Huge Celebs Who Weren’t Popular In School
While we see them gallivant across red carpet events and accept shiny trophies for their work, many Hollywood stars did not always feel like the toast of the town. Ask Jennifer Garner, who graced the cover of People’s 2019 Beautiful Issue. “I was a real nerd. I wasn’t the popular one,” the “13 Going on 30” actor told The Mirror (via Life & Style). “I was one of those girls on the edge of the group. I never wore the right clothes, and I had a kind of natural geekiness.” Even “How I Met Your Mother” star, Jason Segel, was bullied before his venture into stardom. “I was 6′ 4, 100 pounds,” he told MTV. “Kids used to stand around me in a circle, and one by one they would jump on my back and the rest would chant, ‘Ride the oaf! Ride the oaf!'”
Other celebrities like Bella Hadid, Pete Davidson, and Megan Fox faced cynics and naysayers on social media once they reached a certain level of celebrity. “What people don’t realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those ten kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you’re being bullied by millions of people constantly,” Fox said in Esquire.
Whether they spent their youth playing Dungeons and Dragons at the nerd table or dealt with peers who didn’t believe in their greatness, these celebs didn’t let anyone or anything stand in their way of achieving their dreams.
Jennifer Lawrence switched schools because of mean kids
“The Hunger Games” star and Tinseltown’s all-around cool girl Jennifer Lawrence has weathered her fair share of naysayers in her day. The starlet told The Sun (via HuffPost) her experiences with fellow students was so troublesome that she switched schools multiple times. “I changed schools a lot when I was in elementary school because some girls were mean,” she said. “They were less mean in middle school because I was doing all right; although this one girl gave me invitations to hand out to her birthday party that I wasn’t invited to.” Well, what’s a queen to do? “I just hocked a loogie on them and threw them in the trash can,” Lawrence recalled. “Don’t worry about those b****es. That could be a good motto because you come across people like that throughout your life.”
These days, Lawrence passes out her own invitations to A-list besties including Emma Stone, Adele, and Cameron Diaz, who all attended Lawrence’s wedding in 2019. Oh, and let us not forget about Jennifer Lawrence knocking ’em back and cutting loose with Kris Jenner. “I drank five martinis and wound up naked in her closet, I’m dead serious,” she revealed while guest-hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2017. Jenner later joked Lawrence was her favorite daughter on Instagram (via Today).
Bullies threw things at Victoria Beckham
Fashion designer and ’90s pop icon Victoria Beckham is no stranger to accolades and praise. Since her time in the spotlight, Posh Spice has been stacking up awards, including Best Designer Brand and Brand of the Year. Not to mention raking in a cool $450 million from her fashion empire, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
But in 2007, Beckham told Elle that her school years were agonizing. “[Children] were literally picking things up out of the puddles and throwing them at me,” she said. “And I just stood there, on my own. No one was with me. I didn’t have any friends. People would push me around, say they were going to beat me up after school, chase me.” She added that she settled with being a loner after her efforts to make friends fell flat. “It was miserable, my whole schooling, miserable. I tried to be friends with people, but I didn’t fit in. So I kept myself to myself.”
Beckham also discussed experiencing chilling threats as a Spice Girl in her autobiography “Learning To Fly” (via Daily Mail). “I didn’t know who I could trust,” she wrote. Beckham has since told “This Morning” that she’s far more confident these days. “There were things that I used to, little paranoias that I used to have when I was younger about myself that I just don’t care so much about now that I’m older.”
Margot Robbie wore glasses to look like Harry Potter
Flashing a megawatt smile from Queensland, Australia to Los Angeles, it’s fair to say “Suicide Squad” star Margot Robbie is a walking Crest White Strips ad. But in 2016, she blushed on Jimmy Kimmel Live over a vintage photograph of herself that accurately summed up her dorky adolescence years, complete with orthodontia, an ill-fated messy bun, and a Harry Potter fascination.
“Literally, the most embarrassing photo of my whole life,” Robbie joked about a photo taken on her thirteenth birthday. “I’m clearly really enjoying myself reading Harry Potter. I have braces, which I had for two years. I was really into slicking my hair back, God knows why.” Robbie admitted to lying about her perfect eyesight to get prescription glasses to more fully embody her hero. “They’re not even cool ones. They’re like, ugly glasses,” she laughed. “I went to the optometrist and was like, ‘No, I can’t see that. Oh, my eyes hurt!'”
