15 Stars You Didn’t Know Had College Degrees
When it comes to celebrity culture, we tend to focus on who’s won what during awards season. But if you delve deeper, it may surprise you to hear that many of the stars who dominate the showbiz pages have additional strings to their bow. While many famous faces start their careers young, there are plenty that end up in Hollywood via college. Here are some of the most high-profile celebrity brainboxes.
Known for her role as the conniving beauty Gabrielle Solis on the hugely popular series Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria is not just an actor. Before embarking on a glittering TV career, Eva Longoria studied Kinesiology in Texas. This course covers the mechanics of bodily movements and coordination. Having completed her bachelor’s degree, Longoria wasn’t finished there. In 2013 she added an MA in Chicano studies to her collection; by that time, she was an established household name and had successfully navigated multiple series of the hit TV show. Tweeting on her graduation day, the actress proudly stated that you’re never too old to get an education, and she hasn’t ruled out further study. Now a mom, Longoria has taken a break from acting, but she is seen frequently at events and galas. Desperate Housewives ran for eight seasons, attracting a global audience of around 120 million.
Best known for her vocal talents, Carrie Underwood is also a clever cookie. When Carrie auditioned for American Idol, she was on the brink of completing her degree in Mass Communications. Surrounded by thousands of people at the audition, and with several other auditions planned around the country, Carrie probably never thought she’d get to the very top of the tree and participate in the final, but that’s exactly what she did. Having won the show in 2005, Carrie returned to university to finish the program; she was just three credits short when she first started the American Idol process. Specializing in Journalism, Carrie was probably expecting to be interviewing stars. Instead, she’s performing to millions on her own tours and at festivals like Glastonbury.
Rebel Wilson has earned a global reputation as a comedy actress. But she started her professional life at college in Australia studying Law. Often cast in stereotypical blonde airhead roles, Rebel is far from stupid; she recently used her experience to negotiate changes in the recommended age ratings for her film, The Hustle. Speaking about her college background on the Graham Norton show in the UK, Rebel said that her legal expertise had enabled her to represent the movie and get the certificate she wanted. She produced and acted in the film alongside Anne Hathaway.
An incredibly popular figure, Rebel often lights up awards shows and TV interviews. And her background may just inspire other budding actors to think about studying an accredited online criminal justice degree or taking a different path into film and TV. Law seems to be a popular option among famous faces; most recently, Kim Kardashian has started studying to be an attorney after liaising with legal teams and the President to grant clemency to prisoners who had been behind bars for decades. The new series of Keeping Up with the Kardashians documents Kim’s studies and sees her traveling to meet the people she helped to free.
Soul singer John Legend started working in a consulting firm after completing a college degree in English in Pennsylvania. At college, John was heavily involved in singing and drama groups, and he was a member of choirs; these experiences undoubtedly influenced him after college. Having worked at a company in Boston, John decided to pursue his true passion, which was music. And he made the right choice. He has now won several awards; he tours the world on a regular basis; and he has sold millions of albums worldwide. His single, “All of Me”, spent 48 weeks on the chart.
Star of Parks and Recreation, Aziz Ansari, embarked upon a course in marketing in New York with grand plans to become an entrepreneur before switching to acting. Ansari didn’t enjoy the college experience, suggesting that the culture was odd, but he wanted to complete the course anyway. Having graduated, he quickly found fame on the small screen.
Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik is no faux genius. Like her on-screen character, she’s a bona fide brainbox. Before starting on the series, she studied Hebrew, Jewish Studies, and Neuroscience as an undergraduate before earning a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. Her studies focused on a rare genetic condition known as Prader-Willi Syndrome. Having finished college, Mayim’s attention shifted to playing neurobiologist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the long-running show.
Rapper J Cole is gaining pace on the global music scene. But he’s not always been known for his ability to spit bars. In 2007, J Cole graduated from college in Queens with a degree in Communications; it wasn’t fully verified on paper until 2015 due to an unpaid library penalty.
The oldest member of the KUWTK sibling clan is not just a social media and reality TV star. As well as boasting millions of Instagram followers and owning her own lifestyle brand, Kourtney also has a college degree in Theatre Arts.
Actress Natalie Portman had already made a name for herself when she started a college degree in Psychology. Before going to college, Portman starred in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. She said that she often felt out of her depth at college, where she was surrounded by incredibly bright individuals; but that didn’t stop her graduating in 2003. She has been outspoken about the importance of education in several interviews over the years.
Life could have been very different for Lisa Kudrow if she had chosen to pursue a career related to her degree, rather than signing up for Friends, the most successful sitcom of all time. In the 1980s Lisa graduated with a degree in Biology, but thankfully for TV audiences everywhere, she chose acting over science. Friends ran for 10 seasons and is still very much part of the daily TV schedule, despite the fact that the last episode was first broadcast in May 2004.
Coldplay frontman and the ex-husband of Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin is well known on the celeb circuit. Chris and his university friends formed the band while studying in London. Chris graduated with a degree in Greek and Latin, but he went on to pursue very different interests, touring the world and selling out shows in all corners of the globe.
One of the funniest men on the planet, Will Ferrell is known for starring in and writing smash-hit comedies, but his career could have taken a very different path. Before making his debut on the big screen, Will completed a degree course in Sports Information in 1990. Having established himself in the acting world, he has joked about the program several times during acceptance speeches, hinting that it wasn’t perhaps the most intellectually challenging or prestigious degree. Despite his reluctance to claim plaudits for his studies, Ferrell is one of the most successful actors currently working in Hollywood, and every release he is involved with draws huge crowds of movie fans.
Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper isn’t just a pretty face. Before captivating audiences with his emotional portrayal of Jackson Maine in A Star is Born and making audiences all over the world howl with laughter and squirm in The Hangover, Cooper studied English at college and admitted to crying when he read Romeo and Juliet.
Talented actor Rooney Mara spent a lot of time studying and traveling before establishing herself on the Hollywood scene. At college, Mara studied Psychology with an interest in non-profit organizations, and during her program, she spent time in developing countries. Speaking in an interview with Vogue, she said that the course broadened her horizons and provided a very different perspective of the world.
Ashton Kutcher has often been cast as the funny, good-looking, dumb guy in movies, but he’s actually really smart. In the 1990s, Ashton decided to study Biochemical Engineering to try to find a cure for a form of heart disease that his brother was suffering from. He regularly speaks about educational opportunities and is a high-profile supporter of several charitable organizations.
We tend to think of celebrities as actors, sports stars, or award-winning musicians and performers, but many famous faces also have college degrees. There are some very smart actors, singers and TV personalities out there, and many claim that their educational experiences and opportunities have played a crucial role in shaping their development and their future careers. Sometimes, celebrities are typecast as the roles they play in movies or TV shows, but there’s often a lot more to individuals than their on-screen characters and their ability to dazzle under the flash of paparazzi cameras on the red carpet. From marketing and languages to law, science, and engineering, there’s a host of bona fide celebrity brainboxes.