Celebs Who Proved Their Doubters And Haters Wrong

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Wikimedia Commons | Gage Skidmore

When you really think about it, the odds of becoming a world-renowned celebrity are incredibly low. Getting through casting calls and rising to the top of a highly competitive field takes a toll on anyone, and many celebs have encountered hurtful judgment on their way to the top.

Still, virtually every celebrity recognizes that haters are gonna hate — and the best revenge is proving them wrong.

Stephen King

Author Stephen King
Wikimedia Commons | Pinguino Kolb

One of the 20th century's most renowned authors struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction early in his career. He also struggled with rejection. His first book, Carrie, is now seen as a horror classic. But at the time, he just couldn't find anyone willing to publish it — the book was rejected more than 30 times before Doubleday took a chance on the newcomer.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley in concert
Wikimedia Commons | RCA Records

It's hard to imagine that the world's most famous rock star faced any adversity on his way to the top, but Elvis certainly did. Early in his career, he was denied at an audition and told that he should stick to truck driving.

Edgar Wright

Filmmaker Edgar Wright has made some beloved films, ranging from his "Cornetto trilogy" with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, to bigger fare like Ant-Man and Baby Driver. He got his start with the quirky TV series Spaced, and he shared this amusing anecdote about his early career struggles on Twitter.

Walt Disney

Animator Walt Disney
Wikimedia Commons | New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Fisher, Alan, photographer.

The man who started the $97 billion Disney empire had a rocky start. He was fired from one of his first jobs as an animator at the Kansas City Star by a boss who told him that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

Brad Pitt

Actor Brad Pitt
Wikimedia Commons | Chrisa Hickey

From his breakout role in Thelma and Louise to becoming one of Hollywood's most enduring and bankable stars, Brad Pitt is a top-tier actor. Early in his career, though, Pitt was insulted by a casting director who asked him if he'd ever considered taking acting classes. Ouch.

Angela Kinsey

Angela Kinsey's role as the weird, strait-laced accountant in The Office is downright iconic, to the point that it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. But Kinsey's desired role was playing Pam. Of course, Jenna Fischer got the role, Kinsey got the accountant role, and the rest is history.

Taylor Swift

T-Swift's meteoric rise to fame culminated with being named the youngest-ever Nashville Songwriter's Association artist of the year in 2007. But even though she found success at a young age, most of her old friends and peers didn't think she'd make it big.

Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos was a virtual unknown when My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out in 2002. The film turned her into an instant star, but it didn't come without its share of setbacks, as she shared in this tweet.

Harrison Ford

Actor Harrison Ford
Wikimedia Commons | Gage Skidmore

Harrison Ford was a bit of a late bloomer by Hollywood standards, as he didn't have any major roles until his 30s. During his 20s, he was told by a talent scout that he was "never going to make it in the business."

James Breakwell

He might not have the name recognition of other celebs on this list, but James Breakwell has a bit of a comedy empire going on Twitter. He has well over a million followers on his XplodingUnicorn account and is worth $1.5 million.


Before she was a big star worldwide, Shakira was a big star in her native Colombia. But before that, it was doubtful that Shakira would ever make it at all. "My classmates thought I sang like a goat," she said bluntly.

J.K. Rowling

Author J.K. Rowling in a Lumos shirt
twitter | @jk_rowling

Rowling has become a household name and one of the most successful authors of all time for her Harry Potter series. But she faced tons of rejection early on in her writing career, as she detailed on Twitter, writing that she taped her first rejection letter to her kitchen wall as inspiration.

Michael Chiklis

Michael Chiklis, perhaps best known for his role as Vic Mackey on The Shield, isn't even going to get into specifics. But as an actor, it's clear that he's familiar with rejection. At this point, though, the 58-year-old has an impressive acting resume.

Meryl Streep

Actor Meryl Streep
Wikimedia Commons | Montclair Film

Streep is a true Hollywood icon, someone who elevates virtually every role she's in. Earlier in her career, she was objectified by casting agents who called her ugly. Now, she's advising women to not worry about their weight or appearance.

Gisele Bündchen

Bündchen is the highest-paid supermodel in the world, with a net worth dwarfing that of her husband, even though he's the greatest football player of all time. However, when she was younger, she apparently had a bit of an ugly duckling thing going on. A former classmate described her as "skinny and toothy ... not pretty at all.."

Lady Gaga

At one time, the iconic Lady Gaga was just an NYU student named Stefani Germanotta. Her attitude apparently rubbed some of her classmates the wrong way, to the point that they made a Facebook group called "Stefani Germanotta, you will never be famous."

Yeah, that one aged like milk.

Liz Hannah

Liz Hannah is a behind-the-scenes figure in Hollywood, known best for her Golden Globe nomination for best screenplay for The Post. As she details here, just two months before she sold her screenplay, she was rejected from a writers' workshop.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Wikimedia Commons | Gage Skidmore

The Governator has worn many hats, from bodybuilder to action star to governor, but the first transition — from bodybuilder to actor — may have been the most difficult. During a screening in 2015, he told attendees that everything from his body to his accent was criticized during auditions.

Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench
Wikimedia Commons | Caroline Bonarde Ucci

Dame Judi Dench is a national treasure in the U.K., but her long and distinguished career on stage and screen got off to a pretty rough start. A director once told Dench, "You'll never make a film. You have the wrong face." Several decades and dozens of films later, Dench has certainly proven that director wrong.

Elaine Hendrix

Elaine Hendrix has an acting resume going back 30 years, including roles in Inspector Gadget 2, The Parent Trap, and What the Bleep Do We Know!?. At one time, though, it seems like her viability as an actor was in question.

Sylvester Stallone

Before starring in Rocky, Stallone was an out-of-work actor that simply wasn't getting cast. When he wrote the script for what would become his breakout film, he was offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for it, but with the condition that he wouldn't be able to star in it. He refused, made it, played the leading role, and rose to fame!

Lucile Ball

A black and white image of Lucile Ball.
Wikimedia Commons | Lever Brothers

Before going on to star in I Love Lucy, Lucile Ball was considered a failed actress. She was notoriously shy, her drama teachers even tried to convince her to go into a different line of work, but any pressed on and became a television icon.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah was once fired from her job as a news anchor in Baltimore, having been told by her then-boss that she was "too emotionally invested" in the stores and was "unfit for TV news." Clearly, that didn't stop her, and today, she owns an empire!

The Spice Girls

That's right, The Spice Girls were once turned down by Simon Cowell himself! He's even admitted that he regrets doing so, but the girls still find it funny. Victoria Beckham, or Posh Spice, said, "He said we would never work. I like that fact."

Steven Spielberg

A photo of Steven Spielberg at the premiere for Ready Player One in Japan.
Wikimedia Commons | Dick Thomas Johnson

Famed director responsible for classics such as Jurrasic Park and E.T. was rejected from USC’s School of Theater, Film, and Television three times! He wound up not pursuing a degree until 2002, long after he achieved world-renowned success.