32 Hollywood Actresses Who Started Out as Models

From Brooke Shields to Julia Roberts, the pivot is more common than you'd think.

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Believe it or not, the modeling-to-acting pipeline isn't as unusual as you may think. Some of your favorite actors started out life as models (and many more have tried to parlay runwau success to on-screen success!). Whether they really wanted to be actors and just started doing modeling as a means to an end, or they started life as a model but were scouted for a film role, or something in between, there are a ton of highly paid actresses who used to appear on runways and in the pages of our favorite magazines. From some of our most beloved actresses like Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron, to '80s icons like Brooke Shields, to Oscar winners like Halle Berry, you'll be surprised by how many actresses you didn't realize were models in a past life.

Below, 32 Hollywood actresses who actually started off as models.

Tyra Banks

models turned actresses tyra banks

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This Victoria's Secret Angel, who was three times featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, is probably most-known for America's Next Top Model (and hosting other hit shows), but also had small parts in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Coyote Ugly, among others.

Emily Ratajkowski

models turned actresses Emily Ratajkowski

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Remember Emily Ratajkowski's bit part in Gone Girl (and before that, a teeny tiny role in iCarly!)? Let's not forget her modeling work that includes walking at New York Fashion Week, starring on international Vogue covers, and appearing as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

models turned actresses Rosie huntington whiteley

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While you might not be as familiar with Huntington-Whiteley's on-screen work, including smaller parts in Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Mad Max: Fury Road, you're probably more familiar with her modeling career, including as a Victoria's Secret Angel and Harper's Bazaar Model of the Year.

Jaime King

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Jaime King was discovered at 14 and had a successful modeling career, including in Vogue, on the Chanel runway, and for a Revlon campaign. She successfully transitioned to film and TV, including Pearl Harbor, Sin City, and Hart of Dixie (and continued modeling for part of that time).

Ali MacGraw

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The Goodbye, Columbus and Love Story actress worked as a model before landing in movies. Intriguingly, she spent several years at Harper's Bazaar as a photo assistant for Diana Vreeland (who later became editor-in-chief at Vogue). She also did TV ads, including for a bikini made by International Paper.

Cara Delevingne

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Two-time Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards, Cara Delevingne was scouted at 10(!); Her breakthrough was walking the Burberry catwalk in 2011. TV- and film-wise, you might know her from Suicide Squad (2016), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and Only Murders in the Building.

Famke Janssen

models turned actresses Famke janssen

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If Famke Janssen is recognizable to you as Phoenix from the X-Men films (or, if you like TV, How to Get Away with Murder), previous to her on-screen work, she was a model who did campaigns for Victoria's Secret and Chanel before she retired in the 1990s.

Amber Valletta

models turned actresses Amber valletta

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Considered a prominent supermodel in the 1990s (with 17(!) American Vogue covers to her name), Valletta made a successful transition to films like What Lies Beneath (2000) and Hitch (2005) and then subsequently TV in Revenge and Blood & Oil.

Rebecca Romijn

models turned actresses Rebecca romijn

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You may know Romijn from Star Trek, X-Men, or (if you're like me) Ugly Betty. But before that, she was a 1990s model who appeared on tons of magazine covers, walked a bunch of runways, and did a ton of ad campaigns (including Victoria's Secret and Maybelline).

Tricia Helfer

models turned actresses Tricia helfer

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For those of us who are sci-fi fans, Tricia Helfer was one of the stars of the show Lucifer and, before that, famously Number Six in the Battlestar Galactica remake. The winner of the 1993 Ford Models' Supermodel of the World contest, Helfer worked regularly in campaigns and runways before retiring to do acting.

Abbey Lee

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If you liked Mad Max: Fury Road or the short-lived Lovecraft Country or even M. Night Shyamalan's Old, you've seen Abbey Lee. But before all that, she was a highly sought-after model, debuting at NYFW in 2008 and becoming a Victoria's Secret model that same year.

Sienna Miller

models turned actresses sienna miller

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Sienna Miller's gotten some critical acclaim for her movie roles (The Girl, Factory Girl, American Sniper), so it's easy to forget that she graced the pages of Italian Vogue when she first started out as a model. She also did covers (including for Marie Claire!) and campaigns, including for Coke.

Demi Moore

models turned actresses demi moore

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After a volatile and difficult home life as a child, Demi Moore worked as a model for a short time as a teenager, and made her acting debut before she was even 20 in General Hospital. Believe it or not, though, she made her runway debut for Fendi in 2021.

Cameron Diaz

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Cameron Diaz started modeling when she was in high school—which included a magazine cover for Seventeen and campaigns with Coke and Calvin Klein—and, at the advice of an agent to audition, was only 21 when she made her film debut in The Mask in 1994.

