Many great people hail from the state of Texas. The second largest American state in both population and size is filled with diverse landscapes and diverse people. Known as the Lone Star State for its fight for independence from Mexico and for being an independent republic at one point, the state is known for its large cities including Houston, El Paso, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio as well as quaint towns. Here are our favorite Texas celebrities.
The award winning actor and producer was born in Uvalde, located 80 miles west of San Antonio, in 1969. McConaughey attended the University of Texas in Austin and continues to maintain a home there. While he started out planning to go to law school, McConaughey found his interest in acting. In school, he worked on short films. McConaughey became famous when he starred in 1993’s Dazed and Confused. He went on to star in movies including Contact, EDtv, Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won an Academy Award.
Woody Harrelson is the beloved actor who starred in the sitcom Cheers from 1985 through 1993 and won an Emmy for the role. He went on to be a movie star with films including White Men Can’t Jump, The People Versus Larry Flynt, the Hunger Games trilogy, Three Billboards Outside of Ebby, Missouri, and the Marval Spiderman films. In 2014 Harrelson returned to television in the HBO True Detective series alongside Matthew McConaghey. Harrelson was born in Midland in 1961. He had a tough childhood as his father was a convicted hit man. His mother moved the family to Lebanon, Ohio. Harrelson graduated from Hanover College in Indiana majoring and English Literature and Theater.
Singer and actress Beyoncé Knowles was born in Houston in 1981. Growing up in a Houston suburb, she performed in singing and dance competitions throughout her childhood. She rose to fame as part of the girl group Destiny’s Child. Her dad managed the group and her mom made the glittery costumes. When the group disbanded, Beyoncé continued to have a successful solo career with her debut album Dangerously In Love and the 6 Grammy Winner Sasha Fierce which includes the hits If I Were A Boy and Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). Beyoncé has also acted in movies including Pink Panther, Dreamgirls and The Lion King.
Named for the Tejano singer, Selena Gomez was born in 1992 and grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas. As a child, Selena was on the children’s show Barnie & Friends. From 2007 through 2012, she starred in the Disney Channel hit The Wizards of Waverly Place. She went on to star in films including Another Cinderella Story, Ramona and Beezus and as the voice of Mavis in the Hotel Transylvania films. Most recently she stars in the hit Hulu series Only Murders In the Building alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short. Along the way, Selena has made 3 studio albums with her band Selena Gomez and The Scene.
Tommy Lee Jones
San Sabo native Tommy Lee Jones was born in 1946 would become a successful actor and director. Because his dad was an oil field worker, they moved around a lot. Jones grew up in Midland and Dallas. He worked on an oil rig and in underwater construction before heading to college at Harvard where one of his roommates was future Vice President Al Gore. Destined to be an actor, Jones starred in television’s Lonesome Dove and films including A Coal Miners Daughter, The Fugitive (for which he won an Oscar), and No Country For Old Men.
Born in 1967 in Terrell, Jamie Foxx would go on to become a successful actor, comedian and musician. As a child, Foxx played the piano and was the class comedian. In High School, he was a football star and hoped to someday play for the Dallas Cowboys. Earning a scholarship to the United States International University, Foxx studied musical and performing arts leading to his 1991 role on the sketch comedy In Living Color and got his own show. He recorded 4 studio albums and won Grammy Awards. He continues to hae a successful acting career as well starring in movies including 2004’s Ray, playing Ray Charles, Jarhead, Dreamgirls and Annie. He also hosts the game show Shazam.
Although she grew up in West Virginia, Jennifer Garner was born in Houston in 1972. Garner was always interested in the theater and studied ballet throughout her childhood. She majored in theater at Dennison University in Ohio. Garner’s began her career in television starring in Alias from 2001 through 2006. She won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in the series. Garner went on to star in several films including Juno, 13 Going on 30, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Valentine’s Day. Garner is also a successful producer.
Growing up on a ranch in Corpus Cristi with her family, Eva Longoria knew her heart was in acting. She worked through high school at the local Wendy’s to pay for her Qinceanera. She participated in many pageants and won Miss Corpus Cristi USA and earned a scholarship to Texas A & M. Longoria made her way to Hollywood and began her career as an actress in the soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Longoria nabbed her dream role in the hit series Desperate Wives. She has gone on to be an advocate for Latino women and is in the hit show Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Owen Wilson grew up in the Dallas area and is proud of his Texas heritage. Growing up with brothers Luke and Andrew, the Wilson boys were all drawn to the theater and writing. They collaborated with Wes Anderson on his first film, Bottle Rocket and Owen and Luke would continue to collaborate on several of Anderson’s films including Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums. Owen made a name for himself starring in films including Zoolander, Wedding Crashers, Marley and Me, Midnight In Paris, Night At the Museum and Cars.
Singer, songwriter, actor and activist Willie Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas and calls Austin his home today. Raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song when he was just 7 years old. In high school, he toured with his band Bohemian Polka before enlisting in the United States Air Force. He attended Baylor University and worked as a disc jokey before he began recording albums. Nelson became a beloved country music star in the 1970’s and remains popular today.
