Hollywood’s Scholars: Famous Alumni from Elite Universities

In the United States alone, there are over 4,000 colleges and universities. If anyone wants to continue their education after high school, they have a nice amount of options. Of course, other things come into consideration, such as size, location, and price. Some people even pick a school that specializes in their major of choice. Amongst the millions of college graduates, here are some famous alumni.

James Franco / Madonna / Bradley Cooper / Renee Zellweger
Photo by Chelsea Lauren, BEI, Shutterstock / Fotos International, Shutterstock / AFF-USA, Shutterstock / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

It makes a lot of sense that U.S. Presidents and politicians attended prestigious universities, but they aren’t the only ones. Some of your favorite celebrities in the entertainment industry attended these elite schools. Ever wonder where some of the well-known businessmen, Nobel Prize Winners, writers, actors, and singers went to school? Here are some famous alumni who attended elite universities. Some of these will come as a surprise, and others will make a whole lot of sense.

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Harvard University is widely known as one of the top Universities in the country, and its alumni include eight former presidents of the United States. A young man named Barack Hussein Obama enrolled in Harvard Law School back in 1988. He went on to become the 44th president of the United States, making him a wonderful example that came from the university.

Amy Poehler. / Mark Zuckerberg. / Bill Gates.
Photo by Kristin Callahan, ACE Pictures, Shutterstock / Christopher Victorio, imageSPACE, Shutterstock / Nils Jorgensen, Shutterstock

A few other well-known Harvard alumni are John F. Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Comedian Amy Poehler, and writer Susan Sontag. The most memorable Harvard alumni of our generation are arguably Microsofts’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Yale University, New Haven, CT

It’s not surprising that a lot of successful people attended an Ivy League university, including presidents. Former U.S. presidents are Yale University alumni, including William Howard Taft, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, George H.W. and George W. Bush. Other celebs have attended the precocious university as well.

Jodie Foster / Meryl Streep / Edward Norton
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Yale also has a legacy of A-listers. Hollywood heavyweights like Jodie Foster, Edward Norton, and Claire Dames are all alumni. Plus, the most brilliant actress of our generation and Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep, studied drama at Yale. In 1975, she got her master of fine arts degree. She’s got talents and the brains.

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Cornell University is obviously a fancy school, but did you know that its alumni include three female Nobel Prize winners? I guess it’s not much of a shock. Pearl S. Buck and Toni Morrison won the Literature Nobel Prize (in 1938 and 1993). In 1983, the Nobel Prize in Psychology of Medicine went to Barbra McClintock- who also graduated from Cornell.

Christopher Reeves / Ruth Bader Ginsberg
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Another famous alumnus is our favorite Superman- Christopher Reeves. Former president of Cuba, Mario Garcia Menocal, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg- Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States are both success stories from the Ivy League school.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, otherwise known as MIT, is another University that some big names went to. 27 Nobel Prize Winners and almost 50 Rhodes Scholars attended MIT, which is pretty impressive. A guy named Edwin Eugene Aldrin got his Sc.D. degree in astronautics from the university in 1963. Six years later, he became known as Buzz Aldrin- one of the first two men to step foot on the moon.

Buzz Aldrin
Source: Shutterstock

That must have made the school proud. Not many universities can say that one of their students has been to the moon. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Paul Krugman are other notable MIT alumni. It looks like Harvard isn’t the only prestigious school in Cambridge.

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Stanford University has a great location, not far from Silicon Valley. It only seems natural that some alumni of the school include some of the most prominent names in the tech industry such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin- from Google, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom- from Instagram, Reed Hastings- from Netflix, and William Hewlett and David Packard- from Hewlett Packard.

Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, sitting in the car with her dog
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

So basically, some of the most popular technological advancements came from Stanford alumni. What’s interesting is that one of the most famous celebrities that attended the university didn’t even graduate. The amazing Oscar winner actress Reese Witherspoon went to the school in 1993 for one year. She ultimately dropped out to pursue a successful Hollywood career.

Columbia University, New York City, NY

Columbia University was founded back in 1754; it’s been around for quite a while. Back in its earlier days, five of the founding fathers of the United States graduated from the school, including John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. Former United States presidents Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are also Columbia University alumni.

Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal
Photo by Paul Zimmerman / Shutterstock

Barack Obama was another president who got his political science degree from Columbia in 1983, before heading to Harvard. The school is known for its high-ranking literature and art programs and helped produce writers like Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, and Allen Ginsberg, and sibling actors, Jake, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

New York University, New York City, NY

New York University attracts many people from around the world, looking to spend their college years in the City. In addition to its amazing location, NYU is known for its Tisch School of the Arts, and alumni include directors Joel Cohen, Martin Scorsese, and Oliver Stone. Some of the actors who studied there are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anne Hathaway, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Anne Hathaway / Whoopi Goldberg / Lady Gaga
Photo by Marion Curtis, StarPix for Sony Pictures Classics, Shutterstock / Marion Curtis, StarPix for Amazon Prime, Shutterstock / Jason Merritt, Radarpics, Shutterstock

A student named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta attended Tish School of the Arts and has since become a global superstar known as Lady Gaga. It should be noted that she didn’t graduate. Gaga dropped out after two years to pursue her music career, which was obviously the right choice.

The University of California, Berkeley, CA

The University of California’s leading school UC Berkley is where many influential tech leaders attended. Some of its former students include Steve Wozniak- Apple co-founder, and Gordon Moore-Intel co-founder. Another big name in the tech industry that went to UC Berkley is the former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

Steve Wozniak / Chris Pine
Photo by Francesco Guidicini, Shutterstock / Broadimage, Shutterstock

The school is also known for producing a string of high achievers in entertainment, literature, and politics. Nobel Prize-winning novelist Robert Penn and actor Chris Pine are also U.C. alumni, further proving the brilliance that has come out of that school.

Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Georgetown is known as one of the oldest Catholic and Jesuit colleges in the United States. It’s famous for both its religious history and political profile, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that over a dozen heads of the state are alumni of Georgetown, including, Felipe VI of Spain, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Laura Chinchilla. The first female president of Costa Rica.

