There are plenty of models out there, but only a select handful surpass the rest in terms of fame and recognition in order to become something more, a celebrity, a supermodel. For those who achieve this status, a great many doors make themselves open as their brand begins to grow. For some, this may mean becoming a fashion designer or perhaps even an entrepreneur, but for the 15 women on this list, the next logical step after forging their name as a world renowned model, is to transform themselves into a Hollywood actress.
Many woman have done this, with varying results, and that is why we have decided to construct an article around the very premise. This list celebrates 15 of the most successful fashion models who transitioned from runways and cover shoots to feature films. While there certainly are numerous supermodels to chose from – Naomi Campbell, Elizabeth Hurley, Gisele Bündchen, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, etc. – we decided to focus on those who have achieved great levels of success in both modeling as well as film. Being an international modeling success as well as starring in major Hollywood films were both equally important upon constructing this list.
Here are 15 Supermodels Who’ve Made the Leap from the Runway to the Big Screen.
15 Kate Upton
Kate Upton is inarguably one of the most recognizable models in the world right now. The multiple Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl has seen a meteoric rise in fame in the past five years, crediting her success to her numerous features in Sports Illustrated, her collection of viral YouTube videos, along with her various fashion magazine covers: Vogue, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Esquire, Sunday Times Style and Muse Magazine, among others.
The 23-year-old model has recently capitalized on her brand’s respective marketability by becoming an actress. Upton’s big screen debut came in Brett Ratner’s 2011 action comedy Tower Heist, in which she played the role of Mr. Hightower’s Mistress. While her part in this film was a relatively small one, she has since signed on for larger roles in her two subsequent films. In fact, the up-and-coming actress managed to land a co-starring role alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann in the 2013 romantic comedy The Other Man, and is also one of the leads in this year’s upcoming road trip comedy, The Layover, along with Alexandra Daddario and Kal Penn.
14 Tyra Banks
Since Tyra Banks signed on with Elite Model Management at the age of 16, she has become modeling royalty, and later evolved into major celebrity, and, eventually, a household name. Among her myriad of cover features, some of the most notable include: Elle, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Teen Vogue, GQ, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In fact, Banks became the first African American to be featured on the cover of the Swimsuit Issue, as well as GQ, and in 1997, VH1 awarded her the title of “Supermodel of the Year.” In the same year, she signed on to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel, a title that she carried until 2005.
Many of you may recall that Banks got her start as an actress in 1993, as Will’s old friend, Jackie Ames, in the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. While this supermodel is still probably most well-known for her roles in various television programs – MADtv, Felicity, Gossip Girl, Shake It Up!, Glee, and her former daily talk show, aptly named The Tyra Banks Show, amongst them. She still has a number of film roles to her credit, including but not limited to: Higher Learning, Love & Basketball, Life-Size (TV movie), and of course her starring role as Zoe in the 2000 film, Coyote Ugly.
13 Emily Ratajkowski
For Emily Ratajkowski, modeling was always a means to an end. Not to say that she did not value her modeling career or take it seriously, but even as a young girl, her primary goal was always to become an actress. Being told that modeling might be the best avenue for her to explore, and later realize, her true goal of becoming an actress, she decided to sign with Ford Models at the age of 14. In the subsequent years of her modeling career, Ratajkowski appeared in 2014 and 2015’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, worked as a runway model for Marc Jacobs, and was featured on the cover of GQ Turkey.
Her rise to fame however, can, for the most part, be traced back to her guest role in the controversial music video for Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines,” in which she appeared topless. Ratajkowski’s comfort level regarding her sexuality, along with willingness to pose nude, is well documented and on full display in her 2014 big screen debut, Gone Girl. The 24-year-old actress has since gone on to attain her first starring role alongside Zac Efron in the 2015 film We Are Your Friends, and has two more movies on the way – Cruise and In Darkness.
12 Kathy Ireland
Kathy Ireland is simply one of the most successful supermodels of all-time. She was an absolute star during the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in 13 consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues, three of which were cover features. In addition to her run with Sports Illustrated, Ireland has also appeared on covers of several other prestigious magazines – Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Forbes to name a few. Ireland’s successful modeling career has allowed her to explore other avenues, including entrepreneurship, which has been extremely fruitful for her. In fact, her marketing company “kathy ireland Worldwide,” has lead to her becoming one of the wealthiest former models in the world, with a net worth of over $420 million.
To match her numerous successes in the realms of finance and modeling, Kathy Ireland has also had a fairly prosperous career in Hollywood as well, having been credited with 40 different acting roles. Among her more notable films however, are Robert Altman’s The Player, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, Alien from L.A., and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
11 Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Like many models, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley got her start at a fairly young age. The English born model signed on with her first agency at 15, and started appearing in Levi’s jeans commercials by the age of 16. It did not take long for the young entertainer to rise in the industry, as only a year later she flew to New York in order to shoot with Teen Vogue, and debuted on the catwalk alongside the legendary Naomi Campbell. Before long, Rosie signed on as a lingerie model for Victoria’s Secret, and eventually became a Victoria’s Secret Angel, a prestigious title for a model within the lingerie company.