Growing up in the Houston suburb Bellaire with his family including future actor Randy Quaid, Dennis studied drama and dance. He studied at the University of Houston but dropped out to pursue an acting career which proved successful. Quaid’s first film role was in 1979’s Breaking Away. He went on to star in the 1980’s hits The Right Stuff, The Big Easy, Innerspace and Great Balls Of Fire! when he played Jerry Lee Louis. Quaid also appeared in The Parent Trap, Traffic, The Day After Tomorrow, Footloose, and most recently, The Underdog. Quaid won the New York Film Critic Award for his role in 2002’s Far From Heaven.
Actress and director Robin Wright was born and raised near Dallas. She began her acting career on the NBC soap opera Santa Barbara in the 1980’s. Wright rose to fame starring in the 1987 movie The Princess Bride.. She went on to star in movies including Forrest Gump, Message In a Bottle and Moneyball. She currently stars as Claire Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards and won a Golden Globe for her role.
Growing up in Quitman, Mary Elizabeth “Sissy” Spacek longed to be a recording artist. She regularly won talent contests. Spacec was drawn to the theater and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. Spacek’s first film role was as an extra in Andy Warhol’s Women In Revolt. She continued to begin a successful acting career and broke out with her role in Brian DePalma’s movie based on Steven King’s Carrie in 1976. In 1980, Spacek starred as Lorretta Lynn In A Cole Miner’s Daughter and was nominated for a Grammy Award for her performance on the movie’s soundtrack. Spacek continued her acting career with films including Missing, Crimes of the Heart and In the Bedroom. She most recently starred in the Netflix series Bloodline.
Born in Austin in 1970, Ethan Hawke grew up mostly in New Jersey but maintains his Texas roots. The act , or, director and screenwriter has maintained a successful presence as a celebrity. His acting credits include Dead Poet’s Society, Training Day, Gattica, Realty Bites, Hamlet, Sinister and Boyhood. Hawke has also had a successful career on the stage both acting, directing and writing. Hawke’s Broadway career include starring in the 2007 production of Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia and directing Sam Sheppard’s A Lie of The Mind in 2010.
Actor Gary Busey was born in Goose Creek, Texas in 1944 before moving to Oklahoma as a child. Busey attended Pittsburg State University in Kansas on a football scholarship and later studied acting at Oklahoma State University. In the meantime, he played drums in a band. Busey has had an up and down career, appearing on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, the sixth season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing With the Stars. In the meantime, he’s had a successful career as an actor starring in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and The Firm.
Born in Katy,Texas in 1969, Reneé Zellweger studied journalism at the University of Texas in Austin before changing her major to English Literature and Acting. She appeared in Realty Bites, Dazed and Confused and several independent films before her hit role in Jerry McGuire. Zellweger went on to star in Me, Myself and I and Nurse Betty before her starring role in Bridget Jones’ Diary and Chicago. In 2004, Zellweger starred in Cold Mountain and won an Oscar. Most recently, Zellweger won an Academy Award for her role as the iconic Judy Garland in Judy.
Dancer, choregrapher, actress, producer and director Debbie Allen was born and raised near Houston with her sister, the equally talented Phylicia Rashad who starred in The Cosby Show. She has won several Emmy and Tony awards throughout her career. Best known her role as a dance teacher on the series Fame from 1982 through 1987, Allen also starred in A Different World and In the House. Most recently, she stars as Dr. Catherine Avery in Grey’s Anatomy and has directed and produced several episodes.
Best known for his role as scientist Sheldon Cooper in the CBS hit sitcom Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons is a proud Houston Native. Acting in school plays led to Parson’s University of Houston theater degree. He also received his Master’s degree at the University of Santa Barbara. Parsons spends his time between Los Angeles and New York City. He starred in several off Broadway plays and turned some of them, including The Normal Heart and The Boys In The Band into films.
Bill Paxton, who passed away in 2017, was born and raised near Fort Worth, Texas. As a child he was photographed in a crowd watching as President John F. Kennedy, Jr. was leaving the Hotel Texas just before the President’s assassination. After high school, Paxton studied in England working on short films. He moved to Los Angeles and worked as a set dresser. Paxton went on to appear in films including Weird Science, Aliens, Apollo 13, Twister and Titanic. He also appeared in HBO’s Big Love, the History Channel’s Hatfield and McCoys and in the CBS series Training Day.
Singer, songwriter and actress Demi Lovato was born in New Mexico but grew up in her mother’s hometown of Dallas, Texas. Her mother is a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Lovato started her acting and singing career on Barney and Friends from 2002 through 2004. She became famous starring in the Camp Rock films. In 2008 Lovato recordered her first of several successful studio albums. She’s appeared on television in Sonny With a Chance, as a judge on The X Factor USA and as a recurring character on Glee.