But it wasn’t long after the awkward phase that the “Bombshell” actor landed her big break in Australia’s iconic soap opera “Neighbours” as Donna Freedman, followed by the role of a lifetime as Naomi Lapaglia in “Wolf of Wall Street” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.
Shawn Mendes was teased for singing on YouTube
With nearly 60 million Instagram followers as of this writing, singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes’ love ballads and velvety vocals are in high demand. But the Canadian-bred crooner still encountered cynics and skeptics in the hallways of Pine Ridge Secondary School.
In 2019, the “Never Be Alone” singer took to Instagram to share his bullying experience with his fans. “The day after I posted one of my first covers onto YouTube back in 2014.. at school walking down the hall straight into a group of older guys yelling out ‘sing for me Shawn sing for me!’ In a way that made me feel absolutely horrible… made me feel like a joke, like what I was doing was just stupid & wrong,” he recalled.
Fortunately, the Favorite Male Artist award-winner had family and friends in his corner, encouraging him along the way, which Mendes, ever the angel, hoped to be for those reading his post. “I’m writing this not only to the 15-year-old kid who’s scared to follow their heart because of what people might say, but also to the 50-year-old who may be doing the exact same thing … Im here & i’m rooting for you,” he wrote.
Charlize Theron was invisible to both the boys and girls
In 2004, Charlize Theron was included in People’s All-Time Most Beautiful Women list. In 2013, she was featured on the cover of Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive Issue. But even one of Hollywood’s most stunning starlets was invisible during her school years, citing nerdy glasses, weird clothes, and haircuts as hindering culprits. “I wore really nerdy glasses and the boys didn’t like me,” Theron told People. “I had a massive, massive crush on this one guy. He was a couple of years older than me and I did not exist in his world.” So relatable, that Theron.
“The Atomic Blonde” star also admitted to struggling to connect with some of her female classmates. “There was a really popular girl at school, and I was obsessed with her … I was in tears one day because I couldn’t sit next to her.” Tough break. But Theron was able to credit the situation for helping her develop a thick skin. “But I got that out of my system by the time I got to high school and was more immune to all of that stuff.”
Today, Theron loves her life and her two daughters, August and Jackson. As for her love life? On a September 2020 episode of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” she shared that she really hadn’t been out with anyone for the past five years. “My life is really good, so you better be able to bring that and maybe better,” she said.
Tom Ford was bullied for preferring fashion to football
Award-winning fashion designer, filmmaker, and Jay-Z muse Tom Ford is the who’s-who in the world of fashion. But the Texas native told People he wasn’t always so popular, as classmates would make fun of him for his lack of athleticism. “As a kid in the ’60s, I wasn’t great at football. I was not great at team sports. I wasn’t great with my BB gun,” Ford added. “I wasn’t interested in those things, and so I was teased a lot.”
Even after years of success (and according to Celebrity Net Worth, a chill $500 million in the bank) to back his talent, the menswear designer hasn’t forgotten the years of taunting. “I think I shoved them to the back of my mind and didn’t really confront them. I think that they’re very present to date,” Ford said of his memories. “Still to this day, if I walk past a group of kids, they can be 8 years old playing soccer, and that ball comes towards me, I panic because, ‘My God, I have to kick that ball, and they’re all going to laugh because I’m not great at soccer.’ It’s a sort of instant panic.” According to Fashion Industry Broadcast, Ford still recalls a mostly happy childhood thanks to a supportive home life where he rearranged living room furniture and helped his mother coordinate the perfect shoes.
Krysten Ritter made friends with farm animals
She’s strutted down fashion runways, starred in cult classics like “Breaking Bad” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23,” written a novel, and directed films. But Krysten Ritter wasn’t always so daringly bold and confident. The “Jessica Jones” star admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that she was relentlessly tormented by peers in her youth, stating classmates “would make fun of me for being really skinny, [and] gangly, and just the way I looked.”
Growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, Ritter often felt bored and lonely, as she was the outcast at home as well. “I wasn’t really included… I just fell between the cracks,” she told the outlet. “I was completely on my own.” Ritter eventually found solace in playing with the farm animals.
