It might be hard to imagine today’s famous faces in school, but before they were celebrities, they had to get an education just like everyone else. While they were there, many of them spent their time waving pom-poms around and supporting their teams as cheerleaders. Jessica Simpson, Sandra Bullock, and Megan Fox are only some of the celebs in this list, who were so full of school spirit…
Most people know Diaz for her acting work, with the star appearing in comedies like ‘Shrek’ and ‘There’s Something About Mary.’
However, before Cameron was wowing audiences on the big screen, she was a humble cheerleader at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. That probably helped get her big break!
No matter what she does, Alicia Silverstone’s biggest role will always be as high school student Cher Horowitz in the teen comedy film ‘Clueless.’ At the time the movie was released, Silverstone was still a teenager, so she’d only just left school herself.
Her time as a student probably gave her everything she needed to bring Horowitz to life. It’s just a shame that the character wasn’t a cheerleader because Alicia had plenty of experience in that role. She’d been one during her time at San Mateo High School.
After years in the biz, Sandra Bullock finally won an Academy Award for ‘The Blind Side.’ It makes sense she would win for a movie like this given Bullock’s sporting past.
Back when she was a student at Washington-Lee High School, the actress was one of the stars of the cheerleading squad.
There’s no denying Paula Abdul’s got the moves. All you have to do is watch some of her music videos! Dancing is what she’s been passionate about her entire life, and it’s thanks to her moves that she’s had such an astounding career.
They caught the attention of the Jackson family when Abdul was head choreographer for the Laker Girls. She’d previously been on the team after turning 18, having been a cheerleader at Van Nuys High School before that.
Many aspiring journalists out there probably consider Katie Couric to be an inspiration. She has certainly had a career worth following, particularly with her work on all three of the United States’ big networks.
Before Couric was making waves on television, though, she was just a humble student with big dreams. She spent her high school days on cheerleading squads, although she hung up the pom-poms for a notepad and pen once she went off to college.
No matter what Halle Berry does, she seems to be an expert at it. Whether it’s acting, modeling or directing, she is a bonafide star. Berry can proudly say that she has an Academy Award for her hard work, as well as a sixth-place finish in the Miss World pageant.
Given all her success, we expect that Halle was also an excellent cheerleader when she attended Bedford High School. That was on top of her being an honors student and prom queen too.
It was when Kelly Ripa was a cheerleader at Eastern Regional High School that she realized what she was destined to do. Her drama teacher suggested she should nurture her talent for performing and make it a full-time career.
That advice changed her life. Since receiving those wise words, Ripa has dropped out of college, appeared in the soap opera ‘All My Children,’ and even had her own sitcom in the form of ‘Hope & Faith.’ She’s also spent the last two decades presenting the talk show ‘Live!.’
If it weren’t for the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie might not have become the star she is today. The group gave her a platform to show off her stunning vocals and sassy attitude, as well as her ability to bust a move.
Naturally, The Black Eyed Peas never would have hired her in the first place if she hadn’t spent her school days honing her skills. Much of what Fergie brought to the table, she learned at Glen A. Wilson High School thanks to her time as a cheerleader.
The dramedy series ‘Desperate Housewives’ wouldn’t have been the same without Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis. She was a perfect addition to the cast, and the show sent her career skyrocketing.
The series was one of her first roles since graduating from Texas A&M-Kingsville college, during which time she’d been a cheerleader. Longoria had actually been part of a squad since her days at Roy Miller High, where she’d been the perfect embodiment of school spirit. It’s hard to believe that was three decades ago…
The ’00s were an excellent time for Ciara. She bagged herself three consecutive top-three albums, the second of which peaked at number one on the charts. Collectively, these records sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone, and spawned hits like ‘Goodies’ and ‘1, 2 Step.’
Ciara’s musical success came quickly after her time at Riverdale High School, where she gained attention as captain of the cheerleading squad. Unfortunately, her cheerleading fell to the wayside when she became a musician.
Mandy Moore has had quite an amazing career. Not only has she stunned as a singer, but she’s also found fame as an actress. These two worlds have collided on several occasions, including when she voiced Princess Rapunzel in ‘Tangled.’
