Lauren McEwen

I remember the day that I realized that I was nearly the exact same age as Rihanna, one of the most successful celebrities of our time.

I was 25, which was “supposed” to be my “golden year" — the year that I finally made enough money to be comfortable and was certain that I was on the path toward the writing career I wanted. Like many others, I’d assigned myself this arbitrary deadline during my freshman year of college and when I compared my actual situation (working an entry-level journalism job and moving every year to avoid rent hikes) to The Rihanna, I felt pretty inadequate.

That eventually spiraled into a full-blown quarter-life crisis, and one of the things that saved me was reminding myself that, J.K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" series and one of my personal heroes, had her first novel published when she was 32. And this was after "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" was rejected by more than a dozen publishers before finally finding its home at Bloomsbury.

But Rowling isn’t the only successful celebrity to get their break past the 25-year mark. Here’s a list of other celebs who started their dream careers a little later in life.


That’s how old Julia Child was when "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was published. She originally wanted to be a novelist, but instead worked with the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the C.I.A., where she helped create shark repellent for the Navy and met her husband, among other exceedingly fascinating things), and then moved to France in 1948. She soon fell in love with the French cuisine and learned to cook at age 32. It took Child and her friends Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle nine years to finish their cookbook. Child then went on to become one of the first major TV chefs in the U.S. with her show “The French Chef,” which debuted when she was 51.


That’s how old former competitive figure skater and fashion editor, Vera Wang, was when she decided she wanted to be a designer. While planning her own wedding in 1989, Wang became frustrated by the limited bridal styles available, and instead, commissioned her wedding dress for $10,000 and went on to open her first bridal boutique the very next year.


That’s how old actress Taraji P. Henson was when her hit show, “Empire,” debuted on Fox. After graduating from Howard University at 26, she quit her job as a supervisor on a dining cruise and moved to Los Angeles with her son, Marcel, $700, and dreams of becoming an actress. She starred in major movies including, “Hustle & Flow” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and TV shows such as, “Person of Interest,” but her career has really taken off thanks to her Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated role as Cookie Lyon.


That’s how old Connie Britton was when she starred in her career-making role as one of the of the most likable characters in TV history: Tami Taylor of “Friday Night Lights.”

Of course, this list could be much longer and there are several other celebrities I would love to list (including, Kerry Washington, Judi Dench, Sarah Paulson, Louisa May Alcott, and Dr. Ruth) but the moral of the story is you are never “too old” to find your path.


Lauren McEwen is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and the social media manager for the web series, "Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis."