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Your first job is supposed to be a little unglamorous—even if you’re a future megastar celebrity. Whether you’re taking orders at a fast food restaurant (or mastering the art of a Subway sandwich like Margot Robbie) or helping out at the family business (like future royal Kate Middleton), you learn those skills like the importance of showing up on time, how to take direction from a boss, and maybe what not to say to a customer (hi, Nicki Minaj) at your first 9-to-5.
Many on this list look back at their first job fondly but are understandably glad that they’ve moved on from washing dishes at a restaurant or scooping ice cream during the summer. Others have had show business in their blood from day one, getting paid to sing or dance or pick up after their dad’s concerts (looking at you, Miley Cyrus) when they were still young. And a couple still maintain their first jobs were the best jobs they ever had.
But regardless of how these superstars got their start, things worked out for all of them in the end. Here, 40 celebrities reveal the first jobs they ever had.
2 Beyoncé worked at her mom’s salon.
Every queen’s reign has to start somewhere, and for Bey, that was a her mom’s hair salon in Houston. Queen B told Essence in 2011 that she learned how to work hard and what a «powerful woman is» from Tina, who also allowed little Bey to turn her salon into her first performance venue—and a place to earn a little money for the weekend.
«From 6 to 9 years old, I would sing and put on little shows by myself for the women who wanted a hot press and curl and some good conversation,» the Grammy winner told the publication. «I helped sweep hair off the floor for tips to pay for my season pass to Six Flags. (I still love a good roller-coaster ride.) And when I wasn’t cleaning up the salon, I was watching my mother become my greatest role model.»
4 Kate Middleton worked for the family business.
Kate Middleton’s life seems like a fairytale now, but at the beginning of her Cinderella story, the future Duchess of Cambridge was working jobs just like the rest of us. According to Marie Claire, Kate worked for her family’s party supply company, Party Pieces, and was an accessories buyer with British retailer Jigsaw.
5 Ashton Kutcher did all sorts of odd jobs.
Ashton Kutcher might forever be Kelso from That ’70s Show to most people, but these days, the Iowa native is more about investing in new tech startups than drinking in Forman’s basement. But Ashton’s first jobs were decidedly less glamorous.
He told Interview in 2000 that, when he was younger, he did some roofing, swept cereal dust off a factory floor, skinned and gutted deer, and donated plasma to make ends meet.
8 James Corden was a waiter.
On his late night TV show, James Corden might make celebrities eat the occasional salmon milkshake in the popular «Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts» segment, but the host also got his start serving more traditional plates in the restaurant industry.
He told GQ that he worked at an Italian restaurant called Bella Pasta and admits that he used to steal booze from his job as a way to get himself invited to house parties when he and his friends were still underage. He got caught when he tried to walk out one shift with 50 bottles of beer, but his boss needed him to work the next day, so he didn’t get fired.
9 Meghan Markle worked at a stationary shop.
You probably know about Meghan Markle’s time on a little TV show called Suits, but that wasn’t the future Duchess of Sussex’s first job. In between auditions, Meghan worked at the Paper Source store in Beverly Hills, teaching calligraphy, gift wrapping, and book binding, according to People.
The outlet also reports that she did some freelance calligraphy on the side, even writing the invitations for Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding in 2005.
12 Brad Pitt worked lots of little gigs.
Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt had quite the collection of jobs when he first moved to L.A. and was trying to make his mark as an actor. According to Fox News, the Academy Award winner worked as a chauffeur, a furniture mover, and the costumed chicken for El Pollo Loco, which has to make you think twice about who’s actually behind those mascot eyes.
13 Amy Poehler worked at an ice cream parlor.
Funny woman Amy Poehler wrote a piece for the New Yorker about how she spent the summer before college working at Chadwick’s, a local ice cream parlor that specialized in sundaes and steak fries.
«Hard and physical, the job consisted of stacking and wiping and scooping and lifting,» she said. «But I soon learned the satisfaction of working at a place that truly closed. I took great joy in watching people stroll in after hours, thinking they could grab a late-night sundae. I would point to the dimmed lights and stacked chairs as proof that we were shut. It was deliciously obvious and final.»
17 Matthew McConaughey worked at a country club.
Admittedly, this is the most Matthew McConaughey first job that Matthew McConaughey could have. Before his southern drawl and favorite phrase was known around the world, the star was responsible for cleaning the sand traps at the Oak Forest Country Club in Texas.
He told GQ that the greenskeeper later told him the club was having trouble with armadillos eating the greens at night, and that he would give the Academy Award winner a gun and he should feel free to take out any of the animals he saw trespassing on the course.
18 Melissa McCarthy was a Starbucks barista.
Turns out, celebrities get starstruck, too. At least, before they become celebrities themselves. Melissa McCarthy revealed during an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien that one of her first jobs was as a Starbucks barista in Santa Monica, as reported by E!. And one of the most memorable moments on the job for her was the day Chris Farley came in.
«You could just tell he didn’t want everybody to make a fuss, and so in my poorly executed way of, like, don’t freak him out I just kept staring at him,» she said. «At one point, I got so overwhelmed because he was right there, that I started crying.»
19 Gabourey Sidibe worked at a phone-sex company.
Gabourey Sidibe got her first taste of acting while working at a phone-sex company before her breakout role in Precious. The actress told People she had the job for three years and that she was «actually pretty good at it.»
She fielded calls for two months before being promoted. “I knew that when people were asking me, ‘So have you had any acting training?’ my acting school was on the phone, pretending to be some super-young 21-year-old college girl named Melody,» she said. «I know that was my acting! But I felt too stupid to say it.”
20 Nicole Kidman was a massage therapist.
In case you’re a director who needs another reason to book Nicole Kidman for your next movie, there’s this: She used to work as a massage therapist and still loves giving people massages.
The Academy Award winner told The Daily Beast that she first took a massage course when her mom was having muscle seizures during her radiation treatment for breast cancer, but she liked doing it and started using her skills to make some extra money for her family.
22 Kate Walsh worked at a fast-food joint.
Like many teens, Kate Walsh’s first job was in fast food. The Private Practice star said on Live with Kelly in 2017 that she started working as a cashier at Burger King when she was 14, but she got fired one day for coming to work with a cold. However, she moved on to the other fast food royalty soon afterward when her friend got her a job at Dairy Queen.
24 Barack Obama scooped ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.
It’s his vice president (and now president-elect) Joe Biden who’s known for his love of ice cream, but Barack Obama is no stranger to scooping. The 44th president worked at Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu when he was a teen, according to The Dallas Morning News, and Barack said at the time, he was more concerned about how scooping ice cream was affected his jump shot than what it meant for his future.
The job «wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it taught me some valuable lessons,» Barack wrote in a LinkedIn post. But unfortunately, the President also wrote he lost his taste for ice cream after one too many free scoops.
26 Kanye West worked at the Gap.
As a teen, Chicago native Kanye West worked at a Gap in the city. He wrote in an article for Paper that he first started falling in love with clothes at that point. «I don’t think I had any desire to actually make clothes, but I always felt like that’s what I wanted to be around. I loved the fabrics, I loved the colors, I loved the proportions,» he said.
In a full-circle moment, the Grammy winner and the clothing company announced they were teaming up for the new Yeezy line, scheduled to hit stores in 2021.
27 Madonna reportedly worked at Dunkin’.
Madonna has definitely had a memorable career, but the first stranger who probably really remembers Madonna is a customer who encountered the Queen of Pop at Dunkin’ Doughnuts.
The Grammy winner reportedly worked there before becoming an international icon—but, according to CNBC, she was fired for squirting jelly at a customer.
29 Snoop Dogg bagged groceries.
One of the many jobs Snoop Dogg reportedly had growing up was bagging groceries at a supermarket in L.A. However, Us Weekly reports the rapper and Grammy nominee was fired because, in his own words, he «was better at stealing the groceries than I was at bagging them.»
