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Career Advice

17 Celebrities Reveal Their First Jobs

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated October 4, 2016
|6 min read

Awards’ season is here and celebrities are walking the red carpets in glamorous fashions as the lights of hundreds of cameras flash to capture their every step. But before The Rock, Taraji P. Henson and Brad Pitt hit the red carpet, they had some not-so-glamorous jobs.

So as you’re job hunting or putting in 40-hour weeks at your 9-to-5, remember that sometimes there’s a bit of grunt work before the glam. Check out what these 17 celebs did before they hit it big. Get inspired to stay on your hustle.

Gwen Stefani: Dairy Queen Custodian
Gwen Stefani and her brother Eric worked with other NoDoubt founding member John Spence at an Anaheim, Calif. Dairy Queen, where they discussed forming a band. The rocker mopped up the restaurant and enjoyed her fair share of summertime soft-serve.

Lupita Nyong'o: Intern + Coordinator
Before she won an Oscar for her transformative role in 12 Years A Slave, Lupita Nyong'o had her first job in New York at Mira Nair's production company in 2005. Not an aspiring actress at the time, Nyong'o then traveled with the company to Uganda to coordinate the summer film school. Nair, the director of Queen of Katwe which Nyong'o now stars in, tells Vanity Fair, "All of the counselors there wanted her as an actor. So she made her first films at the film school. Then she went to Yale, and everything else happened.”

Jennifer Aniston: Telemarketer
Before she became America’s sweetheart and one of the biggest TV stars thanks to Friends, Aniston once worked as a telemarketer. Perhaps that’s how she became so convincing and honed her acting chops—or maybe not. "I was awful, selling timeshares in the Poconos and upsetting people terribly and me just being the worst at it, because I just apologized profusely and hung up the phone," she's said. And that’s not it. Aniston told Parade magazine, “I made my allowance as a kid cleaning toilets. I'm actually pretty good at it.”

[Related: Open Telemarketing Jobs]

Donald Trump: Landlord’s assistant
Donald Trump didn’t always spend his days in the boardroom or on the campaign trail. As a teenager, he spent his days walking around to his father’s properties to collect rent from tenants.

Daisy Fuentes: Retail worker
"I loved helping people look better and telling them, ‘Try this for your figure,’ or ‘This is really hot right now and it’s going to be in all the magazines.’ Looking back that’s where my love for retail started," said Daisy Fuentes, former MTV VJ and current founder of a multimillion-dollar fashion and beauty empire.

Brad Pitt: Fast-food worker
Not only did Brad Pitt used to chauffeur a limo for a strip-o-gram service, but Angelina Jolie’s soon-to-be-ex hubby used to work for El Pollo Loco fast-food restaurant on Hollywood Blvd. The A-lister had to dress up in a chicken costume and hand out fliers, according to People magazine.

Taraji P. Henson: Singer & Secretary
To pay off student loans while attending Howard University, Empire actress Taraji P. Henson once worked day shifts as a Pentagon secretary and night shifts singing Tina Turner covers on a Potomac River cruise ship. #HustleHard

[Related: Open Secretary & Assistant Jobs]

Madonna: Dunkin' Donuts worker
Madonna aka Madge worked at a Dunkin' Donuts in New York's Times Square, where she allegedly was fired after she squirted jelly filling all over a customer.

Steve Harvey: Jack of all trades
Much like today, Steve Harvey always had a plethora of jobs. The comedian/radio host/talk show host started out with incredible hustle growing up in Cleveland. His jobs included being a paper boy, then a grocery store clerk, followed by toiling on an assembly line in a Ford auto plant and cleaning carpets. When he was 28, he quit a job selling insurance after winning the $50 first prize at a comedy club’s amateur night. The rest is history.

Harry Shum Jr.: Dancer
Before his breakout role on Glee, actor Harry Shum Jr. was a killer dancer. Shum launched his career as the only male dancer on BET's Comic View in 2002, then was one of the lead dancers for stars including Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Simpson. Now, you can see him on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.

The Rock: Dishwasher
Dwyane Johnson, better known as The Rock, got his first job at 13 years old as a dishwasher. "I started working at a pizza shop called Emilio's Pizza and my pay was $3.45 an hour, and my job was that of a dishwasher," he said in an OWN interview. "I worked every day from 3 o'clock in the afternoon to 11:30 at night when I got out of school. I have learned out of that such a great appreciation of hard work. It sounds crazy, but still 'til this day I never use a dishwasher. I wash every dish by hand."

[Related: Open Dishwasher Jobs]

Eva Longoria: Wendy's employee
"I worked there for six years! It was my high school job. I loved it. And I still love them. They are an amazing organization. I still keep in touch with my manager from when I was 14," Longoria told "They are just great to me. I wanted to have a Quinceañera, so I went to Wendy's to work to pay for my ownQuinceañera. I stayed. I paid for my cheerleading and everything through that. It was like whatever you want to do outside of school, you have to pay for it. I never had a car because I was always trying to save."

Kanye West: GAP retail worker
During his high school days, Kanye West folded clothes at the GAP. In 'The College Dropout' album, West mentions his former retail job, "Let's go back, back to the GAP. Look at my check. Wasn't no scratch. So if I stole, wasn't my fault. Yeah I stole, never got caught."

Johnny Depp: Telemarketer
“I marketed pens—on the phone,” Depp recalled for Interview magazine. “But the beauty of the gig was you had to call up these strangers and say, ‘Hi, how ya doin’?’ You made up a name like, ‘Hey, it’s Edward Quartermaine from California.’”

Harrison Ford: Multi-talented hustler
Before becoming Hans Solo or Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford worked as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp. He also worked as a sports commentator for his high school prior to building custom furniture.

[Related: Open Jobs at Boy Scouts of America]

Rod Stewart: Grave Digger
Before he became a famous singer, Rod Stewart held a series of really weird jobs. After he dropped out of school at fifteen, Stewart worked as a grave digger. He also served as an electrician's assistant and was even a screen printer printing wallpapers, which is odd given that he's colorblind. He was later laid off.

Peter Dinklage: Rock band front-man
Years before becoming Tyrion Lanister on Game of Thrones, actor Peter Dinklage was in a rock band. Dinklage used to play in a self-described “punk-funk-rap band” called Whizzy. They even played legendary New York club CBGB’s, and Dinklage still bears the scar that runs from his neck up to his eyebrows from a particularly energetic performance.


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