2017 Oscar Nominees Reveal Their First Jobs

As we gear up for the Academy Awards, all eyes are on the actors and actresses to see who takes home the golden statue. But before fellas throw on their best Tom Ford tuxedo and the ladies sashay down the red carpet in hot-off-the-catwalk couture, the editorial team at Glassdoor wants to take a look back…way back…back into time.

Before they became Oscar nominees, all of the stars who’ll attend the Oscars were once just like you and me: just regular people with regular jobs. And, in fact, like most of us they had a humbling first job. Whether they worked at the local video store or waited tables at T.G.I. Fridays, celebs cut their teeth and honed their acting chops in customer service, hospitality and even on the paper route.

So if you’re trying to figure out how you’ll make it another day at your job, don’t fret. You could be an Oscar-nominated celebrity in no time. Don’t believe us? Well, at least these nominees can inspire you to find your dream job.

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

While many actors get their first job bussing tables or bartending, Casey Affleck’s first gig came when he was just 11 years old. He was attending a Massachusets school named after Rosa Parks when the civil rights icon came to visit. The young Affleck’s first job was in a stage production that day. “I was a lion,” he said on The Tonight Show. “What I had to do is run up to the front of the stage and roar.” However, it didn’t go that smoothly. “My mane fell off,” he recalled. “It was my very first artistic crisis.” Nevertheless, Ben’s little brother finished his scene. After the show, Parks patted Affleck on the head and smiled. “Since then my whole career has been trying to recapture that feeling of approval,” he joked.

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Long before starring as Spiderman, Andrew Garfield got his first job mowing lawns at the age of six. “I had to sort out the whole back garden of my house. I mowed the lawn and pruned the hedges and planted things and I was miserable,” Garfield told the Wall Street Journal. “I started with five pounds but my parents paid me more as I grew older. By nine [years old] I was getting ten pounds a day,” Garfield said.

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

While acting was always in Octavia Spencer’s sights, she paid her dues just like everyone else. Spencer worked behind the scenes as a member of the production crew on such made-in-Alabama films as “Tom and Huck,” “The Grass Harp” and “Cobb” before she earned a speaking part with Sandra Bullock in director Joel Schumacher’s 1996 adaptation of the John Grisham legal thriller “A Time to Kill.” And the rest is history.

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Long before he became a heart-throb and before he kicked off his acting career as a child star on the Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club, Ryan Gosling was born a devout Mormon with few friends. So he spent weekends singing at weddings with his sister, getting involved in his uncle’s Elvis Presley tribute act, and taking ballet classes. All of these side hustles prepared him for his Oscar nomination for this year’s musical favorite. “Every man in my family works in a paper mill, and I’d probably be doing that, too, if I hadn’t learned when I was 11 that there’s more out there,” he told the New York Daily News.

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Smoldering and mysterious, the Danish-American actor has been in everything from army filcks (G.I. Jane) to sci-fi (Lord of the Rings) and even a Russian mob film (Eastern Promises). However, before deciding on a career in acting, he worked in flower markets in Copenhagen and bars in New York. Even now, Mortensen keeps up a healthy side hustle: running a publishing imprint. With part of his earnings from The Lord of the Rings, Mortensen founded the Perceval Press publishing house to help other artists by publishing books of art, critical writing, and poetry.

Denzel Washington, Fences

Before becoming an Oscar-winning actor, producer, and director, Denzel had his first paying job as a paperboy, then he upgraded to sweeping up in a barbershop. There he honed the skill of recognizing who had money and could perhaps tip him handsomely. Retelling stories to Kelly Ripa, Denzel said he learned how to size people up and adjust his behavior to earn himself a sizeable tip.

Emma Stone, La La Land

Though she began acting at the age of 11, Emma Stone’s first non-acting job in Hollywood was at Three Dog Bakery in Los Angeles. Stone sold “pup”-tacular treats, made by hand in the USA. She revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that her first television gig was on a reality show competition called “In Search of The New Partridge Family.” She’s come a long way.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

She’s one of the most talent actresses of our time and has had a career that has spanned five decades. But before Meryl Streep graduated from Yale Drama School and transformed the big screen she was studying the craft of acting. Instead of an after-school job, Meryl participated in nearly every extra-curricular activity: cheerleading, musicals, French club, and student council. “High school was her first acting job,” read one article. She was born to be a performer.

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Mahershala Ali first earned widespread attention for his role in the Netflix series “House of Cards.” He has since won acclaim for his starring roles in the series “Luke Cage” and in the film Moonlight. However, before the red carpets and awards Ali went to Saint Mary’s College on a basketball scholarship. Later, he told SMC students: “I had a good, go-to, hookup job while at SMC. I could work on the ferryboats in San Francisco for almost $20 as hour, as a deckhand. But I decided against that, because I was worried I’d get comfortable, and get stuck. So, I took a job making minimum wage at The Gavin Report, a record industry magazine targeted at music insiders. I recorded spins, meaning I tallied how much a given record was played on the radio in a week – the absolute definition of boredom.  But I got a lot of free music and even met the Notorious B.I.G. the week he died.”

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Before she was chosen by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1996, 1999 and 2002, Nicole Kidman was eyeing a life as a ballerina. However,she eventually took up mime and drama as well (her first stage role was a bleating sheep in an elementary school Christmas pageant. According to IMDB, when she was 14, she got her first job at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, where she worked as an usherette at Sesame Street Live.

Also on Glassdoor:

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February 22, 2017 at 08:32AM
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