Bradley Cooper
Photo by Anthony Harvey / BAFTA / Shutterstock

Ivanka Trump and former First Lady of California, Maria Shiver, are other notable faces that went to Georgetown. During an interview, Bradley Cooper connected his directorial debut for “A Star is Born,” to the prestigious university: “I just really kept my head down and stayed focused the same way I did when I wanted to come to this university.”

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania, better known as Penn, is another prestigious Ivy League University founded by Benjamin Franklin. Some of the world’s most prolific business people attended its Wharton School of Business, such as the one and only Elon Musk- Tesla and SpaceX founder. Another notable alumnus is Warren Buffet, who is currently the third richest person in the world (according to Forbes).

Warren Buffet / Elizabeth Banks / John Legend
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When it comes to entertainment, Elizabeth Banks and John Legend both went to Penn. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan and writers Ezra Pound and William Carlos winner are alumni as well. The current U.S. President transferred to Wharton, and in 1968, he graduated and earned a bachelor’s degree in real estate.

University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

The University of California (UCLA) is located in Los Angeles, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to find out many Hollywood stars had graduated from there. Some of these famous faces include Mariska Hargitay, James Franco, Ben Stiller, Steve Martin, Ariel Winter, and Jack Black. Frances Ford Coppola- the talented director of “The Godfather” trilogy, also went to UCLA.

Jack Black / James Franco / Ariel Winter
Photo by Michael Buckner, Variety, Shutterstock / Marion Curtis, StarPix for HBO, Shutterstock / Chelsea Lauren, Shutterstock

As you can tell, many Hollywood legends went to UCLA. James Dean was studying pre-law at Santa Monica College; he switched to USLA, changed his major to drama, and became the cultural icon we know now. He actually got his first role in “Macbeth” while he was studying there. Marilyn Monroe briefly attended night courses there but had to leave because other students were too distracted by her.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

The University of Southern California is also known for having its share of famous graduates. Comedian Will Ferrell and actors Daryl Hannah, Kyra Sedgwick and Forest Whitaker all attended USC. More alumni include producer/director Judd Apatow and “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. UCLA also taught some famous figures in music, such as the co-founder of A&M Records, Herb Alpert, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, and singer Macy Gray.

Macy Gray / Will Ferrell / Neil Armstrong
Photo by Jim Smeal, BEI, Shutterstock / Gregory Pace, Shutterstock / Everett Collection, Shutterstock

In 1970, just one year after landing on the moon, Neil Armstrong graduated from USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering; he earned a master’s in aerospace engineering. In 2005, Armstrong spoke about USC’s commencement, explaining how important strong values and principles are.

Brown University, Providence, RI

Founded in 1764, Brown University is one of the oldest and most esteemed schools in America. It was considered the ‘home away from home’ for many prominent people like the Rockefellers and the Kennedys. A diverse range of well-known faces attended the University, from actress Jessica Capshaw (from Grey’s Anatomy) to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Jessica Capshaw / Julie Bowen / Emma Watson
Photo by Stephen Lovekin, Variety, Shutterstock / Rob Latour, Variety, Shutterstock / Gregory Pace, Shutterstock

Some other actors who graduated from Brown are John Krasinski from “The Office,” Laura Linney from “Kinsey,” and Julie Bowen from “Modern Family.” Emma Watson, who is mostly known for starring in Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast, graduated from Brown back in 2015 with an English Literature degree.

Dartmouth College, Newhaven, NH

Even though Dartmouth is one of the smallest Ivy League colleges, it still helped shape some of the biggest business brains in the world, such as Jeff Immelt- former General Electric CEO and John Donahoe- former eBay CEO. But the school went way beyond just business minds; Dartmouth students included some greats in the entertainment world.

Mindy Kaling / Aisha Tyler / Shonda Rhimes
Photo by Anthony Harvey, Shutterstock / Frank Micoletta, FX, Picturegroup, Shutterstock / Chelsea Lauren, WWD, Shutterstock

Actors Mindy Kaling, Aisha Tyler, and Connie Britton are just some of the actors who graduated from the college. “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes also went there. Another notable alumni member is the beloved children’s author, poet, filmmaker, and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel- you probably know him by the name Dr. Seuss. He graduated in 1925.

Duke University, Durham, NC

Duke University has an 8,600-acre campus for over 14,000 students. Many brilliant leaders graduated from Brown University like David S. Taylor (Protector & Gamble), and Tim Cook (Apple). Some big sports names also attended Duke. NBA greats like Christian Laettner, Carlos Boozer, and Kyrie Irving all graduated from their athletic program.

Tim Cook / Kyrie Irving / Melinda Gates
Photo by Rob Latour, Shutterstock / Michael Buckner, Variety, Shutterstock / Ken McKay, ITV, Shutterstock

In 1986, philanthropist Melinda Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke. She got her master’s degree in business administration just one year later at The Fuqua Business School. In 2013, she gave a commencement speech at the university saying: “No matter how much time passes… I always feel connected to Duke.”

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

It only makes sense that various famous faces went to the California Institute of the Arts. In 1961, CalArts was founded by a group of artists, and one is a creative genius that you may have heard of; his name is Walt Disney. Others are jazz musician Ravi Coltrane, actor David Hasselhoff, and filmmaker Sofia Coppola.

Tim Burton / Sofia Coppola / Ravi Coltrane
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Tim Burton was part of one of the first graduating classes from the school’s film and video department; he went on to create some of the best horror films of all time like, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Beetlejuice,” and “Edward Scissorhands.” According to The Los Angeles Times, directors who studied at the California Institute of the Arts animation program made over $26 billion at the box office from 1965-2012.

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago also has its share of business giant alumni. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison both graduated from UChicago. They also had some notable students in the scientific department, like physicists Luis Alvarez and Enrico Fermi, and astronomers and cosmologists Carl Sagan and Edwin Hubble.

Edwin Hubble / Larry Ellison / Carl Sagan
Photo by Everett Collection, Shutterstock / Granger, Shutterstock

The school also has a history of literary talent, like Nobel Prize-winner Saul Bellow, satirist Kurt Vonnegut, and novelist Philip Roth. One of the most famous literary students graduated in 1951. Susan Sontag went on to become a writer, philosopher, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist. Now that’s impressive!

