From the Field to the Red Carpet: Hollywood’s Former Jocks and Cheerleaders

Every high school has its cliques, and the one that almost every kid wants to be a part of is the group of cheerleaders and jocks. You know that group of high-spirited girls who cheer on the football and basketball players (most of which are their boyfriends). Is it surprising to anyone that those girls and guys would grow up to be famous people? Not really. But most of them aren’t just any famous people; they’re A-list actors and actresses.

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This can be a reminder that these celebs also made their way through high school and lived a normal adolescence. They all went to class, played hooky (probably), and ate their lunch in the cafeteria. So, while they have entered the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, they are still human and were once teens. Here is a list (a fun and surprising one at that) of Hollywood’s celebrities who used to either play on the high school and college teams or cheered them on with their short skirts and pompoms.

Paula Abdul: Laker Girl

Paula Abdul was once an 18-year-old freshman who studied broadcasting at Cal State Northridge. She became a Los Angeles Laker Girl after being selected as one of 700 competitors. Within a year, she became the Laker Girls’ head choreographer was later discovered by The Jacksons. Abdul went on to choreograph the Jacksons’ Victory tour and Janet Jackson specifically during her “Control” era.

Paula Abdul at the American Music Awards in 2003. / Paula Abdul with her Lakers girls.
Source: Bei, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

Remember that giant keyboard scene with Tom Hanks in the movie Big? Well, Abdul choreographed that scene. She used her earnings to make a singing demo cassette tape and in 1988, she released her pop debut album called Forever Your Girl. That album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200. Mrs. Abdul found success even in her later career, as one of the judges on American Idol, The X Factor, Dancing With the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance.

Jessica Simpson

Okay, so if there’s another obvious former cheerleader, it’s gotta be Jessica Simpson, who doesn’t surprise anyone by the fact that she was one cheering on the high school football team. Simpson is the daughter of a Baptist minister and a psychologist who got her first feel of performing when she would sing at the local church.

Jessica Simpson
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As an eighth-grader, Simpson was a cheerleader at Richardson North Junior High School in Dallas’ suburbs. That was the time she unsuccessfully auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club. Apparently, she froze up during the tryouts. The next year, her cover versions of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and “Amazing Grace” that she sang at a church camp got the attention of a gospel music record label. Simpson ended up dropping out of J.J. Pearce High School to embark on a singing and acting career.

Burt Reynolds

Before becoming an actor, Burt Reynolds had other dreams. The Michigan native only wanted to be a professional football player and nothing less. Football was his everything. By the time he was in 10th grade, he was offered multiple college scholarships. He ultimately landed a full scholarship to Florida State University, where he played halfback. But sadly, his dreams were shattered.

Burt Reynolds in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. / Burt Reynolds holding a football on his knee at Florida State University.
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During his first game, he injured his knee. He then soon after got into a car accident where he hurt his other knee and lost his spleen. Fun fact: Back in 1972, Burt Reynolds posed nude in an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. Did you know that? Unfortunately, he may have regretted that decision stating, “I’m very embarrassed by it.”

Kirstie Alley: Cheerleader from Wichita

Long before she was sitting behind a bar in Boston, Kirstie Alley was cheering on her classmates at Wichita Southeast High School in her hometown of Wichita, Kansas. After a brief period studying at Kansas State University, the young brunette dropped out and moved the classic move to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career (and Scientology).

Kirstie Alley at the 1991 Golden Globe Awards. / Kirstie Alley as a cheerleader.
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Alley made her film debut in 1982 in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She played the Vulcan Starfleet officer Lieutenant Saavik. Five years later, Alley replaced Shelley Long on the much-beloved show Cheers. Her role as Rebecca Howe earned her four Emmy nominations and a win. Over the years, Alley has played over 25 roles in movies, most notably in the Look Who’s Talking films.

Jennifer Lawrence: A Cheerleader Who Hated Sports

Jennifer Lawrence is known for being that girl-next-door kind of type, right? Her down-to-earth personality is what makes her so appealing. That might be why it’s not surprising to learn that this pretty cloned was also a cheerleader in her early days (not that she’s old now or anything).

