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Career Development

Thinking of changing careers? Here are 4 Celebrities who did something different

General Assembly
November 21, 2022

Raise your hand if you’d consider yourself one-dimensional.

Didn’t think so. 

We all have a multitude of interests and talents that are ever-evolving. So it’s not surprising that around one-third of the workforce changes jobs every year.

Many successful people have experienced a career change or two that led them to where they are now. While it can be challenging to make such a drastic change, it often pays off in dividends. 

Some great examples can be found in a number of inspirational celebrities, who, despite their current fame, have navigated major career changes that led them to the success they hold today. 

This article takes a look at five famous people who pivoted to start new jobs, and a few tips if you’re looking to do the same.

4 Inspiring celebrities who made a successful career pivot

Making a career change doesn’t mean you’ve failed — it’s a brave step that can lead to immense success. The following celebrities did just that. They changed career paths without regret, and never looked back. 

Robyn Rihanna Fenty 

Robyn Rihanna Fenty — better known as Rihanna — is one of the biggest pop stars in the world. The grammy award winner started her career in music at 16 years old, but she hasn’t released a new album since her eighth one in 2016. 


Despite her clear musical talent and immense success, the singer was ready for something new and pivoted to other career ventures. She launched:

  • A shoe collection with Puma
  • A lingerie line
  • An inclusive make-up line, which was listed by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2017
  • A skincare line

Because of these non-musical ventures, Rihanna’s now a billionaire and the second-richest female entertainer after Oprah Winfrey. As for her music career —it’s still thriving, as she was just announced to be the performer at this year’s Superbowl halftime show. 

What we can learn from Rihanna: Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. Because Rihanna stepped out of her comfort zone and transitioned into the beauty and clothing industry, she experienced an even greater level of success. 

Vera Wang

Vera Wang, now known as a world-renowned fashion designer specializing in wedding dresses, didn’t start in fashion design until she was 40 years old.

Vera started her career in fashion journalism at Vogue Magazine where she quickly grew, becoming one of the magazine’s youngest fashion editors. She left the magazine when she was rejected for the position of Editor in Chief, and joined Ralph Lauren. But when the time came to plan for her wedding at the age of 40, Vera struggled to find a wedding dress. As a result, she started designing wedding dresses of her own and opened a small boutique. From there, Vera Wang, the fashion brand, was born.

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Vera shed some light on her inspiring career journey: “People have done far better than me in far shorter periods of time, but that wasn’t my story. It was brick by brick, client by client, store by store. It’s been a trip of passion, but it has not been a quick trip. Nor has it been easy. And that is the truth.” 

What we can learn from Vera: Small career shifts through the years can accumulate into big changes. Vera’s story isn’t one of drastic career changes in a short period of time. Instead, she built on experiences she had to veer into new lanes. She also didn’t let rejection (getting turned down for Editor in Chief) and obstacles (not being able to find a wedding dress) stop her. In fact, they led her to other, more meaningful paths. 

Stephen King 

When you think horror books, you think Stephen King. But it wasn’t always this way. 

Stephen started his career as an English teacher and Janitor. But, he always had a passion for writing and wrote short stories in his spare time. While he was offered higher-paying jobs, his wife, Tabitha, was a big supporter of his writing career and refused to let him accept a role that would take away time from his writing. 

After selling many short stories through the years to various magazines, he finally published his first novel in 1974— Carrie (you may have heard of it). This big break allowed him to leave teaching to pursue writing full-time. Since then, Stephen has published over 50 books, including The Shining and It.

Stephen is currently one of the top-paid authors in the world. On top of winning numerous prestigious writing awards,  Stephen’s writing career has also been financially successful, as he has an estimated net worth of $400 million.

What we can learn from Stephen: A strong support system goes a long way. Stephen has perseverance and skill, but he also had a strong support system (Tabitha) that encouraged him to go after his dreams. 

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Godberg is an actress and TV personality best known for her roles in The Color Purple, The Ghost, Sister Act, and more recently as a host of The View. 

But, as you probably guessed by now, Whoopi didn’t begin her career in acting. To make ends meet and provide for her daughter, Whoopi worked as a bank teller, bricklayer and funeral home assistant — where she did hair and makeup on those who’d passed. 

Despite acting not being her main source of income for many years, it was still her dream. She did a lot of live performing — from stand-up comedy to improv  — to hone her skills. At 30 years old, she landed a starring role in The Color Purple. 

But even once she became a movie star, Whoopi wasn’t held back by her career as a movie actor — she’s done everything from TV acting to talk show hosting to broadway. In fact, she’s one of the select few entertainers to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. 

What we can learn from Whoopie: Don’t let one job define your potential. From live comedy to serious movie characters, to award show host and daytime talk show host — Whoopie continues to seek out challenges and not let success in one field define her. 

Thinking of starting a new career? 3 Tips to take action

Now that you’re feeling inspired to take control of your career like the celebrities above, the real question is: where to start?

Below are a few actionable steps to get started. 

  1. Network

The power of your network can’t be understated. Start talking to people who work in the industry you’d like to break into. If you’re not sure exactly what you want to do yet, even better. Talk to as many people as you can to get a better understanding of what career is right for you. 

Building your network can help give you insights into what a new career would actually look like, opens up doors to new opportunities and provides support on your journey. 

  1. Research

Next, do some research. Look into the different paths you can take on the way to a new career. For example, what kinds of jobs are looking for more talent? Do you need further education? Are there part-time courses available or is an immersive program a better option for you? 

A little bit of research can go a long way to help you figure out your next step. 

  1. Update your resume

It’s pretty hard to get a new job without an up-to-date resume. But that’s not the only reason updating your resume is important. The exercise of improving your resume forces you to think about your narrative. 

Writing a career change resume isn’t always straightforward. Why? With little previous experience, it’s less obvious to potential employers what makes you a good candidate for the role. It’s your job to highlight your transferable skills and pitch your story. 

Wrapping up

What can we learn from these celebrities who changed their careers, didn’t give up on their dreams and continued to adapt and hone new skills?  There’s no straight path, and embracing that allows you to reach your true potential.

Who says teachers can’t start media companies? Or editors can’t start clothing boutiques? Or even that celebrities can’t code

Don’t let other people define your career choices. Start networking, doing your research and updating your resume! Breaking out of your current job and making a career change is challenging, but often worth it.

If you’re ready to start your career change journey download our Career Changer’s Guide to Doing Something Different.


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