Actors Who Started Acting In Their 20s (Not Everyone In Hollywood Was A Child Star, OK?)

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Doesn't it feel like society always puts pressure on 20-somethings? It's as if when you reach that decade, you're supposed to have life all figured out. The post-college time period is filled with major life decisions: what career path to take, where to live, who to spend the rest of your life with, etc. But actually, it's never too late to pursue a career you love — especially if you're only in your 20s. Yes, I said only. There are several actors who didn't get their start until their 20s and they serve as proof to that statement.

It's comforting to know these celebs didn't grow up as child stars, because that means they took time to figure out what exactly they wanted to do career-wise. This also means it's never too late to take on a new challenge. If you've always dreamed of acting, maybe you can still have your big break too.

Here's a round-up of actors who didn't get their start until their 20s. I prefer to not call them "late bloomers," because they shouldn't have to conform to anyone else's timeline. The fact that they're some of Hollywood's biggest names today shouldn't surprise you; hopefully it will inspire you. So, what are you waiting for? Go take that theater class that's been on your bucket list forever.

1. Jon Hamm

The Mad Men star may be a household name now, but he didn't land his first roles until the late '90s at the age of 26. According to W magazine, Hamm set a personal goal of being "self-sufficient" as an actor by age 30.


Hamm's Big Break

So, what was Jon Hamm's first credited role? According to IMDb, he played "gorgeous guy at bar" on Ally McBeal. His bigger break came in 2000, when he was 29, on the TV series Providence.

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2. Jenna Fischer

Jenna Fischer will always be Pam to The Office fans. Before she played the love of Jim Halpert's life, she began landing acting gigs at age 24.

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The Pre-Pam Days

Fischer's first credited roles on IMDb are from 1998, where she appeared in Channel 493 and Born Champion. She had numerous minor roles, leading up to The Office in 2005.

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3. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson is one of the most well-known actors alive, yet he didn't actually start landing roles until the 1970s.


Before 'Pulp Fiction'

Jackson's big break came in his 40s in the classic Pulp Fiction. So if that's not inspiration — I don't know what is. However, it was in his 20s that he first began appearing on-screen in several TV shows and movies.

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4. Dave Franco

You may be familiar with his brother James, but Dave Franco is making quite a name for himself in Hollywood, as well. He's been in everything from Neighbors to 21 Jump Street.

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Franco's Early Roles

The now 31-year-old got his start at age 21. Franco's first TV role was on the beloved family show, 7th Heaven. Then he had a cameo in Superbad the following year.

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5. Courteney Cox

The Friends star wasn't always hanging out at Central Perk. Courteney Cox began her acting career at age 20 on As the World Turns, playing a character named Bunny.

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Modeling First

According to her bio on IMDb, Cox first worked as a model in NYC. She originally planned on studying architecture and interior design in college, but dropped out after one year to move to the city.

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6. Jonah Hill

This funny guy's first role was in I Heart Huckabees in 2004. Hill was 21 at the time.


College Career

Hill began starring in and writing plays during his college years while studying drama at the New School, according to IMDb. After his I Heart Huckabees part, he got his real big break in Superbad in 2007 at age 24.

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7. Connie Britton

Nowadays, Connie Britton is known for her roles on Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story, and Nashville. She's worked hard to get to where she is.

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Humble Beginnings

It wasn't until Britton was 28 that she landed her first role in The Brothers McCullen in 1995. Prior to that, she worked as an aerobics structor in NYC in between auditions, according to Huffington Post.

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8. Uzo Aduba

Uzo Aduba is an Emmy Award-winning actor. The Orange Is The New Black star was first recognized for acting in 2003 at the age of 22.

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Making A Name For Herself

Aduba's 2003 role was in Translations of Xhosa at the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing arts. She even received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Play. After that, she appeared in short films in 2005 and 2007.

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9. Steve Carell

He's one of the funniest men in Hollywood, but Steve Carrell wasn't always an actor. After being in an improv troupe, he landed his first movie role at age 29.

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Breaking Into The Biz

Carell's first movie was Curly Sue in 1991. He also appeared in Life As We Know It! that same year. In '96, he landed a recurring role on The Dana Carvey Show.


10. Melissa McCarthy

It should surprise no one that Melissa McCarthy began her career in comedy. That was before she appeared as Sookie in Gilmore Girls — or became the big-name star she is today.

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Moving To TV

Before she was busting ghosts or being a bridesmaid, McCarthy's first role was in 1997. She appeared in her cousin Jenny McCarthy's TV show at age 27. After that, she began landing minor TV roles until making it big.

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11. Ellie Kemper

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star's determination is, well, unbreakable. Ellie Kemper studied English at Princeton and participated in improv while there.

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Switching To Acting

It was in 2006 and 2007 that Kemper began appearing in TV shorts — she was in her late 20s at the time. She was 29 when she landed her breakthrough role on The Office.

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