The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

The University of Texas is another school that taught some of Hollywood’s leading actors. Renee Zellweger, Owen Wilson, Jon Hamm, and Matthew McConaughey are just a few of these talents. McConaughey graduated with a film degree in 1993, and since 2015, he’s been a visiting instructor to the school Moody College of Communication. In 2019, the actor taught filmmaking classes there.

Owen Wilson / Renee Zellweger / Matthew McConaughey
Photo by Eric Charbonneau, Shutterstock / Anthony Harvey, Shutterstock / MediaPunch, Shutterstock

Other than making it to the big screen, some other U.T. graduates have made a name for themselves outside the entertainment industry. Former First Ladies, Lady Bird Johnson, and Laura Bush both attended the university along with some other members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Athletes like Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and NFL placekicker Justin Tucker are also U.T. alumni.

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan has a long list of graduates. As of 2020, the University has more than 610,000 living alumni. Within that large number, some became extremely successful in the entertainment. Actors like David Alan Grier, Earl Jones, and Lucy Liu all attended U.M. But actors aren’t the only celebs who went there.

Lucy Liu / Madonna / David Alan Grier
Source: Shutterstock / Photo by Swan Gallet, WWD, Shutterstock / Erik Pendzich, Shutterstock

Singer and Cultural Icon Madonna attended the university back in the ’70s. She left before graduating in order to pursue her pop career. She obviously made the right choice. Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s oldest daughter, followed in her mama’s footsteps and enrolled at Ann Arbor to study fine arts in musical theater.

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University in Nashville was named after Cornelius Vanderbilt, who donated $1 million to the school in 1873. Among its notable alumni are two Vice Presidents, Al Gore, and John Nance Garner. Al Gore, Nobel Prize-winner, returned to the school to lead global conversations about the climate change crisis and solutions.

Robert Penn Warren / Randall Jarrell
Photo by Granger, Shutterstock / Source: Twitter, @therealjarrellr

Back in the 1920s and ’30s, Vanderbilt University was a center of the Southern Literature revival; during that time, other gifted writers joined the list of alumni. Many literary scholars and poets who combined their forces at Vanderbilt to create The Fugitive- a literary magazine, including Robert Penn Warren. Allen Tate, and Randall Jarrell.

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

In 1836, Emory University was founded as Emory College in Oxford, Georgia. It was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory and has since become a research University in Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout the years, some notable geniuses attended the school, including U.S. Vice president Alben W. Barkley.

Kenneth Cole / Robert Tyre Jones
Photo by Andrew H Walker, WWD, Shutterstock / Granger, Shutterstock

A number of Pulitzer Prize winners like Dumas Malone, Louis R. Harlan, and Frank Main graduated from Emory. Other well-known names are astronaut Manley Lanier “Sonny” Carter, legendary sportscaster William Earnest “Ernie” Harwell, and a gold ace Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones. The most famous of the Emory alumni graduated in 1976- fashion designer Kenneth Cole.

William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

William and Mary taught four former Presidents of the United States: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler, and George Washington. Aside from politics, some of the graduates ended up in the entertainment industry. Among the 1974 graduating class was award-winning actress Glenn Close, who double-majored in theater and anthropology.

Glenn Close
Photo by Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

Glenn Close was the school’s commencement speaker in 2019. She said: “What each of you have, and what you must believe in from this day forward, is your inherent uniqueness. Your singular point of view. No one looks out onto the world through your eyes. Your perspective is unique. It’s important, and it counts. Try not to compare it to anyone else. Accept it. Believe in it. Nurture it. Stay fiercely, joyously connected to the friends you have made here, to those you love and trust. You will have each other’s backs for the rest of your lives.”

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

John Hopkins University has impressive scientists, authors, Oscar winners, and former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as alumni. In 1964, Former New York City Mayor and founder of Bloomberg L.P., Michael R. Bloomberg, graduated from JHU. One year later, he made his first donation to the school, which was $5.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Photo by Justin Williams / Shutterstock

In 2018, Bloomberg wanted to make a slightly larger contribution. By slightly, I mean, he donated $1.8 billion to the university. That amount was the largest contribution to any education institution in America. Prominent Nigerian writer and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is also among the school’s alumni. Her TEDx talk “We Should All Be Feminists went viral in 2012.

The University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

Three young men named Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Eric Stough attended the University of Colorado Bouler, and their lives changed. Parker and Stough went to the same middle school and high school, so they already knew each other. Parker managed to convince him to join the film department with him and Stone. And the rest is history…

Matt Stone and Trey Parker / Eric Stough
Photo by BEI, Shutterstock / Source: Pinterest

Their early collaborations turned into “South Park”- the most successful animated show of all time. There are over 300 episodes of the series, and it won a long list of awards, including several Primetime Emmy Awards. Other notable figures on the alumni list are Olympic skier Billy Kidd, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Glenn Miller.

There’s nothing more memorable than the yearbook photos that you get to take at the end of the school year. From Beyoncé to Barack Obama to Tina Fey, see how some of these celebs pulled it off back in high school…

Before we had social media, the only thing we really had to remember our high school years from was our yearbooks. The single photo for each classmate and all the group photos are signed and treasured for years to come. Now, it takes seconds to document your whole life on social media. Where is the fun in that? It’s the middle of the school year, and everyone is getting ready for the ‘dreaded’ yearbook photos. How funny, we dread them but keep them forever.

Amanda Seyfried at an event in 2020. / Beyonce at the Lion King premiere in 2019. / Meryl Streep at an event in 2019. / Ben Affleck out and about in 2019.
Photo by Masatoshi Okauchi, Shutterstock / Broadimage, Shutterstock / Andrew H. Walker, Shutterstock / Broadimage, Shutterstock

Whether you remember crimping your hair or sneaking eye shadow into class so that you can be ready for these photos, this is something that people go through no matter where they are from. Some of your favorite celebrities have gone through the same experience as us and we found some throwback yearbook photos that will make you feel a bit better about your own. I know it did for me. From Beyoncé to Barack Obama to Tina Fey, see how some of these celebs pulled it off back in high school.

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence grew up and went to school in Kentucky where she took part in cheerleading, softball, field hockey, and basketball. She was actually part of the boy’s team, which was coached by her father at the time. When she was fourteen, she was on vacation in New York with her family when she was approached by a talent scout. After an audition and some contemplation between acting and modeling, Lawrence dropped out of school and pursued an acting career.

