Some people have a negative idea of reality TV and what it does to the folks who choose to participate in the different formats it incorporates. BUT, there are quite a few stars who have turned their time on reality TV into a full-fledged career, creating a large following and a celebrity brand backing their name. Whether it was a reality competition or show about their lifestyle, here are 8 celebrities who have transformed their time on TV into megabrands.
Jennifer Hudson might not have won American Idol, but she has become one of the most lucrative contestants the show has ever seen. After coming in 7th place on American Idol, J-Hud went on to star in Dreamgirls and won an Oscar, SAG, NAACP, and a Golden Globe Award for her performance. She was also cast in the Sex and the City movie as Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant. Since then, she has also won a Grammy for her debut album I Remember Me, had a supporting role in The Secret Life of Bees and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Well done!
NeNe Leakes became the breakout star of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta franchise, and ever since she has been riding the reality TV train, making the show work for her and her brand. NeNe has found her way onto more scripted and reality TV shows since her Housewives debut, including her own spinoff on Bravo called I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding, as well as appearances on Celebrity Apprentice, The New Normal, and Glee. NeNe is still a cast member of Real Housewives of Atlanta, and has two successful books under her belt.
Eva Marcille Pigford began her career as a contestant during the third season of America’s Next Top Model. “Eva the Diva” ultimately won her cycle of the popular modeling show and immediately raked in endorsement and modeling gigs all over the country. She has been featured in multiple magazines, including Women’s Health and Fitness, King, Essence, ELLE, InTouch Weekly, Star, Elle Girl, Jewel, and WeTheUrban. She has modeled for popular brands like Marc Ecko, Avon, Covergirl, Samsung, Walmart, and DKNY.
We can sit and debate that something other than reality TV gave Kim Kardashian her head start to fame, not to mention the megastar had small cameos on The Simple Life with her old friend Paris Hilton. But what really gave rise to the entire Kardashian klan was their show on E!, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Just about every member of the Kardashian family has become a celebrity in their own right off the success of the popular television show (Mason, North, and Penelope are next!). Now, with multiple clothing lines, makeup lines, spin-off TV shows, brand endorsements, and celebrity appearances, this family has successfully transformed their lives into one big Kardashian Empire.
Voted as one of the most memorable contestants in ANTM history, Toccara Jones transformed her elimination off the show into a successful modeling and hosting career. Currently signed as a Wilhelmina model, you can see this beauty in plenty of publications including King, Ebony, Braids, and most notably Vogue Italia, where she had a fourteen-page spread in the magazine’s controversial “Black Issue.”
As a contestant on the 8th season of Project Runway, Michael Costello left an impression on all viewers, and was able to spark a highly successful career designing beautiful gowns for celebrities, including Beyonce’s 2014 Grammy dress. Michael has a very large following on social media, where he posts photos of his favorite celeb clientele, as well as the beautiful models that wear his designs. Although Michael has already established a very successful career, he has not yet reached his peak, and will continue to create designs everyone will be in awe of.
Hip-hop’s favorite and most talked about it-girl turned herself from vixen to reality girl, and now business owner. Draya was once most known for her celebrity dating habits, but in the last few years, she’s proven she brings more to the table than her very applaudable assets. She is currently starring on VH1’s Basketball Wives: LA, and designing for her clothing lines Fine Ass Girls and Mint Swim.
Ryan Seacrest has been part of the reality TV genre probably longer than you can imagine. Starting as a host on ESPN’s Radical Outdoor Challenge, the American Idol host has transformed his career across multiple platforms and business titles. He has executive produced some of the most successful TV shows on air, such as Keeping up with the Kardashians and all of its spin-offs, as well as Married to Jonas, E! News, Shahs of Sunset, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and has garnished deals with NBCUniversal and Clear Channel.
PHOTO CREDIT: WENN, Getty, RocaWear, Splash