Today’s celebrities may seem to have it all, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, glamorous career and of course, plenty of money, but everyone has to pay the bills and eat while following their dreams – and many of today’s well-known musicians, actors and other famous faces started out in an office environment before they hit the big time.
Read on to find out which superstars worked in an office before finding fame and fortune in the entertainment industry…
1. Johnny Depp
The world-famous actor, musician and producer, famous for a host of films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands, started out working in telesales for a company selling personalised pens.
Kentucky-born Depp later described his job as “putting on your best fake voice” to try and sell potential customers a bulk order of ballpoint pens with their name printed on the side. When they agreed to purchase, he had to say, “Congratulations, you’ve just become eligible to win a grandfather clock.”
Describing the job as “just awful”, he found solace in playing in various garage bands. Now aged 55, Depp married Lori Anne Allison in December 1983, while still working as a telemarketer. His wife knew the actor Nicholas Cage, who met Depp and advised him to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.
He did so and successfully auditioned for the role of one of Freddy Krueger’s victims in the horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, in 1984. Depp and Lori divorced in 1985, by which time he was firmly established as an actor. His estimated fortune today is said to be $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
He appreciates the value of money and supports various charities, including Dogs Deserve Better, the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Much Love Animal Rescue, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Orca Network and many more.
2. Simon Cowell
The London-born music mogul, record producer, reality television show judge and founder of TV talent show The X-Factor is reportedly worth £325 million today. Yet he started out in the lowliest office job imaginable as a post boy.
Cowell, 58, started at the bottom of the music industry when his father (an executive at EMI Records) got him a job there as a post boy in 1980. However, he was super-ambitious from the onset and wrote in his biography that even on his first day in the job, he was “planning and scheming” on how he could work his way to the top.
His ambition and hard work paid off, as in 1983, he quit his job, at the age of 24, having saved enough money to form his own small record label, Fanfare Records, with business partner Iain Burton. From that moment he never looked back and today he is one of the entertainment industry’s most influential and well-known figures, with his X-Factor franchise operating all over the world.
Cowell is also one of the most dedicated charity supporters in the industry and his philanthropic work goes back decades. He is patron of Together for Short Lives, a UK charity that supports children with life-threatening conditions and has taken part in the charity telethon BBC Children in Need, as well as making substantial personal donations to many worthy causes over the years.
3. Jennifer Aniston
The American actress whose career took off in a big way with the long-running sitcom, Friends, had a regular office job before she found fame and amassed her fortune of an estimated $200 million. Aniston, 49, moved from New York to Los Angeles as a young woman to seek fame and fortune, but she wasn’t an instant star.
Shortly after she moved to Los Angeles, she got a job in telemarketing, selling timeshares in the Poconos. She described her time working in an office as being a difficult period, because she was “the worst at it” and spent her day “upsetting people terribly” and “apologising profusely”. She would end up hanging up, because she couldn’t make the sale.
She used her office job to pay the bills while she tried to get into show business. She appeared in a number of theatrical productions, but her big TV break came in 1989, when she appeared on the Howard Stern Show promoting Nutrisystem, a company that manufactured weight loss products.
She became known as the face of Nutrisysytem and soon afterwards, at the age of 21, she won her first television role in the 1990 Fox sitcom, Molloy, playing Courtney Walker, a snobbish and self-absorbed teenager.
Despite her mega-stardom, she has never forgotten her roots. Her parents split up when she was a child and she was brought up in a strict household, where she was often not allowed to watch TV. She has been a long-time supporter of children’s charities, such as Friends of El Faro, a non-profit organisation that raises money for orphanages, and St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. She has also hosted the Stand Up to Cancer telethon show.
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Image courtesy of Arnold Wells/Angela George