Jennifer Lawrence
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Anyways, her parents apparently made their kids get involved in sports. Thus, Lawrence played softball, basketball, field hockey, and even became a cheerleader. That said, she wasn’t a fan. She once told NPR, “There’s something about team sports, classes; I didn’t take well to it. I didn’t like it.… I hated team sports.” Well isn’t that ironic…

Tommy Lee Jones

You might already know that while at Harvard University, Tommy Lee Jones was roommates with Al Gore. He and the future vice president were the inspiration for the male protagonist in Erich Segal’s novel, Love Story. However, what you might not know about his college years is that he played offensive guard on their football team. He was part of 2 championship teams and was even involved in the most iconic matchups in the Harvard/Yale rivalry in 1968.

Tommy Lee Jones in Rules of Engagement. / Tommy Lee Jones on Harvard’s football team with 61 on his uniform.
Source: Moviestore Collection, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

In 1971, Jones married Kate Larder, but they got divorced after just seven years. He married his second wife, Kimberlea Cloughley, and they have two children together: a son named Austin and a daughter named Victoria. In 2001, he married Dawn Laurel-Jones. Thankfully, they are still together. Third time’s a charm!

Kendall Jenner: A Troubled Cheerleader

By the year 2013, Kendall Jenner’s cheerleading career was over. According to the New York Times, the then 17-year-old creation of Bruce and Kris Jenner and the former American Cheerleader cover model dropped out of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon School. It’s not easy to cheer as a homeschooled teen traveling the world in pursuit of reality TV fame, fashion and modeling catwalks.

Kendall Jenner as a model and Cheerleader
Source: TeddyFeed/ Instagram

Meanwhile, the SC cheer squad managed to pick up the pieces left. “At first, I was surprised at how normal and down to earth Kendall is and how organized and professional she is for a freshman in high school,” Sierra Canyon’s cheerleading coach, David Kirschner, told American Cheerleader recently. “She’s a very outgoing cheerleader, always coming up with new ideas to support our athletic teams and has the ability to make everyone around her smile and laugh. She’s the most hilarious cheerleader I’ve ever coached. It’s clear to me that fame certainly hasn’t gotten to her.”

Halle Berry: Cheerleader and Prom Queen

Halle Berry was the daughter of a psychiatric nurse and a hospital attendant, who spent her teen years as a cheerleader at Bedford High School in Cleveland. More than just a cheerleader, Halle was an honors student, editor of the school newspaper, and (obviously), prom queen. She later went to Cuyahoga Community College where she entered a number of beauty pageants.

Halle Berry at the premiere of Introducing Dorothy Dandridge in 1999. / Halle Berry as a cheerleader with her pom poms doing a split.
Photo by Erik Pendzich, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Did you know that she won Miss Teen All American in both 1985 and Miss Ohio in 1986? She even finished as first runner-up in Miss USA. But it’s hardly surprising with a face like that! She made her TV debut in 1989 and in 1991 broke onto the silver screen in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. But it was in 2001 when she made history as the first African American to win an Oscar for Best Actress (in Monsters Ball).

Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck is known for playing many roles. Despite his many movie roles, his reoccurring role on Friends as Monica’s older boyfriend is what made so many women fall in love with him. What’s surprising about Selleck’s career is that he was a basketball player at the University of Southern California for two years. Originally, Selleck enrolled in a community college in Las Angeles. In his Junior year, USC offered him a basketball scholarship, and he transferred.

Tom Selleck’s yearbook photo from when he was on the varsity basketball team. / Tom Selleck with his team taking a knee.
Source: Pinterest

Selleck spent two years on the team but dropped out when he decided to pursue acting. He actually made his TV debut on a gameshow. Although most of us know him for his mustache, Selleck was a clean-shaven, 20-year old college boy in 1965, when he appeared in ABC’s The Dating Game.

Sandra Bullock: From Germany to American High School

Before becoming Miss Congeniality and joining the A-list club, Sandra Bullock starred in her Virginia high school as a cheerleader and in her theater productions at Washington-Lee High School. But did you know that Bullock spent the first 12 years of her life in Nuremberg, Germany? I sure didn’t! She’s the daughter of an Army vet and opera singer. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from East Carolina University in 1987.

Sandra Bullock arriving at the Gravity premiere in London. / Sandra Bullock as a cheerleader at Virginia High.
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Bullock then moved to Manhattan to try out acting. To make ends meet, she worked as a bartender, cocktail waitress, and coat checker. It was in 1994 when she landed her breakthrough role in Speed and a year later she got a Golden Globe nomination for While You Were Sleeping. Today, Bullock is one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.