Of course, the role Moore will probably always be remembered for is Lana in the coming-of-age teen comedy ‘The Princess Diaries.’ It was one of Mandy’s first movies, but she was prepared. Being a cheerleader at Pop Warner really helped her out.
When it comes to cheerleading films, the ‘Bring It On’ series is one of the best. Included in the original movie’s cast was Kirsten Dunst, who already had plenty of experience shaking pom-poms.
At both Laurel Hall School and Notre Dame High School, Dunst was a regular on the cheerleading squad. When she heard about ‘Bring It On,’ she probably leaped at the chance to show off her stuff. After all those years practicing, the actress was an expert!
Kathie Lee Gifford
Before Kelly Ripa took over the reins, Kathie Lee Gifford was one of the co-hosts of ‘Live!.’ She fronted the talk show for 15 years alongside Regis Philbin, before walking away.
That was almost two decades ago, and in that time she’s become famous for another talk show role alongside Hoda Kotb – ‘Today.’ Of course, before Kathie Lee was a regular on TV screens, she was an aspiring drama student who spent her high school days wowing audiences on the cheerleading squad.
It’s been a long time since Madonna was in high school. She’s spent so many decades shaping the landscape of pop music that it’s hard to imagine her as anything other than a worldwide superstar.
Few people have ever pushed the boundaries quite like her, and for that reason, her legacy will live on forever. However, while Madonna might be iconic now, there was once a time when she was a nobody – when she cheered for Rochester Adams High School.
Looking at Megan Fox now, you might think she was the Queen Bee at school. However, that wasn’t really the case. Although the actress was a cheerleader at Morningside Academy, she was also frequently bullied. She’d grown up in a very strict Pentecostal family, so her current way of life wasn’t necessarily something to aspire to.
Luckily, Fox managed to get her big break in the early ‘00s with things like ‘Hope & Faith’ and the teen comedy ‘Confessions of a Drama Queen.’ From there, everything just got better for her.
Seriously, is there anything that Reese Witherspoon can’t do? Before the Award-winning actress was topping the box office, she was topping talent shows, and, as we can see here, she was also topping pyramids for her cheerleading squad.
She posted the photo on the left to her Instagram account, as a #TBT to her “days as a proud General.” In an interview to Jimmy Fallon, Reese revealed she was a football and a wresting cheerleader, explaining that “you have a cheerleader for basically everything in the South.”
Jessica Simpson’s career has been a rollercoaster ride over the years. After a few false starts, she eventually got her big break when Tommy Mottola offered her a record deal. Her first few albums performed well, with her third record shifting an incredible 7 million copies worldwide.
Unfortunately, things have declined recently, but that doesn’t mean she’s not still in a really great place. Her life now is a world away from her time cheerleading at Richardson North Junior High School.
Being comfortable with the public’s attention is something that seems to run in the Kardashian/Jenner family, but that’s not all – apparently, a talent for cheerleading is also in their blood.
Like her older sister Kendall, Kylie was also on their school’s cheerleading squad. Here she is, at just 13 years old, waving her pom poms in support of the Sierra Canyon School football team. Who would have known that only eight years later, she would be a billionaire businesswoman and mother?
Given that she only turned 24 in 2019, high school isn’t that distant a memory for Kendall Jenner. It wasn’t that long ago that she was walking the halls of Sierra Canyon School, albeit as one of the most famous girls in the world.
Before Kendall was setting catwalks on fire and driving her millions of followers wild, she was a cheerleader intent on bringing as much pep to the varsity squad as possible. With bundles of enthusiasm and some crazy moves, she didn’t have much trouble achieving that.
Blake Lively is another actress whose biggest role will always be the one where she was a teenager. Between 2007-12, she portrayed Serena van der Woodsen on the teen drama ‘Gossip Girl.’ To date, it’s the only television series that she’s done, although she’s racked up plenty of film credits over the years too.
When the show was on the air, Blake was only in her early twenties, so her cheerleading days at Burbank High were still fresh in her mind. If only Serena had shared her school spirit.
