By Claire Downs
Scroll Instagram on any given day, and you’ll see tons of inspo quotes like “Action is the key to all success,” and “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” These are all totally motivational words to live by when following your dreams, but they also don’t recognize that sometimes all it takes is a little bit of luck.
It can be hard to imagine now, but some of your favorite celebs might not be where they are today without a stroke of sheer luck that changed their lives forever. While these stars may not have found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, being in the right place at the right time was just as good. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some careers that were launched by sheer luck.
Before becoming a major member of the Marvel cinematic universe, Rosario Dawson was living with her family in an abandoned apartment building on the Lower East Side of NYC. At age 15, she was having a cigarette on her front stoop when director Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) saw Rosario and asked her to be in his 1995 film, Kids.
Channing TatumGetty Images
After working as a stripper in Tampa, the future Magic Mike star moved to Miami to up his dancing game. Soon after, he was discovered by a modeling agent while performing in a dance group on the street. Tatum’s first big break? As a dancer in the Ricky Martin music video, “She Bangs.” He was paid $400 for his services.
Toni BraxtonGetty Images
Back in the day, Toni Braxton and her six siblings were a favorite performance group at her local church. But it wasn’t until Toni rolled up to a gas station in Annapolis that she got her first opportunity. While refueling, a station attendant, named Bill Pettaway, approached her and said he recognized her from local performances. Pettaway said he was a songwriter and asked if he could be her producer. Toni, though skeptical, sang for the attendant, and decided to “take a chance” on him. Pettaway ended up becoming a songwriter for many famous artists, such as Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Milli Vanilli. Through his connections, Toni got her whole family signed to Arista Records.
”] Now that he’s topping the charts with hits like Jealous and showing off six packs, it’s hard to remember when Nick Jonas was just a baby Jonas Brother. But before even the J-Bros were Disney stars, six-year-old, Nick, was stunting in the lobby of a salon while his mom got her hair did. Nick started singing, and a talent scout – who was also getting her hair done – heard his vocals and passed over her business card.
Eva MendesGetty Images
Once upon a time, Eva Mendes was a marketing major at California State, Northridge. But when Eva’s friend submitted modeling photos to a talent manager, she didn’t realize that one of Eva’s photos had slipped into the folder. The manager was taken with Eva’s striking appearance and immediately enrolled her in acting classes.
Danny Trejo’s performances have always been authentic. Maybe that’s because he spent most of his youth in and out of the prison system, where he trained to become a champion lightweight boxer. After leaving San Quentin, Trejo became a drug and alcohol counselor to other former inmates. One of his patients asked for assistance while on the set of Runaway Train (1985). The film’s writer, Edward Bunker recognized Trejo as they had coincidentally served time together at San Quentin many years before. Danny was offered a job as an on-set boxing trainer for $320 a day and the rest is history.
It seems almost too on-the-nose, but Jennifer Lawrence was scouted on the street by an agent at age 14 while on a family vacation to NYC. The agent asked JLaw to come audition for a commercial, and after the reading told her mother that it was “the best cold read they had ever heard” from someone so young. Mrs. Lawrence told Jennifer that they were just being nice, but the agency signed her. Jen finished high school early, moved to LA, and began booking costar roles on TV shows like Monk, Medium, and The Bill Engvall Show.
Jason StathamGetty Images
Another Fast franchise member, another Cinderella story. In the 80s and 90s, Jason Statham made a name for himself as a near-Olympic diver on the British National Diving Squad. Though his diving achievements weren’t enough to qualify for the games, a sports modeling agency got him a job modeling for UK clothing brand, FCUK. Still, this gig didn’t pay the bills, so he was forced to sell “fake jewelry and perfume on street corners.” Finally, after several FCUK campaigns, Statham was introduced to director Guy Ritchie to help Ritchie with a new project about streetwise con artists. Having experience, Ritchie cast Statham in the role of “Bacon” in his 1996 hit, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
“] Pam Anderson went from being a Vancouver fitness instructor to a Playboy covergirl in under a year. One day, while attending a British Columbia Lions football game, a jumbotron spotted Pam wearing a Labatt’s Beer t-shirt. The brewing company happened to be sponsoring the game that night, and Anderson was escorted to the center of the field to great applause. Labatt signed her on as a spokesmodel, and soon, the modeling contracts started flooding in.
Justin BieberGetty Images
Bieb’s rags-to-riches story is well known, but in case you forgot, it all started on YouTube. Justin’s mom posted a video of him singing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” along with a few other covers for family and friends. But when So So Def marketing exec, Scooter Braun, was searching for vids of another artist and came across Bieb’s, the talent was undeniable. Braun contacted Justin’s mom and immediately flew him to Atlanta to record a demo. One week later, young Justin was singing with Usher.
”] At the tender age of six, Shad Moss (AKA Bow Wow) met Snoop Dogg during The Chronic tour and was invited to come onstage and perform. “He reminded me of myself as a kid,” Snoop told Jet. So, Snoop decided to give him the name “’Lil Bow Wow.”
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