Tony Danza

Tony Danza is known for starring in Who’s the Boss? But for Danza, it wasn’t clear that he would be one of the biggest stars of the 80s. In fact, there was no indication that he would be an Emmy-winning actor at all. Tony Danza is a self-proclaimed “terrible student.” He earned a four-year wrestling scholarship to the University of Dubuque, where he majored in history. After graduation, Danza started boxing in New York, where he was scouted by a talent agent.

Tony Danza leaving Spago restaurant circa 1991. / Tony Danza with boxing gloves on.
Photo by Bart Sherkow, Shutterstock.com / Source: Reddit

In 1998, he won a People’s Choice Award for his role in The Tony Danza Show. The actor has four kids. Marc and Gina are with his first wife, Rhonda Yeoman. He had two more daughters, Katherine, and Emily with his second wife, Tracy Robinson. Unfortunately, they divorced back in 2013.

Madonna

Long before she became the Material Girl and eventual Queen of Pop, Madonna grew up in an Italian American blue-collar home with a family dependent on the Detroit auto industry. Her mother died of breast cancer and her father remarried, which is when she began to rebel. In middle school, she got high grades but was known for her unpredictable behavior.

Madonna attending the launch of her perfume in Macy’s in 2012. / Madonna as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by JStone, Shutterstock.com / Tumblr

She would perform cartwheels and handstands in the school’s hallways between classes, for example. At Rochester Adams High School, Madonna Louise Ciccone was a member of the cheerleading squad. She then got a dance scholarship for the University of Michigan, only to drop out and move to New York City in 1978. In NYC, she turned into a pop music icon. It took 6 years for her to release “Borderline” and “Lucky Star.”

Channing Tatum

This attractive star is known for movies such as Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street. As a kid, Channing grew up playing basketball, soccer, and running track and field. While in high school, he was focused on earning an athletic scholarship. His hard work paid off when he earned a football scholarship to Glenville State College.

Channing Tatum at the Magic Mike Live press night. / Channing Tatum in his football uniform at Glenville State College.
Photo by David Fisher, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Eventually, he dropped out of college. In addition to football, Tatum was a martial arts expert. He studied both Kung Fu and Gor-Chor King Fu. Before acting, he worked as a model. Before that, he was actually working as a male stripper. Remember the 2005 movie Coach Carter? That was Tatum’s first movie role. He was also a basketball player. Of course, you probably missed him since he was unrecognizable at the time.

Cameron Diaz: Fly Girl

Cameron Diaz was born into a Cuban family in Southern California. She got her first taste of the performance bug when she was a cheerleader at Long Beach Poly High. In a Yahoo! Music article, a certain famous classmate recalled Diaz running, “with all my little cheerleading homegirls.” He described her as being “fly.” That classmate was Snoop Dogg. Yup! And he wasn’t the only one to take notice of the tall drink of water.

Cameron Diaz at the Annie film premiere. / Cameron Diaz as a cheerleader.
Source: Broadimage, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

At 16, Diaz began a career in modeling, working for Calvin Klein and Levi’s. In July of 1990, she graced the cover of Seventeen and starred in a commercial for Coca-Cola in Sydney, Australia the following year. Diaz was only 21 when she starred alongside Jim Carrey in The Mask in 1994.

Ed O’Neill

If you don’t know him from Married with Children, then you probably recognize him from Modern Family. In the early 60s, O’Neill played on the Youngstown State football team as a defensive lineman. After college, he tried out for the Pittsburgh Steelers. O’Neill went to training camp the same year that Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood joined the team.

Ed O’Neill at the Annual Peabody Awards in 2010. / Ed O’Neill in his football uniform back in college.
Photo by Amanda Schwab, Starpix, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

When he was switched to outside linebacker, the position was a bit too intimidating. Unfortunately, his football career came to an end when he was cut two weeks later. Before moving to acting, O’Neill worked as a social studies teacher. He’s married to Catherine Rusoff, and the couple has two children together, Claire and Sofia. The family is living in Los Angeles.

