15 celebrities who got their start as models

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images/ George Pimentel/WireImage/ Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesPenn Badgley, Scott Disick, and Reese Witherspoon all have a history of modelling.
  • These celebrities appeared in commercials and runways before moving on in their career.
  • Taylor Swift and Penn Badgley both modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch.
  • Ashton Kutcher has walked the runway.

Before making it big on the silver screen, many celebrities got their start behind the camera as models, posing on the cover of magazines or for brands like Abercrombie & Fitch.

While many boasted relatively successful modelling careers, going on to appear in clothing catalogues, commercials or strutting their stuff on a runway, these stars then made the switch to Hollywood and are now household names for making it big onscreen or in the music industry.

Here are 15 celebrities who gave modelling a shot before turning to acting or singing.


Taylor Swift briefly dabbled in modelling for Abercrombie & Fitch before her country career took off.

Emma McIntyre/Getty ImagesTaylor Swift.

Back in 2003, a then-unknown Swift appeared to foreshadow her future music career by posing for an ad while holding her guitar.


Pre-“Gossip Girl,” Penn Badgley perfected his brooding on-camera persona.

Bryan Bedder/Getty ImagesPenn Badgley.

In 2005, Badgley served major Dan Humphrey vibes while posing for Abercrombie & Fitch.


Jennifer Lawrence was also a member of the A&F squad.

Cindy Ord/Getty ImagesJennifer Lawrence.

In a 2015 interview on the Graham Norton show, Lawrence described her short-lived modelling career, telling the hosts, “You’ll never see the pictures I did for Abercrombie & Fitch. They wanted natural pictures so they made us play football on the beach.”

She explained, “The other models played football in a pretty way but not me! My face was bright red and I was sweaty with flaring nostrils.”


Before making his big break as Michael Kelso, Ashton Kutcher took to the catwalk.

Frazer Harrison/Getty ImagesAshton Kutcher.

The Iowa native narrowly placed second at an International Model and Talent Association competition in 1997 for Male Model of the Year, behind fellow future actor Josh Duhamel. He would go on to model for brands like Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch before being cast in “That ’70s Show.”


Cameron Diaz was signed to Elite Model Management.

In high school, Diaz modelled and landed contracts with Calvin Klein and Levi’s.

At 21, she was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine right before being cast in “The Mask.”


Robert Pattinson began modelling at the age of 12 and was the face of Dior in 2013.

Larry Busacca/Getty ImagesRobert Pattinson.

In an interview with British magazine Closer, Pattinson said his burgeoning modelling career failed due to changing fashion fads, per New York magazine’s The Cut.

“When I first started I was quite tall and looked like a girl, so I got lots of jobs because it was during that period where the androgynous look was cool,” he reportedly told the publication. “Then, I guess, I became too much of a guy, so I never got any more jobs. I had the most unsuccessful modelling career.”


Brad Pitt briefly modelled for Levi’s Jeans before 1991’s “Thelma & Louise.”

Tim P. Whitby/Getty ImagesBrad Pitt.

His 1991 commercial for the brand’s 501 jeans is one of the most iconic spots in history.


Back when Angelina Jolie was 16, she had a short but unsuccessful stint as a catalogue and bikini model.

Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty ImagesAngelina Jolie.

However, it appeared that the experience helped her in one of her breakout roles, as Jolie would go on to play the supermodel Gia Marie Carangi in the 1998 film “Gia.”


Lindsay Lohan got her start in the modelling industry when she was just 3 years old.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesLindsay Lohan.

The “Mean Girls” actress was signed with Ford and would go on to star in numerous catalogue ads as well as over 60 commercials as a model, including spots for Jell-O and Duncan Hines.


Kirsten Dunst starred alongside Lohan during her catalogue modelling days.

Rich Fury/Getty ImagesKirsten Dunst.

At the age of 3, Dunst became a Ford model and commercial actor, even appearing in a catalogue with fellow Ford model Lohan, before appearing in Woody Allen’s “New York Stories” at the age of 6. Just six years later, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her role in “Interview with the Vampire.”


Before Channing Tatum’s breakout role as Tyler Gage in 2006’s “Step Up,” he was practicing his catwalk skills at Milan Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.

Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesChanning Tatum.

Tatum modelled for Abercrombie & Fitch and walked in runway shows for Sean John, Marc Ecko, Phat Farm, and Nautica.


In February 2015, Reese Witherspoon shared a throwback photo of her as a child modelling from the ’80s.

Witherspoon got her first modelling gig at 7, according to People. Her look-alike daughter Ava recently followed in her footsteps, making her modelling debut in January 2018.

Witherspoon still does a bit of modelling, and recently, the pair did a shoot together for Draper James, the clothing company Witherspoon founded.


Back in 2001, a teenage Scott Disick was modelling on the covers of books.

Per the Daily Mail, the images resurfaced after InTouch magazine uncovered old modelling photos that depicted Disick on the front of the “Heartland” book series.


In 1992, Sophia Vergara, who was studying to become a dentist, was scouted while she was in her native Columbia.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesSophia Vergara.

“I was 17. I was at the beach with my parents and some scout asked to take a Polaroid of me,” Vergara said during an E! special of the moment, per the Daily Mail.

She shared a throwback of one of her 1992 modelling photos in 2017, but one of her more notable gigs was a Pepsi commercial in the 1980s. She has now come full circle and has had a brand deal with Pepsi since 2011.


Before playing Christian Grey in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, Jamie Dornan had a successful career modelling alongside Kate Moss and Eva Mendes for Calvin Klein.

Tim P. Whitby / Getty ImagesJamie Dornan.

Dornan competed on, but ultimately lost, the British reality show “Model Behaviour” in 2001 in which contestants competed to be signed on a modelling contract. He was later signed to Select Model Management.

He also posed for Armani Exchange and Abercrombie & Fitch, and appeared in a 2011 issue of Vogue Paris.

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