Tennessee is considered one of the most beautiful states in our great nation. It’s no wonder that many people want to move there after looking at its natural beauty, rich history, and amazing culture. However, when someone mentions Tennessee, an entirely different set of images can cross their minds. When they think of Tennessee, celebrities who originated in the state come to mind for many people. Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State” because of its large number of volunteer soldiers during the War of 1812. However, it should be known as the “Entertainer State” because of its amazing talents. This is a list of 20 of our favorite celebrities from Tennessee. Some of these celebrities were born in the great state, while others later moved there during their early years. After leaving their home state, a few became famous but still have strong roots in Tennessee.
20. Annie Potts (Theater Actress, Film Actress)
Annie Potts (born October 28, 1952) is an American actress well-known for her roles in television shows including “Designing Women,” “Mary & Rhoda,” and the golden oldie detective series “McCloud.” She has also appeared in Ghostbusters II, Pretty in Pink, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Big Business. She has won an Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, and was even named Woman of the Year by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals group in 1981. Potts is also well-known for her voice role as Bo Peep in “Toy Story” (1995), video game spin-offs of the movie and “Toy Story 4” (2019), and for playing Meemaw Young Sheldon (2017–present), according to Wikipedia. Potts is one of those celebrities that Tennesseans hold very dear to their hearts.
19. Johnny Knoxville (Performer, Actor, and Filmmaker)
He may not appear to be a very well-educated man, but Johnny Knoxville (October 28, 1952) went through the proper schooling needed to become an actor. Johnny Knoxville was born in Tennessee and attended Austin East High School in Knoxville. In 1995, he married Melanie Lynn Cates. The couple separated eleven years later after having one child. Knoxville was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. He got his first big break on film after being cast as a series regular on the popular children’s show “Jackass,” where he regularly performed public stunts and pranks. His on-camera antics on “Jackass” have earned him several nominations for Golden Raspberry Awards.
18. Bill Belichick (American football coach)
Bill Belichick (born April 16, 1952) is an American football coach who currently serves as the head coach of the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). Belichick, a native Tennessean, was born in Nashville on April 16, 1952. He has been in sports for a very long time, earning a job as a special assistant for the Baltimore Colts when he was just 23 years old. He has accumulated numerous NFL championships, including the historic win by his New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI after the 2001 season. He is one of those celebrities that the sportsperson cannot stop talking about.
17. Ginnifer Goodwin (Actress)
Our next favorite celebrity is Ginnifer Goodwin, with a long history of ups and downs, but success has concerned everything here. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the United States of America, on October 28, 1952. Her parents were a housewife and assistant principals. For Ginnifer Goodwin, the road to success was not an easy one. Critics had nothing but harsh words about her acting skills when she first started in Hollywood; some even went as far as calling her “talentless” and “not fit for the industry.” However, this early criticism only spurned Ginnifer on to try even harder. Realizing that she could only prove her critics wrong by showing them what she was truly capable of, Ginnifer worked on honing her acting skills every day.
16. Christina Hendricks (Actress)
Another wonderful woman who has built a name for herself from Tennessee is Christina Rene Hendricks (born May 3, 1975), born in Knoxville. She began acting early and has done well for herself as an actress. She has been critically acclaimed and even modeled for a few famous people already in the industry: Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, and Christian Dior. More years later, she’s still at it, acting in many films and television shows.
15. Lucy Hale (Actress)
Of course, our list wouldn’t be complete without the lovely Lucy Hale, born June 14, 1989, in Memphis, Tennessee. She grew up around music and knew that she would do anything to pursue her dreams of becoming an entertainer from a very young age. And pursue it she did: success wasn’t too hard to come by with acting and singing talent shown early on. She appeared on the American musical drama television series “American Juniors” back in 2003 and was able to win first place. Her talents, however, stretch further than her excellent singing voice; Lucy Hale has also shown great acting abilities, appearing in movies like “A Cinderella Story” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
14. Michael Oher (American Football Player)
Next on our list is another sports star, but it’s American football this time. Born May 28, 1986, in Memphis, Tennessee, Michael Jerome Oher is an offensive tackle who currently plays for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Ole Miss and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Michael Oher is one of those athletes that continue to make history in their respective sport, making it one step at a time until achieving greatness. It’s not without effort when you see great things happening, and when Michael Oher’s name shows up on our list of famous people from Tennessee, it’s obvious that he has gone through a lot of hard work to get where he is today.
13. Isaac Hayes (Singer-songwriter)
It may be difficult to believe that famous musician Isaac Hayes was born in a small town called Covington, Tennessee, on August 20, 1942, and grew up in Memphis. He achieved so much getting to where he is today, the founder of Stax Records and a famous songwriter, pianist, singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and voice actor. Today, his music continues to be popular worldwide through radio airplay and digital distribution since 2003.
12. Natalia Dyer (Actress)
Another famous actress from Tennessee is Natalia Dyer, born January 13, 1997, in Nashville. She began acting early and has starred on television shows like “The Returned” and “Homeland.” She’s also appeared in movies like The Greening of Whitney Brown (2011), and I Believe in Unicorns (2014). It’s easy to see how she has become such a famous young actress; her roles require all sorts of emotions, and Natalia Dyer is the perfect actor for the part.