Katie Couric: Arlington’s It Girl

Katie Couric was a product of the Arlington, Virginia public school district. She had her first taste of stardom when she was a cheerleader for Yorktown High School. At the same time, she interned at WAVA, the all-news radio station in Washington, D.C. She did what her father did and went to the University of Virginia, becoming a Delta Delta sorority sister.

Katie Couric at Stand Up to Cancer Live in 2018. / Katie Couric when she was a cheerleader.
Photo by Chelsea Lauren, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

In 1979, she landed her first job at ABC News in Washington before joining CNN as an editor. By the late 1980s, she was winning Associated Press awards and Emmys working for NBC’s Miami affiliate. She spent 15 years at NBC on Today and NBC Nightly News. In 2014, Couric took over as global anchor of Yahoo! News.

Josh Duhamel

Before becoming an actor, Josh Duhamel worked as a fashion model. no surprise there! What you may not know about the Transformers star is that before modeling, he was a football player. Aside from being a big sports fan, he played football when he was at Minot State University. He didn’t get into dental school, so he dropped out. Thankfully, he turned to modeling, which eventually brought him to our screens!

Josh Duhamel at the Annual GLAAD Media Awards in 2019. / Josh Duhamel in his number 11 jersey holding a football.
Photo by Xavier Collin, Picturegroup, Shutterstock.com /

Eventually, Duhamel earned his diploma in 2005. In 1997, the actor won the title of Male Model of the Year by an International Modeling and Talent Association. Before hitting the big screen, Duhamel’s acting career started when he appeared in several music videos. Most notably, Christina Aguilera’s Genie in a Bottle.

His wife is next on this list!

Fergie: California’s It Girl

To make things perfect, the former jock is now married to a former cheerleader! In her younger years, Fergie was the “It girl.” Her real name is Stacie Ann Ferguson and she’s from Hacienda Heights, California. I bet you didn’t know that she was a Girl Scout and a spelling bee champion! Later, she went to Glen A. Wilson High School where she became a cheerleader and a straight-A student.

Fergie at the Fox Summer All-Star Party in 2018. / Fergie as a cheerleader in high school.
Source: Broadimage, Shutterstock.com Pinterest

After high school, Fergie started to dance and do voiceover work. She was the voice of Sally in Peanuts cartoons and shows. In the early 90s, Fergie fronted the all-female group Wild Orchid, which started hot but fizzled down by the end of the decade. In 2003, The Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am invited Fergie to try singing a part for their song called “Shut Up.” She got the gig and the rest is history!

Meryl Streep

This is one of the more surprising additions to the list, wouldn’t you say? America’s favorite actress was once performing on the field in the 1960s as a cheerleader for Bernards High School in New Jersey. Do you think she knew that she would eventually win three Academy Awards? Streep was at one time a “gawky kid with glasses and frizzy hair.”

Meryl Streep at the Landromat premiere. / Meryl Streep carrying a cone around as a cheerleader in 1966.
Photo by Maria Laura Antonelli, AGF, Shutterstock.com / Source: Bernards High School yearbook 1966.

She began acting at the same time that she was cheerleading in high school. But she didn’t take it so seriously until she starred in the play Miss Julie at Vassar College, which earned campus-wide acclaim. She got her B.A. in drama from Vassar, studied as an exchange student at Dartmouth, got a master’s degree from Yale’s School of Drama, and starred in more memorable roles than any actress in American film history.

Will Ferrell

In the 90s, Will Ferrell became an official cast member on Saturday night live. Since then, Will has been known for his hilarious acting skills. He is truly like no other. Although he always enjoyed comedy, he grew up with other interests as well. The actor played several different sports as a teenager, like basketball, baseball, and football. While on his high school football team, Ferrell set a record for the most field goals.

Will Ferrell at The House film premiere. / Will Ferrell in his sophomore year as a football player.
Photo by Matt Baron, Shutterstock.com / Source: Reddit

After high school, he chose to focus on his other passions. Ferrell found his interest in performing when he was making the morning announcements in high school. He is still athletic and is an avid runner, along with his wife. Fun fact: Will Ferell was the highest-paid SNL cast member ever!

Eva Longoria

For Eva Longoria, cheerleading was a fun activity that she enjoyed, but it wasn’t the reason she got into Hollywood. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, the young Eva was a cheerleader for Roy Miller High School. She continued her high spirits at Texas A&M-Kingsville, where she was a cheerleader while earning a degree in kinesiology.

