These days, stars like Mahershala Ali and Brie Larson shine bright as Oscar-winning actors, but they did have lives before they were famous. While some were just like the rest of us, toiling away at surprisingly normal jobs beyond our wildest dreams (yes, Rachel McAdams really did work at McDonald’s for three years!), others had already parlayed their skill sets into careers that were not at all related to the industries they ended up in. See who’s been holding out on their secret former professional lives below.
1. Brie Larson: The actress may be starring in plenty of pictures now (she’s got five films currently in the hopper), but as she just revealed on Instagram, it was DJ-ing that got her by in a former life. “I used to DJ,” she wrote. “It was the ‘real’ job that floated me while I auditioned for the movies I never got. Even during the filming of Short 12 I spun records at magazine parties and hotel bars on weekends because I couldn’t survive off of SAG minimum…I was hustling, but I got people dancing and hung out with my other DJ friends. I am grateful for where I am now, but want to give toast to the life I lived before.” As for her song picks, DJ Brie revealed that she “loved rare covers of Beatles songs, Ye-Ye girls, and soul. Drunk dudes would request trap and I’d tell them, ‘Sorry, I only play vinyl.” She also gave a word of encouragement to those aiming for more: “To all the dreamers with day jobs, I see you,” she said. “Don’t give up. There is beauty in your journey.”
2. Mahershala Ali: Prior to becoming a new daddy and the first Muslim Oscar-winner ever (yes, really!), Ali was making waves with an entirely different claim to fame: a rising rap star. Believe it or not, Ali was once known as “Prince Al,” spitting rhymes with the best of them. Though you likely won’t hear him referencing his former moniker on the red carpet, he has dropped some hints, as Nylon recently noted, telling XXL that “Hip hop has had a strong, perhaps the strongest influence on my life.” Check out his flow here. (Photo via Kevork Djansezian/Getty)
3. Nicole Kidman: Nicole Kidman may have an awkward clap while donning excess jewelry, but trust us when we say that girl knows how to use her hands: She used to be a massage therapist. Kidman reportedly took on the role to help with finances at just 17 when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Photo via Andreas Rentz/Getty)
4. Connie Britton: Britton needn’t have worried about looking for her job after her reign as Rayna James came to an end on Nashville — even if her new role for Netflix hadn’t come about, she could likely have found work as an aerobics instructor. She told E! News back in 2013 that in addition to stints as a retail worker for The Gap and The Limited, aerobics was mostly how she got by. “That’s what I did,” she told the outlet. “I wore leg warmers, I wore a bandana… I wore very high leotards… I was hot.” (Photo via Nicholas Hunt/Getty)
5. Harrison Ford: Before Star Wars made Harrison Ford a household name, he was a full-time carpenter with his eye on a remodel he couldn’t quite afford. “I had a house at the time I wanted to remodel, a bit of the wreck of a house,” he told Business Insider. “I’d invest money in tools but wouldn’t have money for materials, so I realized [acting] was another way of putting food on the table.” We’ll say! (Photo via Frederick M. Brown/Getty)
6. Evangeline Lilly: The Lost actress was no slouch prior to landing her role on the hit ABC series: Lilly was busy flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant for Royal Airlines (which has since folded). Er, perhaps the not so friendly skies: Lilly revealed her former career while also dishing the dirt on a passenger that made her so mad, she retaliated in a MOST uncouth manner by unleashing some held-in gas in his direction — ewwww! (Photo via Jason Merritt/Getty)
7. Sheryl Crow: Nowadays, you’re unlikely to find a soul that CAN’T sing the words to at least one of Sheryl Crow’s hit singles (our money’s on “If It Makes You Happy,”), but back in the day, some knew her simply as Miss Crow since she was actually a primary school teacher. The singer worked as a music teacher at Kellison elementary after graduating from the University of Missouri so she could sing with her band on the weekends. (A-ha! It’s all starting to make sense.) (Photo via Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty)
8. Gerard Butler: Though lawyering didn’t exactly work out for Gerard Butler, the 300 star did graduate from the University of Glasgow School of Law and go on to have exactly one gig in the industry at a law firm in Edinburgh. He didn’t last long, however, getting fired one week before qualifying as a lawyer. As it turns out, Butler would go on to have the last laugh, eh? (Photo via Pascal le Segretain/Getty)
Which celeb career change were you most surprised by? Share @BritandCo.
(Photo via Jamie McCarthy/Getty)