40 Celebrity Yearbook Photos From Before They Were Famous

By Isabel K

Most people assume celebrities and people in Hollywood just popped up into the world looking glammed up and beautiful, but that’s not true. Like everyone, your favorite celebrity also went through awkward phases growing up, where they were uncertain about many things and didn’t look quite as good as they do today. 

Whether it’s the acne, braces, or questionable fashion senses, we can all agree that everyone goes through a stage of finding themselves, especially in high school. And that includes the stars and celebrities you see on social media and the big screen.

Celebrities were also regular folks who went through puberty and self-discovery before becoming the put-together people they are today. 

If you don’t believe us, here are some photos that prove they are human and had their awkward teen phase, just like the rest of us!

1. Jennifer Lawrence

You can almost immediately tell that the young girl in this picture grew up to be the Hunger Games actress, Jennifer Lawrence, from the smile on her face and the long blonde hair. You can almost tell that she would grow to become an Oscar-winning actress in the future. 

Image Source: B4rmhuV on imgur.com

Many of her fans might not know that Jennifer Lawrence secretly dropped out of middle school. During an interview, she revealed that she is self-educated and doesn’t have a GED or high school diploma. It certainly worked because she is currently worth over $160 million.

2. Emily Ratajkowski

Looking at the picture below, you can see that this beautiful young girl could have a successful career in the modeling world. And you’re not wrong. Because this is a young Emily Ratajkowski, and she was clearly bound for stardom even at a young age. 

Image Source: Celebrityyearbook.com

Emily wanted to be a star. She began auditioning for different roles at Nickelodeon and Disney while attending the San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas. You’ll probably recognize her from her breakout role as a dancer on Pharrell and Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines” song.

3. Gwen Stefani

You might be wondering who this young beauty is, but we know one thing she isn’t is a “Hollaback Girl.” Yes! The beauty you see below is the legendary Gwen Stefani before she became a famous pop star and singer. Her stage at the time was the high school talent show.

Image Source: Loara High School on Classmates.com

Long before she became a judge on the music show The Voice and married country singer Blake Shelton, she was just a regular teenage girl. Gwen Stefani attended high school in California. This is where she fell in love with music and played the piccolo while in the school band.

4. George Clooney

Who doesn’t know the famous George Clooney? Most people will probably recognize this American actor if they see him walking down the street. Very few people would recognize him if he were as young as he is in the picture below. And yes, he was still as adorable as he is now.

Image source: econtactlenses / Twitter

With glasses that look like they should be in a time capsule and a haircut from a different era, you can rest easy knowing that George Clooney also went through an ugly duckling phase. With the photographic evidence available, even the actor can’t deny having some questionable style choices in his youth. 

5. Russell Brand

English comedian and actor Russell Brand is mostly known for his wild comments and behavior. But looking at the photo below, it’s hard to believe that it’s the person we all know. He is known for the flamboyant lifestyle he lives today. It’s hard to imagine that Russell was once a chubby kid like us.

Image Source: EyeofAugra / Reddit

While this look can hardly compare to the wealthy hippie he is at the moment, you can’t blame him because he went to a private school. The smart comedian managed to get a scholarship into a private school but got expelled because of poor attendance.

6. Oprah Winfrey

Before this queen of daytime TV took over the airwaves and our screens, she was just a young student at high school who loved drama. Even as a young girl, she loved public speaking. She joined East Nashville High School’s debate club to sharpen her speech skills.

Image Source: Classmates.com

These skills would be crucial to her thriving career as a talk show host for decades to come. Oprah graduated as an honor student In 1971. Her excellent performance and curricular activities in school earned her a full-ride scholarship to Tennessee State.

7. Fergie

Fergie is a respected and award-winning singer most commonly known for being part of the Black Eyed Peas. You might know her from her futuristic and catchy pop tunes, but once upon a time, all Fergie was shaking was her pompoms.

Image source: Yearbook Library

The singer Stacy Ferguson, pictured above, mostly spent her time in high school as a cheerleader at a high school in Cali. She was also a straight-A student, girl scout, and spelling bee champion. Her past is definitely one she can be proud of.

