Celebrities and Those Lucky Breaks

If you announced that you were setting out on a path to Hollywood stardom at the dinner table tonight, the reactions would likely range from loud horse laughs to dire warnings of exploitation and paying your dues. And the dues part, in a lot of cases, is true. Not everyone gets discovered at the soda fountain, as the Lana Turner tale goes. Some stars, even those with a Hollywood pedigree, worked their way up before getting a role that would get them noticed by Hollywood bigwigs and movie-goers.

Angelina Jolie is a good example. Not counting an appearance in “Looking to Get Out” (1982), starring her father, where she played Ann-Margret’s daughter, she began her film career in the early 1990s making shorts and other unmemorable roles. In 1997, Jolie played Cornelia Wallace, the second wife of Governor George Wallace of Alabama in a made-for-TV movie called “Wallace.” Few folks had any idea who she was and no clue that she was Jon Voight’s daughter. By then, some folks had no clue who Jon Voight was. (1979’s Best Actor for “Coming Home”). Just a year later, Jolie got a lot of notice in Hollywood for her portrayal of supermodel Gia Carangi in HBOs original movie “Gia.” Some folks had no idea who Gia Carangi was but were intrigued with the story. Jolie definitely made an impression on the public in 1999 in “Girl Interrupted.” Then came the Lara Croft roles and superstardom.

Other stars have had it a lot easier than that. Heather Locklear once reportedly said it was ridiculously easy for her to get into show business. Just a few years after snagging a role in “Tales of the Unexpected” (1979), she was cast as vixen Sammy Jo Carrington in the popular night-time soap, “Dynasty.” The following year, she was cast in “T.J. Hooker,” starring William Shatner. She appeared in both shows from 1982 to 1986. It was the “Dynasty” role that made her a natural for “Melrose Place.”

Cameron Diaz was a model before turning to acting. Her agent got her an audition for the Jim Carrey movie “The Mask” (1994). Despite her total lack of acting experience, Diaz got the role. Pretty soon, she was in “She’s the One” (1995) billed right after Jennifer Aniston. In 1996, she co-starred with Keanu Reeves in “Feeling Minnesota”. Can you say second billing? A few years later her star status was cemented with the cult movie “There’s Something About Mary” (1998).

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