Jennifer Lawrence yearbook photo in 2005. / Jennifer Lawrence today at the X-men: Dark Phoenix film premiere.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

In an interview, she mentioned, “And to get people to try to understand that when you’re 14 years old, wanting to drop out of school and do this and your parents are just like, ‘You’re out of your mind.’” She might not have a diploma or a GED, but she wanted to pursue what felt right to her. Kudos to her, because she received her first Academy Award nomination in 2011, just four years after she left school.

Justin Bieber

Who doesn’t recognize this infamous shaggy haircut? Justin Bieber’s eighth-grade yearbook photo couldn’t be any cuter. He went to elementary school in Stratford at a French-language immersion Catholic school and graduated in 2008. Bieber first became famous from a video posted on YouTube of him singing a cover of Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’ at a local competition. A marketing executive, Scooter Braun, from So So Def Recordings, saw one of his YouTube videos and got in touch with his school.

Justin Bieber’s yearbook photo in 2008. / Justin Bieber at the Seasons TV show premiere.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

He eventually went to Georgia with Braun and started singing for Usher. Like this isn’t cool enough, it is rumored that Justin Timberlake also wanted to sign Bieber but ended up losing the bidding war to Usher. This whole time, Bieber didn’t stop with his education. While he was making music, he continued in high school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in 2012.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon looks just like her daughter in this photo. She graduated in 1994 from an all-girls high school where she was a cheerleader and went on to study English Literature at Stanford. Witherspoon made her first appearance in 1991 when she was cast as Dani Trant in The Man in the Moon. The movie Cruel Intentions really made her famous in the US in 1999 and she went on to become famous worldwide after starring in Legally Blonde.

Reese Witherspoon’s yearbook photo in 1994. / Reese Witherspoon at an event in 2020 dressed in a shiny black and silver dress.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Rob Latour, Variety, Shutterstock

In order to achieve all of this, she had a tough decision to make about college. She didn’t go on to study but ended up winning an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and an Emmy. This isn’t including all the nominations which she received. Her recent role in Big Little Lies has really skyrocketed her career and she is getting close to having as many nominations for this as she did from Legally Blonde.

Emily Ratajkowski

You might recognize this model and actress from appearing topless in Robin Thicke’s music video for ‘Blurred Lines’ or even the Nickelodeon series iCarly. Emily Ratajkowski was born in London and started acting when she was just a child. When she was five, her family moved over to California where she ended up getting her high school education. She studied at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas. As you can see, she hasn’t changed a bit.

Emily Ratajkowski’s yearbook photo from 2008. / Emily Ratajkowski at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Chelsea Lauren, Variety, Shutterstock

Ratajkowski also enrolled at the University of California but only stayed for a year before moving on with her career. Since then, she has been in movies like Gone Girl, Entourage, and I Feel Pretty. She is now married to a producer, Sebastian Bear-McClard, after a surprise courthouse wedding in 2018.


It took me a moment to recognize her with this hairstyle, but the next celebrity on the list is Black Eyed Peas member is Fergie. She was raised in California as a Roman Catholic and attended a religious middle school. After a while, she switched to a public high school. Of course, she dabbled in cheerleading for a bit, was a spelling bee champion, a Girl Scout, and a straight-A student.

Fergie’s yearbook photo from 1990. / Fergie at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Source: Shutterstock

While she was in high school, she attended a dance school and ended up meeting an agent who got her some voiceover work. She was the voice of Lucy and Sally in the Peanuts cartoon from 1984. She recently got divorced from her husband of ten years, Josh Duhamel, The two have one son named Axl Jack who was born in 2013.

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez went to high school in the Bronx at Preston High. In middle school, she started taking singing and dancing lessons and then moved on to gymnastics, track, and softball. She was really good at track and ended up competing in national track competitions. At one point in her life, she said, “I remember watching Rita Moreno in West Side Story and going, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to sing, and I want to dance, and I want to act.'”

Jennifer Lopez’s yearbook photo from 1987. / Jennifer Lopez at an event in 2020.
Source: Yearbook Archives / Photo by David Fisher, Shutterstock

In her senior year of high school, she got the role which gave her the feeling that this is what she is meant to do in life. She was cast in My Little Girl, which was a low budget movie. She portrayed Myra and it was based at a center for troubled girls. Well, acting was probably the best decision that she could have made seeing as she now has a total of 348 awards and on top of that another 510 nominations.

Julia Roberts

We can all recognize Julia Roberts no matter what the situation is. This award-winning actress has a net worth of $200 million now and was reportedly one of the top 20 richest actresses in 2019. She grew up in Georgia where her father was an acting coach for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter. Roberts went on to attend Campbell High School and graduated in 1984.

Julia Roberts yearbook photo from 1985. / Julia Roberts at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Anthony Harvey, Shutterstock

As a child, she wanted to be a veterinarian but after a few semesters in college moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. She is famous for one of her first parts in the film Pretty Woman where she portrayed the love interest of Richard Gere. She had a career full of famous sexy men and got to work with Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Jodie Foster.

Victoria Beckham

This celebrity started off as Victoria Adams or Posh Spice of the Spice Girls. She married David Beckham a year later, taking on his name, but you still see her first music credited to Adams. She was with the Spice Girls until the year 2000 and went on to release some of her own music. The Spice Girls did a reunion tour in 2007 and even performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in 2012, but Posh Spice didn’t attend the latest tour in 2019.

Victoria Beckhams yearbook photo from 1992. / Victoria Beckham out and about in New York in 2019.
Photo by Camera Press, Geoff Marchant, Retna / Mike Reed, ACE Pictures, Shutterstock

Beckham was born in the UK and raised in Hertfordshire where she attended the Jason Theatre School and Laine Theatre Arts to study dance and modeling. She also went to St. Mary’s High School where she tried playing with her looks a lot. In an interview, she said, “I used to get sent into the toilet every single day at school to take off my makeup and brush my hairspray out.” Well, some things never change, and she is as gorgeous as ever.

Tom Cruise

This next actor grew up in New York and Canada with a Catholic upbringing. Tom Cruise attended 15 different schools in 14 years. He attended Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey for his senior year where he graduated in 1980. He starred in his high school play and pursued acting after graduation. Cruise moved back to New York where he was cast in Risky Business and Top Gun, two amazing movies from the ‘80s.