Eva Longoria at the Women in Entertainment Gala. / Eva Longoria as a cheerleader in high school.
Source: Shutterstock / Pinterest

In 1998, she won the Miss Corpus Christi pageant, and got discovered during a talent contest. When auditioning for roles, Eva worked as a headhunter for four years. At a political reception in L.A., she met executive producer Gary Ghiaey, who put Eva on his TV show called L.A. In A Day. She got guest appearances in Beverley Hills 90210 and General Hospital before starting a major role in The Young and the Restless.

Terry Bradshaw

For most people, Terry Bradshaw is known for his impressive career as a broadcast sports analyst. You probably know that he played quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but did you know he is also a four-time Super Bowl winner? While growing up, Bradshaw’s biggest dream was to become a professional football player.

Terry Bradshaw on the Access Hollywood Live TV program in 2014. / Terry Bradshaw as number 12 quarterback for Pittsburgh Steelers.
Source: Mediapunch, Shutterstock.com / Twitter

He ended up playing the quarterback position at Louisiana Tech University for four seasons and then became known as the best college player in the country. His hard work paid off in 1970 when the Steelers chose him as their number one draft pick. Before he retired from the sport in 1983, he had two Super Bowl MVP titles and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the year.

Amy Poehler

Before she started to make America laugh, Amy Poehler would rile up crowds at football games. She’s from the Boston suburb of Newton, but she spent most of her life in Burlington, where she was a cheerleader at Burlington High School from 1986 to 1989. After graduating with a degree in communications and media from Boston College, she moved to Chicago.

Amy Poehler at the Blades of Glory film premiere. / Amy Poehler as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Matt Baron, BEI, Shutterstock.com / Tumblr

In Chicago, she continued honing her comedy improv skills with the comedy group Second City. Her comedy chops got her a gig writing sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. But then her major role on Saturday Night Live is what put her on the comedy map. She is now hugely famous for her show 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation.

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox grew in Wyoming, a place where anything seems like a good excuse to get out there. But Fox didn’t have plans to play football, let alone professional football. Columbia football scout noticed the 6’2” actor, and in 1985, he was drafted to play wideout while he was still attending Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts.

Matthew Fox at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 2009. / Matthew Fox in his football uniform in high school.
Source: Picture Perfect, Shutterstock.com / Tumblr

The team had actually struggled when Fox joined. He played against Princeton and Dean Cain (the actor). Unfortunately, the team won only two games while Fox was on it. Matthew Fox eventually went to New York Conservatory for dramatic arts for two years in New York City. In 1992 he married his wife, Margherita Ronchi. The couple has two children together, a daughter named Kyle, and a son named Byron.

Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray spelled out energetic cheers for her New York high school long before she ever introduced EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to the American foodie vocabulary. Ray attended Lake George High School (Go Warriors). After college, she relocated to Manhattan, where she worked at the candy counter before being the manager of the fresh foods department at Macy’s.

Rachael Ray at the Cooking Channels 1st Birthday in New York. / Rachael Ray as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Marion Curtis, Starpix, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

Ray eventually returned to upstate New York, where she was a buyer at Cowan & Lobel, Albany’s gourmet market. She was teaching a course to reluctant chefs called 30 Minute Meals. It didn’t take long for her to get a weekly segment on CBS’s affiliate WRGB, a spot on the Today show, and then her first Food Network contract in 2001. Not too bad, Miss Ray.

Matthew Perry

Way before starring on Friends as our dear Chandler Bing, Matthew Perry shined on the Tennis Court. As a teenager, he was a nationally ranked player in Canada. During his peek, Perry trained up to ten hours a day. When he moved to California at the age of 15, the competition got way tougher. Perry claimed that abandoning the sport was expected.

Matthew Perry at the premiere of The Circle. / Matthew Perry playing tennis is 2002.
Photo by Dave Allocca, Starpix, Shutterstock.com / Chris Weeks, BEI, Shutterstock.com

He explained: “I was pretty great in Canada. Not as much in Los Angeles. It was insane. I realized I wouldn’t be playing tennis for a living, so I went for acting.” When Perry was just a little boy, his grandfather accidentally closed a car door on his hand. As a result, he is missing the top part of his middle finger, but people don’t notice it.

