Do you ever look at other people and think, “Man, do they have it all together”? We live at a time when celebrities post about their seemingly perfect lives and careers — in which they wake up beautiful each morning, do work that fulfills them, and are genuinely happy and grateful for how well their lives turned out — almost constantly.
When we think of celebrities and other social media influencers that way, in reality we are asking ourselves: Why don’t I have it all? Why have I achieved so little? And then, we spiral into a horrible cycle of insecurity, poor self-application, and self-devaluation.
For me, I often find entertainment not in how lavish the current lifestyles of some celebrities are, but in looking at how they began and rose to the top of their field.
So, I’ve put together a list of female celebrities who have won Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys or other major awards to remind myself (and hopefully you) that everybody starts somewhere:
1. Amy Adams
Before becoming a live-action Disney princess and the leading lady of a caped superhero, Adams used to work as a “greeter” at a Gap Store in Atlanta, Georgia. At 18 years old, the Golden Globe winner also served as a Hooters waitress!
2. Jennifer Aniston
Jen will always be known as Rachel from the TV show "Friends." Before landing the role that she would go on to play for 10 successful years, though, Aniston took on small roles in low-budget films and TV shows while she worked as a waitress, bike messenger, and at one point, a telemarketer.
3. Halle Berry
Berry is already known as a former Miss USA, but before joining pageants, she worked at the Higbee’s Department Store to help finance her education in broadcast journalism. When she decided to pursue acting, Berry moved to New York and struggled so badly with finding good work that she had to live in a homeless shelter for a time. Now, Halle is also known as the first African-American woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress.
4. Sandra Bullock
Before becoming America’s sweetheart and later on an Oscar winner, Bullock used to be a bartender and waitress in New York to make ends meet.
5. Mariah Carey
This multi-Grammy award winner’s earlier dreams had little to do with music and more with cosmetology — i.e. she was studying to make people’s hair, face, and skin beautiful. She held several jobs at different salons. Later on, she also worked as a coat checker and a waitress before signing a recording contract at age 18.
6. Lady Gaga
Stefani Germanotta, as she is named in real life, served as a waitress at a New York Greek restaurant before getting her big break as a singer-songwriter-performer and winning multiple Grammys for her music and style.
7. Nicole Kidman
Kidman has been in the movie industry for years but still looks like a supermodel. Before becoming the Oscar and Golden Globe holder that she is, however, Kidman used to work as a massage therapist to help support her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.
8. Helen Mirren
Dame Mirren is a veteran of awards. She holds an Oscar, two Golden Globes, four Emmys, five BAFTA awards, five SAG awards and a Tony. Before maturing gracefully into a powerhouse actress, Mirren worked as a promoter at an amusement part in Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
9. Julia Roberts
Before playing filling the high-heeled shoes of the iconic "Pretty Woman" and winning an Oscar for playing Erin Brockovich, Roberts spent some time scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins.
10. Charlize Theron
This Oscar winner grew up in South Africa where she would sing at the town square and assist her parents at their farm as a side hustle. In her teen years, she began considering modeling as a career, but later on decided to focus on acting instead.
As I looked at how the careers of these women have evolved through the years, I realized certain things. First, women have the power to get things done. Second, dreams become a reality because you keep at it and know when to transform yourself. And third, whichever stage you find yourself in at work or in life, it’s temporary; and you have the power to direct where your next adventures will take place.
As yet another powerful female celebrity, Taylor Swift, said during her acceptance speech at the 2016 Grammy Awards, “If you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you,” you can get to where you want to go.
So, the next time you compare what you have with what others have, try not to ask why they seem to live the good life. Rather, try to figure out your purpose — the one that gets you from doing the oddest jobs to living the career that fulfills you.
Chiara writes about business, finance, social enterprising, health and medicine, and the unique placement of women across these areas. She is also a co-creator at FictionFolk, which designs events that aim to peddle the literature culture.
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