Real Talk: 15 Celebrities Whose Careers Got A Reality Show Boost

December 27, 2012  |  
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It used to be that when your career was nearing its end, there wasn’t a whole lot that could help resuscitate it. Then came reality television. Now many a has-been celebrity have found new life (and bigger paychecks) by jumping on the reality bandwagon. Whether they’ve taken a spin around the “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom or honed their business chops on “Celebrity Apprentice,” these celebrities have found fame in unexpected places. Madame Noire lists its 15 celebs that have benefited most from a little reality action.

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Christina Aguilera

X-Tina certainly got a much-needed career boost when she became a celebrity judge on NBC’s hit talent show “The Voice.” Though Christina Aguilera pretty much owned the late 90s and early 00s as the talented-version of Britney Spears, her music career has definitely slowed and her movie career (“Burlesque”) never really took off the way she had hoped. But then reality TV came a knockin’. We’re not going to say that it is Aguilera’s dazzling personality on the judge’s panel that has helped make her a household name again, but we’re sure her little back and forth feud with a judge most people seem to like (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine) surely has. Hey, any publicity is good publicity, right?

Jim Jones

Leave it to Jim Jones to fail pretty miserably at the rap game, but find success on the mean streets of reality television. Sure he had a few hits like “We Fly High,” but on a whole his music career has been lackluster, at best. But thankfully, because we know ya’ll can’t live without him, Jones found salvation in the series “Love and Hip Hop.” Jones along with his girl Chrissy Lampkin gained enough notoriety on the show that the good folks at VH1 decided to give them their own spinoff cleverly titled “Chrissy and Mr. Jones.” We’re not saying either of these shows will be in Golden Globe contention, but if Jones was looking for a high-profile (and some more paper), we do believe he achieved that.


Toni Braxton

The wildly talented, absolutely beautiful Toni Braxton has had a rough road to stardom. While she owned the 90s, Braxton fell into financial difficulties, declared bankruptcy, and struggled with health problems. But all was not lost for the R&B songstress. She saw her career gain renewed prominence with several Billboard hits, as well as stints on “Dancing with the Stars” and the WeTV reality show “Braxton Family Values.” So not exactly the career path we’re sure she was hoping for, but if this could be a means to getting back on the charts and breathing some new life into her music career, embrace it girl!

Nikki Nelson /

Tamar Braxton

Tamar Braxton, while she might always be regarded as Toni’s little sister, has seen newfound fame as a result of “Braxton Family Values.” Sure, her and her sisters came to prominence as part of the R&B group The Braxtons, but until her turn on reality television, Tamar never really struck out and achieved fame on her own. That was until she took off on the TV front, even scoring her own spinoff “Tamar & Vince.” Now if only 2013 will see her take the music world by storm…


K. Michelle

Another of “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’s” stars, K. Michelle managed to parlay her time on reality television into a nice little recording contract. Let’s see if that actually materializes into something more than a one-hit wonder.

Nikki Nelson /

Britney Spears

Much like rival Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears also went the talent show route to get back into play. In 2012, she teamed up with Demi Lovato, Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid in the “X-Factor,” a move that has definitely given her career a little help. Though Brit Brit has certainly been looking rough these past few years, she has looked like her old self again, showing off an impressive figure, rocking some stylish outfits and just being the bubbly Brit we know and love. Now if we can only get some great music to go along with this upgraded look.


Arsenio Hall

Our first “Celebrity Apprentice” alum to make the list, Arsenio Hall saw his stock rise as he brought some much-needed humor and personality to Donald Trump’s boardroom in season 12. And simply appearing on the show wasn’t enough for this primetime overachiever. No, Hall actually went on to win the whole she-bang, while starting a wildly entertaining feud with Aubrey O’Day. Win and win. Now can Hall parlay his reality television success into something slightly more substantial? Guess we’ll just have to watch his new late night show and see.

