Looking at famous people, or those who are known to the public eye, it’s hard to imagine them doing anything else. Though, for the four famous men and women shown here, they’ve made a point to show that where you start isn’t always where you finish. Some of the people here spent decades in entirely different careers before they changed their course. While some gently nurtured their passion behind the scenes, others threw caution to the wind and took a chance.
You might be familiar with movies such as Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, and the documentary 13th. If you are, those are all tied to the incredible directing, producing, and writing of Ava DuVernay.
Through many interviews and her social media account, DuVernay has stated that she never touched a camera until she was 32, and her first documentary was a side project from her day job. She believes that working in public relations helped her gain the knowledge she needed to run sets.
Ava DuVernay has also always encouraged others not to limit themselves. The director believes that if you’re on a path that you don’t want to be on, you can change your course regardless of what stage you are in life.
Andy Weir: Software Engineer to Science Fiction Author
As a teenager, Andy Weir always loved science fiction and wanted to be a writer. Though like many other people, he wanted to ensure that he was able to pay his bills, eat regularly, and have a reliable place to live. His career as a software engineer wasn’t a backup plan, either. He always enjoyed the work that he did. When he was in his early twenties, he took time off to write, though when it didn’t work out, he returned to programming.
Weir kept writing as a hoppy, and self-published The Martian, which later became a best-seller and was adapted into a feature film that starred Matt Damon. The success from The Martian enabled him to continue writing, and his second novel, Artemis, also turned into a best-seller that is being adapted into a film.
Ina Garten: Government Worker to TV Host and Cookbook Writer
Ina Garten made multiple leaps in her career. Having started at a nuclear energy policy job, she inevitably bought a food store and named it Barefoot Contessa. After running the store for almost 20 years, she sold it and wrote a cookbook under the same name. Ina continued to publish cookbooks and was given the opportunity to host the Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa. The show has been running since 2002.
During interviews, Ina stated that she’s always been someone who jumps into the pool instead of dipping their toes in first. She’s also been quoted saying that the times where she jumped while scared were the times things were most exciting and fulfilling.
Ken Jeong: General Physician to Comedian and Actor
The sitcom Dr. Ken started in 2015 and ran until 2017 on ABC. During that time, Ken Jeong didn’t only share a name with the character he played; he was also a licensed, practicing physician before he shifted his attention to acting and comedy.
While he was growing up, Jeong only wanted to be a doctor. Acting was never a thought in his head. So, he attended pre-med at Duke University, attended medical school at the University of North Carolina, and finished his residency at Oshsner Medical Center in New Orleans. While he was in university, he discovered acting and his love for it. Occasionally, he even performed stand-up shows while working 80-90 hour weeks.
Once he moved to Los Angeles, Ken continued to work as a doctor but quit to pursue acting full-time after appearing in Knocked Up, which, along with the Hangover films, was his big break. Since then, he has done voice-overs, appeared in multiple films, and still renews his medical license every year. During a stand-up show, he even jumped off stage to assist a woman having a seizure.