Gigi Hadid Reality TV
Gigi Hadid

From Cardi to Chrissy Teigen: 29+ Stars You Forgot Were on Reality TV

Celebs

| LAST UPDATE 08/09/2022

By Scarlett Adler

We've kept up with Kim, Kourt, and Khloe for years now, but what about the other stars who once graced the world of reality tv? From game shows to guest commentators, you've never seen these stars like this before.

Cardi B: Love & Hip Hop: New York

As Cardi'll happily tell you herself, long before her days of blessing our Instagram feeds or topping our Billboard charts, she was just another "Regular, degular, shmegular" girl from the Bronx.

Cardi B Reality TV StarCardi B Reality TV Star
Hip Hop Sports Report via VH1

But back in 2015, everything changed, as she debuted on VH1's Love & Hip Hop New York for 2 years. Why'd she quit? "I don't want people to think I became a rapper because I was on Love and Hip Hop," she told Instagram. Well, it's safe to say she definitely succeeded.

Bella Hadid: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Of course, though, as the story goes, where there was Gigi, there was always sister Bella. Long before the 23-year-old's days called for jetting off to yet another fashion week or glammed-up shoot, the younger Hadid was busy entertaining us in other ways.

Bella Hadid - The Real Housewives of Beverly HillsBella Hadid - The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Bravo TV

You guessed it: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Much like her elder sister, Bella took to our screens in seasons 3-6 of the hit series to bless us with her beauty, brains, and only a little bit of sibling rivalry. Hey, we've all been there, haven't we?

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Kelly Clarkson: American Idol

Some people wait a lifetime for their dreams to come true. As for Kelly Clarkson? Back in 2002, the 20-year-old waitress stood before Simon, Paula, and Randy, as she sang her heart out with the hopes of making it to Hollywood. And, well, you know how that story goes. If by some chance you don't?

Kelly Clarkson American IdolKelly Clarkson American Idol
Steve Granitz via Getty Images

"18 Years ago today was the finale of the first season of American Idol, and it changed my life!" as the superstar herself gushed. After winning the first season of the reality series, the Texas native would never be the same, landing the million-dollar prize of an RCA record contract. Are you as nostalgic as we are?

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Adam Lambert: American Idol

But while the Moment Like This superstar was once basking in victory, our next famous face didn't share that same fate. We know, you'd probably never peg him to be voted off of a singing competition, but back in 2009, that's exactly what happened for this famous rocker.

Adam Lambert American IdolAdam Lambert American Idol
Ted Soqui via Getty Images

That's right, back in '09, as the eighth season of American Idol hit out screens, we watched this hopeful singer go home in defeat, losing the competition to 23-year-old Kris Allen (remember him?). Of course, a lot has changed since then, though Adam clearly hasn't aged one day. Seriously, what's his secret?

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Camila Cabello: X-Factor

Safe to say, our next superstar has had one whirlwind of a ride. From scandalous romances to brutal band-breakups, we almost forgot about the time this young superstar was just another shy teen with a dream of making it big. Is it all coming back to you now?

Camila Cabello on X-FactorCamila Cabello on X-Factor
Fox via Getty Images

Back in 2012, before the 15-year-old made it to our screen, the aspiring star was actually rejected by X-Factor producers during the first cut. How'd she eventually land a spot on stage? "I ended up auditioning because they saw how badly I wanted it - it's a Cuban thing," she joked to Women of the Hour.

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Gigi Hadid: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Believe it or not, there was once a time where Gigi Hadid wasn't living the life of a jet-setting supermodel. That's right, long before the blonde beauty began gracing magazine covers and strutting on runways, she was simply another teen daughter of a famed reality star.

Gigi Hadid Reality TVGigi Hadid Reality TV
Bravo TV

In fact, from seasons 3-6 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we watched young Gigi's journey to superstardom blossom before our eyes, as momager, Yolanda guided her along the way. From chaperoned photoshoots to (slightly controversial) diet tips, the mother-daughter duo was definitely nothing short of entertaining.

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Emma Stone: In Search of The Partridge Family

There are a lot of things we apparently don't know about this red-haired beauty. For starters, long before she made it onto our screens, young Emma was actually an entirely different person: Emily Stone. So, where did Emily first get her start? You won't believe this...

Emma Stone Reality TV StarEmma Stone Reality TV Star
Youtube via catndhat101

It all started when her mom "Saw a commercial on TV... and said... 'Why don't you give this a shot?'" as she told Newsweek. Sure enough, after dying her hair brown, a then 14-year-old Emily took the plunge and auditioned for VH1's In Search of The Partridge Family, singing Meridith Brooks' B*tch. The best part? She actually won.

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Lady Gaga: The Hills

Yes, you read that right. Long before the raw meat dresses, the Grammys, the army of Little Monsters, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was just "Some girl named Lady Gaga" - at least that's how The Hills' Kelly Cutrone saw her. What went down in the now-iconic Hills episode?