Tom Cruise’s yearbook photo from 1980. / Tom Cruise at an event in 2018.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Imaginechina, Shutterstock

He has been married three times, and each time gets more memorable than the next. He first married Mimi Rogers, and the two joined the Church of Scientology, where he stays a member to this day. After they got divorced, Cruise married Nicole Kidman, then dated Penelope Cruz, and then married Katie Holmes. Scientology influenced his relationships, and he even said that Holmes divorced him to protect their daughter Suri from the Church.

Courteney Cox

Monica Geller from the sitcom Friends is still her most well-known part. Courteney Cox grew up in Alabama and graduated from Mountain Brook High School in 1982. She started university at Mount Vernon College in DC to study architecture but went into a modeling and acting career instead. Well, another great choice for an award-winning actress.

Courteney Cox’s yearbook photo from 1982. / Courteney Cox at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

Did you know that Cox appeared in Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark music video? She took on a few smaller roles before going to audition for the part of Rachel Green in Friends. Of course, we know that she didn’t get the part because we all know her now as Monica. Since then, she’s appeared in many movies and TV shows, more recently Cougar Town, Shameless, and Modern Family.


Beyoncé was born and grew up in Houston, Texas. She went to St. Mary’s Montessori School in Houston where her singing talent was discovered. She took dance classes with Darlette Johnson, and he was humming a song when she just finished it for him, hitting the high-pitched notes and all. She then went to Parker Elementary School and performed with their choir and attended two different Performing Arts Schools, getting ready for her career.

Beyonce’s yearbook photo from 1996. / Beyonce at the Lion King premiere in 2019.
Source: Yearbook Library / Broadimage, Shutterstock

While she was still in high school, she and her childhood friend, Kelly Rowland met LaTavia Roberson at an audition and they started a group called Girl’s Tyme. The girls were discovered quickly and after a few different contracts, signed with Columbia Records. This is when they changed their name to Destiny’s Child and became one of the biggest girl bands of the ‘90s. Of course, Beyoncé is an independent woman today with 1058 award nominations and 543 wins.

Blake Lively

Blake Lively grew up in Los Angeles and attended Burbank High School. She was the class president, a cheerleader, and part of the choir. Instead of being left home with a babysitter, her parents sent her to acting classes which ended up coming in handy. Towards the end of her Junior year in high school, she went to a few auditions and ended up getting the part of Bridget in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Blake Lively’s yearbook photo from 2003. / Blake Lively at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

After filming in the summer, she finished up her senior year and went on to act in Accepted with Justin Long. She didn’t stop there and got cast as Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl. This is where she really became famous and started taking parts in bigger movies. She is now married to Ryan Reynolds after meeting him on the set of Green Lantern, and they have three daughters together.

Kim Kardashian West

It’s been years since Kim Kardashian West has had her hair styled like this without using a flat iron, but she hasn’t changed too much since her freshman year at Marymount High School in Los Angeles. Kim graduated in 1995. This yearbook photo was taken a year after her father, Robert Kardashian represented her godfather, O.J. Simpson, during his trial. This is really what made the Kardashian name well-known at first, and Kim continued it with the help of her best friend Paris Hilton.

Kim Kardashian West’s yearbook photo from 1995. / Kim Kardashian West at an event in 2020.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / David Buchan, Variety, Shutterstock

Hilton helped her gain media attention by bringing her on as a guest star on her show, The Simple Life. In 2006, they started out by opening a boutique shop and Kim was recognized for the “inappropriate film” which was distributed of her. I guess the saying is right, there is no such thing as bad publicity. This drama was a great way to promote their new TV show, Keeping Up with The Kardashians.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is originally from Pennsylvania and she attended Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School. Of course, she focused on acting and went to New York regularly to attend acting and vocal lessons. When she was 11, she convinced her mother to help her take things to the next level and they traveled to Nashville to submit a demo. This didn’t work, but they ended up moving to Hendersonville, Tennessee to help push her career forward.

Taylor Swifts Yearbook photo from 2005. / Taylor Swift at an event in 2020.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / imageSPACE, Shutterstock

Swift was homeschooled to accommodate her touring schedule and graduated in 2005, a year earlier than scheduled. She went on to act as well but is really known for her awards. She has ten Grammys, twenty American Music Awards, twenty-three Billboard Music Awards, six Guinness World Records, one Emmy Award, and so many more. It looks like her father knew what he was doing when they moved out to Nashville.

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston knew she wanted to be an actress from only six years old when she attended Waldorf school. She then enrolled at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts and joined the drama society and graduated in 1987. This led her to perform in off-Broadway productions like For Dear Life and Dancing on Cher’s Grave.

Jennifer Aniston’s yearbook photo in 1987. / Jennifer Aniston at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2020.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / David Fisher, Shutterstock

At the time she worked really hard to become a recognized actress and took on jobs as a telemarketer, waitress, and a bike messenger. She had a few small roles before breaking out as Rachel Green in Friends. Did you know that for the final season of friends, she and her female co-stars were the highest-paid TV actresses of all time receiving $1 million per episode?

Rachel Bilson

Rachel Bilson really got her career started after a guest appearance in Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The O.C. where she played Summer Roberts. Originally, she was only supposed to be in a few episodes, but she became popular right away, winning Teen Choice Awards and getting on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 list. Bilson was born and raised in California where she attended Notre Dame High School.

Rachel Bilson’s yearbook photo from 1999. / Rachel Bilson at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Broadimage, Shutterstock

She actually went to high school with Kristen Dunst, Rami Malek, and Katharine McPhee. After this, she went to Grossmont College in San Diego and started out in commercials before breaking out. She hasn’t changed a bit since high school with the same beautiful wavy hair today as she had in this yearbook photo. IN an interview about high school, she mentioned, “I used to make my mom iron my hair with a clothing iron! She would totally fight me, but I insisted. So, I had this dry, brittle, disgusting straw hair plastered to my head.”

Zoe Saldana

This beautiful actress was born in New Jersey and raised in New York. Zoe Saldana moved with her sisters and mother to the Dominican Republic when she was nine where she discovered her love of dance. They enrolled her in the ECOS Espacio de Danza Academy where she studied different types of dance. She really took to ballet first but ended up quitting stating that she, “didn’t have the feet for it.”

