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Top 10 Entertainers Who Got The Last Laugh on Haters


Script written by Astrid Willis Countee

If chasing your dreams was easy, everyone would do it. From Brad Pitt, to Marilyn Monroe, it’s hard to believe these famous entertainers ever faced rejection. WatchMojo is counting down the celebrities who were called talentless when they were first starting out.

Special thanks to our user Strider Xanthos for suggesting this idea! https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Famous%20Entertainers%20Who%20Were%20Told%20They%20Had%20No%20Talent

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Script written by Astrid Willis Countee

Top 10 Famous Entertainers Who Were Told They Had No Talent


If chasing your dreams was easy, everyone would do it. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 famous entertainers who were told they had no talent.



For this list, we’re looking at talented and well-known individuals who had naysayers telling them to give up their dreams and get a real job. We’re basing our picks on the success of the person or group and are excluding any stories, anecdotes, and other claims that don’t have reliable sources to confirm them, like Walt Disney reportedly being fired from the Kansas City Star for lacking imagination and having no good ideas.



#10: Sidney Poitier


After holding several dishwashing jobs as a teen, the Miami-born Bahamian tried to audition for the American Negro Theater in the mid-1940s. The key word here is “tried,” as Poitier would be turned away by the director with words that essentially told him to stop wasting his time and to get job as a dishwasher! While he’d eventually successfully join the theater, his Caribbean accent, lack of acting experience and inability to sing would lead to an initial rejection by audiences. But with lessons and hard work, he soon earned a lead on Broadway, and the rest is history!



#9: Marilyn Monroe


While it’s been reported that modeling agencies suggested she become a secretary instead, it’s the stories about her acting abilities, or lack thereof that place her here. When she came in to read for “The Asphalt Jungle,” Albert Band, director John Huston’s then-assistant, would describe her as someone who didn’t seem to have any talent. A few years later on the set of “River of No Return,” director Otto Preminger would tell her to abandon the craft and go back to her “original profession,” at least according to actress Shelley Winters. Of course, Monroe would sure show them, as she’d go on to become Hollywood’s most famous blonde bombshell.



#8: Brad Pitt


Before he became an A-list actor and producer, William Bradley Pitt was a student in the midwest with big dreams of Hollywood. Pitt drove to LA and started working odd jobs while attending acting classes. By the late ‘80s, his agent had gotten him an audition for a role in The Accused, staring Jodie Foster. Pitt recounts the experience for W Magazine in 2012, stating that after calling up for feedback, “There were three seconds of silence and then: 'Have you ever thought about acting classes?” Not to be deterred, he kept at it and found stardom in a breakout role in 1991’s hit Thelma and Louise.




#7: Gary Oldman


This actor is so good at accents that most don’t realize that he is actually English and not the American he so often portrays. Oldman grew up inspired by music, boxing, and the theatre, listing people like Liberace and Muhammad Ali as inspirations. It’s no wonder that he is known for his ability to play diverse characters. But when it came time to attend school, Oldman was turned away. After auditioning for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he was told that he had no acting talent and should seek another career. Oldman attended Britain’s Rose Bruford College instead, eventually receiving nominations for both Academy and Emmy awards.



#6: Arnold Schwarzenegger


Arnold Schwarzenegger first made it big in bodybuilding, transforming the sport and becoming the most influential body builder of all time. But when he expressed an interest in moving into acting, no one took him seriously. His Austrian accent was too thick to understand, and his name was also too hard to pronounce. Not to mention that his “over developed” body wasn’t the ideal for a leading man. One of his first film roles dubbed out his accent, while another had him playing a deaf mute, both avoiding the accent issue. But with a part in 1976’s Stay Hungry, Schwarzenegger found an audience, and a Golden Globe. A decade later, he was a box office superstar.



#5: Fred Astaire


Gene Kelly has been quoted saying that, “the history of dance on film begins with Astaire.” This dancing, singing, acting, cultural icon started his 76 year career as part of a brother-sister dancing act. He would go on to make 31 movie musicals, often with Ginger Rogers as partner. But when he did one of his first screen tests, the evaluation was reportedly quite harsh. The man who’d go on to define an entire style of musical performance was initially deemed someone who “can’t act,” was balding and could dance “a little.” Soldiering on, this triple threat went on to win two Emmy awards and is credited for revolutionizing cinematic dance.



#4: J.K. Rowling


After completing a BA, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and secretary at Amnesty International. The job didn’t last too long so she decided to move to Manchester, and it was during this train trip that Rowling was hit with inspiration to write about a young boy in wizardry school. After quickly marrying and then separating from her husband, and about a dozen rejection letters, she felt like a failure. One publisher would tell Rowling that a writers’ group/writing course may help her! But with three chapters of Harry Potter in her suitcase she persevered, creating what became a literary phenomenon. Still, even her eventual editor would warn her it’d be unlikely she’d earn a living as a writer of children’s books.



#3: Elvis Presley


The King of Rock and Roll was not always seen as such a shining star. In eighth grade, Presley was making below average grades in music class. His teacher believed that he had “no aptitude for singing.” And this was just the beginning. As he auditioned for local groups and talent shows, they all said he “just couldn’t sing.” The advice he received after one audition was to keep his job as a truck driver because he “would never make it as a singer.” It was only after Presley was overheard singing by Sun Records exec Sam Phillips in the mid 1950s that things started to change. By age 30, he became the highest paid performer at the time.



#2: The Beatles


The Beatles were looking for a record deal in the early 1960s when their manager Brian Epstein got them an audition with Decca Records in London. But Decca reportedly rejected the band, not only stating that “guitar groups are on the way out,” but also that the Fab Four “have no future in show business.” They opted instead to take on a local band instead. It is considered to be one of the biggest mistakes in music history. By the following year, the world would be in the throes of Beatlemania, leaving some asking what Decca was thinking when they passed them over many years later. In 2012, a Japanese collector paid £35,000 for the original audition of the Beatles for Decca records in 1962.



#1: Oprah Winfrey


This “Queen of All Media” didn’t always know that she would end up so successful. Her Oprah Winfrey talk show has broken records and changed television forever. But when Oprah was first starting out in media, things weren’t so promising. After working her way up to anchorwoman in Batimore, she was supposedly considered dull and stiff and demoted. Since she was still under contract, the news station moved her to a sleepy afternoon talk show. Oprah had finally found a place she felt comfortable. From there, she progressed to a Chicago morning talk show that eventually went national and took on her own name: “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”


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