In pop culture, reality TV doesn't necessarily have the best reputation. Sometimes people assume it's scripted, or other times it gets deemed "trashy." But did you know some of today's biggest celebrities got their start on reality TV? And no, I'm not just talking about the Kardashians and Jenners. Those are the more obvious examples. Plenty of singers and actors once had minor cameos on some of your favorite shows — or in other instances, they were major competitors in TV contests.
Whether appearances on American Idol or more obscure series, you may be surprised by some of the names on this list. You might think Lucy Hale skyrocketed into fame from Pretty Little Liars , right? Wrong, the actor actually had a pretty cool singing career first. Or what about music queen Beyoncé? She also began on TV's competition Star Search, way before those Destiny's Child Days. The same can be said for another major pop star on this list.
This list can double as some useful pop culture trivia. Feel free to bust out these facts and impress all of your entertainment-obsessed friends. Here's a round-up of celebrities who began their careers on reality TV. Because yes, it can lead to a sustainable career.
Her first hit song was "Tik Tok," but before brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, Kesha appeared on The Simple Life . Her mother Pebe Sebert invited Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie into her home. Sebert described the family as "free spirits."
2. Lucy Hale
Before she was Pretty Little Liars' Aria Montgomery, Lucy Hale appeared on a singing competition. She actually was one of five winners on Fox's American Juniors. It was the kiddie version of American Idol, which formed a singing group. You won't believe the voice that comes out of her in the clip below.
3. Emma Stone
Now a well-known actor, Emma Stone actually competed on VH1's In Search of the Partridge Family — and was one of the winners. It's a good reminder that not only can she star in movies, but this redhead has quite the voice. Also, fun fact: She went by her real name, Emily, on the series.
4. Nicole Scherzinger
Nicole Scherzinger solidified her spot in pop culture through The Pussycat Dolls. But before she was singing "Don't Cha," she was part of a different girl group — Eden's Crush. Scherzinger was on the WB's 2001 music competition series Popstars. Watch the video below and reminisce.
5. Jennifer Hudson
Before she won an Oscar for Dream Girls, Jennifer Hudson was a contestant on American Idol . She appeared on Season 3 of the show and made it to the top seven. But if you watch her audition below, you'll be puzzled as to why she didn't win the whole competition.
6. Kim Kardashian
Of course, Kim K is a well-known reality star now. But her family's E! series, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, isn't where she got her start. Kardashian appeared alongside Paris Hilton in several episodes of The Simple Life. Nowadays, she's nobody's sidekick.
7. Britney Spears
You know her as the "Oops! I Did It Again" singer, who forever reigns as the queen of pop. But before she was a music legend, Britney Spears competed on Star Search , the TV talent competition that aired from the '80s to the early '00s.
Even before Destiny's Child was singing "Bootylicious," a young Beyoncé Knowles competed on Star Search with her group Girls' Tyme. (The intro of the performance below is exactly what you hear on her track "***Flawless.")
9. Aaron Paul
Prior to Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul was a very enthusiastic contestant on The Price Is Right . You'd think he won the lottery or something, based on how excited he is to meet Bob Barker. Sadly, he didn't win.
10. Laverne Cox
Now Laverne Cox is one of the talented stars in Orange is the New Black. But before that, Cox was a contestant on VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy . Yup, she was vying for a spot as one of Diddy's employees.
11. Katharine McPhee
Katharine McPhee was an American Idol contestant before she became an actor. McPhee has since appeared in movies like The House Bunny and the CBS TV series Scorpion. Check out the throwback clip below.
12. Lady Gaga
Even before she sang "Just Dance," Lady Gaga was on an MTV prank show called Boiling Points . She appeared in a 2005 episode where her patience was tested. At the time, she went by her real name, Stefani Germanotta. She's hardly recognizable with her dark hair.
13. Jon Hamm
At age 25, Jon Hamm appeared on reality TV show The Big Date. Unfortunately, he didn't get chosen. This was obviously before his Don Draper days. Watch him overuse the word "fabulous" in the clip below.
14. Miranda Lambert
It's been over a decade since she first appeared on TV screens, but Miranda Lambert got her start auditioning on a singing show. In 2003, she competed on USA's Nashville Star. She landed third place in the competition. Not bad at all.
15. Zayn Malik (& The Rest Of One Direction)
I know, I know. Loyal Directioners know that 1D started on The X Factor in 2010. But considering how huge they've become since then, sometimes it's easy to forget their roots. Just look at these clips from their first auditions.
16. Heather Morris
The Glee star didn't make her debut on that specific FOX series. Heather Morris actually appeared on another one of the network's shows: So You Think You Can Dance. Morris auditioned in 2006, but didn't make it past Vegas week. Clearly, she bounced back just fine.
17. Julianne Hough
She's become a mainstream celebrity, but Julianne Hough was first known for Dancing With The Stars , where she got her start in 2007. Since then, she's become a judge on the show. She also starred in Grease: Live as Sandy and Nicholas Sparks' 2013 movie Safe Haven.
18. Ashlee Simpson
Not only did Ashlee Simpson have her own show in the early '00s on MTV, but she also appeared on big sis Jessica Simpson's Newlyweds. Yup, before she was a singer in her own right, she made reality TV cameos.
So much nostalgia, so little time! Before you know it, today's reality stars will become big-name celebs. Just wait and see.