Brooke Shields

models turned actresses brooke shields

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Brooke Shields famously and controversially started working at a very young age. After modeling as a literal baby, she also worked as a child model. Acting followed at a young age too, including 1976's Alice, Sweet Alice, and a long career followed.

Anjelica Huston

models turned actresses Anjelica Huston

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The daughter of famed director John Huston (who'd tried to feature her in an early film), Anjelica Huston was more interested in modeling through the 1970s—becoming a favorite of Halston—and only picked up acting in the following decade.

Andie MacDowell

models turned actresses Andie macdowell

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The Four Weddings and a Funeral actress (and Margaret Qualley's mom, in case you didn't know!) started life as a model—and has had a long, fruitful partnership with L'Oreal in particular. Believe it or not, her early work for Calvin Klein led to her being cast in films in the 1980s.

Monica Bellucci

models turned actresses Monica bellucci

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An Elite model who did a number of campaigns, including as a famous muse for Dolce & Gabbana, Monica Bellucci has remained a model throughout her career. She began as a pre-teen and made her formal debut at 16—campaigns, covers, and fame followed.

Jessica Lange

models turned actresses jessica lange

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Jessica Lange was discovered while she was living in Paris and signed to an agency in the 1970s. She moved to New York and tried to get signed—and by her admission, wasn't very successful—but her breakout performance in King Kong (1976) helped start her career.

Rene Russo

models turned actresses rene russo

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Before she transitioned to acting in her 30s, Rene Russo moved to New York to pursue modeling—and was prolific in the 1970s and 1980s, including covers for Vogue and Cosmopolitan. She became known for her bombshell roles, including in two Lethal Weapon movies and The Thomas Crown Affair.

Gal Gadot

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Like many on this list, Gal Gadot competed in pageants and was crowned Miss Israel in 2004. Before her breakout in 2009 with Fast & Furious, she did a number of international campaigns and magazine covers; She continued to model even after she became a known actor.

Halle Berry

models turned actresses Halle berry

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The former pageant queen (and first runner-up in Miss USA 1986) began establishing herself as an actress in the 1990s and became a household name in the 2000s. She continued to work as a model throughout her career, including for Revlon.

Jennifer Connelly

models turned actresses Jennifer connelly

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Jennifer Connelly began child modeling before she was even a teen—she really has been in the business since she was little!—and did print ads, magazine covers, and TV commercials. Some of her modeling overlapped with her acting, but she had her big break in 1986 with Labyrinth.


models turned actresses twiggy

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There were fewer more popular supermodels in the 1960s than the waifish, androgynous Twiggy. Her career spanned decades, but she also dipped into acting: Golden Globe nominated in The Boy Friend (1971), stage work in My One and Only on Broadway, and (more recently) a judge on America's Next Top Model

Diane Kruger

models turned actresses diane kruger

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Before she played most beautiful woman in the world (Helen of Troy) in Troy (2004), Kruger was a pretty prolific model (despite being relatively short at 5'9"). She landed on several covers, including Marie Claire, as well as runways and campaigns, but stopped in the 2000s to pursue acting.

Uma Thurman

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Uma Thurman started modeling as a teen—and landed a couple of magazine covers in those early years—but almost immediately started getting cast in films, including Dangerous Liaisons in 1988. She'd wanted to be an actress from an early age, and was scouted in ninth grade.

Sharon Stone

models turned actresses sharon stone

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Sharon Stone was a pageant contestant (and was in the running for Miss Pennsylvania), then moved to New York and was signed to an agency. It wasn't long-lasting, and Stone quickly decided to pivot to acting—landing her first speaking role a couple years later.

Milla Jovovich

models turned actresses milla jovovich

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The star of The Fifth Element and all those Resident Evil movies was determined by Forbes to be the highest-paid model in 2004. Milla Jovovich has done myriad campaigns and runways and has dozens of magazine covers to her name (including Marie Claire!).

Cybill Shepherd

models turned actresses Cybill shepherd

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A former competitor in the 1968 "Model of the Year" contest, Shepherd parlayed her modeling success into film roles, with her breakthrough in The Last Picture Show in 1971. She continued to model during her early acting career, including on Kodak billboards.

Charlize Theron

models turned actresses Charlize theron

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Charlize Theron became a model when she was just 16 and, after a short-lived dancing career, moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. What followed was success in the 1990s and beyond, although Theron has continued to do endorsements, including for Dior.

Julia Roberts

models turned actresses julia roberts

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Julia Roberts moved to New York to pursue acting but still did sign with a modeling agency in her early years. There's not much we know beyond that and the fact that she (obviously) obtained stardom quickly with Mystic Pizza in 1988 and Pretty Woman in 1990.

Angelina Jolie

models turned actresses angelina jolie

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While her first acting job was technically as a child alongside father Jon Voight, Jolie had a short modeling career as a teen. Her acting career would kick off in the 1990s with Hackers, but we still have some amazing early headshots before she became a superstar.

Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.