And Action! Reality Stars Turned “Actors”

November 14, 2014  |  
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If you’ve been watching TV One’s “Hollywood Divas,” then you’ve seen actress Golden Brooks express her disdain for realty stars who end up snagging roles that could go to legitimate and trained actors. That means she’s definitely not feeling these former reality stars who’ve made the switch to acting.

Tami Roman

Tami Roman is a reality star two times over. She first lived her life in front of the camera on the second season of MTV’s “Real World.” Fast forward 20 years later and Roman, now a divorced mother of two, was brought in to “Basketball Wives” to spice things up. But in her absence from the world of reality TV, she landed small parts on “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Married… with Children.” Roman most recently starred in a few independent films as well as co-starring with Halle Berry on CBS’ “Extant.”

NeNe Leakes

The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reality show turned NeNe Leakes into a star. Her big mouth, over the top personality and habit of speaking her mind no matter the consequences made her an instant favorite on the show. When Donald Trump and “Celebrity Apprentice” came calling, the Queens born, Athens, GA raised star jumped at the opportunity. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy was such a big fan of Leakes he cast her on the show. That led to a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom “The New Normal.” Leakes is gearing up to make her Broadway debut as the wicked stepmother Madame in “Cinderella.”

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Emma Stone

Believe it or not Emma Stone’s first experience in front of the cameras was for reality television. Stone competed on “In Search of the New Partridge Family” and won the role of Laurie Partridge. However, the resulting series “The New Partridge Family” never made it past the pilot stage. But that didn’t deter Stone. Her big break came when she landed the leading role in the teen comedy “Easy A” and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her efforts. After starring in “The Help,” Stone landed a role in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its sequel. Stone just wrapped up filming Woody Allen’s latest project.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson wasn’t crowned the winner on “American Idol” but it was the perfect launching pad for her career. Not only has Hudson become a Grammy-winning artist, the “Spotlight” singer parlayed her newfound fame into a promising acting career as well. Her first role was Effie in the 2006 remake of “Dreamgirls” and Hudson brought home an Academy award for Best Supporting Actress. J Hud was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her lead role in “Winnie Nelson.”

Katherine McPhee

Katherine McPhee also used her time on “American Idol” and turned it into a successful acting career. She ended up coming in second place on the fifth season of the show. While promoting her debut album, McPhee made cameo appearances in “Crazy” and “Ugly Betty.” Bit by the acting bug, she landed parts on “CSI:NY” and “Community.” She combined her singing and acting talents for the lead role in “Smash.” McPhee currently stars on the new CBS show “Scorpion.”

Eva Marcille

As Eva Pigford, she won the third cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” After a few years working as a model, Pigford decided to shift her efforts towards an acting career. Wanting to be taken seriously, she started using her middle name instead of her last name and landed a few guest spots on several television shows including “Everybody Hates Chris and “House of Payne.” She also played Tyra Hamilton on “The Young and the Restless” for a year. Taking a break from work, Marcille welcomed her first child back in January.

Yaya DeCosta Alafia

Eva Marcille wasn’t the only “America’s Next Top Model” contestant to become an actress. Yaya Dacosta Alafia was the runner up when Marcille was crowned the winner. After a cameo appearance on “Eve” in 2005, Alafia pursue an acting career. She landed recurring roles on both “All My Children” and “Ugly Betty.” The former model also starred in Tyler Perry’s “The Butler” but the role of her career may prove to be the lead role in Whitney Houston’s upcoming biopic that’s set to air on Lifetime next year.

Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough fox-trotted into America’s hearts on “Dancing with the Stars.” Her bubbly personality led to work off of the dance floor. Her debut role was in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” Hough received acclaim after starring alongside Christina Aguilera and Cher in the 2010 musical “Burlesque.” A year later she had her first leading role in the remake of the cult classic “Footloose.” Hough followed that up with another leading role in “Rock of Ages.”

Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung used her exposure on MTV’s “The Real World: San Diego” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” to launch a successful acting career. She got her start on daytime television by landing a role on “Days of Our Lives.” That led to a part in the ABC Family miniseries “Samuari Girl.” Chung then started to find work on the silver screen and ended up with a role in both “The Hangover II” and “The Hangover III.” She currently stars as Mulan on ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”

Johnny Knoxville

Who know that punching yourself in the groin or stapling your lips together would lead to acting gigs but that was the path that Johnny Knoxviller took to Hollywood. The Tennessee native gained a following with his reality stunt show “Jackass” on MTV. His acting career started off with a small part in “Coyote Ugly” and it took off from there. Knoxville landed the role of Luke Duke in the movie adaptation of the iconic television show “Dukes of Hazzard.” He most recently starred in last year’s “Movie 43.”

Analeigh Tipton

Analeigh Tipton is also another “America’s Next Top Model” alum. She ended up coming in third on the 11th cycle of the modeling reality show. Tipton made her film debut with the action hero flick “The Green Hornet.” Tipton landed a supporting role in last year’s wacky zombie romance film “Warm Bodies.” This fall she won the lead role on “Manhattan Love Story” but the romantic comedy was the first show that ended up on the chopping block. It was on the air for less than a month.

Heather Morris

Heather Morris began her professional career as a dancer. She first appeared in front of the cameras as a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” ended up making it all the way to Las Vegas Week before getting cut. Morris found work as one of Beyonce’s backup dancers and toured with the pop diva and that helped her future acting career. She was brought in as a choreographer to teach the actors the moves to “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and that lead to a part on the show for herself as Brittany the cheerleader. Originally it was a non-speaking part but the role grew after writers realized Morris had a knack for delivering one-liners.


David Giuntoli

David Giuntoli went from competing in challenges on MTV’s “Road Rules” to investigating dark and twisted crimes on NBC’s “Grimm.” After leaving the world of reality television, Giuntoli had a few small parts on several shows including “Nip/Tuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Veronica Mars.” Padding his résumé with steady work, he was considered for the role of comic book hero Superman in “Man of Steel” but eventually lost out to Henry Cavill. The MTV alum currently stars as Detective Nick Burnhardt on “Grimm.”

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Lucy Hale

At one point in time, “American Idol” was so popular it spawned a spin-off for younger contestants. Although it was short-lived, it lasted long enough for Lucy Hale to make it all the way to one of the top five finalists on the show. That lead to minor parts on “The O.C.,” “American Family” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Hale’s first major role was in the reboot of “Bionic Woman” but it was soon cancelled. Her big screen debut came the following year in “The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants 2” and she’s found steady work on ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.”

Jacinda Barrett

Jacinda Barrett has added roles on “Ladder 49,” “The Last Kiss,” “Poseidon,” “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” and “School for Scoundrels” to her résumé. But before all of that, she was one of seven strangers selected to live in a house together while viewers waited for them to stop being polite and for things to start getting real. The MTV “Real World: London” alum has also appeared on USA’s “Suits” along with a recurring role in the short-lived mystery thriller “Zero Hour.”

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