8. Kate Moss

Recently, Kate Moss started trending because of her testimony at the Depp v. Heard trial, but she already had a beautiful career as a world-famous model prior to these events. Before becoming one of the most iconic 90s supermodels, Kate was a young student at Riddlesdown High School in the UK.

Image source: Mostly Maple / Pinterest

Even in high school, Kate was very photogenic. And clearly, more people noticed this fact because she was recruited as a model at the age of 14. She would go on to book numerous runways and magazine covers worldwide. It’s hard to imagine that this sweet girl would someday become a household name.

9. Matthew McConaughey

OK, maybe not everyone went through an awkward phase in high school if Matthew McConaughey’s yearbook photos are anything to go by. He was still a dashing young man when he attended Longview High School in Texas in the 80s.

Image Source: Classmates.com

The breakout actor loves discovering new places, and while in high school, he became an exchange student, which allowed him to travel all the way to Australia. He spent a whole year in New South Wales. Maybe the experience helped create the warm and friendly person he is today!

10. Drake

Long before he started his music career, Drake was just an awkward boy trying to make it through life like everyone else. If you watched him on the hit series Degrassi, you’ll likely have an easier time recognizing him from this yearbook photo.

Image source: @champagnepapi / Instagram

With a net worth of over $250 million, it’s hard to imagine that the nerdy boy with glasses would go to top music charts worldwide. Drake studied arts at a school in Canada. Even though he started as an actor, we can’t deny that he started from the bottom, and now he’s here! 

11. Meghan Markle

Before she met Prince Harry or even acted on Suits, Meghan Markle was just a regular high school girl at the Immaculate Heart High School. The Catholic school in Los Angeles is where the duchess of Sussex nurtured her passion and love for the stage and acting. 

Image Source: Meghan Markle on Instagram

Even as a young child, Meghan knew she was destined for greatness. She pursued her dream of acting and got her most famous role in the show Suits. As we all know, she is now happily married to the Duke of Sussex, and they have two children. 

12. Kanye West

As many people know, this legendary rapper, songwriter, and fashion icon was born and raised in Chicago. He loved reading, which is unsurprising because his mother, Donda, was a college professor and encouraged him to read as much as possible.

Image Source: Kanye on Reddit

This is a young Kanye West in 1995 at Polaris School For Individual Education. Even at this age, he loved music, which he says kept him from getting in trouble. Although he got a scholarship to the Chicago American Academy for Art, he would later drop out of college and pursue a career in music. 

13. Andy Samberg

If you’re a Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan, it’s probably easy to recognize who this young man is. You could almost mistake it for an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, waiting for Boyle and Terry to show up. This is a picture of Andy Samberg as a student at Berkeley High School in California.

Image Source: Crappy Fumes / Twitter

Before he became a regular at SNL, Andy Samberg tried his hand at creative writing and studied acting at NYU. He always wanted to be a comedian and says he decided he would be one at the tender age of eight as he watched Saturday Night Live. Younger Andy would be so proud. 

14. Chrissy Teigen

The supermodel Chrissy Teigen had a successful modeling career and was famous in her own right before getting married to musician John Legend. While in high school, Chrissy Teigen was busy and joined the cheerleading team at Snohomish High School. 

Image Source: King5Evening on Twitter

Whether she was a good cheerleader or not, only she knows. But when watching a Netflix show called Cheer, Chrissy Teigen reminisced that it brought back many memories when she realized how bad she was at the sport. But if her modeling career says anything, she found what she was good at. 

15. Jamie Foxx

This actor and singer has been in the limelight for decades because of his multiple talents. He can even crack jokes that will have you laughing until tears come out of your eyes. But as this photo from his days at Terrell High School shows, he has always had a funny bone in his body.

Image Source: Classmates.com

Although he primarily focused on being an athlete at the time, Jamie Foxx always loved the arts. If you’re wondering about the curly hairdo, it was the trendy look at the time, and of course, he nailed it! Just take a look at all that swag. 

16. Stephen Colbert

It might take you a minute or two to recognize who this young boy in braces grew up to be. But if you look closely, you’ll realize that it’s comedian and host Stephen Colbert. He studied at Porter Gold School in Charleston, South Carolina, and this is his yearbook photo.