30 Julia Roberts *also* worked at Baskin-Robbins.
In addition to Barack Obama, Baskin-Robbins can also claim Julia Roberts as another one of its former now famous employees. According to Herald Weekly, her shifts scooping ice cream helped Julia pay for her acting classes.
31 Bill Hader worked at a movie theater.
If you want to make a lasting impression at your first job, you could take some pointers from Bill Hader. According to HuffPost, the actor worked at a movie theater while attending Scottsdale Community College.
He reportedly once sold a box of Raisinets to a very nervous Michael Bay at a screening for Armageddon before being fired for getting back at some annoying customers by spoiling the end of Titanic.
«I had really long hair at the time, and a beard. I looked like Charles Manson but I had to wear a cummerbund and a bow tie and stand there taking tickets,” he explained. “One night a group of sorority girls came in and were blocking the doors. I asked them to move…They were being really rude to me. So, as I tore the tickets I said, ‘By the way the boat sinks at the end, Leo dies…It’s great, you think he’s sleeping, but he’s frozen! Oh and the old lady throws the jewelry in the ocean. Enjoy the movie.’ My always-stoned boss had to come over and go, ‘Did you just tell them the end of Titanic? I have to fire you.’”
33 Seth Meyers delivered sandwiches.
Seth Meyers got his start delivering sandwiches for New England sub shop chain D’Angelo. He told GQ that he spent his time on the job and in the car listening to books on tape, but a downside of the job was that he smelled like onions all time.
34 Harry Styles worked at a bakery.
Harry Styles was just 16 years old when he auditioned for X Factor and became a member of One Direction. At the time, the singer was working in a bakery in the town of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire.
Years later, Harry returned to the bakery as part of a shoot for 1D’s movie, This Is Us, and also took a moment to pose with fans. «The shop suddenly had an influx of girls when Harry worked here,» his previous boss told Capital FM. «Sometimes there would be 12 of them pouring in at one time. Even now, a group of 20 girls will sometimes come in and start taking photos of the shop.»
35 Rachel McAdams worked at McDonald’s.
Rachel McAdams is also a member of the club of celebrities whose first paychecks came from fast food. The Notebook star worked with her sister and brother at McDonald’s for three years while she also directed kids theater.
«It was a great place to work, but I had a little bit of an OCD thing with hand washing and just didn’t have time,» she told Glamour. «They were like, ‘Hey, the drive-through’s backing up. Stop washing your hands!’ I was not a great employee; I broke the orange juice machine one day.»
36 Eva Mendes worked at a hot dog joint.
One of Eva Mendes’ first summer jobs was at a fast-food restaurant Hot Dog on A Stick where she sold lemonade, French fries, and, well, hot dogs on sticks. According to The Daily Meal, the actress worked at the Glendale Galleria location where she earned $4.25/hour.
37 Amy Adams worked at Hooters.
Before she was being nominated for awards, Amy Adams was one of the many celebrities who got their start as Hooters girls. «It was a great job out of high school,» she told Entertainment Tonight, The Daily Mail reports. «I was a hostess at first and then I waited tables for a while and it was a great way to earn money for a car.»
39 Hugh Jackman worked at 7-Eleven.
Hugh Jackman has had a lot of success throughout his career, but when he first started working…not so much. The Wolverine actor told Fast Company that he was fired from his first job at 7-Eleven, but he still thinks he was able to learn something from the experience. «I was left with this feeling that I could make my way,» he said. «I could work with my hands, my feet, and my brain.»
40 Jon Hamm washed dishes.
Jon Hamm wasn’t always smooth-talking advertising man Don Draper. The actor told GQ that his first job was as a dish washer at a Greek restaurant in St. Louis called Spiro’s, named for its owner. Jon said that Spiro was the kind of boss who, if he didn’t like something you did, you definitely heard about it immediately and «at a high volume.»
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