Lady Gaga on The HillsLady Gaga on The Hills
MTV

It was 2008, at Dylan George x Interscope event where an up-and-coming Gaga was headlining, and of course, another drama-filled scene: The star's latex catsuit's zipper broke, and we had LC and Whitney Port rush in to save the day. "You're a superwoman," Gaga thanked Conrad, before scurrying out on stage to belt out Love Game.

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Harry Styles: X-Factor U.K.

It's weird to think of a time before One Direction. I mean, who were most teenage girls idolizing before the British heartthrobs took Hollywood by storm? Only back in 2010, long before there was Zayn, Liam, Louis, and Niall, Harry Styles was just another 16-year-old boy with a dream of making a name for himself.

Harry Styles X Factor UKHarry Styles X Factor UK
Fox via Getty Images

"I'm in a band with my friends at school called 'White Eskimo,'" the nervous teen revealed as he took the X-Factor stage. "I've always wanted to audition, but I've always been too young." Sure enough, despite "Lacking confidence," according to Louis Walsh, the star went on to make it to boot camp, and the rest is, well, history.

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Ke$ha: The Simple Life

It's pretty hard to forget about the time Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie ditched Hollywood for a 'simple life' in rural Arkansas. But did you know that long before Ke$ha woke up in the mornin' feelin' like P. Diddy, she was actually just a normal teen living out west?

Ke$ha and Paris HiltonKe$ha and Paris Hilton
Youtube via OffcialDisneyChannel

At least that's how she looked, back in 2005, as she took to our screens on the latest episode of The Simple Life. How'd she end up there? Paris and Nicole were hauled in to play matchmaker for her mom, Pebe. In fact, things went so well, Ke$ha was later invited to sing vocals on Paris' 2006 single, Nothing In This World.

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Beyoncé: Star Search

She's Queen Bey, there's no doubt about it. But did you ever wonder how exactly the singing goddess first got her start? No, it wasn't thanks to her rapping husband, nor her days as a 'Destiny Child.' In fact, Beyoncé Knowles's first time onstage was actually all the way back in 1993.

Beyoncé on Star SearchBeyoncé on Star Search
CBS

"I'll never forget," former Girls Tyme bandmate, Kelly Rowland recalls of the moment she and 12-year-old Bey lost the talent competition, Star Search. The two stars, along with 4 other members, "Just cried so hard," while they watched the curtains close "Right in front of our faces." Oh, how times have changed…

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Britney Spears: Star Search

It all makes sense now: Back when Queen Bey and Girls Tyme were busy crying over their loss, we should've known that a different queen of Pop was busy standing on the other side of the curtain. Well, sort of. Back in 92, before the world came to know her name (it's Britney, b****), young Brit was, too, busy singing her heart out on stage.

Britney Spears on Star SearchBritney Spears on Star Search
Youtube via BritneyDocumentation

Unfortunately for the 11-year-old, her shot at becoming a 'star' was taken by 12-year-old Marty Thomas, who landed 4/4 stars by the Star Search judges. But don't worry, Marty was just as shocked as we were by Brit's defeat: "I remember walking offstage thinking, 'She's going to beat me,'" he told ABC. "[I was ] shocked out of my mind."  

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Chris Hemsworth: Dancing With the Stars Australia

A lot went down in 2006: We were first introduced to Hannah Montana and the Stewart family, Facebook (As long as you were 13 with a valid e-mail, of course) - and Chris Hemsworth, on Dancing With the Star Australia. Yep, are you as uncomfortable as we are right now?

Chris Hemsworth Reality TVChris Hemsworth Reality TV
Pinterest via Married Wiki

Around 14 years and a million Marvel movies ago, the Australian star was busy salsa-ing his way through our screens. Unfortunately, viewers weren't as impressed with him as we'd be, and he was eventually voted off come Week 7. We wonder if Loki had anything to do with it.

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Jamie Chung: The Real World

What happens when seven strangers are picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped? One of them ends up a Hollywood celebrity. Well, at least for Real-World castmember, Jamie Chung, that is. Yep, before she began gracing red carpets, we watched her stop being polite and start getting real.

Jamie Chung in The Real WorldJamie Chung in The Real World
MTV

Back in 2004, 20-year-old Jamie was busy working in a sports bar when she caught her big break: an audition for the 14th season of the Real-World. Sure enough, it must've been impressive, because she went on to star in the show, as well as its spin-off Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II.

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Carrie Underwood: American Idol

"I feel a little scared... nervous," Carrie's mother sheepishly told the camera crew: Back in 2004, a blonde-haired, bright-eyed 21-year-old drove from Checotah, Oklahoma to St. Louis, Missouri to land a ticket to Hollywood. Sporting faded denim jeans and a pink, cotton tee, the country girl's life would soon change forever.