Zoe Saldana’s yearbook photo from 1996. / Zoe Saldana at an event in 2019.
Source: Yearbook Library / Photo by Carlos Piaggio, Shutterstock

Saldana’s first real exposure was from an episode of Law & Order before she moved on to larger movies. She worked with people like Nicholas Hytner, Britney Spears, Nick Cannon, and Johnny Depp. Her big breakthrough was her rolewas in Star Trek before she portrayed  Neytiri in Avatar and then Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course, there were many other films that helped her career, but she was nominated for 10 and won all 10 Saturn Awards for her performance.

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck still has the same cute smile as he did when he graduated from The Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school in 1987. He took several TV guest spots and had an ABC Afterschool Special while he was still a student. Affleck has known Matt Damon since he was 8, and they became close in high school. Damon was older than Affleck, but they both wanted to move to New York to pursue a career in acting. After this, he moved to LA to study a bit more and started landing smaller roles.

Ben Affleck’s yearbook photo in 1987. / Ben Affleck out and about in 2019.
Photo by Boston Herald, Rex USA / Broadimage, Shutterstock

Affleck’s breakthrough came just a little bit later in 1997 the lead role in Chasing Amy. Of course, throughout his career, he and Damon have kept in touch and the two of them wrote Good Will Hunting. They got to go to a screening of Good Will Hunting with President Bill Clinton at Camp David. The two won the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Affleck is still the youngest writer to win an Oscar for screenwriting.

Lea Michele

This small girl with a big voice caught our attention on the TV show Glee. Lea Michele was born in the Bronx and attended Rockland Country Day School. She had a few roles in Broadway plays, an understudy for the role Gavroche in Les Miserables and then she landed the part of the Little Girl in the original Broadway cast of Ragtime in 1998. Through her different roles, she got a high school education and graduated in 2004.

Lea Michele’s yearbook photo in 2004. / Lea Michele at an event in 2019.
Photo by Graeme Massie, Splash / Erik Pendzich, Shutterstock

At this point, she was already a success and moved on to portraying Rachel Berry in Glee. Ryan Murphy apparently wrote the role specifically for Michele and she won a few awards for it. In 2011, she performed America the Beautiful during the pre-game ceremony for Super Bowl XLV at the Cowboys Stadium. Overall, these celebrities really seem to get an idea in their head and just go for it. Perhaps that’s the trick to becoming famous (along with actually having talent).

Amy Adams

Amy Adams has made lists of the highest-paid actresses in the world, she won two Golden Globes along with 35 other awards, and has been nominated for 134 awards. She grew up moving around army bases with her parents until they settled in Colorado when she was eight. Adams went to Douglas County High School, and while she didn’t enjoy the more serious subjects, she loved the creative arts.

Amy Adams’ yearbook photo in 1992. / Amy Adams at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Chelsea Lauren, Deadline, Shutterstock

Douglas sang in the school choir. She went on to compete in track and gymnastics and even had a dream of becoming a ballerina. Adams graduated in 1992 and moved to Georgia with her mom. When she realized she couldn’t be a ballerina, she adjusted her goals and went on to pursue musical theater.


As you can see, Madonna was just as stylish in high school, rocking the pencil-thin eyebrows and wearing some soft eyeliner around her eyes. This photo was taken in 1975 but she really hasn’t changed much. She grew up in Michigan with Catholic parents. Her mother passed away at a young age and lived with her father. He put her in classical piano lessons, but she convinced him to switch her over to ballet classes.

Madonna’s yearbook photo in 1975. / Madonna at an event in 2018.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Stephen Lovekin, Shutterstock

Her teacher ended up persuading her to go for a career in dance. She first attended Rochester Adams High School and became a member of the cheerleading squad while keeping up her straight-A grades. After she graduated in 1975, she went to the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship. She ended up dropping out of college and moving to New York. Madonna worked at Dunkin’ Donuts while she started her career.

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz was raised in Long Beach and went to high school at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. One of her classmates there was actually Snoop Dogg! While she was still in high school, she signed a modeling contract with Elite Model Management. She did advertisements for brands like Calvin Klein and Levi’s. The year after this she moved on to Seventeen magazine and was cast in a Coca-Cola commercial in Sydney, Australia.

Cameron Diaz in her yearbook photo in 1988. / Cameron Diaz at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Stewart Cook, Variety, Shutterstock

Before getting her breakthrough in The Mask, she did a photoshoot with a professional photographer topless for a lingerie editorial and the photographer “offered” to sell her the video and photos for $3.5 million before he took it to “other buyers.” She took that as blackmail (of course) and sued him. He released it on a Russian website and ended up getting sentenced to three years in prison. She was put through a lot but ultimately made it out with success.

Hilary Swank

This is just another celebrity that hasn’t aged a day. Hilary Swank is an award-winning actress who grew up in Nebraska and Washington. She went to Sehome High School in Bellingham until she was sixteen and even went on to compete in the Junior Olympics and Washington State championships in swimming, and even ranked fifth in gymnastics. When she was 15, her parents separated, and she lived with her mom in their car until she saved enough money to rent an apartment.

Hilary Swank in her yearbook photo in 1990. / Hilary Swank at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / AFF-USA, Shutterstock

Swank looks at her mother as the inspiration for her acting career and where she went in life. She went to South Pasadena High School for a while but dropped out saying that she didn’t feel like she fit in there. She said that she felt like an outsider, and fitting in, being like everyone else, is what brought her to become an actress.

Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington, Virginia, but was raised in Germany and Austria for 12 years. She actually spoke German and got a Waldorf education in Nuremberg. Bullock enjoyed studying ballet, like many of these other celebrities, and vocal arts. She would sometimes accompany her mother and take small roles in her opera productions. In Germany, she sang in the opera’s children’s choir.

Sandra Bullock in her yearbook photo in 1982. / Sandra Bullock at the Golden Globe Awards in 2020.
Source: Yearbook Archives / Shutterstock

Bullock went to Washington-Lee High School and was a cheerleader there. She even performed in their school theater productions. She graduated in 1982 and moved on to East Carolina University, where she got her BFA in Drama. After this, she moved to New York and supported herself with the usual bartender, waitress, and coat check girl jobs while she went to auditions. In 1995, she went on to receive her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in While You Were Sleeping.