Ritter then fell into modeling, where she finally felt a sense of belonging. “It was awesome,” she recalled to THR. “Immediately, I felt like I fit in. Meeting the other models, who were also kind of weird-looking, and tall, and skinny, I was like, ‘Wow, I feel more like myself here.'” But fate had other plans, as the modeling agency had an acting department and walked Ritter straight over after noticing her bouts of energy and animated stories. “So, they were like, ‘Krysten, you know, what do you think: Would you want to consider acting?'” she said. “Would you go on a few commercial auditions and see how it goes?'” Ritter jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.
Taylor Swift has the mean girls to thank for her success
Taylor Swift has featured members of her famous friend group — including but not limited to Selena Gomez, Jaime King, Hailee Steinfeld, Martha Hunt, Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, Lorde — in her music videos and her concerts.
But life wasn’t always so friendly for the “Bad Blood” singer. Swift told Teen Vogue she was kicked out of the cool-girl group during her youth. “Junior high was actually sort of hard because I got dumped by this group of popular girls,” Swift shared. “They didn’t think I was cool or pretty enough, so they stopped talking to me.”
Classmates also made fun of the country music fan for her taste in music, but the Pennsylvania native followed her heart and moved to Nashville to pursue her singing career. A year later, she returned to her hometown and saw the mean girls in her merch. “They showed up, wearing my T-shirts, and asking me to sign their CDs,” Swift said in Teen Vogue. “It was bittersweet because it made me realize that they didn’t remember being mean to me and that I needed to forget about it, too.”
Looking back, the Grammy-stacker is grateful for the experience. “Really, if I hadn’t come home from school miserable every day, maybe I wouldn’t have been so motivated to write songs,” she shared in the aforementioned interview. “I should probably be thanking them!”
Rashida Jones was the teacher's pet
Actor, screenwriter, and producer Rashida Jones makes it all look so easy, but under those signature side bangs the Parks and Recreation alum is actually a studious, straight-up nerd. “In high school, I never drank, I never smoked, I never smoked weed,” she recalled to Playboy. “I was president of the varsity club and was on the math team and then student government. I was in every activity.”
The Harvard grad explained to Vanity Fair that even though she was a teacher’s pet, she was also quite outgoing, spreading cheer at school sporting events as a pom-pom tosser. “I was social, I was overachieving,” she shared. “I was a cheerleader.” Even after graduating, Jones admitted her idea of a good time still involves crossword puzzles, games, and rocking out on a piano.
Surprising no one, Jones is also a long-time lover of literature. “I came out of the womb reading books and thinking about my next project,” she said in Playboy. The bookworm created a comic book series called “Frenemy of the State,” which is a Paris Hilton-inspired story revolving around a socialite who operates as an undercover intelligence agent. “She has lived a life of privilege, attended the best schools, and learned every language, but her obsession with spying on exes gets her into trouble, and she is recruited to be a spy in exchange for not going to prison,” Jones told Variety.
Jessica Alba ate lunch in the nurse's office
Hollywood A-lister and Honest Company hotshot Jessica Alba told Daily Mail that she got into acting as an escape from her less than desirable school experience. “My memories of school are not great,” she shared. “In fact, I had a hell of a time. Acting was the one thing that gave me a break from what was going on around me.”
Hard to believe that the “Fantastic Four” star was bullied so badly that her father walked her to school to protect her. “I’d eat my lunch in the nurses’ office, so I didn’t have to sit with the other girls,” she said in the Daily Mail. “I’d get beaten up and picked on all the time.” Alba explained the tormenting was largely due to looking and feeling different. “Apart from my being mixed race, my parents didn’t have money, so I never had the cute clothes or the cool backpack,” she recalled. “I wasn’t a rebel, so I didn’t want to smoke with the girls or stay out all night at the age of 13.”
The mom to three told the Daily Mail she never stood up to the girls because it was important to her to take the high road. “I tried to keep everything inside because I didn’t want to lower myself to the level of the bullies.” Today, Alba is teaching her kids the same. “Be kind. Be fair,” she said in Parents. “And stand up for anyone who is not being treated with fairness or kindness.”
Alison Brie was a nerd for the stage
“Mad Men” alum, “Community” star, and “Glow” powerhouse Alison Brie told the Daily Beast she spent her days at South Pasadena High as an energetic theater kid. “I was kind of nerdy, and by senior year was President of the Drama Club,” she shared. “And because I was in drama, I had to have good grades, so I could do the plays.” Fair trade.
