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12 Actresses Who First Found Fame as Models


For some actresses, the choice to start their careers in film and TV was a no-brainer. Others, however, may have sampled another career path along the way, and plenty of them first gave modelling a crack.

Though the careers of some actors-turned-models are well-known in Hollywood lore—Brooke Shields’ stint as a fashion superstar, for example—others come as more of a surprise.

Take Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe, who was a Victoria’s Secret runway model in the early ’00s, or even Tracee Ellis Ross, who walked the runway for Thierry Mugler alongside Naomi Campbell, no less.

Others had extremely decorated runway careers before switching gears to acting. Take Jaime King and Devon Aoki, who were some of the most popular runway stars of the ’90s and walked for the likes of Alexander McQueen and Chanel Haute Couture, respectively.

Scroll down for 12 famous women who actually started out as models, before turning the page to acting.


Tracee Ellis Ross

Though she’s now known for her role in the show Black-ish, Tracee Ellis Ross had a brief stint as a runway model, walking for Thierry Mugler (a close friend of her mother, iconic Motown singer Diana Ross). Here, she’s pictured with Naomi Campbell backstage at a show in the ’90s.


Diane Kruger

Kruger is now an actress and Chanel muse, but started out as an editorial model, pictured here in a ’90s campaign for Giorgio Armani’s ‘Acqua Di Gio’ fragrance.


Cameron Diaz

Before she found fame with her breakout role in 1994’s The Mask, Cameron Diaz did her fair share of modelling. Here, she’s pictured at 17 years old covering Seventeen magazine in 1990, and a Coca-Cola ad she starred in can be seen at the top of this article.



Amber Valletta

Many people know Valletta from her roles in Hitch and What Lies Beneath, but she’s actually one of the most influential supermodels of the 1990s and 2000s. She’s pictured here walking for Prada, a brand she worked closely with in the ’90s, at their autumn/winter ’98 show.


Jodie Turner-Smith

Turner-Smith started out as a model in the 2000s, and even appeared in a music video for a song by The-Dream and Kanye West (an experience that she hilariously recounted on an episode of The Graham Norton Show). In 2020, she’s an acclaimed actress, starring in films like Nightflyers and Queen & Slim (pictured here at the 2020 BAFTAs wearing custom Gucci).


Emily Ratajkowski

Ratajkowski may still be working as a model (pictured here on the runway for Bottega Veneta in 2017), but before she appeared in films like Entourage and David Finch’s acclaimed thriller Gone Girl, she was a budding model to watch. She also appeared in Robin Thicke’s controversial “Blurred Lines” music video—something she’s alluded to regretting doing many times.


Brooke Shields

Famous for roles in films like The Blue Lagoon and Endless Love, Shields started out as a child model. When she was 15, she appeared in iconic (albeit controversial) fashion campaigns for Calvin Klein, taken by prolific fashion photographer Richard Avedon.


Caitriona Balfe

In news that would surprise many fans of Outlander, the show’s lead star, Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, was actually a runway model for Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and even Victoria’s Secret (pictured) in the early 2000s.


Devon Aoki

Before starring in various action films, Aoki was actually one of the most popular models of the late ’90s and early 2000s. Here, she’s pictured with the late Karl Lagerfeld closing Chanel’s Haute Couture autumn/winter ’00 show.


Jaime King

Like Devon Aoki, King is another actress who had an extremely successful runway career in the ’90s and early ’00s. The Hart of Dixie actress has walked several times for brands like Dior (pictured), Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Victoria’s Secret.


Monica Bellucci

Before becoming an actress and bona-fide sex symbol (not to mention, a ‘Bond Girl’ in 2015’s Spectre), Monica Bellucci was a muse of Italian label Dolce & Gabbana.


Andie MacDowell

Four Weddings & a Funeral‘s Andie MacDowell modelled for Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace and Armani in the ’80s, before she ventured into acting. Her two daughters, Rainey and Margaret Qualley, are also former models who now act, with Qualley starring in 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.


From Harper’s Bazaar Australia

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