We’ve all had that fantasy about telling our bosses to stuff it and quitting our day jobs to follow our dreams. But in Hollywood, sometimes your boss just happens to be a big star and working for them is an important step on the road to success. Maybe one day, you can cash in on the fact that you babysat one of the Jolie-Pitts or picked up Bradley Cooper’s dry cleaning.
Before they hit it big the stars on this list were workaday stiffs just like the rest of us. Okay, so some of these stars had connections and opportunities that weren’t open to the average Joe or Josephine. Maybe some of them didn’t even really need the work for, say, monetary purposes. The important thing is that these celebrities spent time working under someone else before they found success and became their own bosses.
Plus, the struggle is relative. Kim Kardashian’s early employment probably seemed really hard to her. Maybe Allison Williams is extra nice to her personal assistant because she’s been on the other side of things. Aspiring young actors take note: babysitting child stars and famous offspring is a perfectly legitimate jumping off point for a career in the entertainment industry.
Here are 15 Stars Who Had To Work For Other Stars Before They Made It.
15 Allison Williams - Tina Fey's assistant
Allison Williams has always said that she doesn’t want to coast on her dad’s fame. But the daughter of NBC journalist Brian Williams admits to using some of his connections to land a sweet summer job during her college years. Thanks to him, she spent 3-months in 2008 as Tina Fey’s assistant, working on the sets of Baby Mama and 30 Rock.
“I wanted to learn the technical side of lighting and sound... I wasn’t allowed to start acting until I graduated college. I wanted to know the drill. I wanted the first time I went on set to act to be totally stressless, except for the acting.” Indeed, her career has gotten off to a smashing start, having starred in a hit TV show (HBOs Girls) and Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which earned an incredible 99% on Rotten tomatoes.
14 Eric Stonestreet - Security For Garth Brooks
You may not think of Cam from Modern Family as a particularly intimidating presence. But before he landed his breakout role on the hit comedy series, Eric Stonestreet worked as a security guard at a music venue outside Kansas City.
In 2017, prompted by a present-day run-in with the country legend, Stonestreet Instagramed several photos from one night on the job back in 1995, when Garth Brooks came to town. Said the caption: “In 1995 I worked security for A (ONE) Garth Brooks concert in Manhattan Ks. Last night I finally got to say you're welcome for keeping him safe that night and basically giving him the wonderful career he's had thus far. Thank you Garth for the amazing night I had with my #crew slash #squad ❤#circles”
13 William H. Macy - Babysat Jeremy Piven and Joan Cusack
You’d be surprised how many stars knew each other back in the day. For instance, Jeremy Piven and John Cusack were childhood best buds, having grown up together in Chicago. Jeremy and John’s sister, Joan, also shared a babysitter: none other than character actor William H. Macy.
Then a struggling actor, Macy befriended the Cusacks and the Pivens when he worked with them at the St. Nicholas Theater Company. The future Shameless star, who was apparently struggling more than most, took many odd jobs during this time. In addition to childcare, he also ran errands for Jeremy’s dad, Byrne.
Macy, who would later share the screen with both of his former wards, says he knew that both Cusack and Piven were destined for a career in drama.
12 Mindy Kaling - Interned For Conan O’Brien
Before she had her breakout role as Kelly on The Office, the creator and star of The Mindy Project claims that she was once the “worst intern that’s ever worked on [Late Night with Conan O’Brien].” The 19-year-old Dartmouth College student was super stoked to provide free labor for her childhood hero.
“I couldn’t believe how star struck I was,” Mindy Kaling told O’Brien years later as a guest on his show. “It was my dream to be a guest on Conan. It seemed too crazy to think about.” Though she was living her dream, she confessed that she was continuously distracted by the identity of her boss, admitting, “I wouldn’t do the things I was hired to do. I would kind of follow you around.” Fortunately, she seems to have gotten over it and since been a guest on pretty much every talk show.
