Celebs Who Broke Into The Industry After Reality Tv

September 12, 2014  |  
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For many people, when they first get on reality television, it’s because they feel as though they have some talent, but haven’t been discovered yet.  It’s a way to make yourself be seen by the right people.  But, too many of those people forget their reasons for getting on their chosen shows in the first place, and find themselves stuck to the allure of infamy, because it’s easier.

However, there are some people who the entertainment industry took notice of, and didn’t hold (some of) their ridiculous behavior against them.  There are also people who focused on their talent, and kept a cool head in manufactured drama.

So, here’s to these participants of reality television who the entertainment industry looked beyond the reality shows that they were on, and gave them a chance regardless.

Laverne Cox

Before she was known as Sophia Burset on “Orange is the New Black,” Laverne Cox was trying to get a position as a right hand person on Diddy’s payroll on the show “I Want to Work for Diddy.”  Though she didn’t win, her openness with being a transgender woman opened more doors for her.

She was able to produce and host her own show “TRANSform Me,” and was awarded for being so transparent by the LGBT community.  Even though she was able to win multiple GLAAD awards, it was a role on “OITNB” that earned her two Emmy nominations, and made history as the first transgender person on the cover of “Time” magazine.

Tiffany “New York” Pollard

Most people thought that “New York” was going to stay in the realm of reality television infamy when the spit hit “the fan”/face on the first season of “Flavor of Love.”

However, on the second season of her own show “I Love New York 2,” Ryan Murphy, creator of “Nip/Tuck,” “Glee,” and “American Horror Story,” saw her potential gave her a small role on “Nip/Tuck.”

After her many reality shows, Tiffany has began appearing in more scripted programming and movies.  Her most recent show was “DTLA,” which had popular comedians like Luenell, Paul Mooney, Sandra Bernhard, actress Melanie Griffith.

Nene Leakes

Nene Leakes was never shy about her ambitions to go into acting.  In fact, each year she would travel to LA for pilot season before landing a spot as one of the originals on “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Ryan Murphy, who was a fan of the show, loved Nene and offered her a role on the critically acclaimed “Glee,” which turned into a recurring role.  She then had a starring role on the show “The New Normal,” before its cancellation.  However, Nene has still been on the move, with her clothing line, and she was even “The Mistress of Sensuality” for the Zumanity stage performance in Las Vegas from June 27th – July 1st this summer.

Ezra “Buddha” Masters

There were more than a few people who were fans of Buddha.  Most definitely appreciated his good looks on “I Love New York 2,” and “I Love Money 2,” but he definitely came off as more of a villain than enduring.

However, Ezra Masters continued to pursue his acting career, and was able to land a recurring role in Zane’s cable television show “Zane’s Sex Chronicles,” before its cancellation.

Yaya DaCosta

When Yaya first appeared on the third season of “America’s Next Top Model,” some were crushed that she didn’t win against model Eva Pigford Marcille.  However, that wasn’t the end of the Ivy League alum.

She went on to continue to model, and was featured in multiple campaigns, and in American Vogue.  But it was her acting that kept her in the public’s consciousness.  She appeared in multiple television shows, movies like Take the Lead, Tron: Legacy, and The Butler.  Her recent role as Whitney Houston in her upcoming biopic is sure to propel her acting career even further.

Jennifer Hudson

Talent based reality shows are usually put in a different realm than personality based reality shows.  However, Jennifer Hudson excelled in multiple fields within the talent that she was first known for, and then in the acting realm.

Jennifer Hudson blew audiences away when she appeared on the third season of “American Idol.”  Even though she didn’t win, she won over audiences in the role of Effie White in the film Dream Girls where she won an Academy Award, Screen Actors’ Guild Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA award, NAACP award, and the Kendra Koger Award of Excellence.  Granted MY award doesn’t really account for anything, but she won it, by gollly!

She has continued to act and sing, and collect awards and nominations like they are going out of style!


Bethany Frankel

Bethany Frankel had been participating in reality shows since 2005, as she competed on Martha Stewart’s version of “The Apprentice.”  But it was in 2008 that Bethany was able to let audiences into her life when she became a housewife on the Bravo franchise “Real Housewives of New York.”  Through that, and her entrepreneurship, she caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres, who decided to co-create a talk show for the former housewife.

“Bethany” had 170 episodes before it was cancelled.

Tanisha Thomas

Tanisha Thomas banged her way into most people’s hearts when she was on the second season of “Bad Girls Club.”  After her appearance, she went on to be the requested host of many of the Bad Girls Club reunions, before appearing in other reality shows.

But it was the recent launch of her plus sized clothing line, and a new hosting gig on Lifetime’s “Girlfriend Intervention” that shows people stopped seeing her as a “bad girl,” but more as a business woman.


Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough was a girl with a pretty face, and fantastic dance moves on “Dancing with the Stars.”  She was one half of two winning couples and was nominated for two Emmys for her performance and choreography on the show.  Through the dance moves she was able to show that she had more to offer.

Julianne went on to release a country album, and went to star and appear in multiple movies.

Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad was first known to audiences as the lovelorn teenager fighting for the attention of Stephen Colletti on the MTV vehicle “Laguna Beach.”  She went on to star in her own show “The Hills” while she pursued a career in fashion.

After leaving “The Hills,” Lauren Conrad put her reality show roots behind her and went on to create her own clothing line, book series, partnered with Avon to promote the Mark make-up line, and other business ventures.

Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung first appeared on our television screens as a cast member on the San Diego season of “The Real World.”   After, she continued to appear on reality television while also pursuing a career in acting.  She even won a season of “The Challenege.”

But  it was her acting pursuits that she has been able to stay in the public’s consciousness.  From comedic roles in films like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, The Hangover Pt. II, to action:  Sucker Punch, and Sin City:  A Dame to Kill For, and critically acclaimed roles:  Eden, and all the other ones she tackled, Jamie has proved that she’s someone to look out for.

Toccara Jones

Toccara Jones won fans over when she first appeared on the third installment of “America’s Next Top Model,” as a model hopeful that was “big, beautiful, and loving it!”

After her elimination, she proved that she was meant to be seen and heard, and continued to pursue her model calling.  After appearing in multiple ads and campaigns, she was featured in Vogue Italia, in one of the highest selling issues ever.

She went on to continue to model, host shows, and even have an empire in the fitness realm with workout DVDs.


Eva Marcille

After winning the third season of “America’s Next Top Model,” Eva, naturally, became very successful in the modeling world.  But, she was also pursued for different acting roles, and has continued to act between modeling jobs.



Teyana Taylor

Though she was signed to Pharrell’s Star Trek label when we first met her, Teyana Taylor was first seen to the public on “My Super Sweet 16.”

She became a fan favorite because she had an extravagant birthday party, but she wasn’t a brat about it (unlike many of the other participants).  When she went on to create music, many people supported her, but it was her union with Adidas, and her signing with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label that put the credit to her talent.

Though she and Adidas parted ways, she has written music, provided choreography for multiple artists, and has been releasing singles for her soon to be released album.

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