Many little girls dream of becoming a ballerina, but that dream doesn’t usually come true, not even for major celebrities. Discover which celebrities tried to pursue a career in dancing, but found their calling in another field.

From actresses and models to the Queen of Pop, here are the celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas, but had to give up that dream for different reasons.

Charlize Theron

The South African beauty wanted to be a dancer, but when the opportunity arose for a career in modeling, she didn’t pass it up. When she moved to New York, she pursued dancing again, but ended up abandoning it because of an injury. 

Charlize Theron Ballerina Training

“I was broke, I was taking class at the Joffrey Ballet, and my knees gave out. I realized I couldn't dance anymore, and I went into a major depression,” she told The New York Times.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana Ballet Training

While most celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas gave up the dream so because of different opportunities, Zoe Saldana abandoned ballet because it wasn’t fulfilling her. “I had to quit ballet because it felt like a part of me was dying inside,” she told The Huffington Post.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker Ballet Training

The “Sex and the City” star tried to pursue a career in ballet after studying at the American Ballet Theater, but instead found her calling in acting. Her love for dancing never went away, as Parker produced and narrated “city.ballet.”, a web series following the lives of New York City Ballet dancers.

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Penélope Cruz

Penelope Cruz Ballet Training

Few celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas devoted nine years of their lives to dancing, like Penélope Cruz did, both in Madrid and New York. “I used to take my toenails—they would die from dancing—so I would just take the whole toenail and throw it away, and not feel anything,” she told CBS News.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams Ballet Training

Academy Award winner Amy Adams gave up her dream of becoming a ballerina at age 18, after years of training, which led to abandoning the athletic training that might have helped her get into college. “I thought, ‘My body is just wrecked from dancing all these years. Maybe I’ll just go to LA, focus on acting and see what happens,’” she explained in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell Ballet Training

Trying to go into the same career as her dancer mother, Naomi Campbell started to study ballet at London’s Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts when she was only 10. Like other celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas, she had to give up dancing because her height wasn’t suited to dancing.

Mia Wasikowska

Mia Wasikowska Ballet Training

After starting ballet training at age nine, Mia Wasikowska gave up on dancing by the time she was 14. A spur on her heel and the intense physical training (up to 35 hours a week) led to her abandoning dance in favor of acting.

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Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner Ballet

Some celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas started their training very early. Jennifer Garner took her first ballet lesson at the age of three, but quickly set her sights on different career paths. “I wanted to be a doctor, a librarian”, she told USA Today, before explaining that her acting ambitions developed later.

Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss Ballet Training

The “Mad Men” star comes from a family of musicians and ballet was her first love before her breakout role in “Girl, Interrupted”. Elisabeth Moss studied dancing for years, both at the School of American Ballet in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.


Madonna Ballet Training

Few celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas found dancing as helpful in their careers as Madonna. After graduating high school, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, but soon dropped out and moved to New York, where she was a backup dancer before starting her music career.

Diane Kruger

Diane Kruger Ballet Training

German actress Diane Kruger dreamed of becoming a ballerina as a little girl and was admitted to the Royal Ballet School in London. She gave up on dancing after an injury, and started to focus on modeling.

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Summer Glau

Summer Glau Ballet Training

While many celebrities who wanted to be ballerinas gave up on their dream because they decided they wouldn’t be good enough, actress Summer Glau focused on ballet until the age of 19. She was even home-schooled after getting a scholarship to a ballet company, but a broken toe ended her career in dance.