Image source: Stephen Colbert on Twitter

But we can’t deny that he still looks cute. Unsurprisingly, he was writing for the school newspaper at this age. He loved media and news for a long time and had a band as most teenagers do! His hard work clearly paid off because he worked in comedy and earned millions entertaining the world. 

17. Paris Hilton

This photo clearly tells you that Paris is no stranger to the world of glitz and glamour.  As an heiress to the Hilton empire, could we have imagined anything else? In a shocking documentary, Paris Hilton would later reveal the horrible things she went through in boarding school and what the experience did to her.

Image Source: Parishilton.com

If she isn’t smiling in this picture, it’s probably because she wasn’t happy then. Her documentary, This is Paris, sheds light on what young girls and boys go through in the name of discipline. But we are glad she’s outgrown those traumas. She clearly was the finest girl! 

18. Victoria Beckham

Before Victoria Beckham married famous footballer David Beckham, she was a member of the renowned group Spice Girls. She used to be commonly referred to as “Posh Spice.” These likely had more to do with the fact that she was from a well-off family and attended private school.

Image Source: WENN

Victoria would even complain to her parents and try to stop them from driving her to school in a Rolls Royce. She must have struggled to try to blend in high school. But we’re all glad she eventually embraced her rich girl image and gave us one of the best girl groups in history!  

19.  Peter Dinklage

Even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, it’s hard not to know who the man in the picture is. A couple of years ago, the internet went wild when an old photo of actor Peter Dinklage went viral. He was rocking a mullet while studying at Delbarton Catholic Boys Academy in New Jersey.

Image Source: cameroncrazy85 on Reddit

Before his worldwide fame as Tyrion Lannister on the hit HBO show, Game of Thrones, Peter was just a regular kid trying to navigate high school. Who knew that he would go on to become one of the most famous actors in Hollywood?

20. Topher Grace

Topher grace has been a successful actor since he was a young boy. Famous for his acting skills in That 70s Show, many people loved his character on screen. But can they recognize a younger Topher Grace from this photo? This was him in boarding school way before he started acting. 

Image Source: Topher Grace on Instagram

Born Christopher John Grace, this American actor was once a student at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. And he had the baby face to go with it. Unsurprisingly, he was a part of the theater productions in his high school, inspired mainly by the people around him. 

21. Jake Gyllenhaal

The famously gorgeous American actor known for his roles in Bubble Boy, among other Hollywood favorites, was once just a regular kid. Most of his time as a teenager was spent at Harvard Westlake High School in Los Angeles. This was before he went to study at Columbia University.

Image Source: teddypool on Twitter

When he returned, he clearly knew what he wanted to do: become the next Hollywood heartthrob. Although many people didn’t take his passion, Jake knew what he wanted to do and would pursue it. Jake was a star even as a teenager; from that smile, he knew it.

22. Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg is a jack of all trades. While he became famous as a rapper, Snoop has gone on to do brand commercials, movies, advertisements, and even a cooking show with Martha Stewart. We wonder if the young boy pictured here ever thought he’d attain the level of success that he has today.

Image source: Snoop Dogg on Instagram

It wasn’t easy. Snoop Dogg even recalls rapping in the hallways of the school, which would always draw a large crowd. It made him realize that he was a talented rapper. At the time, he was going by the name Calvin Cordoza before changing it to Snoop Dogg when he started his rap career.

23. Kim Kardashian

Before the Kardashian-Jenner clan became a household name, they were a regular family living in LA. One of their daughters, Kim Kardashian, was an excited teenager attending the Marymount Catholic Girl’s School in Los Angeles. Although her claim to fame wasn’t ideal, she turned it around and created the empire she has today. 

Image source: Yearbook Library

But we understand that her young life wasn’t without its challenges.  Her parents had divorced, and Kim’s late father, Robert Kardashian, was also a famous lawyer handling the tumultuous OJ Simpson trial. It was a big deal at the time because of the murder and the victims’ closeness to the Kardashian family.

24. Aidy Bryant

The American actress and comedian Aidy Bryant also had an awkward phase while growing up in the southwest. Can you recognize a younger Aidy? Even at this age, she would spend most of her days enjoying comedy and nurturing her talents. She went to the same high school as Meghan McCain.