Katy Perry

Just like Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry sported the short bob in high school. Perry was born in California and went to religious camps and school growing up. She went to schools like Paradise Valley Christian School and Santa Barbara Christian School for elementary studies. During this time her family was struggling financially, and her mother was very against anything that could be connected to the devil.

Katy Perry in her yearbook photo in 2000. / Katy Perry at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Broadimage, Shutterstock

Calling deviled eggs ‘angeled eggs’ is one thing, but her mother went as far as not allowing them to eat lucky charms as the word ‘luck’ reminded her of Lucifer. Perry got her love for music from her sister, Angela. She started training when she was nine, got her first guitar when she was thirteen, and started performing the songs she wrote publicly. When she was fifteen, Perry completed her GED and went on to pursue her music career.

Leonardo DiCaprio

This actor got his start in acting very early. Leonardo DiCaprio was born and raised in California where he attended John Marshall High School and Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. He dropped out of high school after his third year and earned his GED. When he was first a child, he wanted to be a marine biologist, but he became fascinated with performing after his brother made $50,000 for starring in a commercial.

Leonardo DiCaprio sitting against a tree with leaves on the ground in August 1990. / Leonardo DiCaprio at an event in 2020.
Photo by Macoska, Mediapunch, Shutterstock / Rob Latour, Shutterstock

He started to appear in commercials for Matchbox cars, Kraft Foods, Bubble Yum, and Apple Jacks. From there, he went on to take roles in The Outsiders, Santa Barbara, Parenthood and was even a celebrity contestant on Fun House. His career really began when he was cast as Luke Brower on Growing Pains. From this series, he was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor Co-Starring in a Television Series. DiCaprio only got more famous from there.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox was born in Tennessee and was raised in a very strict household where she couldn’t have friends over or have a boyfriend. She began dance and drama training when she was only five years old and got involved with the Kingston Elementary School’s chorus and their swim team. When she was ten, they moved to Florida and she continued training. At the age of thirteen, she moved on to modeling.

Megan Fox in her yearbook photo in 2001. / Megan Fox at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Rob Latour, Shutterstock

Only two years later she was cast in Holiday in the Sun with Ashley Olsen. Only two years later at the age of seventeen, she was taken out of school and moved to California. This is when she took on other roles like guest-starring in What I Like About You and Two and a Half Men. She was even an extra in Bad Boys II. She broke through after her role in Transformers and is referred to as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep was born and raised in New Jersey, going to Cedar Hill Elementary School and the Oak Street School. She acted in the school play ‘The Family Upstairs’ as the lead, Louise Heller. Streep enjoyed showing off in front of the camera for some family home movies. She was also selected to sing at the school recital and had opera lessons from the one and only Estelle Liebling.

Meryl Streep in her yearbook photo in 1967. / Meryl Streep at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Andrew H. Walker, Shutterstock

She remembers that even though she was talented, she said, “I was singing something I didn’t feel and understand. That was an important lesson—not to do that. To find the thing that I could feel through.” In high school, she was a cheerleader for the Mountaineers and was crowned homecoming queen in her senior year. After many plays and her film debut, she made a breakthrough with The Deer Hunter and her role in Kramer vs. Kramer.

Mariah Carey

Her hair has definitely changed since then, but it seems like she took on the style of the decade when she attended Harborfields High School. Mariah Carey supposedly missed so many classes that she earned the nickname ‘Mirage.’ But she still graduated in 1987. While she was in high school, she would write poems and add melodies to them which started her singer-songwriter career.

Mariah Carey in her yearbook photo in 1987. / Mariah Carey at an event in 2019.
Source: Yearbook Archives / Photo by Matt Baron, Shutterstock

Carey started writing songs with Gavin Christopher and brought in someone to play the keyboard. They would compose in the basement of his father’s store during their senior year. After high school, she moved to New York handing out her demo tape to different labels. After failing multiple times, she met Brenda K. Starr who helped get her demo to Columbia Records. This is what jump-started her career.

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in West Virginia. Her family grew up attending the United Methodist Church every Sunday and Garner even went to Vacation Bible School. When she and her sisters were teenagers, they weren’t allowed to do any of the typical things a girl her age would do like wear makeup, paint their nails, pierce their ears, or other things like this.

Jennifer Garner in her yearbook photo in 1990. / Jennifer Garner at an event in 2020.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / David Fisher, Shutterstock

Garner attended George Washington High School and enrolled in Denison University in 1990. She graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theaters performance. Garner moved to New York the next year and like most actors, she had a guest appearance on Law & Order. She eventually was cast for larger roles in films like 13 Going on 30.

January Jones

January Jones was born and raised with her two sisters in South Dakota and attended Roosevelt High School. During her high school years, she took on some usual jobs for teenagers like a lifeguard and a counter girl at Dairy Queen. Jones graduated from high school but decided not to continue with her education. She moved to Paris and then Los Angeles after being recruited for Abercrombie & Fitch and Clearasil modeling jobs.

January Jones in her yearbook photo in 1996. / January Jones at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Magnus Sundholm, Shutterstock

After this, she made her first appearance in television commercials which landed her a minor part in the TV movie, Sorority. Her rise to fame came from the series Mad Man and then the American Pie movie sequel called American Wedding. After starring in X-Men First Class, she hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live and just kept getting more famous.

Emma Stone

She creases her eyes when she smiles the same way now that she did back in 2003. Emma Stone is originally from Arizona and started her acting career at the age of four. She started taking voice lessons for several years and focused on musical theater. Then at the age of eleven, she made her acting debut in a stage production of The Wind in the Willows. She was homeschooled for two years and took advantage of this time by appearing in sixteen different productions at that theater.

Emma Stone in her yearbook photo in 2003. / Emma Stone at an event in 2019.
Source: Tumblr / Photo by Swan Gallet, WWD, Shutterstock

At one point she auditioned for a role in Nickelodeon’s All That but didn’t succeed. Stone just went on to take more acting lessons and started at an all-girls Catholic high school as a freshman. She dropped out and convinced her mother to move with her to LA. After almost four years of auditioning with no luck, she landed the role in Superbad with Michael Cera and Jonah Hill which kickstarted her career.