Her time horsing around in the drama club even landed her a side hustle as a clown performing at children’s birthday parties. “The characters were more like Snow White, or Cinderella, or the Powerpuff Girls, and I had to wear a big head with a chinstrap,” she recalled. “I hated that one the worst because you had to balance this big, awkward head on you while wearing a miniskirt, and you’re making balloon animals and painting kid’s faces.”
Brie has since put the props and balloon gig behind her. She told Business Insider that she’s grateful to be working alongside Hollywood’s most elite, including hubby Dave Franco, and landing diverse roles in blockbusters like “The Five-Year Engagement,” “Happiest Season,” and “BoJack Horseman.” “I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to work on such different projects,” she said.
Lady Gaga believed in herself when others didn't
These days, “Born This Way” singer Lady Gaga may be hoarding Grammys and Golden Globes alike, but there was a time when the triple threat was teased about her appearance and eccentric ways. “Being teased for being ugly, having a big nose, being annoying. ‘Your laugh is funny, you’re weird, why do you always sing, why are you so into theater, why do you do your makeup like that?” Gaga told Rolling Stone. “I didn’t even want to go to school sometimes.”
Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Germanotta, opened up to Variety, explaining that the arts helped her survive her painful school experience. “When I was bullied in school … my only escape was music, and that’s why I started to sing and write songs and act … I wanted an escape from all of that pain.”
Years later, it was that very pain that helped Gaga transform into her “A Star Is Born” character, Ally. “What I had to do was go back further into my childhood, into my high school years, when I was bullied and made fun of for having big dreams,” the singer said in People. Even so, Gaga said she and Ally didn’t totally overlap. “What’s different between Ally and [myself] is that when I decided I was going to go for it as a singer and songwriter, I just hit the ground running,” she said. “I really believed in myself. Ally is not this way.”
Kylie Jenner faced cyber bullying
Kylie Cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner is a prime example that not all bullies take the form of a classmate on school grounds. In 2016, the reality star explained the darker side of fame to Wonderland magazine. “Growing up, I’ve heard the worst things anyone could ever say about me,” she said. “And bullying was such a big part of my life, with the whole entire world judging me.”
Then in 2018, according to Cosmopolitan, Jenner took to her Snapchat account to share her experience in hopes to let others who have been bullied know that they’re not alone. “Half of you guys think I’m weird,” she said. “And the other half think I’m funny. But I’ve been bullied since I’ve been nine. From the whole world, it feels like sometimes. The years of negativity took a toll on Jenner, as she admitted her social media presence is an alter ego and not important to her. “I kind of just don’t want to do it anymore,” Jenner said regarding her interest in deleting her social media accounts altogether. “But I’ve always been like that. I want to be a businesswoman and be behind the scenes. Kylie Jenner needs to retire.”
Jenner has grown through the experience and is incredibly active on social media today, showing fans behind the scenes events at Kylie Cosmetics and sweet moments with daughter Stormi Webster.
Emily Blunt used accents to cover up her stutter
“A Quiet Place” star Emily Blunt is all too familiar with altering her English accent for her career on the silver screen, a talent she fell into in her youth. The Golden Globe winner spoke to People about the stutter she had during adolescence, which flared up again during pregnancy and occasionally when she’s tired. “It’s just a kind of brain-synapse thing that happens to people who are genetically predisposed to have it,” she said.
“The Girl on the Train” actor explained the misconceptions about speech disorders. “The worst thing you can say is breathe or slow down,” she said. “It’s not about that … It’s nothing to do with anxiety.” Blunt clarified that stuttering is a hereditary condition, as she shares the ailment with several family members.
And while she went to speech therapists, Blunt credits her unique approach for dealing with the stutter, which ultimately led her into acting. “So I used to do a lot of funny voices and funny accents because I could speak more fluently if I didn’t sound like me,” she recalled to People. A teacher overheard Blunt’s accents and encouraged her to audition for a school play. “He said, ‘I think you are funny, and you should do it,'” she shared
Today, Blunt works with The American Institute of Stuttering to help spread awareness. “They’re fantastic,” Blunt said in the aforementioned interview. “They’ve got this revolutionary way of treating people and giving people the confidence, because it’s a real problem for a lot of people.”
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