Denise Richards

Former tomboy Denise Richards grew up in Illinois. She was an athletic child and the only girl on her local baseball team. In 1986, the family moved to Oceanside, California where she became a cheerleader for El Camino High School. She spent most of the 90s taking roles in low-budget productions like Saved by the Bell and Married with Children.

Denise Richards at the American Violence film premiere in 2017. / Denise Richards in her cheerleading uniform in high school.
Source: Mediapunch, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

She later got some guest appearances on Beverly Hills 90201, Seinfeld, Lois and Clark, and Melrose Place. But it was her breakout role in 1997’s Starship Troopers that made people turn heads. She followed that with a memorable role as the manipulative high school villainess in Wild Things. In the early 00s, Richards met her now ex-husband Charlie Sheen on the set of the comedy movie, Loaded Weapon 1.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer had said that when she was a teenager, she often felt insecure and even overshadowed by her older sister. Diane was a cheerleader at Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky, which is when she started to break out of her shell. Her cheerleading background and her role as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper might be what helped her win the title of America’s Junior Miss.

Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America. / Diane Sawyer as a cheerleader.
Source: Mediapunch, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

After three years touring with Coca-Cola at the World’s Fair, Sawyer earned her degree in English from Wellesley College. She then studied law and finally landed in journalism. She then had a brief stint as a weather woman in Louisville, moved to Washington D.C., and was the assistant to Jerry Warren, Richard Nixon’s White House press secretary. She’s now with ABC and seems to be there for the long haul.

Alicia Silverstone

If there’s anyone that was clearly a cheerleader in her high school years, it’s Alicia Silverstone. She fits the profile perfectly. But still, she probably never guessed that some cheerleading experience would lead to a career in Hollywood. Silverstone was born in San Francisco to British parents. Photos that were taken by her father helped her earn a modeling contract at the young age of six and cast in commercials.

Alicia Silverstone at the Annual Women of the Year Awards in 2018. / Alicia Silverstone as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Matt Baron, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

At San Mateo High School, she performed by cheering on her fellow Bearcats. Only after high school, she landed her first acting gigs. First in The Wonder Years and then in The Crush. That performance caught the eye of director Marty Callner, who then cast her in the music videos for Aerosmith’s “Cryin’,” “Amazing,” and “Crazy.” She became Cher Horowitz in Clueless just a year later.

Kelly Ripa

Although she loved performing at a young age, it wasn’t until her high school years that Kelly Ripa realized her true calling. She began ballet lessons at the age of three and learned to play the piano while growing up in Southern New Jersey. At Eastern Regional High School, Ripa became a cheerleader. It was her drama teacher, Jim Beckley, who encouraged her to try a career in acting.

Kelly Ripa at the opening night on Broadway for Curtains in 2007. / Kelly Ripa as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Charles Sykes, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Ripa eventually went to, and dropped out of, Camden County College and moved to New York City. She got her first major role in the soap opera All My Children. She spent a long 12 years on the show. In 2001, she famously replaced Kathie Lee Gifford to sit next to Regis Philbin on Live! With Regis and Kelly.

Reese Witherspoon

For some celebs, being a good actress and a good cheerleader are easier when you do both at the same time. During the same time she was topping pyramids for Harding Academy Generals’ games in Nashville, Tennessee, a young Reese Witherspoon was embarking on a budding acting career. She had already been modeling at the time, even competing in and winning the Ten-State Talent Fair at age 11.

Reese Witherspoon at the Women in Entertainment event. / Reese Witherspoon as a cheerleader in high school.
Source: Shutterstock / Twitter

The blonde and pretty model student graduated from Harpeth Hall School after years of cheerleading. She then spent a year studying English Lit at Stanford University before dropping out to focus on acting. After some TV work, she got a role in the movie Freeway with Keifer Sutherland and Brooke Shields. In 1999, her role in Cruel Intentions brought her global stardom.

Miley Cyrus

I think it’s safe to say that performing is in Miley Cyrus’ blood. The daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus was a cheerleader for Tennessee Premier’s soccer team in her hometown Franklin. At the age of eight, she moved to Toronto, Canada. It was there that Billy Ray took her to see the play, Mamma Mia! The young and impressionable Miley was inspired to pursue acting after that.

