Divas in Training: Celebrities During Their High School Years

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I think most of us look back at our high school yearbooks with either one of two emotions: somewhat of a sadness at the younger and maybe slimmer us, or somewhat of a pain because of the tacky hairstyle or outfit we were wearing. Okay, okay, and some other folks are lucky enough to smile at the good old days. Despite how much money they get paid or how much makeup and designer clothing they put on, celebrities were just as raggedy looking in high school as the rest of us (raggedy might be harsh). They’ve changed a lot since then. Back in the day some of these ladies had longer hair, bigger noses, and so on and so forth, but they sure looked…normal. Check out these divas before they were taking over the big screen and stage.

Jennifer Hudson

Before she was on American Idol or Dreamgirls, Jennifer Hudson was just a young lady with a big voice attending Dunbar Vocational High School on the South Side of Chicago. Nowadays, she’s an uber-slim spokesperson for Weight Watchers, she has a beautiful son and a reality TV star fiance, and she no longer wears the microbraids seen below. Thank goodness! Man…everybody was wearing those damn things in the late ’90s! Thanks a lot Brandy…*shakes head*

Mariah Carey

Mariah? Girrrrrrrrrrrl. I’m just kidding, she actually doesn’t look too different from herself nowadays. During the ’80s, Carey was attending Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York and was clearly a fan of the big hair trend of the time. She’s come a long way from this look though.


Who ran the world? Not baby Beyoncé. The first photo with the Janet Jackson meets Poetic Justice braids is actually from her 8th grade year, but the photo below that is from her high school years. Bey attended two high schools as a youngster: High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and later, Alief Elsik High School. Of course, she never finished, and left her school books behind to sing with her girlfriends and to school us on the ways of the “Bug-a-boo.” Big laughs at those clips in her hair and the baby hair she’s rocking on the bottom pic. Those were the days…


Talk about folks looking exactly the same! A long haired Robyn Fenty was looking very youthful and trendy in this photo, taken during her days at Combermere High School in Barbados. During her time there, Fenty was in a music group with a few of her classmates, and even performed in a few talent shows by herself. Check her out doing her best rendition of “Hero” at her high school below. Eh…I’ve seen better.

Lauryn Hill

Awwwww! Before the kids, the Marley Boo, The Miseducation and even before The Fugees, Lauryn was a student at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. During the time, she was close with Scrubs star Zach Braff because the two were classmates. He even claims she attended his Bar Mitzvah and was his Coke and Pepsi partner (it’s a game–look it up). On top of that, she was a cheerleader and a pretty popular chick.

Halle Berry

A graduate of Bedford High School in Bedford, Ohio. While at the school in the early ’80s, she stood out just as she has in Hollywood, showing up and showing out as a popular cheerleader, class president and prom queen (check the pic right below). Soon after graduation, Berry got her start in beauty pageants, and was one of R.Kelly’s love interests in the “Honey Love” video. Bet you didn’t know that!

Lady Gaga

It’s crazy staring at Gaga looking like an ordinary girl because she makes such an effort nowadays to be a gimmick. Sans all the makeup and the crazy costumes, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was just a regular New York gal going to the Roman Catholic school, Convent of the Sacred Heart on the Upper West Side (baller?). Gaga and people that know her admit that she didn’t really fit in because she was already doing the most, but I guess being oh-so different really helped her stand out in her future endeavors in the music industry…

Maya Rudolph

The baby girl of Minnie Riperton and goddaughter of Teena Marie, Maya Rudolph must have been honing her comedic skills early to have a good sense of humor about this picture (kidding!). Taken during the early ’80s while she was a student at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, at that school she became friends with another famous graduate, Gwyneth Paltrow. She honestly doesn’t look THAT different…

Nicki Minaj

Normal Nicki is refreshing, right? While studying at LaGuardia High School in the ’90s, Onika Maraj was more mellow, and was already a fan of the uber-dramatic as someone who took part in the prestigious school’s drama program. It’s said that she initially hoped to enter the school based on her singing abilities, but lost her voice on the day of her audition. Uh huh…

Check out her favorite senior quote, a lyric from Lauryn Hill of all people, that says: “To survive is to stay alive in the face of opposition,” from LBoogie’s track, “Forgive Them Father” off of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Jennifer Lopez

Uh, talk about adorable! Jenny from the block was doing it big at the all-girls school, Preston High, in the Bronx. She did gymnastics, was a track star and was on her school’s softball team. Who said a diva can’t like sports? I’m loving how she was changing up her hair so much so early on.

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