What Celebrities Were Like Before Fame, According To People Who Knew Them

From Ariana Grande to Kim Kardashian to even Meghan Markle, here's what former friends and classmates have to say about what they were like pre-fame.


Jul. 10 2018, Updated 10:01 a.m. ET

taylor swift before fame
Source: Getty Images

Although all celebs love to swear up and down that they were bullied in school for having Hollywood aspirations, only their friends and classmates know the real story. And according to many of these former pals, acquaintances, and neighbors, most celebs fall in either two categories: the ones who haven't changed at all and the ones who've done a complete 180. 

From reddit users to former friends who've sold their stories to tabloids, here's what people had to say about these 15 celebs.

Article continues below advertisement

1. Kim Kardashian

kim kardashian before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before she became America's royalty (oh, get over it), Kim Kardashian was an insecure high schooler who hated her body and nose. Sooo, basically she was just like every other teenager? 

"At 13, we started to become more aware of ourselves," Kim's classmate Nikki Lund told Heat. "We began wearing make-up and started dieting... We did the Cabbage Soup Diet and we'd be there boiling great big vats of cabbage. We were like, 'Yes, we're going to be thin.'"

Nikki also added, "Kim was always saying her nose wasn't perfect. I thought she was nuts. Every girl has something they don't like."

2. Justin Bieber

justin bieber before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before he became every teenage girl's messiah, Justin Bieber was just a mischievous kid, according to his former neighbor. "There's nothing good I can say about him," the neighbor told The Daily Mail anonymously. "I'm just so glad he is gone. He was always throwing pears into our pool. He'd scare our cat. We used to phone other locals when he was out saying, 'Be careful, Justin is outside.'"

In addition to egging houses and trampling on neighbors' plants, he would also annoyingly ring all the buzzers in a nearby apartment complex and play basketball in people's lawns when he wasn't supposed to. So basically, he hasn't changed.

"I'm glad to see the back of him," the neighbor added. "I hope he never comes back."

Article continues below advertisement

3. Ariana Grande

ariana grande before fame
Source: Getty Images

According to classmates who knew Ariana Grande before she was a "dangerous woman," she wasn't very nice.

"Currently go to the same school Ariana Grande graduated from," reddit user herdana wrote. "I know a lot of people who were in classes with her, and my sister was in the grade above her. One of my friends said she was a real obnoxious b---h, and apparently bullied some other kid on the bus."

A few other redditors cosigned the account and agreed that Ariana was "mean," but they annoyingly didn't back up their stories with any examples. Hmm.

Article continues below advertisement

4. Meghan Markle

meghan markle before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before becoming the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan always knew she'd be famous and had a cutthroat mentality when it came to getting what she wanted, according to her former bestie.

"Meg always wanted to be famous," said Ninaki Priddy, who grew up with Meghan."She just loved to be the center of attention. We used to imagine her receiving an Oscar. She used to practice announcing herself."

In addition to her natural affinity for fame, she also honed her diplomacy skills by trying to keep the peace between her parents.

"She is very poised," Ninaki said. "A natural mediator. For almost as long as I knew Meghan, her parents weren’t together. It could be hard for her. Sometimes she felt she had to pick sides. She was always trying to make sure each of them was happy. She’d have to relay messages. It was literally stuff like, 'Tell your mother . . .' or 'Tell your father . . . Controlling her emotions is something she learnt back then."

Although the two were "like sisters" since the age of two, they had a falling out after Meghan's success on Suits. After Meghan abruptly divorced her first husband and started cutting friends out of her life, Ninaki was convinced that fame had changed Meghan.

"All I can say now is that I think Meghan was calculated — very calculated — in the way she handled people and relationships," she said. "She is very strategic in the way she cultivates circles of friends. Once she decides you’re not part of her life, she can be very cold."

Article continues below advertisement

5. Taylor Swift

taylor swift before fame
Source: Getty Images

She might be the biggest pop star today, but back in high school, Taylor Swift's friends didn't think she'd make it.

"She would be in class and she'd be writing, rather than paying attention at all," said Chelsea Alford, Taylor's old pal. "Back in school nobody thought she was actually going to go anywhere."

She added, "She was different. She wasn't super popular, she kind of did her own thing. A normal, high school girl kind of thing."

Article continues below advertisement

6. Ryan Gosling

ryan gosling before fame
Source: Getty Images

Although he's everyone's favorite heartthrob today, he was quiet and unassuming before fame.

"My sister-in-law grew up and went to school with Ryan Gosling," reddit user lifeinthefastlane999 wrote. "She said he was very sweet and kind of shy. Everyone was apparently surprised when he got in The Mickey Mouse Club and was on TV."

Article continues below advertisement

7. Tom Cruise

tom cruise before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before becoming Hollywood's leading man (and later descending into the weird world of Scientology), Tom Cruise was just a lecherous guy with jealousy issues, at least according to his high school ex.

"We'd have sex whenever we could," Diane Cox told The Daily Mail. "He was a horny guy, like Austin Powers. If my parents weren't around we'd use my dad's car. We used his parent's garage once."