11 Jennifer Garner - Babysat for Stephen Colbert
Alias star Jennifer Garner met the former Colbert Report host when they both guest starred on the hit sitcom, Spin City. When the struggling actress learned that Stephen Colbert and his wife, Evie, needed a sitter for their young daughter, Madeline, she jumped at the chance to earn some extra income.
“He said, ‘you seem normal. Would you babysit for me?” Garner recalled. They reminisced about their former working relationship on Colbert’s late night talk show, with Stephen admitting, "We said, 'That poor thing' because you were so nice…We thought, 'Los Angeles will devour her.'" Garner jokingly responded, "Yes, it devoured me, but I'm okay. I'm all right."
Garner has since applied her nurturing skills to raising her three children with her ex-husband, fellow actor Ben Affleck.
10 Kim Kardashian For Serena Williams, Cindy Crawford, and Heidi Montag
Though her resume wouldn’t get her any work outside of Hollywood, Kim Kardashian actually has had to work a day in her life - several days, in fact. In the pre-Kanye era, the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star was a professional closet stylist, hired to organize the wardrobes of several big names including Serena Williams, and Cindy Crawford.
While on the reality series, The Hills, Heidi Pratt (née Montag) hired Kim to sort her finery, and Kardashian was even caught on camera. Though she was cut from the final edit, Heidi’s future husband Spencer believes the job doubled as a bid by Kim to break into reality TV. Kim’s stepbrother, Brody Jenner, dated another The Hills star, Lauren Conrad. But it was the release of her adult tape and subsequent E! reality series that eventually catapulted Kim to fame.
9 Wayne Gretzky - Babysat Robin Thicke
Singer Robin Thicke is now an adult with children of his own. But when he was 11, his father, Growing Pains actor, Alan Thicke, felt he still needed looking after. Who better to babysit than hockey star, Wayne Gretzky?
In 1988, Gretsky was already known as The Great One, having won several championships with the Edmonton Oilers. It was poor timing for Gretzky to start his nanny career, because right around Robin’s bedtime, came what’s known in the hockey world as “The Trade." Gretzky learned he was being traded from the Oilers to the L.A. Kings.
Thicke told Sportsnet, "He got the call at about 9 p.m., and he was gone by 6 the next morning. So we had to find a substitute nanny instantly, which is not as bad as what Edmonton had to find to replace him.”
8 Jenna Dewan Tatum - Dancer For Justin Timberlake
Before Jenna Dewan landed the life-changing role of Nora Clark in Step Up - one that resulted in a career boost and a hyphenated last name - she worked as a dancer for hire. The future American Horror Story actress toured with several big name artists including Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, and Christina Aguilera.
But she took on an additional workload when she was hired for Justin Timberlake’s 2003 Justified tour. In addition to backing him up on stage, she also reportedly served to nurse his broken heart post-Britney Spears. As was revealed in the Lifetime biopic, Britney Ever After, Jenna not only danced for Justin, she also helped him get over his onetime paramour post-breakup. Sadly, sources say the revenge club dance-off depicted in the film was a beautiful embellishment.
7 Kiefer Sutherland - Babysat Gwyneth Paltrow
Though he is the son of the legendary performer Donald Sutherland, The Lost Boys star Kiefer Sutherland was still up-and-coming when he met Blythe Danner and her 11-year-old daughter, Gwyneth in the Willamstown, MA community theater scene. Danner hired 17-year-old Kiefer to babysit the future GOOP entrepreneur.
But it wasn’t long before Kiefer’s ward grew up and began an acting career of her own. Thought they are only 6 years apart, their age gap made a big difference at the time. Muses Sutherland, “I think it was very funny how fast someone goes from 13 to 18, and obviously they look so different that when Gwyneth started to work, I thought, ‘Well, that must be another girl because I always remember her as being 11 or 12 years old.’”
6 Chloë Sevigny - Babysat Topher Grace
The '90s It Girl and the That '70s Show star were only 4 years apart when they were both growing up in the Connecticut suburb of Darien. During that time Mama Grace would occasionally hire the future Kids star to babysit her little Topher.
