Celebrity Smarties Whose Brains Are As Big As Their Bucks
We usually applaud celebrities for their beauty, their skill on screen or on the stage, or their penchant for getting into mischief. But this time around we’re actually singling out some very special celebrities for their accomplishments on another front: Intellect. These 14 famous folks have not only soared to the tops’ of their respective crafts but have never felt the need to dumb themselves down.
We always knew there was something extra special about the beautiful Rashida Jones. Not only has she dazzled us with her wit and those famous genes (she’s the product of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton) that have made her one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, she is also one super smart cookie. The actress was named “Most Likely to Succeed” at her high school before heading off to Harvard. She would ultimately major in religion and philosophy, become active in a number of student groups, including the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club, and graduate in 1997. Impressed? You should be.
We couldn’t help but include the oh so handsome Hill Harper on our brilliant beauties countdown. Though he’s known best for his work on CSI: NY, Harper is certainly notable on another front. Harper graduated magnacumlaude from Brown, only to follow up that accomplishment with a J.D. and M.P.A from Harvard University. And if that wasn’t enough, he also became friends with President Barack Obama while the two attended Harvard law. Though Harper hasn’t really used his degrees in Hollywood, there is no denying that this is a man of many, many talents.
So she’s probably not the first celebrity you think of when it comes to big brains, but Miss Tyra Banks has certainly done her thing on the academic front. Though she was offered admission to both UCLA and USC, she turned them down for a chance to make it big in the modeling world. But after her days on the catwalk were finished, Banks decided to head back to the classroom and attended Harvard Business school. While she didn’t officially get a Crimson degree, there is no denying that Banks’ experiences and schooling have made her one of fashion’s savviest businesswomen, and now she has the certificate to prove it.
This one shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering he played uber cutie, uber genius Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting. Boston boy Matt Damon attended Harvard University, but did not graduate, dropping out to pursue a career in acting following his role in Geronimo: An American Legend. And while that film fell flat, Damon’s career would skyrocket after turns in Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Brains and hotness … an incredible combination.
The second supermodel to make our list, the timelessly beautiful Cindy Crawford is also one smart woman. In addition to being named valedictorian of her 1984 DeKalb High School senior class, Crawford was offered an engineering scholarship to Northwestern. Though she ultimately dropped out of school to pursue her modeling career, we have to give her some serious credit for not only relying on her good looks to get her through life, but also realizing that brains make beauty even more impressive.
With an IQ of 140, the hip-shaking, singer-songwriter and Voice judge Shakira is on genius-levels, ya’ll. Who would have thunk it? Anyone who has ever heard the wildly eloquent Colombiana should have definitely picked up not only on her high intellect, but also her commitment to social justice, equality and awareness. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a successful singer who is as committed to bettering her community as she is making music.
Of course Alicia Keys is good at everything. Not only has she been one of the most prolific and impressive singer-songwriter’s of our generation, but she is also one smart cookie. At the tender age of 16, Keys graduated from high school (as valedictorian, of course), being awarded a full scholarship to Columbia in the process. Though she ultimately chose a career in music, rather than hitting the ivy league books, Keys’ intelligence has always shone through in her songs and in the way she has carried herself.
Though she may be one of the hottest action stars around, there’s a lot more to the lovely Kate Beckinsale than meets the eye. As a teenager, Beckinsale won the prestigious W.H. Smith Young Writer’s award (twice) before heading off to Oxford to study Russian and French literature. Yes, you read that correctly. English wasn’t enough for this overachiever. We always knew there was something special about Kate, now we know it has something to do with that big brain of hers.
Some celebrities ooze sex appeal. Others ooze this relatable girl-next-door image. And others ooze pure and unadulterated brains. Somehow Natalie Portman oozes a little bit of everything. A Harvard graduate, Portman co-authored the study “Frontal Love Activation during Object Permanence: Data from Near-Infrared Spectroscopy.” Yeah, we’d say this chick is pretty smart.
He may be known for his turn in The Hangover as Leslie Chow, but Ken Jeong has excelled in more than just comedy. Having graduated high school early at age 16, Jeong took his talents to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study medicine. While becoming a doctor, Jeong continued to hone his comedic talents until he got his big break in Judd Apatow’s hit Knocked Up. And the rest is history.
She may be well-known for a rather risqué scene in Basic Instinct, but Sharon Stone is just as well-known for her smarts. Though she ultimately admitted that she was not a member of Mensa, as she had once claimed, there is little doubt that Stone is a smarty. As Mense’s national marketing director for America Jim Blackmore once said: “”It’s delightful to finally see Ms. Stone admit that she’s not and never has been a member of our society … My gut feeling is that she would definitely qualify. But that’s just based on what we’ve been told by other individuals.”
She’s gorgeous. She’s hilarious. And she’s smart to boot! Aisha Tyler graduated from Dartmouth University with a degree in Government (and a minor in Environmental Policy). And as if that wasn’t enough: She’s also fluent in French, Russian and Swahili. You want to talk about a triple threat, I think we’ve found one right here.
Will Smith may not have the academic chops that some of our others celebrity smarties have (though a scholarship offer to MIT is nothing to scoff at), we had to include Will Smith for one undeniable fact: He is one of the most successful, most versatile, most well-liked celebrities of our generation. As he has gotten older he has been able to reinvent his image and find new avenues of success in Hollywood to an extent that few other actors have been able to do. Kudos, Will.
Kal Penn isn’t just smart. He’s scary, ridiculous, and wonderfully brilliant. With roles in House and the Harold and Kumar series of films, Penn had a nice upward trajectory going. But then he decided to try his hand at something slightly different: Joining Barack Obama’s administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.