Nikki Nelson /

Brandy Norwood

Brandy got a nice little jolt to her career when she signed up for the 11th season of “Dancing with the Stars”. Partnered up with temperamental Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Brandy instantly became a fan favorite (and mirror-ball trophy frontrunner) not only for her likeable demeanor but also the killer moves she brought to the ballroom. So it came as quite the surprise when Ms. Norwood was given the boot in the series’ ninth week. But despite being ousted a little early, Brandy still got what she came for: Some career-improving self-promotion of the primetime variety. Mission accomplished.

Nicole Scherzinger

Given how many reality TV shows this chick has been on, it might actually be difficult to remember what she was famous for in the first place. While singer Nicole Scherzinger definitely has talent and is stunning on top of that, her career never really had much of a chance to be taken seriously. I guess that’s the drawback with being the frontwoman to a group called the Pussycat Dolls or also the downside to your big break in show business coming from the defunct talent show “Popstars.” But Scherzinger definitely scored a few points by not only appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” (and winning that season), but also by becoming a judge on “The Sing-Off” and “X-Factor.” Expanding her brand and showing off some talent. Wise move, young lady.

Kim Kardashian

We battled back and forth about whether or not to include this princess of reality television in our countdown, but ultimately came to the conclusion that this list wouldn’t be complete without Ms. Kim Kardashian. If you want to be particular, she actually got her reality start in her now infamous sex tape with Ray J. From that point on it was less revealing, but equally as entertaining stints in reality television with “Keepin’ Up with the Kardashian” and “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.” Since we’re still somewhat mystified by why Kardashian is famous in the first place, we have to chalk up a good chunk of that notoriety to reality television.

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Keyshia Cole

Now Keyshia Cole should have been a much bigger music star. She’s wonderfully talented, with a gritty voice and attitude to match. But when it comes to what’s serving up that paper and making her well-known these days, it’s her time as a reality television star on “Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is” and the follow-up series “Keyshia & Daniel: Family First.” “The Way It Is” became a tremendous success for BET and obviously sought to help out Cole’s career by making the Oakland-native way more visible to the exact fans she was trying to reach in her music. But has it really paid off in terms of selling albums? Ehh, that’s debatable.

Ivan Nikolov/

Rev Run

Influential rapper and one part of Run DMC trio, Rev Run jumped on the reality television bandwagon in 2005 when MTV came a calling with “Run’s House.” Not that we really think that a legend of Joseph Simmon’s stature needs to feed the beast by appearing on a reality show, we’d be remiss to not include him among our celebs who have benefited from it. And not only did Rev Run get introduced to a whole new fanbase, but his entire family (Diggy, Angela and Vanessa, we’re looking at you) became household names. That’s what we call a family affair.

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We were all about some T.I. a minute ago, but then things sort of went downhill on the personal tip. Though he’s spent his fair share of time in lockdown, he still managed to give his music career a little boost with some reality television action. T.I. and his wife, Tiny, starred in the VH1 series “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle.” And while it may not have been the most highly-praised series in TV history, it still got the job done by exposing even more people to the rapper.

Ivan Nikolov/

Lil’ Jon

Yeeahhh! Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves. But yes, Lil’ Jon was yet another rapper (using the term rapper loosely, of course) to turn his focus to reality television. Only this time instead of doing some ridiculous show with a baby mama or his relatives, he took his talents to the boardroom in “Celebrity Apprentice”. While he didn’t walk away the big winner, we have to give him serious props for rocking some killer suits and getting his grown man, professional vibe on.

Tyra Banks

And last, but certainly not least in our countdown is one of the reigning queens of reality television: Miss Tyra Banks. While this chick certainly made a name for herself on the runway, she did the damn thing on TV as well when she brought the world “America’s Next Top Model.” Getting ready to embark on its 21st season, ANTM has redefined reality television and definitely breathed new life into Banks’ career after she ditched modeling in those Victoria’s Secret skivvies. While we’re still not entirely sure how we feel about ANTM, no one could get on Banks for not being a success.

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