From Screening Rooms To Classrooms: Celebrities Who Left Hollywood To Get An Education

April 8, 2014  |  

We told you about the folks who took breaks or completely ditched the entertainment industry to focus on their relationships with God, but what about the ones who did the same for the opportunity to get a college degree to fall back on? Here are 10 who left Hollywood to get an education at Yale, Princeton, Harvard and more.

"zelda harris"

Zelda Harris

After gaining fame for her role as Troy in Crooklyn and stealing everybody’s heart, by her teenage years, Zelda Harris went MIA. She did a few roles here and there, including He Got Game and NYPD Blue, but after that, she stopped acting completely. Harris went on to focus on her education, reportedly going to Princeton and graduating in 2007. 

EW.com

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

When I was young, quite a few of my classmates were out here trying to make Jonathan Taylor Thomas of Home Improvement fame their boo-thang. After years of being a heartthrob, he left the show in 1998 to dedicate his time to school, and boy did he do just that. Upon graduating from high school with honors in 2000, he went to Harvard to study philosophy and history. He also studied abroad during his time at Harvard and in 2010, he graduated from Columbia University.

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Tatyana Ali

After years of being known as cute Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Ali wanted to be known more for her brains.  After doing a couple movie roles, she went to Harvard and received a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and government in 2002. Soon after, she returned to work, doing small movie roles here and there before doing Love That Girl in 2011.

Tia Mowry

Mowry Twins

After the golden years of Sister, Sister ended in 1999, Tia and Tamera continued to do everything together, including getting psychology degrees together at Pepperdine University. Tia also studied abroad in Europe, focusing on humanities and Italian. The two graduated in 2003. They both made big returns to TV years later with their reality show, and for Tia, with her lead role on The Game. 

celebrities who left Hollywood to get an education

Keshia Knight Pulliam

After The Cosby Show ended, Pulliam and her family tried to stay out of the public eye. They moved to Virginia, and eventually she attended Spelman College, becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta and graduating in 2001 with a degree in Sociology.

"Tempestt Bledsoe pf"

Tempestt Bledsoe

Speaking of The Cosby Show, Pulliam’s co-star, Tempestt Bledsoe, like many other members of the show, took a break from acting. She obtained a degree in finance from NYU’s prestigious Stern School of Business. She used this to help her boo, actor Daryl Bell, known for playing Ron Johnson on A Different World, get his finances together after losing a $14 million inheritance from his Wall Street working late father.

Brian To/WENN.com

Mayim Bialik

The former Blossom star made floral hats and having friends with numerical names cool. But what we didn’t know was that she was something of a genius. Bialik was accepted to Harvard and Yale, but after Blossom ended, she decided to study at UCLA, earning a degree in Neuroscience, Hebrew Studies and Jewish Studies. She also got a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2007. Ironically, on The Big Bang Theory, she plays Amy, a neuroscientist, so she was able to mix her love of acting with her degrees.

WENN.com

Jodie Foster

After blowing up big time and getting an Academy Award nomination for her role in Taxi Driver, Foster would eventually take a break in the early 80s to study. She attended Yale, and despite a stressful time at the school (she was stalked by a couple people, including John Hinckley Jr., the fella who shot Ronald Reagan), she graduated with a degree in literature in 1985. Of course, she would return to acting in full force soon after, winning an Academy Award for her role in The Accused in 1988.

WENN

Kim Fields

After her years of being known as Tootie on The Facts of Life, Kim Fields took a break from acting to get a degree in communications from Pepperdine University. After successfully completing that goal, Fields returned to TV to play Regine in Living Single. 

Brian To/WENN.com

Jordana Brewster

After the success of the original The Fast and Furious, actress Jordana Brewster studied at Yale, and graduated in 2004 with a degree in English. She has since said she wishes that she would have had more fun in school rather than keeping her head so far in her books:

“I was so stressed about getting good grades that I was a nerd. I wish I had joined a sorority and had more fun.”

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  • Carson Nogen

    graduating in 2007? damn…that’s… impressive.

  • T.J.

    I just saw zelda harris latest pic and I must say damm! How can a cute child grow up to be not so cute. I thought she was gonna look like keisha knight pulliam but nah!

    • Hope Floats

      Wow really? What did she do to you?

  • Rosa Shanna

    She was also a back up dancer on the girls just wanna have fun video for Cyndi Lauper.

  • KeepingItReal

    Love it. But…I have to say…I’ve ALWAYS though Keshia Knight Pulliam was the most beautiful child…EVER…hands down. She turned out to be a drop dead gorgeous young woman. BRAVO!!!!!

  • CAliQueen

    Awesome! I’ve always wondered what happened to crooklyn actress Zelda Harris.