Carrie Underwood American IdolCarrie Underwood American Idol
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

"That was very good, Carrie," Simon Cowell was seen giving a (very rare) compliment to the anxious contestant. Of course, we all know how Carrie's story ended, and after winning the fourth season of the series, she went on to become one of the biggest Hollywood stars. We bet Simon's feeling really proud right about now.

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Lucy Hale: American Juniors

We've got a secret, can you keep it? Back in 2003, long before this beauty became a pretty little liar, a 14-year-old Hale competed on American Idol's spinoff, American Juniors, in hopes of becoming, well, America's junior? Are you as surprised as we are?

Lucy Hale American JuniorsLucy Hale American Juniors
Youtube via AJuniors2003

"Look at that crimped hair... what a mess!" the Pretty Little Liars actress joked to Jimmy Kimmel, as she watched her audition 17 years - and a new set of eyebrows - later. Seriously, we're having trouble believing we're looking at the same person here.

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Nicole Scherzinger: Pop Stars 

Before everyone was wishing that their girlfriend was as hot as her (didn't cha?), this Pussycat Dolls beauty was busy going unnoticed on the American version of singing competition, Popstars. "I remember that audition like it was yesterday," she recalled to The Guardian.

Nicole Scherzinger on Pop StarsNicole Scherzinger on Pop Stars
Arnaldo Magnani via Getty Images

"They were rolling their eyes… only let me take two steps into the room," the artist revealed of her 2001 audition. "I pretty much sang an original song a cappella, standing next to the door." If only Nicole knew that she'd soon go from being (unfairly) judged to the very one behind the table. Ironic, isn't it?

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Taryn Manning: Pop Stars

But something tells us our next star's brush with reality television will be more shocking than the X-Factor judge's. That's right, does Joe Caputo know that this Litchfield Penitentiary inmate once found her way onto our screens - and amazed us?

Taryn Manning Pop StarsTaryn Manning Pop Stars
Twitter via @jeff_benjamin

Back in '01, while judges were busy rolling their eyes at Scherzinger, 21-year-old Taryn was also busy fighting for a spot at stardom. Belting out the lyrics to Xtina's Genie in a Bottle, the Orange Is the New Black star was eventually sent home. We wonder if that's when Pensatucky came to find her way into Litchfield.

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Usher: Star Search 

Believe it or not, back in 1991, 13-year-old Usher Raymond IV actually got it bad, after his stint on (you guessed it,) Star Search was cut short, and he was sent home. Despite his loss, though, the Texas teen was so impressive that he managed to break records - and even go on to sign one. Sound familiar?

Usher on Star SearchUsher on Star Search
Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Decked out in a snapback, the star "got down on one knee and belted out Boyz II Men," as L.A. Reid recalled. But he also broke a record for the longest note ever held by a child on the show - a whopping 12 seconds. Perhaps that's why he soon caught the eye of an A&R rep for LaFace Records, becoming one of R&B's biggest names.

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Winnie Harlow: America's Next Top Model

Wanna be on top? 19-year-old Chantelle Winnie once did, as she made her way in front of Tyra and the panel, on Cycle 21 of America's Next Top Model. "I wanna help you be able to see the beauty of every other person that has a disability, a mark, a scar - how can I show you the beauty in differences?" she told viewers.

Winnie Harlow and Tyra BanksWinnie Harlow and Tyra Banks
Pinterest via Renee Brandt

Unfortunately for 'Winnie,' her 2014 journey eventually got cut short, after the one photo in Tyra's hand, well, wasn't hers; But that's okay, because she's since gone on to make it as one of America's top models, appearing in Vogue, Victoria's Secret and endless other swanky names.

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Laverne Cox: I Want to Work for Diddy

Laverne Cox has come a long way since we saw Sophia Burset trimming inmates' hair at her little makeshift salon. But what about before the Orange Is the New Black beauty made it big on our screens? You know, like that one time she auditioned to be an assistant for P. Diddy?

Laverne Cox and P DiddyLaverne Cox and P Diddy
Instagram via @lavernecox

Yes, you read that right. Back in 2008, a "super funny and bold" Cox, as her teammate put it, competed on VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy, for a spot on Diddy's payroll. Despite getting the ax after 2 episodes, Cox felt "it was important for the audience... to see a black rapper and media mogul embracing a trans woman of color."  

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Analeigh Tipton: America's Next Top Model

You were probably too busy cringing at her, um, extracurricular activities with Miles Teller in Two Night Stand to remember that you've actually seen Analeigh's face long before she made it on the big screen. Yep, back in '08, the Minnesota beauty's career first kicked off, after being scouted on her Myspace page.