While Huntington-Whiteley has only appeared in two full-length feature films, the two aforementioned movies were major summer blockbusters in which she played fairly significant roles – Transformers: Dark of the Moon (where she replaced Megan Fox) and the Academy Award winning film, Mad Max: Fury Road (where she shines as a badass movie mama). Given the success of these two films, it is likely that were are bound to see more of this model turned actress in the future.
10 Kelly LeBrock
Kelly LeBrock is one talented entertainer who has been able to create waves in both modeling as well as acting. Her career as a model began when she was 16. She was featured on numerous magazine covers and has done shoots for a plethora of fashion spreads. Most notably, LeBrock landed an exclusive deal with Christian Dior, and became one of the most highly sought-after models associated with Eileen Ford. Additionally, she later became known as the spokeswoman for Pantene shampoo, and is even credited with coining the phrase, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
The supermodel made her film debut in Gene Wilder’s romantic comedy The Woman in Red, as the main love interest, Charlotte. A year later she went on to win a starring role in the John Hughes film, Weird Science. LeBrock has since gone on to star in several other Hollywood titles such as: Hard to Kill, Wrongfully Accused, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2001), along with several other films. As an actress, the now-56 year old continues working to this day; her upcoming project Hidden Affairs, now in post production but still without a hard release date at the moment.
9 Brooklyn Decker
Brooklyn Decker has proven to be much more than a pretty face throughout her prosperous career as both an actress and a model. The 29-year-old entertainer has accomplished a tremendous amount as a professional, boasting features in Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, The Gap, and Victoria’s Secret. In 2010, Decker announced that she had succeeded in landing the gig of a lifetime as that year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model.
The very next year, the American-born model realized another lifelong dream, starring in a major Hollywood film. Her debut feature was of course the 2011 comedy, Just Go With It, in which Decker co-starred alongside the likes of Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Nicole Kidman. She has not stopped there however, starring in several films since: Battleship, Casual Encounters, Stretch, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Additionally, Decker has had several television appearance credits under her belt, in sitcoms such as New Girl, The League, Ugly Betty, and she even managed to land a starring role on the 2014 comedy series, Friends with Better Lives.
8 Rebecca Romijn
Like many of the other supermodels on this list, much of Rebecca Romijn’s fame can be traced back to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and Victoria’s Secret. Additionally, Romijn has gone on to model with the likes of bebe, Miller Lite, and Giorgio Armani on her way to becoming one of the biggest stars in the industry.
In the late '90s, however, the American model finally got her start as a film actress with minor roles in both Dirty Work and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It was not until 2000 however, that she finally got her big break as a Hollywood thespian with the recurring role of Mystique in X-Men, X-Men 2, and X-Men: The Last Stand. Her portrayal of the blue shapeshifter has landed Romijn numerous nominations and wins from various award showcases: Teen Choice Awards, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, and Saturn Award recognition from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
7 Gal Gadot
Gal Gadot might just be the most interesting woman on this list. At the age of 18, Gadot signed on as an enlisted soldier in the Israeli Army, where she served as a combat instructor for two years. Just previously, she had won the 2004 Miss Israel competition and continued to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Ecuador. After her service in the Israel Defense Forces, the former Miss Israel took part in a photoshoot as conducted by Maxim, entitled “Women of the Israeli Army.” Additionally, Gadot has gone on to lead international modeling campaigns for the likes of Captain Morgan, Gucci, Vine Vera, and Jaguar Cars. She has also been featured as the covergirl for Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Castro, to name a few.
If these numerous accomplishments were not enough already, this Israeli model has since gone on to become a rising star in Hollywood, all in a fairly short amount of time. Having gotten her big screen debut as Giselle with the Fast & Furious franchise, Gadot has since gone on to win the part of the world’s most iconic female superhero, Wonder Woman. She first donned the costume in this year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a role she is slated to continue in Justice League Part One, Justice League Part 2, and her character’s very own standalone movie, aptly named Wonder Woman, just finished filming and is scheduled for release in the summer of 2017. Gadot could very well be viewed as the most successful supermodel-turned-actress ever when all is said and done, if her career as her superhero goes according to plan.
6 Lois Chiles
Lois Chiles may have enjoyed a successful acting career, but before she ever even starred in her first film, the Texas native was one of the world’s most well-known models of the 1970s. She was first discovered by a Glamour editor searching for a cover model to be featured on the magazine’s annual college issue, and since landing the job, Chiles went on to sign major contracts with multiple agencies in New York and Paris.
Her lucrative modeling career led to a jump onto the big screen of course, with films such as Together for Days, The Way We Were, and of course her role as Jordan Baker in 1974’s The Great Gatsby. Her most notable part perhaps is that of Bond Girl Dr. Holly Goodhead, alongside Roger Moore in 1979’s Moonraker. Additionally, Chiles has gone on to act in Creepshow 2, Broadcast News, and Death on the Nile.