Image Source: Aidybryant on Instagram

Yes, The View co-host Meghan McCain and Bryant went to Xavier College Preparatory. This was a single-sex Catholic school in Phoenix that has produced numerous talents that entertain us on a daily. That high school must have been the best environment because it gave us some of the best comedic geniuses we have today.

25. Sean Penn

Actor and director Sean Penn is no stranger to the Hollywood elite. He’s been around other stars even before they were stars. He went to the same school as Robert Downey Jr, Rob Lowe, and Charlie Sheen. They became friends in high school, and from this picture, they clearly had a good sense of style. 

Image source: Yearbook Library

Although RDJ eventually dropped out, and Charlie Sheen was expelled, Sean Penn decided to soldier on and graduated high school beside Rob Lowe. It’s sometimes surprising how small the world is, and the people you least expected are somehow connected. Who would’ve thought?

26. Adam Levine

The Maroon 5 lead singer looked very different in his teenage years, but you can still see the star quality he possessed at that time. Like the other celebrities on this list raised in Los Angeles, Adam Levine has always been surrounded by the entertainment industry and what it offers.

Image Source: Mirror of Year on YouTube

In high school, he met some of the future members of his award-winning band, Maroon 5. Adam Levine met Jesse Carmichael and Mickey Madden at Brentwood School, bonding over their love of music. Adam recalls that when this picture was taken, he didn’t even want to focus on anything else besides his music.

27. Matt Damon

Who doesn’t like watching Matt Damon on screen? You’ll likely find it easy to recognize a young Matt Damon from this photo because it hardly seems like he’s aged a day. This photo was taken when he was a member of the National Honor Society and a theater geek.

Image Source: idontevenknowwhatiamdoinghere on Imgur

But is that surprising? Matt Damon always knew he wanted to act. Living most of his life in Boston, Matt would attend the Cambridge Rindge and Latin school. Sounds familiar? This is where he met longtime friend Ben Affleck. They would later start getting acting roles together and take Hollywood by storm.

28. Justin Bieber

Another talented musician with a beautiful baby photo is the singing sensation, Justin Bieber. Despite being a heartthrob during his teenage years, Justin Bieber was still as charming when he graduated from Saint Michael Catholic Secondary School in Ontario. And he loved music at the time too.

Image Source: Billboard on Twitter

While in secondary school, Justin was still working on building his music career. Despite all the distractions and trappings of fame, Justin Bieber still managed to get a 4.0 GPA when he graduated. With that out of the way, Justin had all the time to focus and become a world-famous pop star.

29. Nick Offerman

Best known for his role as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, it may take a while to recognize the handsome young man pictured below unless you’re one of his numerous loyal fans. In this picture, he doesn’t have that stark gaze and signature mustache most people know him for on the show. 

Image Source: Classmates

Here, he has a clean cut and is fresh-faced while smiling for the photo. Nick looks like a completely different person because, at the time, everyone knew him as just a regular kid from Minooka High School in Illinois. Most people who knew him would be surprised at the successful actor he’s become. 

30. Jimmy Fallon

Another talk show host to make it on this list is Jimmy Fallon. Can you recognize a young Jimmy from this picture? Even as a young child, Jimmy loved Saturday Night Live and would watch it religiously. He must have achieved one of his lifelong dreams by joining the cast of SNL.

Image Source: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Since he was the class clown of his school and would win joke contests at Saugerties High School, we’re sure his former classmates aren’t that surprised. Just take a look at that smile. Jimmy was always funny; you can see it in his yearbook quotes.

31. Cindy Crawford

Even at a young age, Cindy Crawford looked stunning. It’s not surprising that recruiters spotted her when she was very young because this is how she looked then. Cindy attended high school in DeKalb, IL.  She loved science and even wanted to pursue a career in chemical engineering.

Image Source: Marta Arrufat on Pinterest

Many of her fans may not know this, but she managed to attend Northwestern University to study Chemical Engineering. If things had gone differently, Cindy Crawford, the model, actress, and television personality, would have ended up in a lab instead.

32. Bruce Willis 

It might be hard for some people to recognize this actor because we’re not used to seeing him with a full head of hair. Don’t worry. We’ll help. This is a young Bruce Willis. The future action star looks nothing like the strong characters that he would come to play in movies.

