If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Success doesn’t always come overnight. Just ask the assistants (and bosses) of Nick Cannon's Like A Boss, premiering premiering Tue., March 29 at 9/8c. Some of our favorite stars were once grinding away at the bottom—as unpaid interns, in thankless gigs or fired—before success found them. Despite major setbacks, these seven famous people got the last laugh.
1. Tyra Banks
When Tyra Banks was just 17 years old, the budding model’s career was cut short—because her body was becoming too voluptuous. The setback derailed her runway dreams but gave her the confidence and fierceness to flaunt what her mama gave her. Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret came calling and before long, she became a household name with her international television hit, Next Top Model.
Don’t mess with Madonna…especially when she has a jelly donut. The Material Girl moved to New York City in the late ‘70s to become a star. She worked a day gig at Dunkin’ Donuts to make money but ended up getting the axe for squirting jelly donut on a customer.
3. Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington is handling it on Scandal but the A-list actress has been grinding in Hollywood since 1994. Despite parts in movies like Save the Last Dance and The Last King of Scotland, it would take 18 years for Kerry to land the role of a lifetime in Scandal.
4. Jay Z
Rapper. Mogul. Husband of Beyonce. Is there anything Jay Z can’t do? Actually, there is. When he was a new artist, the rapper known as Jay-Z couldn’t get a record label to sign him. Always a hustler, he established Roc-A-Fella Records with Dame Dash and they sold CDs literally directly to the streets. "We knew we had something the people wanted, so instead of quitting we built it ourselves," he said.
5. Vera Wang
The name Vera Wang is synonymous with grace, glam and style. Before becoming the quintessential bridal dress guru, young Vera was rejected from joining the U.S. Olympic figure skating team. Later, she worked as an editor at Vogue for 16 years but was never promoted to the editor-in-chief job (currently held by Anna Wintour).
6. Lady Gaga
Music, dance, acting—Lady Gaga is a multiple threat in Hollywood. But the Fame Monster wasn’t always on her side. When she was 19, she scored a deal with Def Jam Records and was dropped just three months later. "It just wasn't for them," she’s said. We wonder what the record label thinks about the multiplatinum superstar now.
7. JK Rowling
What happens when your side hustle interrupts work? JK Rowling got fired from the London office of Amnesty International because she would write stories on her work computer. The best-selling Harry Potter author was definitely on to something.