Miley Cyrus at the Costume Institute Benefit in 2019. / Miley Cyrus as a cheerleader in middle school.
Photo by Gregory Pace, Shutterstock.com / Source: Flickr

She began taking singing and acting lessons and by 2006, she got the title role on Hannah Montana, Disney Channel’s TV show. Her fame only increased from there. In 2008, she signed a deal with Hollywood Records. After Hannah Montana: The Movie came out in 2010, Miley began transitioning to her more adult (and controversial) content.

Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst was born in New Jersey and she was signed to the Ford Modeling Agency at the age of three. She had appeared in over 100 TV commercials in her youth. All the while, Dunst made it a point to be one of the cheerleaders for Laurel Hall School and later at Notre Dame High School. In true “art imitates life” fashion, Dunst played Torrance Shipman in the cheerleading comedy Bring It On in 2000.

Kirsten Dunst at the On Becoming a God in Central Florida TV show premiere. / Kirsten Dunst as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Michael Buckner, Variety, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Her parents divorced in 1993, and the 10-year-old moved to Los Angeles with her mother. The following year, she got to live a dream and act with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire. She then got a role in Little Women, Jumanji, and ER (where she played a child prostitute).

Dakota Fanning

For Dakota Fanning, acting came before cheering. As a child actress, she had roles in plays at the Towne Lake Arts Center in Georgia. One popular Tide commercial she did landed her guest roles on ER, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Practice, Spin City, Ally McBeal, and The Ellen Show. If you’re like me, you remember her most from her 2001 movie I Am Sam with Sean Penn. She was just 7 years old at the time!

Dakota Fanning at the Golden Globes Nominations 2019. / Dakota Fanning as a Vikings cheerleader.
Photo by Michael Buckner, Variety, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Dakota became the youngest-ever actress nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. Hollywood kept offering her roles after that, including Taken, Trapped, Uptown Girls, Man on Fire, The Cat in the Hat, Hide and Seek, Charlotte’s Web, Fragments, and more. Fanning still focused on her education. She got in on the varsity spirit when she was part of the cheerleading squad at Campbell Hall School. She was also homecoming queen.

Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell was landing movies and TV shows when he was just a child star. By the 1960s, Russel became a star in Disney’s live-action comedies. When Kurt turned 20, he decided to follow a different passion of his. Professional baseball. The actor signed with the California Angels. He played as an infielder for two minor leagues and then moved up to Class AA ball in El Paso.

Kurt Russell on This Morning TV show in London, 2018. / Kurt Russell on the field in his baseball uniform.
Photo by Ken McKay, ITV, Shutterstock.com / Source: Pinterest

Unfortunately, a sports injury took out his rotator cuff in his throwing arm. Russel was forced to quit baseball, but to his luck, Hollywood welcomed him back with open arms. In the late 1960s, Kurt Russell signed a deal with The Walt Disney Company! According to Robert Osborne, he was the studio’s top star in the 1970s.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox comes from a strict Pentecostal family in Tennessee. She started training in dance and drama at the age of five and was singing chorus and swimming for her elementary school. When they moved to Florida, Fox went to Morningside Academy in Port St. Lucie, where she was on the cheerleading team. But the bombshell was also bullied in her high school days.

Megan Fox at #Fight4theamazon event in 2019. / Megan Fox as a cheerleader for the Eagles in high school.
Photo by Rob Latour, Shutterstock.com / Source: Twitter

After later moving to L.A., Fox made her acting debut in 2001 with the Olsen twins in the movie Holiday in the Sun. Three years later, she acted with her fellow cheerleader, Lindsay Lohan, in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. In 2009, Fox played a possessed cheerleader in the dark comedy Jennifer’s Body. Another case of art imitating life.

Blake Lively

If you’re looking for an example of a celeb who was able to balance it all well, then you should look at Blake Lively. With an actor/director father and a mother who is a talent scout, she was predestined for a Hollywood career. But, Blake was not really interested in performing at all. At least at first. She came around several years into her acting lessons and seeing her parents in action.

Blake Lively at the Pokemon Detective Pikachu film premiere. / Blake Lively as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Gregory Pace, Shutterstock.com / Twitter

By the time she got to Burbank High School, Blake needed to find time for her schoolwork, cheerleading, and the scenes she was acting in for the movie The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Then in 2007, Lively was cast Gossip Girl as Serena van der Woodsen. Oh, and she’s married to hottie Ryan Reynolds.

