Before They Were Big: Did You Know They Were Child Stars?

January 16, 2013  |  
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Before these men and women were dominating our iPods and lives in general with good music, funny television and dramatic roles that brought us to tears (or made us mad), they were young’ns trying to get their big breaks on the big screen. In movies like The Wood and shows like As The World Turns, they were everywhere before they became stars. Let’s check out their beginnings…

And oh yeah, one or two are young adults…*Kanye shrug*

Christina Milian in The Wood

Before she was out in these streets singing about the freaky things you should keep on the low with Ja Rule and dipping it low and picking it up slow, Christina Milian was just a young lady with a big ‘ol head of hair, playing the dance partner of young Roland in The Wood. In her short role in the film, she gets upset by Roland and Slim’s nosy attention over Mike and Alicia finally getting to slow dance together. She eventually tells him, “Why don’t you go dance with her then!?” flips her loooong curly hair and makes a dramatic exit. Interesting, this sounds like a scene from most of Milian’s movies…I’m just saying.

Lauryn Hill on As The World Turns Kira Johnson


Before the Fugees and her role as Rita in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit, Lauryn Hill was playing Kira Johnson on the now defunct soap opera, As The World Turns. You can see the then 16-year-old below singing “You Brought Me Love” by Roberta Flack. Coincidentally, we know that Hill slayed another Flack classic when she and the Refugee Camp put their twist on “Killing Me Softly.”

Meagan Good in Friday

Dressed in a baseball cap with her denim overalls on and a mean mug, Meagan Good was just a simple kid trying to get some ice cream in her system when she made her debut in the hood classic film, Friday, back in ’95. She was only 13 years of age. It was her first film role, but Good had already been in front of the camera, doing cameos on the shows Amen and Doogie Howser, M.D.


George Gore II in Juice

A huge fan of New York Undercover, I remembered George Gore’s face (and big ‘ol head) from the years he played “G” Williams on the show as JC Williams’ son. But before he did all of that, Gore was just a wee 11-year-old playing the annoying but cute baby brother of Q, Omar Epps’ character in Juice. Little man didn’t have very many scenes at all (in fact, I think he just had one), but his few minutes of toothy know-it-all-ness were memorable. Since the full movie was all that was available on YouTube, start at the 1:01:48 mark to see him.


Naya Rivera on Smart Guy

It’s been a long time coming for actress Naya Rivera to get her shine, and she just recently did so by playing Santana Lopez on Glee. But way before her big break came in that cheerleading opportunity (which also gave her the opportunity to be a face for Proactive), she was playing one of TJ’s dates (as was a young Kyla Pratt) when the kid genius was trying to go to his first high school dance. She doesn’t look much different right?


Bow Wow in Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” Video

Bow Wow has had more success as a rapper in his lifetime than most, but before he had that fame, and that long hair that he would later ditch, he was just a little boy hopping around in a Snoop Dogg video. Literally. Little man with his Kris Kross hairstyle and oversized clothes made an early mark as one of three bad little boys in Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” video. Ironically, he was the shortest member of his little hooligan group. Much hasn’t changed huh?

Michael B. Jordan on Cosby

Long before he was making us tear up by playing Wallace on The Wire, and way before he did Friday Night Lights and a bevvy of movie roles, Michael B. Jordan wasn’t fine. He was just a cute kid playing a very bad kid in an episode of the very boring show, Cosby. Interesting enough, Jurnee Smollett was a regular on this series, so these two worked on this show together before reuniting to play a couple on the NBC show that is now off the air, Friday Night Lights. Start around the 5:30 mark to see him act a fool.

Mos Def on Here and Now

Make that Yasiin Bey actually. But way back when, when he was simply going as Dante Smith, he was taking advantage of his acting talents. He appeared on shows like The Cosby Mysteries, NYPD Blue, and on the very short-lived Cosby Show spinoff, Here and Now, that was centered around Theo Huxtable. He was just a few years over 18 (okay, so he really wasn’t a “kid”) playing one of Malcolm Jamal Warner’s students. See him and his interesting ’90s attire around the 2:55 mark.


Kristen Stewart in Panic Room

Okay, okay, okay. So, some of you guys might have known this if you were a big Panic Room fan or follower of Kristen Stewart. But for those that didn’t know, the brooding Twilight star who loathes her fame and likes to kick it with older married men was once just a Jodi Foster look-a-like, playing her daughter in the thriller about a mother and daughter who have to hide from burglars who break into their home to steal money from a safe in their new home. She doesn’t look drastically different, but the dark hair definitely did her looks justice.


Alicia Keys on Cosby Show

Before this girl was on fire, Alicia Keys was a little girl on Heathcliff Huxtable’s knee riding rodeo at a sleepover. At four years old, and with a curly fro, she played one of Rudy’s homegirls, and to this day, she still has fond memories of her time on the show. “He always tried to knock us off of his knee with the bucking horse thing. Of course, my favorite part was winning the game, because I was the winner.”

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