From actors who followed their dream into their 40s to late bloomers in music and fashion design, some of the biggest celebrities in the world only became famous later in life. Some stars switched careers in their 30s, while others refused to give up on their childhood dreams and achieved fame and success well after they turned 30.
Discover their stories and learn more about the celebrities who made it after 30, using their life experience in order to advance their careers faster.
After studying at the Harrow School of Art for just one year, British designer Vivienne Westwood switched gears and became a primary school teacher. Her love of fashion led her to design her own wedding dress, but she only started opening stores in her late 30s and she was 41 when she had her first runway show.
Even though she started her acting career in 1994, Kerry Washington went through a long phase of small parts. She’s definitely one of the celebrities who made it after 30, since she was 35 when Shonda Rhimes cast her in “Scandal”, turning her into a household name.
J. K. Rowling
When she celebrated her 30th birthday, J.K. Rowling was a divorced mother of two, living on welfare and struggling to support her children. The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, and the 32 year old author became one of the richest women in the United Kingdom in less than a decade.
Just like Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks’ big break came later than she expected. As many celebrities who made it after 30, she struggled to support herself with her acting career before her big break in “Mad Men”. She made a splash on the big screen in “Drive” and was also directed by Ryan Gosling in “Lost River”.
One of the biggest names in bridal fashion, Vera Wang only started designing wedding dresses when she couldn’t find the right one for her own special day. Wang worked for 15 years as a senior fashion editor for Vogue magazine before creating her own brand and becoming a fashion world A-lister.
Even though she’s made a good living as an actress, Helen Mirren is definitely one of the celebrities who made it after 30. Her big break came at the age of 45, when she was cast in the British police procedural “Prime Suspect”. Dame Helen Mirren has managed to translate her small screen success into a Hollywood career and she even won an Oscar at 61.
After struggling to let go of his love of acting, Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design business in order to focus on his theater career. Even though he had appeared in movies for a decade, Rickman only shot to fame at the age of 42, as the iconic villain in “Die Hard”.
While many celebrities who made it after 30 dreamed of having a career in showbiz since they were kids, Joy Behar only got into stand up in her early 40s. After getting cast on “The View” at 54, Behar finally made it.
Samuel L. Jackson
After studying marine biology and architecture, Samuel L. Jackson eventually chose drama as his true calling. Despite small parts in Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese movies, he only became a household name after his role in “Jungle Fever”, at the age of 42.
The lead singer of Blondie is also among the list celebrities who made it after 30. She only found mainstream success when she was 34. Her first album with Blondie was released when she was 30, but it took a few more years for the band to top the charts.
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Ford gave up on acting in his early 30s to focus on a much more lucrative career in... carpentry and construction. It was George Lucas who convinced him to come back for a small sci-fi project he had developed, called “Star Wars”, and Ford never looked back to carpentry ever since.
The lifestyle guru is also one of the celebrities who made it after 30. After giving up her career in modeling and graduating from college with a double major in History and Architectural History, Martha Stewart found her calling in restoration and catering. The first issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine came out when she was 49.