11. Megan Fox (Actress, Model)
Megan Fox is a huge name in lots of Red Carpets, and for a good reason: she’s one of the most famous actresses from Tennessee. Who could forget that classic commercial she did with Red Bull? And how about her role in two of the Transformers films? This success is because Megan Fox was born on May 16, 1986. Seeing as her career has been going strong since 2004, we’re guessing she’s not going to be stopping anytime soon.
10. Kathy Bates (Actress)
Besides being an actress, Kathy Bates is also a successful director and screenwriter from Memphis, Tennessee. She was born on June 28, 1948, and first got into acting at a young age, where she immediately caught the eye of talent scouts and quickly rose to fame. She’s been nominated for four Academy Awards, two of them; Kathy Bates is an actress who knows what she’s doing and has continued to be successful at it. She has been an inspiration to many people who want to get into acting, especially those young students who are still in high school. What better inspiration can you give than Kathy Bates?
9. Miley Cyrus (Singer-songwriter)
Born Destiny Hope Cyrus on November 23, 1992, in Franklin, Tennessee, is another celebrity who you can’t help but know. Not only does she have a beautiful voice and amazing acting skills, but Miley Cyrus is also a songwriter. She’s written songs for herself and other artists, which includes the song “The Climb” for the movie Hannah Montana. Not only that, but she’s also an activist with a big heart who speaks up about important issues to her. Even if you don’t follow her every move today, Miley Cyrus will remain one of those names that will always be remembered as one of the most celebrities from Tennessee.
8. Aretha Franklin (Singer & Activist)
On March 25, 1942, Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a singer, songwriter, pianist, actress, activist, and civil rights supporter. She’s won eighteen Grammy Awards, among many other awards she received over the years. Aretha Franklin is one of those names you hear often and is continuing to make music today; she even performed at Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration, playing for both him as well as for Michelle Obama (her goddaughter).
7. Andrew Johnson (Politician)
Born December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States. He’s perhaps more famously known as the First Vice President who took over for a president who had died in office (Abraham Lincoln). While he did get impeached and had to go through a Senate trial, he was later acquitted and stayed on as President until March 4 of the following year. He was quite the busy man from 1853 to 1857 when he served as a Senator from Tennessee.
6. Tina Turner (Singer-songwriter)
Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, Tennessee, is another celebrity who not only started acting at an early age but also began singing. She’s most known for being part of Ike Turner’s band, which she left him with to pursue a solo career that would eventually make her one of the most successful singers to come from Tennessee. Tina Turner is a motivation to many artists today because even if you face challenges in life, you can always push forward and make something better of yourself.
5. Quentin Tarantino (Screenwriter, Film Director)
If you’ve watched movies like Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained, then you’ll know all about this very successful director who’s also an Oscar winner. Born on March 27, 1963, in Knoxville, Tennessee, is Quentin Tarantino (real name: Quinten Tarantino), another celebrity who has successfully made it big in the movie industry. Besides directing and writing, he’s also acted in a few movies. One of his most popular works is the Kill Bill series, one of his highest-grossing films to date.
4. Samuel Leroy Jackson (Actor)
Unlike those celebrities born and raised in Tennessee, Samuel Leroy Jackson was born on December 21, 1948, in Washington, D.C., to Elizabeth Harriett (née Montgomery) and Roy Henry Jackson, but he was brought up in Chattanooga, Tennessee by his grandmother. He grew up with his mother after she got divorced from his father. Jackson has become another famous actor who’s not only appeared in many movies but also done voice acting for cartoons and even video games. He’s won many different awards over the years, including an Oscar in 1994.
3. Justin Randall Timberlake (Singer and Songwriter)
Justin Randall Timberlake was born on January 31, 1981, in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s also a songwriter and actor, along with being part of the band NSYNC at first (until he decided to pursue his solo career). He then became one of the most famous and successful singers in music history, releasing some award-winning singles. However, he’s also tried his luck at acting and has appeared in some movies and shows over the years.
2. Morgan Freeman (Actor)
Next on the list is Morgan Freeman, a famous actor born on June 1, 1937, in Memphis. Morgan Freeman is a name that most people have heard of and has appeared in many different movies over the years that include comedy and drama. He’s also narrated various documentaries and appeared in television shows and video games. One of his most popular roles was in the movie Glory, where he played Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. He won an Oscar for his role in the film Driving Miss Daisy.
1. Dolly Parton (Singer-songwriter)
Last on this list is Dolly Parton, a singer and songwriter born on January 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. She’s most famously known for her songs like ‘Jolene,’ ‘9 to 5’ and many more that have reached the top charts over the years. Dolly Parton is a name recognized worldwide, with some of her albums being certified multi-platinum in different countries. She’s also done acting, where she won a Golden Globe from her role in the film Steel Magnolias. According to Billboard, in November 2019, Mavis became the oldest host in the history of the rival CMA Awards. She was 73 years old at the time. Dolly Parton has been inducted into various Halls of Fame and received various awards, including a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986.
There have been many famous personalities from Tennessee over the years, mostly coming from Memphis and Nashville. This list has shown a few successful individuals born in this state that most people may not have heard of before. They’ve gone on to become some of the best actors, actresses, sportsperson, artists, and musicians in history, mostly starting their careers with struggles along the way.