Unfortunately for Grace, he found himself on that weird cusp of adolescence when he was not quite old enough to be left on his own, but definitely old enough to notice the high school student his mother put in charge. Apparently, Sevigny was always an effortless hipster. “She was a cool babysitter," said Grace. "I had such a crush on her." Perhaps Grace was able to channel some of that real life mortification into the character of awkward teen Eric Foreman.
5 Bethenny Frankel For Paris Hilton
It’s no secret that in order to get ahead in the entertainment industry, it’s all about connections. Anyone you meet could help you get your big break. Before she became a Real Housewife of New York City, Frankel worked as a hostess in an L.A. restaurant. As the future Skinnygirl mogul explained to E! News, it was her friendship with another pro Housewife to-be that paved the way for her future success.
That friend was Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards, whose sister, Kathy, just happened to be married to a Hilton. Kathy Hilton hired Frankel as a nanny to her baby heiresses, Nicky and Paris. She babysat, drove them to and from school, and later received the additional responsibility of Hilton family chef.
4 Michael Bolton - Babysat Paula Abdul
It’s a good thing he had that music career to fall back on, because according to Abdul, Michael Bolton was a terrible babysitter. In 2010, the “Forever Your Girl” singer revealed that when she was 7-years-old, her parents hired the future Adult Contemporary crooner to look after her. It did not go well.
“He never paid attention to me because he was too busy jamming… and hanging out with other musicians in our neighborhood,” she explained. She told Jimmy Kimmel that she blames Bolton for a pencil-stabbing incident. “Let’s just say that I still have a scar because Michael Bolton was not a good babysitter,” Abdul said. They made up years later when Bolton hired Abdul to choreograph his tour, but first he wanted to know if she was the “same bratty Paula Abdul” he used to babysit.
3 Zac Posen - Babysat Lena Dunham
Before he was a fashion designer extraordinaire, Zac Posen was trying to earn pocket money in much the same way as any teenager. The future Project Runway judge was hired by Dunham’s famously artsy parents to watch over their little Lena. Posen apparently made quite an impression on the young lady who was destined to create and star in HBO’s Girls.
The Not That Kind of Girl author revealed their former dynamic in a tweet directed at Posen, writing, “You were the best babysitter … you did my hair ‘like a newscaster’ and made me a frayed leather skirt.” Unfortunately, her tweet did not include any photos of such looks. The two stayed in touch and Posen would later design many of Dunham’s memorable red carpet looks.
2 Katie Lowes - Babysat For Connie Britton
Shortly before her breakout role as Quinn Perkins on the ABC political drama, Scandal, Katie Lowes was still a struggling actor in need of some extra cash to help make ends meet. It was then that Nashville star Connie Britton hired Lowes to help her with domestic affairs.
Britton, who had recently given birth to her son Eyob, was so fond of Lowes that she secretly hoped the actress would give up on her dreams and work for the family full-time. Britton recalls, “I wanted her to be my nanny so badly and my assistant. She's just such a phenomenal human and I remember having those conversations. She was helping me with my son, who was then just a baby, and then she said, 'I got cast in this show called Scandal.'”
1 Liza Minnelli - Babysat Ron Howard
Liza Minelli has numerous claims to fame, but the Oscar-winning director of A Beautiful Mind will always think of her as his childhood babysitter. Many years before Ron Howard hired the legendary talent to play Lucille 2 on his hit series, Arrested Development, Minnelli worked for him in another capacity.
Ronnie was already a successful actor, with memorable turns in The Andy Griffith Show and The Music Man, but he still couldn’t be left home alone. His father Rance hired Judy Garland’s teenage daughter, Liza, to watch over the precocious little redhead.
Though Liza had also dipped her toes in the entertainment waters by that time, Minnelli and Howard couldn’t have known then that they were both destined to one day become giants of the industry.
Do you know of any other celebrities who toiled under big stars before they found their own fame? Let us know in the comments!