However, after Tom moved off to Hollywood to start his career, their relationship started to crack. 

"I wanted to see other people at one point and he got very jealous, very over-protective, and I wasn't used to that," she said. "I even said to his sister I wanted to see other people, hoping she might help. The intensity of Tom's whole demeanor really put me off."

After splitting, Tom went on to date Cher — really!

Article continues below advertisement

8. Christina Aguilera

christina aguilera before fame
Source: Getty Images

According to several former classmates, the iconic pop star with the booming voice had a hygiene issue.

"In college I met several people who went to elementary/high school with Christina Aguilera," reddit user XxqTZpxX wrote. "They all said the same thing: she always smelled like hot dogs."

To back up the rumor, Hannah Hooper from the band Grouplove said the same thing. "I have friends that lived in Pittsburgh and they grew up around Christina Aguilera and they swear to God that she smells like hot dogs,” she said. “Swear. And that’s just a side note.”

Well, damn.

Article continues below advertisement

9. Gisele Bündchen

Source: Getty Images

Sure's she's the highest paid supermodel, but back in school, Gisele Bündchen was bullied for being "ugly." A group of classmates even gave her the nickname "saracura," a bird with spindly legs. 

"They harassed her constantly, calling her all these names," former friend Graziela Rodrigues said. "There was nothing subtle about it. They'd say to her face, 'Shut your mouth, saracura.'"

Cezar Oliveira, another fellow classmate, added, "She was skinny and toothy, and walked with a curved back, not pretty at all. Her sisters were much more attractive than her, so she'd get ignored by the boys."

Thankfully for Gisele, she now has the last laugh.

Article continues below advertisement

10. Beyoncé

beyonce before fame
Source: Getty Images

It might be hard to find the "real" Beyoncé behind her larger-than-life persona, but according to her childhood boyfriend, she was always like that.

"She lived and breathed her career," Lyndall Locke said. "Beyoncé told me she would never smoke or drink because that would hurt her voice. She was a control freak."

Although the two dated for 10 years, she started to outgrow him once Destiny's Child blew up.

"Once they started to hit big it was obvious she was changing," he explained. "She became aloof. I told her she was becoming a whole new kind of person and she looked at me and said, 'I am.'"

After breaking up, Beyoncé moved on to Jay-Z, and we all know what happened after that.

Article continues below advertisement

11. Lady Gaga

lady gaga before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before The Fame, Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) was just a fun-loving party chick, according to her friends.

"I went to school with Lady Gaga," reddit user Dwenga wrote. "She was very bright and probably the nicest girl at our school (most were stuck up rich snobs). She got bullied a lot because her parents weren't rich and because she wasn't as pretty as some of the other girls. That made her become quite rebellious. 

"I remember one day I forgot my lunch and she shared hers with me, even though I'd hardly even spoken to her before. I was friends with her after that until we parted ways when I went to college. She was absolutely lovely, and I am so pleased for her success."


Article continues below advertisement

12. Zac Efron

zac efron before fame
Source: Getty Images

Before High School Musical, Zac Efron was an overachiever who was actually quite good when it came to debate championships.

"Zac Efron was in my high school speech and debate league," reddit user GinDeMint wrote. "He accused me of wanting to kill Oprah in a debate. And he won."

When asked for more details, they added, "It was a debate about whether political assassinations can ever be justified. I was on the side that they can be. Efron said, 'Well, what's a political assassination? Oprah is involved with politics! GinDeMint wants to kill Oprah!'"

And suddenly our love for Zac grew tenfold. 

Article continues below advertisement

13. John Stamos

john stamos before fame
Source: Getty Images

The Full House star might be smooth and handsome today, but back in high school he was the complete opposite.

"My father went to high school with John Stamos," reddit user mr_shankly91 wrote. "He says that Stamos was a huge nerd and performed magic tricks at lunch. That is all."

It might sound far-fetched, but John himself has admitted to his dorky origins. “In high school, I really was the dorky kid,” he told Orange Coast magazine. "I was into magic and theme parks. I was very innocent."

Article continues below advertisement

14. Angelina Jolie

angelina jolie before fame
Source: Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, before Angelina Jolie became a U.N. ambassador, she was a bit of an eccentric.

"Went to HS with Angelina Jolie," reddit user jackbeawesome wrote. "She was a weird, weird girl and didn't seem to care what anyone thought about anything. I saw her once in LA and when she noticed me she smiled, waved, and then made an obscene gesture...and then smiled again."

Well, then.

Article continues below advertisement

15. Brad Pitt

brad pitt before fame
Source: Getty Images

It must be great to brag about dating Brad Pitt in high school. Kim Bell, Brad's childhood sweetheart, got to date him way before Angelina did. 

"He was a good first boyfriend, those are your growing up years," she told The Daily Mail. "That was a lifetime ago, now he has six kids and I have two."

She added. "I think everybody knew he would be successful in whatever he would do. I just knew. He just had a personality that attracted people, he had leadership skills and he was sweet and kind."


It's nice to know our faves (or at least most of them) were humble and kind even before the fame.


Latest Entertainment News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2023 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.