15 Celebrites Who Were Rejected Before Making the Big Time

Henry Cavill

Talent isn’t the only thing that makes people successful. It takes hard work and persistence to get to the top even if you fail the first few times. We’ve rounded up some celebrities who got rejected before making it big. Some of them were turned down to work on pretty big projects, but they ended up making up for it by soaring higher into stardom and proved everyone wrong.  Enjoy our picks!

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

The famous director was rejected from University of Southern California’s film school three times. While the school might have turned him down, he still managed to master the art of film by being a director who won two Academy Awards and has a number of blockbuster classics under his belt. USC lost the chance to score a pop cultural alumna like Spielberg.

(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

When this TV legend was 22, she was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.” She was also fired from her position as a co-anchor on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV after the show received low ratings. Oprah didn’t let these failures convince her that the life of television rejected her. We all know her now as one of the most influential and successful celebrities in the world who had her own self-titled talk show that consistently massive ratings for 25 years and her very own channel.

(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington

Washington did two pilots before she rose to stardom with Scandal. Those two pilots aired, but she was replaced in both shows with different actresses. She might be happy with the fact that those rejections cleared up her schedule to take the role of Olivia Pope.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Madonna

Madonna

The Material Girl once received a rejection letter from a music company that said she was not ready yet despite showing strong potential. They might have wished that they gambled on her anyway because she released her self-titled album not too long after and it sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Madonna continues to be a prominent figure in the music industry.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

He is often dubbed as the unluckiest man in Hollywood by the press because of the roles he nearly nabbed. He was one of the popular choices to play Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter, Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, Superman in Bryan Singer’s version, and James Bond in the 007 reboot with Daniel Craig. However, that didn’t sour his drive since he eventually nabbed the role of Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and is expected to star in its sequel.

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Harisson Ford

Harrison Ford

A movie executive once told Ford that he would never succeed in the film industry. However, that didn’t stop Ford from pursuing a project that landed him iconic roles in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series. That executive might have been biting his tongue for a long time since the actor’s career have spanned several decades. He is considered to be one of the top highest grossing U.S domestic box-office star.

(Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

The famous basketball player was actually cut from his high school’s basketball team. Jordan reportedly went home and cried in his bedroom because of the rejection he felt. However, it seemed to push him harder to achieve his legendary status in the NBA. He is a six time NBA Finals MVP and a five time NBA MVP among many other achievements and records he has broken. Jordan is also an entrepreneur who owns several business and is the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

(Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational)

Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Wang didn’t make the cut to make the U.S Olympic figure skating team. She was also passed over for the editor-in-chief position. This probably made her direct her energy into designing gowns at age 40. Consequently, she is currently one of the world renowned designers in the fashion industry since her gowns are being worn by famous celebrities in big events. Her business is estimated to be worth a billion dollars.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

J.K Rowling

J.K Rowling

Rowling was fired from her job when she was working at the London office of Amnesty International because she wrote stories on her computer the entire time. It might have been a blessing in disguise because that might have allowed her to spend more time developing the Harry Potter books. She is currently holds the distinction of becoming the first billionaire author.

(Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour

Wintour was a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and they fired her because the shoots she did were deemed too edgy. She got fired after nine months she got the job. However, that didn’t stop her from becoming such a prominent figure in the fashion industry. She eventually became the English editor-in-chief of American Vogue since 1988. In 2013, she was named artistic director for Conde Nast, Vogue’s publisher.

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

This entertainer once auditioned for Saturday Night Live but ultimately didn’t make the cut. While he didn’t get to join the show, he managed to host his own show The Colbert Report and it has been around since 2005. He is slated to replace David Letterman on The Late Show when the latter retires.

(Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld

Before he was the star of his hit sitcom, he didn’t always tickle everyone’s funny bone. He was reportedly booed off the stage during his first time onstage at a comedy club since he froze in front of the audience. The bright side is he went back onstage the next night and performed a successful set. On top of that, he was the main star  in the hugely popular sitcom Seinfeld from 1989-1998.

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone

Stone actually dropped out of Yale to write his first novel. While it got rejected by publishers, he finally got in published years later but it wasn’t well received. He eventually found success as a filmmaker and won an Oscar three times and directed numerous critically acclaimed films.

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

A casting director told Poitier: “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” The rejection didn’t stop the actor though because he went on to win two Oscars. One for Lilies of the Field and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AFI)

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

Before former NSYNC star became an established musician and actor, he competed in singing competitions like Star Search. Timberlake didn’t win the competition and was rejected to advance further. He did become a prominent icon in the 90’s for his role in one of the world’s popular boy bands. He also managed to become successful as a solo performer and has appeared in several Hollywood films as he continues to rise in fame.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)


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