5 Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne has been one of the most prominent models of the current decade, having won the “Model of the Year” award at the British Fashion Awards in 2012, as well as 2014. The 23-year-old has modeled for the likes of Burberry, Mulberry, Tory Burch, Chanel, DKNY, H&M, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jason Wu. She has appeared in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and walked runways during the New York Fashion Week, all of which made her what she is today: the most talked-about model in the world.
Her accomplishments in the world of fashion are almost endless, but that hasn't stopped the British-born model from making the leap to Hollywood film. Delevingne’s big screen debut came in the form of a minor role in 2012’s Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but she received her big break as an actress when she landed the role of Margo in last year’s young adult drama Paper Towns. Like Gadot, the best is yet to come for =Delevingne, who is set to star in two highly-anticipated blockbusters — DC's Suicide Squad and Luc Besson's Valerian — over the course of the next year or so. Keep an eye on this one, folks.
4 Milla Jovovich
Milla Jovovich has certainly enjoyed a lucrative film career throughout the past couple of decades or so, to the point that it's easy to forget that the Ukrainian-born actress actually was a world-renowned supermodel first. Jovovich modeled her first cover for the Italian magazine Lei when she was only 12, and hasn't looked back since. More prestigious jobs came in the form of cover shoots for the likes of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, along with over 100 other magazines, including, but not limited to, each one of the major fashion magazines in the United States. Some of her more notable modeling campaigns were with brands such as Banana Republic, DKNY, Coach, Calvin Klein, H&M, Giorgio Armani, and Christian Dior.
As far as acting is concerned, Jovovich is probably best known for her starring role as Alice in the Resident Evil film franchise, but many probably still remember her for her portrayal as Leeloo in the 1997 cult, sci-fi classic, The Fifth Element. A few more of the actresses more notable films include Dazed and Confused, Zoolander, and Ultraviolet.
3 Famke Janssen
Yet another former X-Men star cracks the list. Janssen began her modeling career upon moving from the Netherlands to the United States in 1984. The Dutch entertainer then signed with Elite Modeling Agency and worked for various brands, most notably Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Victoria’s Secret. Janssen later decided to take a break from modeling to study writing and literature at Columbia University, where she eventually began her acting education.
After moving to Los Angeles, she finally got her big screen debut playing the role of Jeff Goldblum’s love interest in the 1992 crime drama Fathers & Sons. In 1995 she famously went on to star opposite Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond film GoldenEye. Most notably, she has also gone on to star as Jean Grey in the X-Men franchise, as well as Lenore in the Taken trilogy. Some of her other noteworthy movies include Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Hide and Seek, I Spy, and Woody Allen’s 1998 film Celebrity.
2 Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz may be recognized now mainly for her success as a Hollywood film actress, but this household name began her career as a model at the age of 16. Like many of the other models turned actresses on this list, Diaz worked with Elite Model Management. Most notably, she modeled for Calvin Klein and Levi’s, but her campaigns were global. Additionally, Diaz was featured as the covergirl on the July 1990 issue of Seventeen, and even starred in a commercial for Coca-Cola.
Upon recommendation from her modeling agency, Cameron Diaz decided to make the jump to film with the 1994 Jim Carrey comedy The Mask. After that, Diaz went on to become a sex symbol, as well as a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and AFI Award nominated actress, for roles in films such as There’s Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich, Vanilla Sky, and the 2002 Martin Scorsese picture, Gangs of New York. Additionally, Cameron Diaz is well-known for her roles in various franchise films, such as Shrek and Charlie's Angels.
1 Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone has perhaps enjoyed arguably the most successful acting career of any woman on this list – at least as it stands now – but she too, first got her start as a fashion model. As a potential candidate for Miss Pennsylvania, a pageant judge advised the young beauty to quit school, move to New York City, and become a model, and that is exactly what she did. In 1977, Stone left her hometown of Meadville, Pennsylvania in pursuit of her dreams to become a fashion model. It worked out fairly well, considering she was quickly signed by Ford Modeling Agency in New York. While her stint as a model was a successful one, it certainly did not last very long, as she quit about three years later in order to become an actress.
Her first role was a fairly small one, being credited as “Pretty Girl on the train” in Woody Allen’s 1980 film, Stardust Memories. Still, Stone would soon go on to have a wildly successful career in cinema with starring roles in numerous films: The Quick and the Dead, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, Last Chance, Gloria, Catwoman, and of course her Academy Award-winning role as Ginger McKenna in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 hit, Casino. You shouldn't be too surprised to find that our list's only Oscar winner nabbed the top spot.
As we have said before, there are plenty of supermodels turned actresses out there. So, who are some of your favorites? And who do you think should have made our list? Whoever it is, make sure to let us know in the comments section.
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