Image Source: sobadsogood.com

As a teenager, Bruce went to Penns Grove High School in the 70s, so you have to understand it was a different time in New Jersey. He participated in numerous activities while at school, like joining the drama club and baseball team, and even was the student council president once.

33. Conan O’Brien

If you’ve been watching this talk show host for a while, it won’t be that difficult to realize that this is a young Conan O’Brien. He has one of those faces that you can’t forget. According to those who knew him at the time, he always dreamed of becoming a writer.

Image Source: jessegrass on Reddit

And that’s exactly what he ended up doing for a living. Conan attended Brookline High School, where he was an editor of the school newspaper. He even graduated valedictorian and was ambitious right from the start. So it’s no surprise that he’s one of the longest-running late-night hosts on American television. 

34.  Jennifer Lopez

Although she was just “Jenny From The Block” a couple of years ago, this legendary singer and actress grew up in the Bronx, where she attended Preston High School in the 80s. But she didn’t have the usual long hair. Instead, as seen in this picture, she was rocking a beautiful shortcut. 

Image source: Classmates

Can you tell it’s her? If you can’t, we don’t blame you. JLo has rarely dyed her hair black since rising to fame, but when she does, it’s beautiful. She says that, at the time, she loved Madonna, and the pop star was the inspiration for her yearbook look.

35. Beyoncé

Before Beyoncé topped the charts with her albums, she was a young girl from Houston and attended high school. Queen Bey attended Alief Elsik High School and the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, where she worked on her singing.

Image Source: Yearbook Library

Beyoncé was also a church choir member as a teenager but would eventually switch to hip hop. The singer and songwriter once said that, when she was young, she grew up in a very nice house in Houston, and she went to private school, which she seemed to have enjoyed.

36. John Mayer

John Mayer was once a student at Fairfield High School in CT. He went through all the stages of puberty, but who knew that one day he would be performing on stadiums and stages worldwide as a rock star? Everyone started from somewhere, and this was John Mayer’s beginning.

Image source: Yearbook Library

In high school, Mayer preferred the clean-cut look. You can tell by the sharp suit he is wearing. He might look innocent in this picture, but John wasn’t as excited as everyone else to be in class at that age. He even said that high school was basically useless.

37. Winona Ryder

This Stranger Things star is easily recognizable from the photo below, and doesn’t she look beautiful? You guessed it! That’s a young Winona Ryder when she was studying at Petaluma High School. Unlike the long hair we see her rocking on the show, Winona had short hair in high school.

Image source: MFuzzySmock on imgur.com

Although she admitted that her friends mocked her for this look, it didn’t hinder her from achieving a 4.0 GPA and starting her acting career at a young age. Her break-out role was in the film Beetlejuice. Sadly, it didn’t help her make more friends, but she became an acclaimed and respected actress in Hollywood.

38. Taraji P Henson

No, this is not a picture from an episode of Empire. If you thought it was, it’s most likely because you recognized one of the show’s stars, Taraji P. Henson. You can clearly see her confident and bubbly attitude in this picture. 

Image source: Taraji P Henson on Instagram

This is from her high school yearbook in the 80s. Thanks to social media, this photo went viral online, reminding people of the kind of star Taraji has always been. She also had a sense of fashion even at a young age judging by this futuristic look. 

39. Anna Faris

Before she starred in the Scary Movie franchise, Anna Faris was a regular high school student attending Edmonds Woodway High School. Despite not being in Hollywood, Faris was still acting professionally in the Pacific Northwest. She knew what she wanted to be and was going for it.

Image Source: Classmates

Anna loved drama and was active in plays and events at her high school. With all the funny roles and performances she’s given us, it’s clear that Anna Faris was destined to be an actress. Can’t you tell from looking at this yearbook photo?

40. Julia Roberts

You should try harder if you’re struggling to recognize the beautiful young woman in the photo below. If you’ve watched Pretty Woman, it’s hard not to remember that beautiful smile. Yes, it’s Julia Roberts. At this time, Julia was a high school student in Smyrna, where she spent most of her time playing the clarinet.

Image Suorce: Yearbook Library

Julia Roberts, however, had other dreams while in high school. She loved animals and wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian, but the future had other plans for her. She attended Georgia State University for a while before dropping out to study acting at NYU.