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan got her taste of fame quite early. She is the daughter of a former Wall Street trader and a singer/dancer. Lohan grew up in Long Island and was thrust into the spotlight by eager showbiz parents. She started her career as a child model when she was three years old. She modeled for brands like Calvin Klein, Abercrombie, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Jell-O (one was with Bill Cosby).

Lindsay Lohan sitting at Saint Laurent show Fall Winter 2019. / Lindsay Lohan as a cheerleader in high school.
Photo by Swan Gallet, WWD, Shutterstock.com / Source: Tumblr

When she was 10, she joined the cast of Another World, a popular soap opera of the time. Two of her first film successes came in remakes: The Parent Trap in 1998 and Freaky Friday in 2003. It was around then that Lohan started cheerleading. First, she cheered for Cold Spring Harbor High School and then for Sanford H. Calhoun High School. But she opted for homeschooling instead.

Olivia Munn

Despite being raised mostly in Japan since her stepfather was stationed in the Air Force, Olivia Munn has roots in the football hotbed Oklahoma. It’s no surprise that cheerleading was a major part of her teen years. When her mother and stepfather got divorced, Munn went back to Oklahoma City, where she cheered for Putnam City North High School.

Olivia Munn at Love Leo Rescue event in 2019. / Olivia Munn as a cheerleader in high school.
Source: Variety, Shutterstock.com / Pinterest

After getting a degree in journalism at the University of Oklahoma, she interned at NBC’s Tulsa affiliate station before landing a job in 2004 as Fox Sports’ sideline reporter for both college football and women’s basketball. One year later, Munn moved to Los Angeles and got small acting roles. In 2010, Robert Downey Jr. praised her for her improvisational skills in Iron Man 2. Jon Stewart later hired her as a correspondent on The Daily Show.

Jason Lee

Jason Lee is known for his role as Earl Hickey in My Name is Earl. Before becoming an actor, he was a professional skateboarder. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Lee was a well-known skateboarder and is even remembered for his 360 flips. He is the co-founder of Stereo Skateboards, keeping him involved in the skateboarding industry.

Jason Lee at the Chipmunks Hand and Footprint ceremony. / Jason Lee on a skateboard.
Photo by Jim Smeal, BEI, Shutterstock.com /

Lee’s acting debut was in the video for Sonic Youth’s 100%. In 1995, he finally retired from skateboarding to be a full-time actor. This talented star has another passion and third career as a photographer. You can see his work in Oklahoma’s Philbrook Museum of Art. Lee appeared in a promotional video for the skateboarding company, “Blind Skateboards.” He also got his skateboarding featured in 2004, in Way Out East! a film produced by Stereo Skateboards.

Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is a hilarious standup comedian. In 2012, he showed off his talent in his successful comedy special Mr. Universe, and his memoir Dad is Fat was released one year later. Before he was a comedy legend, Gaffigan was a college athlete. During his first year of college, he joined the football team.

Jim Gaffigan at the CMA Awards in 2019. / Jim Gaffigan in his football uniform in college.
Photo by Stephen Lovekin, Shutterstock.com / Source: Twitter

In 2007, Gaffigan joked about his short football career at Purdue, saying: “I have so many fond memories from Purdue. Most seem to involve walking. I walked onto the football team and walked away after I didn’t like getting my head bashed in.” Gaffigan is married and the couple has five children together. Although they are seven people, the family infamously lived in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City. They since moved to a bigger home.

Chris Pratt

Christopher Michael Pratt rose to fame when he played Andy Dwyer in the sitcom Parks and Recreation. But if he didn’t get into acting, he might have been a professional athlete. Before staring in Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt was a high school kid who was active in sports, including wrestling, track, and football.

Chris Pratt at the Jurassic World – The Ride grand opening in LA. / Chris Pratt in high school.
Photo by Chelsea Lauren, Variety, Shutterstock.com / Source: Twitter

During his senior year in 1997, he placed 5th in the state wrestling competition. After high school, he chose to focus on his career instead. After not getting far in college, Pratt dropped out. He worked odd jobs before figuring out what he really wanted to do. He quickly found a job as a male stripper! He had fun and worked for some private parties, too. I guess he didn’t know he would be a huge Hollywood star one day and just needed to make some money.