It’s thanks to the reality series ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ that Nene Leakes is now a household name. The show not only propelled her into the spotlight but it also helped her bag roles on shows like the dramedy ‘Glee’ and the talk show ‘Fashion Police.’
Of course, ‘The Real Housewives’ brand didn’t arrive until the mid-’00s, by which point Leakes was already in her ‘40s. Not a lot is known about her life before the show, except that she was a cheerleader back in grade school.
You don’t tend to hear too much about Denise Richards nowadays. Back in the ‘90s, she was a huge deal thanks to various sitcom roles and movies like the military sci-fi film ‘Starship Troopers.’ She was also one of the lucky few ever to be called a Bond girl after appearing in the spy movie ‘The World Is Not Enough.’
We wonder if Richards ever thought that would happen when she was a cheerleader at El Camino High School. The idea probably seemed too good to be true back then.
You know you’ve made it as a model when you get chosen to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. Brooklyn Decker received that honor in 2010, during which time she was also working with Victoria’s Secret.
We expect quite a lot of women were jealous of the model back then, especially as she was only recently out of high school. She’d only graduated from Butler High a few years earlier, where she’d been both the senior class president and a member of her school’s spirit squad.
Nowadays, people probably know Olivia Wilde for her role on the medical drama ‘House.’ It’s the biggest part she’s played over the last few decades, although it’s by no means her only one. The actress has racked up dozens of credits, from teen drama ‘The O.C.’ to the sci-fi action movie ‘Tron: Legacy.’
Unfortunately, none of these roles have seen Wilde as a cheerleader, which is basically what she was at Phillips Academy. She was on the step team, which is pretty much the same thing as cheerleading.
It’s no secret that life for Lindsay Lohan has been difficult over the past decade or so. Issues with substance abuse and trouble with the law have seen her career falter somewhat. However, despite all the problems Lindsay has had, there’s no denying that she was an incredibly talented child star.
Roles in the comedy movies ‘The Parent Trap,’ ‘Freaky Friday,’ and ‘Mean Girls’ really showed what she was capable of. Seeing her in these films, it’s no surprise that she was an active cheerleader before getting homeschooled.
For the last few decades, Rachael Ray’s been making amateur chefs out of viewers with her amazing cooking shows. After being discovered teaching classes, she was scooped up by the Food Network and given a career that is still going strong today.
It’s hard to imagine Rachael as anything other than a cook now, but before she was on TV, she was a student at Lake George High School. While there, Ray brought endless enthusiasm and positivity to the squad.
Olivia Munn never seemed to settle anywhere for very long when she was younger. That’s partly because her stepfather’s role in the Air Force meant she had to move around a lot. Thankfully, after years of traveling from one place to another, the TV journalist finally set down roots in Oklahoma when she was a teenager.
It was there that Munn attended Putnam City North High School and became a member of the cheerleading squad. The activity likely helped her develop performance skills for her future career as an actress.
It’s hard to imagine Meryl Streep as a cheerleader. It’s been over 50 years now since she was on the squad at Bernards High School, and a lot has changed in that time. She’s now one of the most acclaimed actresses in the world, with Streep holding the record for most Academy Award nominations at 21.
Somehow, she’s only won three of those over the years, the most recent of which was for the drama ‘The Iron Lady.’ However, she has plenty of other accolades to keep those trophies company.
Kathy Griffin now prefers to spend her time cracking jokes rather than reciting cheers. However, when she was a teenager, Griffin was part of the spirit squad at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Considering how controversial some of the comedian’s jokes can be, it’s difficult to imagine her being so full of pep.
Of course, a lot can change when you go from adolescence to adulthood. Maybe Kathy had more of a sunny disposition than a dark sense of humor back when she was a high school student.
Renée Zellweger has had quite a few big hits over the years. Obviously, playing the lead in the rom-com film series ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ will always be the one that stands out. However, features in the musical dramedy ‘Chicago’ and the biographical drama ‘Judy’ have also established her status as a star.
It seems Renée has always had a desire to perform, ever since she was a cheerleader at Katy High School. She loved her time on the squad so much that she still remembers her moves even now.
