my friends! It was so beyond my comprehension that this could actually lead to a career. I was 14!” Moore told Into the Gloss.

Photo: Jim Smeal/WireImage/Getty Images. Rihanna

We can't imagine a time when Rihanna wasn't Rihanna, but like everyone else, she was an ordinary person until she was discovered. In winter 2013, producer Evan Rogers and his wife were vacationing in Barbados when a girl group, including a 15-year-old Rihanna and two of her friends, auditioned for him. Instantly, Rogers knew he had something special. "The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn't exist," Rogers said in The Song Machine. "I said to myself, 'If that girl can sing, then—holy shit!'" Turns out, Rihanna could and went on to release dozens of number-one hits.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images. Charlize Theron Charlize Theron

Theron was a struggling model living from paycheck to paycheck when she was discovered at a bank in New York. Theron was arguing with a teller over a check when the argument escalated after the teller told Theron that she couldn't cash the check because it was from out of state. "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!'" Theron told O magazine.

Theron was finally able to cash the check after a bystander came and helped her. As she was leaving the bank, the man, impressed by Theron's emotions when she was arguing with the bank teller, gave her his card and told her that if she needed representation as an actress, he would represent her. The man, John Crosby (who also represented John Hurt and Rene Russo), became Theron's manager. "If I hadn't been in the bank that day, I honestly don't think I'd be here right now. There are so many talented actors who don't ever get the chance," Theron said.

Photo: Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images. Rosario Dawson Rosario Dawson

Dawson was sitting on the stoop of her family's apartment on New York's Lower East Side when directors Larry Clark and Harmony Korine noticed her and scouted her for their movie, 1995's "Kids," which became the actress's first onscreen role and big break.

“I was hanging out on my stoop,” Dawson told Parade. “They wouldn’t have seen me otherwise.”

Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images. Natalie Portman Natalie Portman

Portman, who was 10 at the time, was eating a pie at a pizza parlor after dance class when a modeling agent approached her. “I was just at a pizza place, after dance class, with my mom,” Portman told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was excited. As a 10-year-old girl, it was super-flattering.”

However, Portman soon realized that modeling wasn't for her, which is when she asked her representation to switch her to acting, where she has become a household name. “I’m not interested in people judging me by what my appearance is," she said.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Jennifer Aniston Jennifer Aniston

Aniston was a struggling, down-and-out actress when she met the president of NBC Entertainment, Warren Littlefield, at a gas station on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. She asked him for some career advice and the two parted ways. A few months later, Littlefield cast her in "Friends," which would become her big break.

"Jennifer had been in our weak attempt to do [a show based on] 'Ferris Bueller,'" Littlefield wrote in his memoir Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. "We cast her in a few more pilots, but none was very good."

As he left, Aniston asked, "Will it ever happen for me?" Littlefield remembered thinking, "God, I wanted it to."

Photo: Jim Smeal/WireImage/Getty Images. Sofia Vergara Sofia Vergara

When she was 17, Vergara was enjoying a day at the beach with her parents when a modeling scout saw her and asked to take her picture. That same year, she booked her first Pepsi commercial. Like many models, the "Modern Family" actress eventually leveraged her success on the catwalk into a fruitful acting career.

“I was 17. I was at the beach with my parents and some scout asked to take a Polaroid of me,” Vergara told E! News.

Photo: SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images. Ellen Pompeo Ellen Pompeo

Pompeo was working as a bartender at the SoHo Kitchen and Bar in New York City when a casting director walked in and scouted her. Because of her beautiful hair, she cast her in a LÓreal commercial, which kick-started her acting career. "Actually, I thought she was trying to pick me up at first," Pompeo told ABC News. "I was always very, very leery. But she wasn't."

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/WireImage/Getty Images. Eva Mendes Eva Mendes

Mendes was a marketing major at California State Northridge when a friend, who was an aspiring photographer, took pictures of her for his portfolio, according to People. As her friend was showing his portfolio to potential agencies, a manager scouted Mendes from the picture and urged her to become an actress.

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images. Chloe Sevigny Chloë Sevigny

Sevigny, a 17-year-old from Connecticut, was skateboarding in New York City's East Village when she crossed paths with a fashion editor from Sassy magazine. The editor asked Sevigny to model for the magazine and later hired her as an intern. Two years later, she was cast in her first film, 1995's "Kids."

Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage/Getty Images. Katherine Heigl Katherine Heigl

When she was 9 years old, Heigl's aunt, who owned a small hair salon, asked her to model for her own line of hair-care products. Thinking nothing of it, Heigl posed for the pictures. Soon after, an agent discovered her from the pictures and cast her in her first television commercials, according to Huffington Post.

Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage/Getty Images.

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