Historically, most times, it has been difficult for models who became actresses to really break into the movie industry. However, for all the stumbles on the road between the runway and the red carpet, some talented women found a way to pull it off in Hollywood through roles ranging from gritty and emotionally challenging to slapstick and silly.
Here are the top 20 models who became actresses:
20.) Rebecca Romijn
She is best known for her movie role as Mystique in X-Men and her role in Ugly Betty. However, before the break into Hollywood, Romjin graced the runways with the likes of supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Cindy Crawford.
She also appeared on the covers of top fashion magazines like Elle, Marie Claire, GQ and Allure.
19.) Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields is one of those models who became actresses at the same time: early in life. Shields started her modeling career when she was just 11 months old, where she modeled for a soap ad in 1966. At the age of 14, Shields was one of the youngest models to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine.
Meanwhile, she kickstarted her acting career at age 12 when she starred as a child prostitute in the film Pretty Baby.
18.) Uma Thurman
Uma is no stranger to our TV screens. Uma Thurman has featured and played major roles in popular movies like Kill Bill, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Nymphomaniac, and others. But she is also on the list of models who became actresses.
Before her break into Hollywood, Uma graced the covers of notable magazines like Glamour and British Vogue in 1985 and 1986, respectively.
17.) Kate Upton
She is not only one of the models who became actresses; according to Screenrant, she is also one of the most recognizable models in the world. After kicking off her modeling career in 2008, Kate became more prominent when she was featured in Sports Illustrated in 2011.
In April 2011, Upton’s popularity grew when a YouTube video of her dancing at a Los Angeles Clippers game went viral.
Capitalizing on this, Upton moved to movie acting, and her movie debut was in the film Tower Heist, where she played the role of Mr. Hightower’s mistress.
Although she played a minor role in her first film, she went on to feature in films like The Layover and The Other Woman.
16.) Cara Delevingne
Cara is one of the supermodels who became actresses and made it big in Hollywood.
The 26-year old British-born model started her modeling career in 2009 after leaving school, and she won British Model of the Year in 2012 and in 2014. She has featured for fashion houses like Burberry, Dolce & Gabanna and Mulberry.
She made her screen debut in the film Anna Karenina in 2012, where she played a minor role. Subsequently, she got to play major roles in films like Paper Town and Suicide Squad, which featured top movie stars like Will Smith and Margot Robbie.
15.) Cameron Diaz
With her blonde surfer girl look and all-American appeal, Cameron Diaz left home as a teenager in 1988 to follow a modeling career that spanned the globe. When the California girl returned home at the age of 21, her modeling agency snagged her an acting audition that resulted in Diaz’s film debut opposite Jim Carrey in 1994’s The Mask. The movie turned her into an overnight acting sensation.
Despite a lack of acting experience, Diaz went on to work in such varied films as Feeling Minnesota and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Her turn as the title character Mary in the 1998 film There’s Something About Mary sealed her superstardom status. Honestly, who can forget the hair gel scene?
14.) Milla Jovovich
As a teenager, Milla Jovovich had already secured success as a model. She was photographed by Richard Avedon and appeared on the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan. In 2004, she was the highest-paid model in the world—but she craved success in the film industry, having studied acting since childhood.
She picked up some guest spots on television series and a few supporting roles in films, but it wasn’t until she starred in The Fifth Element opposite Bruce Willis that her film career really took off. Taking on diverse roles—as the zombie-slaying Alice in Resident Evil and a critically acclaimed portrayal of Joan of Arc—led to Jovovich’s recognition as an actress who has eclipsed her supermodel stardom.
13.) Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron won a 1991 modeling contest in her native South Africa and pursued a promising career as a teenager. As she modeled in Europe and New York, she was more drawn to ballet and acting, two childhood passions.
When a knee injury ended her dancing aspirations, she headed to L.A. in 1994 and never looked back. Although Theron continually graces global lists of beautiful people, it was her performance in the 2003 film Monster—for which she gained 30 pounds and appeared in minimal makeup—that earned her an Oscar for best actress.
12.) Tilda Swinton
Her height and unique look made her a hit as a high-fashion and runway model— Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf even released an entire collection inspired by her iconic style—but Tilda Swinton didn’t stop there. Her lifelong experience being mistaken for a man fueled her interest in gender identity.
She gained critical acclaim and mainstream success from gender-bending roles in films like 1992’s Orlando and the 2005 fantasy Constantine, in which she played the androgynous angel Gabriel alongside Keanu Reeves. Swinton won the Oscar for best-supporting actress for her performance in 2007’s Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney.
11.) Halle Berry
Halle Berry’s success in beauty pageants paved the way for a modeling career and her first acting role in the 1989 TV series Living Dolls. Soon after that, she displayed her acting chops in a chilling performance as a crack addict in Spike Lee’s 1991 film Jungle Fever.
Berry’s big screen success enabled her to leave behind the world of modeling. She later became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress—for her performance in 2001’s Monster’s Ball—and the highest paid African-American actress in Hollywood.
10.) Andie MacDowell
The model rose to fame in the 80s, appearing in a majority of magazines and ad campaigns.
A few years later, she started acting to fill her time. Now she is a Golden Globe nominee!
9.) Jaime King
Jaime King started as a model in the 90s, usually in an ad campaign and fashion spreads.
She landed her first acting role in 2001 in Happy Campers. From there, she has been in numerous funny films like White Chicks.
8.) Emily Ratajkowski
This model spent her teen years posing for magazines and different ads. Then her big break came when she landed a gig in the Blurred Lines music video.
Then she landed a movie role in Gone Girl. She has multiple new projects booked for the upcoming year.
7.) Brooklyn Decker
She started modeling in a lot of magazines and brand campaigns.
Decker then starred in multiple TV shows and movies like Battleship. Her resume keeps growing by the year.
6.) Elle MacPherson
In the 80s, MacPherson was a successful model who appeared on magazine covers and even walked the runway! In the 90s, she started acting more.
Her main roles were in Alice, Sirens, Batman and Robin.
5.) Lauren Bacall
When young Lauren left school, she started modeling. Because of how beautiful she was, she was able to book popular magazine covers.
Then she started to explore being an actress and her first film was in 1944, To Have and Have Not.
4.) Kim Basinger
When she was young, Basinger competed in beauty pageants until she was a teenager. After, to support herself, she decided to sign with a modeling agency.
The model turned actress got the main role in the hit series, Charlie’s Angels. After that, she started staring in main roles in movies and TV shows.
3.) Lily Cole
When Cole was modeling, she worked with notable photographers and was on the cover of famous magazines like Vogue. She was considered the top 30 models of the 2000s.
In 2012, she took an interest in acting when she landed the role in the live action version of Snow White.
2.) Jane Fonda
This iconic actress started modeling at a very young age. Her main goal was to become an actress.
Her screen debut was in Tall Story. This was the beginning of her successful career.
1.) Angelina Jolie
At the young age of 16, she decided to dabble in the modeling industry. She appeared in a few music videos to get some experience.
Then in the mid-90s, she appeared in a few small films. People started to notice her and her fame grew from there.
Did you enjoy seeing these actresses? Click next to see vintage photos of beautiful women in Hollywood.