We’re more used to Amy Poehler making people laugh with her comedy rather than having them in awe with her moves. However, before her TV career took off, she spent her time on the cheer squad at Burlington High School. For several years, she wowed audiences with her routines, which really helped boost Poehler’s confidence and showed her the joy of performing.
She later took that experience and poured it into her comedy, resulting in a massive gig on the variety series ‘Saturday Night Live.’ That changed her life forever.
Diane Sawyer has been an incredibly busy woman over the last few decades. Not only has she anchored various new shows, but she was also a staff member at the White House during Richard Nixon’s time in office. This impressive résumé has given Sawyer quite the reputation, and it’s understandably led to her winning numerous awards.
However, before all this came about, she was just a teenager living in her sister’s shadow. She was desperate for a chance to shine, which she eventually did as a Seneca High School cheerleader.
The dystopian adventure film series ‘Hunger Games’ came at the perfect time for Jennifer Lawrence. She was in her early twenties and looking to establish her presence in Hollywood, something that these movies definitely did. They also gave her something to invest her energy into, because Lawrence often had issues with hyperactivity.
These endless bursts of energy probably explain why she played field hockey, softball, and basketball at school, as well as being a cheerleader. She must have been one busy student during her younger years.
A lot of celebrities seemed to be cheerleaders during their high school days, but some of them started out much earlier than that. Take Miley Cyrus, for instance. She was only seven years old when she decided to grab some pom-poms and cheer on her sports team.
She was a cheerleader for her local soccer team in Tennessee, and she made it clear from an early age just how much she loved performing. It’s no wonder she went on to become a successful singer as both herself and Hannah Montana.
Although most of these stars were cheerleaders before they were actresses, it was a different story for Dakota Fanning. That’s because she landed her first role in 2000 when she was only around six years old. The star hadn’t even thought of cheerleading at that point, but she was already on her way to becoming a world-class actress.
She’s never lost sight of that ambition, although she did take time to go to school and, of course, become a cheerleader. Education is essential for everyone, regardless of celebrity status.
Gabrielle Union was another actress who starred in ‘Bring It On’ back in 2000, so again, it’s no surprise that she was a cheerleader in high school. She honed her skills while living in Pleasanton, California, with Union likely motivated by her sports-centric family.
According to the actress, this was the one thing she was expected to be passionate about growing up, regardless of whether she played or not. Cheerleading was a great way to show her sporting support, and obviously, it helped her out with her career too.
As the timid germaphobe Emma Pillsbury in ‘Glee,’ Jayma Mays was nothing like a cheerleader. However, just because the character would never strut her stuff on a squad, that doesn’t mean the actress wouldn’t either. When Mays was in high school, she was a passionate member of her cheerleading team.
Like with many of these stars, being on the squad helped her gain confidence and strengthened her performing skills. These are two things that have certainly come in handy for her career, which started some years after she graduated.
A lot of people like to stereotype cheerleaders as being dumb and only focused on boys. However, most people who cheer in high school are nothing like that. Rashida Jones certainly wasn’t. While the actress was a committed member of her spirit squad, she was also in the math club and the National Honor Society.
Collectively, these all took up a lot of Rashida’s time, but they helped her be a well-rounded student during her years in school. That’s undoubtedly benefited her now that she’s a big star.
It seems that quite a few of ‘The Real Housewives’ stars were cheerleaders back in school. Phaedra Parks, who also found fame on the Atlanta version of the franchise, was on the cheer squad at Clarke Central High School.
Standing on fields supporting a sports team was a world away from her later work in the courtroom. However, she was just as passionate about cheerleading then as she is about the law now. It’s incredible how much your life can change after you graduate from high school.
Fast approaching her 80s, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Ann Margaret on a cheer squad again. However, back in the day, she was one of the peppiest cheerleaders around. Margaret knew how to get the crowds going at New Trier High School, and it seems that passion translated into her later career as an actress.