Carrie Underwood

This singer got her start from the show American Idol, but her journey really started in Oklahoma. She was raised on her parents’ farm with her two sisters and spent her free time singing at the local church and other events in Checotah. A fan from the area arranged an audition for her with Capitol Records when she was only fourteen years old and she almost signed a contract with them, but management changed, and it was canceled.

Carrie Underwood in her yearbook photo in 2001. / Carrie Underwood at an event holding her awards in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Stewart Cook, Shutterstock

Underwood was an honor society member, a cheerleader, and on the basketball and softball team. She graduated in 2001 as a salutatorian but chose not to pursue singing afterward. She tried to have a more practical outlook on life. She got her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University and spent time performing in shows around the area. In 2004, she took a chance at auditioning for American Idol and became the winner of season four.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie was born and raised in California with her brother. She lived with her mother starting in 1976 and the family moved to New York for five years before moving back to LA. She was interested in acting and enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. She trained for two years and made appearances in multiple stage productions. Jolie went to Beverly Hills High School where she didn’t really feel like she fit in.

Angelina Jolie in her yearbook photo in 1991. / Angelina Jolie at an event in 2019.
Photo by Classmates.com, Yearbook Archive / David Fisher, Shutterstock

In an interview, she mentioned, “I wore black boots with big silver bat [charms] that dragged when I walked. I wasn’t aware of how I looked, but apparently I looked really creepy.” No one really understood who they were going to school with, but Jolie has a great life and career now, which probably helps her forget about the high school drama. She graduated from high school in 1991 and was already starting to take auditions before that.

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler was born and raised in Massachusetts with her younger brother, Greg. She acted in her school play in middle school which really inspired her love of performance. She attended Burlington High School where she continued to act in school plays and even joined the student council, soccer team, and softball team. Poehler graduated in 1989 and got her bachelor’s degree from Boston College in Media and Communications in 1993.

Amy Poehler in her yearbook photo in 1989. / Amy Poehler at an event in 2020.
Source: Splash News / Photo by Scott Kirkland, Fox, Picturegroup, Shutterstock

After this, she moved to Chicago and eventually got a recurring role as Andy Richter’s little sister on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This got her on the cast of Saturday Night Live in the beginning of the 2001-2002 season with Tina Fey. She was the first woman, second cast member overall, to be promoted from featured player to full cast member in their first season of doing the show.

Zooey Deschanel

Also born in California, Zooey Deschanel comes from some famous family. Her father is director Caleb Deschanel and her mother is actress Mary Jo Deschanel. You also probably recognize her last name from the show Bones, starring her older sister Emily Deschanel. She went to a private preparatory school in Santa Monica where she became friends with Jack Gyllenhaal and Kate Hudson.

Zooey Deschanel in her yearbook photo in 1997. / Zooey Deschanel at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Stewart Cook, Shutterstock

Deschanel also spent time in high school singing and planning to pursue a musical theatre career. She ended up attending French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts during the summer and going to college at Northwestern University. However, she dropped out of college after nine months to pursue her career. She started her acting career in 1999 and one of the first movies she starred in received a Golden Globe Award.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp was the youngest of four children born in Kentucky. They moved around a lot growing up but ended up settling in Florida in 1970. He attended Miramar High School but dropped out after his parents got divorced in ’78 to become a rock musician. The craziest thing is he actually tried to go back to school two weeks later but the principal turned him down and told him to keep trying to pursue his dreams.

Johnny Depp in 1987. / Johnny Depp at an event in 2019.
Source: Pinterest / Photo by Larry Marano, Shutterstock

He went to LA to figure things out and did get a bit of attention. Depp married makeup artist Lori Anne Allison who was the sister of his band’s singer. She introduced him to Nicholas Cage, who told him to pursue an acting career instead. This was the start of Depp’s award-winning career.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey was born in Pennsylvania and went to Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby. She knew that she was interested in comedy already in middle school. She went to Upper Darby High and was a member of the choir, drama club, tennis team, and the co-editor of the school’s paper. Moreover, Fey was also an honors student. She graduated high school in 1988 and started at the University of Virginia. She graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama after studying playwriting and acting.

Tina Fey in her yearbook photo in 1988. / Tina Fey at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Erik Pendzich, Shutterstock

Fey was awarded the Pettway Prize in college as well. Just like Amy Poehler, she moved to Chicago before getting her breakthrough on Saturday Night Live in 1997. She was hired as a writer after meeting with Lorne Michaels and moved to New York. She worked as a writer until quitting in ’99 and went on to perform in sketches in 2000. She is most known for being co-anchor with Jimmy Fallon on the Weekend Update sketch.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Born to the actress Blythe Danner and producer-director Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her mother has a Christian background, but she was raised with both Jewish and Christian holidays, including her brothers Bar Mitzvah. Paltrow attended Crossroads School in Santa Monica before being sent to a private girls’ school in New York City.

Gwyneth Paltrow in her yearbook photo in 1990. / Gwyneth Paltrow at an event in 2019.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Matt Baron, Shutterstock

After this, she studied anthropology at the University of California but ended up dropped out to pursue an acting career. That worked out for the best as she made her stage debut in 1990 in the feature Hook as Wendy Darling. Paltrow went on to work with actors like Steven Spielberg, Morgan Freeman, and Brad Pitt before finally making her big break in Great Expectations.

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried is another actress born in Pennsylvania. She went to high school in Allentown at William Allen High School and graduated in 2003. She has an older sister who is a musician in the band Love City in Philadelphia. While Seyfried was in high school she modeled for companies like Limited Too and was on the cover of the Sweet Valley High novel series. During her senior year, she starred on As the World Turns as Lucy Montgomery.

Amanda Seyfried in her yearbook photo in 1991. / Amanda Seyfried at an event in 2020.
Photo by Seth Poppel, Yearbook Library / Masatoshi Okauchi, Shutterstock

This got her a place in All My Children as Joni Stafford until 2003. This is when she found the movie Mean Girls. Seyfried first tried out for the part of Regina George, but we all know that went to Rachel McAdams. She also almost got Lindsay Lohan’s part but ended up portraying one of the dim-witted sidekicks. There is no such thing as a small role, and Amanda Seyfried’s career is just going uphill.