ByDarren Teo, writer at
Born in Vancouver, raised in Singapore. Screenwriting Major at LMU's SFTV. Part time Seth Rogen body double.
Darren Teo

Surviving in Hollywood is one thing. Getting your foot through the door is a whole other animal. For these celebrities, whether it was by perseverance, coincidence, or pure dumb luck, they broke into the industry unconventionally.

Here's how 10 celebrities were discovered and given their big break.

1. Charlize Theron.

You'd be hard pressed to remember a time when the Mad Max: Fury Road actress wasn't dominating Hollywood. However, at the age of 19, Theron, then a native of South Africa, was discovered out of the blue...when she was trying to cash in a check at a bank. When the teller refused, Theron reportedly went ballistic. By chance, a talent agent was standing behind her, and handed her his card, seemingly impressed with her performance.

2. Pamela Anderson.

Miss Anderson wasn't always the iconic sex symbol of the 90s. In 1989, working as a fitness instructor in Vancouver, she decided to attend a BC Lions football game. During the event, Anderson was shown on the jumbo-tron wearing a Labatt beer t-shirt. As luck would have it, the company was promoting the game that night. Reps present at the game brought Anderson onto the field, where she was met with wild applause.

3. Nick Jonas.

Before the Scream Queens, before Jealous, before the Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas was just a regular kid...with an exceptional singing voice. When he was 6, Jonas accompanied his mother to get her hair cut. When someone in the salon heard him singing, she referred him to a manager. One year later, Jonas landed a role on broadway, and used his leverage to eventually landed himself and his brothers a recording gig.

4. Danny Trejo.

It's no secret that Trejo spent much of his adult life in and out of prison. After following a 12-step program to become sober, Trejo became a drug counselor. One day, one of his young patients asked him to follow him to the set of Runaway Trains because he feared relapsing under the pressure. It was there that Trejo was cast as an extra. Coincidentally, after appearing briefly in the film, screenwriter Edward Bunker, himself a former convict, recognized Trejo from his time at San Quentin Prison. This led to a wave of bigger and better roles.

5. Will Smith.

Smith gives new meaning to "in order to get found, you need to get lost." Although the actor had a burgeoning career in music, his acting career didn't take hold until later. While heading to a sporting event, Smith god lost and asked a man for directions. That man happened to be Benny Medina, VP at Warner Brothers. Medina recognized smith from music videos, and realized he would be perfect for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

6. Jennifer Lawrence.

While on a family vacation to New York, Lawrence was approached by a talent scout in Union Square who asked to take her picture. After that, she began receiving calls from multiple agencies asking her to come in and do readings. Her first read was for Reese's.

"I went into the agency and did a cold read for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial. They told me it was the best cold read they’d ever seen from a 14-year-old. My mom told me they were lying."

7. Harrison Ford.

Like many before him, Ford started out as a struggling actor. In the 1970s, Ford, having only had bit-roles in Hollywood, taught himself carpentry in the hopes of having a steadier career. A casting consultant who knew Ford, Fred Roos, thought he'd be perfect for "Star Wars" and referred him to George Lucas. However, Lucas was initially hesitant, and turned him down. Still believing Ford to be right for the role, Roos arranged for Ford to install doors in Lucas' film studio in the hopes that he would eventually get cast. This perseverance paid off, and Ford was eventually cast as the iconic 'Han Solo.'

8. Natalie Portman.

Another Academy Award-winner, Portman was just 9 when she was first noticed. The Black Swan actress recalls that the man worked for Revlon and asked her if she wanted to be a model. However, Portman politely turned him down.

"One day after dance class, I was in this pizza parlor and this guy just happened to be there because he lived in the neighborhood. I kept my cool...I told him that I wanted to act."

Respecting her wishes, the man put her in touch with an acting agent. The rest, as they say, is history.


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