She can now rest easy after a long and successful career that’s seen her win five Golden Globe Awards, among many other nominations. Not that Ann has plans to retire anytime soon, of course.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
We have the reality TV series “Jersey Shore” to thank for bringing Nicole Polizzi into our lives. The show might have been controversial, but there’s no denying that people like “Snooki” were impossible to stop watching. We expect the television star was grateful for the opportunity to become famous, especially after the difficulties she faced in high school.
Apparently, when Polizzi was a cheerleader, she developed an eating disorder out of fear that she’d lose her spot on the team. That experience definitely put her through the wringer.
Kirstie Alley was born in 1951 in Wichita, Kansas. She grew up with her mother, father, brother, and sister. Indeed, it seems as though Kirstie had the all-American life that’s always painted in the pictures – a look made even more complete by the fact that she was a cheerleader.
Kirstie cheered in high school at the Wichita Southeast High School. She could yell, cheer, and scream with the best of them. After high school, she moved on to Kansas State University, before eventually dropping out and pursuing the acting career we all know and love her for today.
Chrissy Teigen is truly a mixture of several beautiful cultures. Her father is Norwegian, her mother is Thai, and she – herself – was born in Utah. They moved around a lot when Chrissy was little, and she found something that could make her feel at home no matter where she was – cheerleading.
When her family was living in Washington state, she attended Snohomish High School. There, Chrissy found a family in the cheer squad, and competed in several competitions with them. She’s flashing that photogenic smile we’ve come to know and love.
Kirk Douglas is a first-generation American, being born to parents who immigrated from Russian. They settled in Amsterdam, New York, where Kirk was born and raised. Kirk did everything he could do immerse himself in American culture.
He had an after-school job snelling snacks. He also was a newspaper delivery boy. Another thing he did – obviously, because he’s on this list – is cheerlead at Amsterdam High School. He even cheered alongside fellow Hollywood legend, Lauren Bacall.
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to kids taking after their parents, and we even think that’s bit of an understatement when it comes to Michael Douglas.
Just like his dad, Michael cheered in high school. Michael attended Choate Rosemary Hall – then called The Choate Preparatory School – in Wallingford, Connecticut. When Michael was finished with school, he continued in his father’s footsteps of being an actor. Today, Michael is married to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
As a child model and actress who gained worldwide acclaim with her leading role in the 1978 movie Pretty Baby, we wouldn’t have been surprised if Brooke Shields had dropped out of school early on.
But as it turns out, she was actually a model student who scored only A’s and B’s. When she was shooting the movie Endless Love, the director closed down the production twice while she was taking her school exams. On top of that, Brooke was also a dedicated cheerleader, as seen in this picture.
When she was a child, Jenna Dewan’s family moved around a lot, but young Jenna was talented and determined enough to make it to the cheerleading squad wherever she was. This photo, which she shared to her Instagram account, is a #TBT to her cheerleading days in Texas.
Her experience in cheerleading was probably helpful to her later on, when she started her career as a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. Making her transition into acting, she hit it big when she got the role of Nora Clark in the movie Step Up, and the rest is history.
The haircut and the outfit might make it difficult to recognize the young lady in this image, but the eyes and the gentle smile prove that this cheerleader is none other than actress Sally Field.
That’s right – before she was The Flying Nun, she was the flying cheerleader. She’s now known for her roles in Brothers & Sisters, Forrest Gump, Sybil, Steel Magnolias, and more, but there was a time when Field was just a teenager shaking her pompoms at a school pep rally.
We were surprised to find out that Paul Rudd was also a cheerleader in his younger days, but now that we know it, we feel like we should have seen it coming.
Anyone who’s watched his epic lip synch battle against Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show (before Lip Sync Battle premiered on Paramount Network) knows that he’s got the moves. His rendition of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now was too good – of course he had some dancing background, as well as experience getting the attention of the crowd.
Steve Martin is known for his ability to make people laugh. Perhaps, initially, one would laugh if they heard that Steve was a cheerleader in high school, but this is actually not a joke!
Steve attended Garden Grove High School in sunny Southern California, and yelled and screamed to give the sports teams some moral support. It was on the cheer squad that Steve tested his comedic abilities – even writing funny cheers for them. Steve went on to rank as one of the best stand-up comics of all time.