Analeigh TiptonAnaleigh Tipton
Pinterest via Amaya Ortigosa

What happened? After auditioning for Cycle 11 of the modeling competition, the quirky star went on to land third place. But while she was no longer in the running to be America's next top model, the talented star embarked on a different path - one that placed her as an A-list actress, so we'd say she's doing just fine.

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Chrissy Teigen: Deal or No Deal

Remember that time we watched ordinary people fight with hidden bankers, as gorgeous models opened briefcases of cash on stage? Yeah, 2005 was weird. Of course, though, we couldn't get enough of Howie Mandel and his addicting game show, which actually lasted 5 whole seasons. But do you know who also loved the series?

Chrissy Teigen on Deal or No DealChrissy Teigen on Deal or No Deal
Instagram via @chrissyteigen

This hilarious legend. Well, that was until she got booted off of the show. "I never understood when I was supposed to make the sad face," Teigen revealed on the 'gram, of her days as a briefcase model back in 2007. "I think that's why I was gently replaced."

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Heather Morris: So You Think You Can Dance

You already know that the girl can sing, but did you know that back in 2006, before Brittany joined McKinley High's Glee club, she was actually trying her talents elsewhere? Unfortunately for her, Heather's journey on this stage didn't last very long, though...

Heather MorrisHeather Morris
Youtube via DanceOn

Along with old friend, Ben Susak, the aspiring dancer made it through Vegas Week before being cut for So You Think You Can Dance's top 20; But in only a matter of time, her moves would land her a spot somewhere a little more impressive than a reality show stage: dancing on tour for both Queen Bey and Brittney Spears. Are you jealous yet?

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Kristen Wiig: The Joe Schmo Show

Before she was blessing us with those one-liners on Saturday Night Live, this A-list comedian was busy fooling poor contestants on the reality prank series The Joe Schmo Show. That's right, Kristen Wiig has always been funny, we just didn't know it.

Kristen Wiig The Joe Schmo ShowKristen Wiig The Joe Schmo Show
Tumblr via classicajays

So, what did her 2003 stint call for, exactly? Pretending to be "The Quack, Dr. Pat" - a marriage counselor, hauled in to prank the latest "Shmo" on the prank series. Of course, her time on screen was nothing short of eventual, filled with real-life head-injuries and hectic hospital visits.

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Elisabeth Hasselbeck: Survivor

We know, when you hear the name Elisabeth Hasselbeck, you're probably picturing conservative ensembles and heated debates; But believe it or not, the Fox News on-air personality was one living a very unfiltered, unpolished life on our screens, as we watched her get down and dirty in the Australian Outback.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck on SurvivorElisabeth Hasselbeck on Survivor
CBS Archive / Monty Brinton via Getty Images

That's right, back in 2001, the blonde news anchor was busy serving as the self-appointed cheerleader of the 'Kucha' tribe, where she formed alliances and fought for survival. Safe to say, she did pretty well for herself, landing in 4th place, after being voted out by the jury on day 39.

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Jon Hamm: The Big Date

He may have done a great job faking it as a charming advertising executive, but just a few decades ago, the Mad Men hotshot was nothing more than a not-so-suave 25-year-old looking for love on our screens. In fact, something tells us Don Draper won't be too happy about this.

Jon Hamm on The Big DateJon Hamm on The Big Date
Youtube via ET

Back in '96, a shaggy-haired Jon landed a spot on USA's The Big Date. The premise? Compete against other hopefuls at the chance of landing a date with the episode's bachelorette. And, well, lucky for Jon, he's learned a thing or two since his cringeworthy rejection on the show.

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Zac Efron: Room Raiders

Long gone are the good ol' days, where we watched MTV abduct teens into white vans, while their bedrooms were raided (and judged, of course) by potential suitors. Perhaps that's why you almost forgot about that time in 2005, when Hollywood's golden boy made a debut on the addictive, yet slightly questionable, reality show.

Zac Efron on Room RaidersZac Efron on Room Raiders
The Talko via MTV

Dressed in a green tank, khaki shorts, and a pair of flip flops, a then 18-year-old Zac raided three lucky teens' rooms, all while describing his dream girl: someone who "looks just like a younger Catherine Zeta-Jones;" And suddenly #Zanessa makes more sense than ever…

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Hilarie Burton: Total Request Live

Back in 2003, this One Tree Hill star was practically the it-girl of teen television - which is why you'll be shocked to know that the Hollywood beauty was once a regular superfan like the rest of us. Yep, before Peyton and Lucas' romance landed them front and center, Hilarie Burton was actually a... celebrity guest commentator for MTV.

Hilarie BurtonHilarie Burton
KMazur for WireImage via Getty Images

Are you as shocked as we were? It all started back in 2000, when the aspiring star landed a spot as a video journalist for reality series, Total Request Live; But Burton impressed producers so much that she actually went on to host MTV Hits from 2002-2003. Is that young JT we see?

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