It’s no secret that in order to make it in Hollywood, it helps to be a well-rounded entertainer. When someone can act, sing, dance, even produce or write, it’s likely that it won’t be long until they find their big break somewhere within the industry. That happens to be the case with some of the top singers in the music industry today – you would be surprised to see how many of your favorite singing sensations actually began as child actors!
From starring in TV shows and movies as tiny tots to making their way to the top of the music charts, singers like Drake, Jennifer Lopez, and Fergie were all child actors before they became music entertainers (and let’s not forget all of those Disney Channel stars that had their own TV shows before breaking into the business!). Keep on reading to see 16 child actors who became singing sensations.
1. Britney Spears
She’s one of the most iconic women in pop music history – but before she was selling out tours and holding Las Vegas Residencies, Britney Spears broke into the business on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. She landed her role on the Disney Channel when she was just eight years old in the 1990s. By 1999, she released her first studio album, Hit Me Baby One More Time and in 2000 she released her second, Oops!…I Did It Again. According to Billboard, Spears has sold over 22 million singles during her career in addition to a Grammy awards, various VMAs, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not too shabby.
2. Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue has sold over 80 million record sales worldwide, and the Australian actress and singer has a diverse career both on stage and in front of the camera. She got her start as an actress at age 11 on the soap operas The Sullivans and Skyway in 1979, and was cast as a lead role in The Henderson Kids in 1985. By 1988, she released her first studio album Kylie with the label PWL, but has since jumped from various record labels to release her following 13 studio albums. Her latest, Golden, was released in April 2018.
3. Janet Jackson
As the youngest child in the Jackson family, Janet Jackson was destined for stardom. She began acting in 1976 on The Jacksons alongside her family members and went on to act in a number of TV shows including Good Times, A New Kind of Family, and Diff’rent Strokes. She released her first album, Janet Jackson, in 1982. Since then, she released ten more studio albums has sold over 100 million records in the span of her career. She’s still one of the most awarded artists to this day.
4. Alanis Morissette
Rolling Stone calls her “The Queen of Alt-Rock Angst,” and for good reason: Alanis Morissette has a wildly popular musical career. But before she was creating albums and launching hit singles, she got her start as an actress. When she was in elementary school, she appeared on the Canadian TV show You Can’t Do That On Television. She released her debut album Alanis with MCA Records Canada in 1991, released seven more albums and has sold over 75 million records worldwide during her time in the entertainment industry.
5. Justin Timberlake
Just like his co-star Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake also got his start in the entertainment business on the 1990s revival of The All-New Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Around the same time, he also appeared on the reality competition show Star Search before he landed his role as one of the two lead singers in *NSYNC – one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. He went solo with his debut album Justified in 2002, and he released his fifth album Man of the Woods in 2018. In the span of his career, he’s sold over 32 million albums and 56 million singles, making him one of the best-selling pop musicians ever.
6. Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is one of the most diverse musicians in the business today, but can anyone forget her Disney Channel roots?! After holding a few smaller acting roles in Doc and Big Fish, Cyrus got her breakout role on Hannah Montana in 2006, which skyrocketed her to teen pop fame. She starred as a teenager who led a double life as a pop star, which launched tours and musical gigs as both herself and her alter ego, Hannah Montana. When the show ended in 2011, she pursued her personal music career full-time. She’s released music in genres from pop, hip-hop, and now country-pop with her newest album Younger Now. In the span of her career she’s received over 100 music award nominations and won 60, proving she’s a musician that can’t stop (and won’t stop).
7. Selena Gomez
Before Selena Gomez rose to Disney Channel fame as Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place, she landed her first acting role on PBS’s Barney & Friends from 2002 to 2004. She went on to have smaller acting roles in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial by Fire, and the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody before her lead role in WOWP. When she was 16, she signed a record label with Hollywood Records where she started her pop band Selena Gomez & The Scene. By 2012, she began to focus on her solo career and has since released five studio albums and sold 22 million singles worldwide.
8. Demi Lovato
It’s no secret that Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez were all the best friend goals as they found Disney Channel fame at the same time – and it’s all thanks to their time on Barney & Friends. Lovato joined the show in 2002 at the same time as Gomez. By 2007, Lovato got her role on Disney Channel’s As The Bell Rings before her starring roles in the Disney Channel original movie Camp rock and the original series Sonny With a Chance. At the same time, she signed a record deal with Hollywood Records and released her first album Don’t Forget in 2008. She went on to release five more albums, and all landed in the top five of the US Billboard 200 Charts. She’s also won numerous awards including 13 Teen Choice Awards and an MTV Music Video Award.
9. Jennifer Lopez
Is there anything Jenny from the block can’t do? Jennifer Lopez is one of the most accomplished entertainers in modern times, and she got her start as a young actress in the 1986 film My Little Girl and the Fox show In Living Color. She went on to perform in local musicals before being cast as a backup dancer for New Kids on the Block. By 1999, she released her debut album On the 6. While starring in blockbuster movies like Maid in Manhattan and Monster in Law, she also expanded her career to include a role on the TV drama Shades of Blue, a Las Vegas Residency show, international tours, and eight studio albums. Her global record sales have exceeded 80 million, and she’s been named the highest paid Latin entertainer in the US. She’s also been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as the Billboard Icon Award.
Hit it, Fergie! Before she was a member of The Black Eyed Peas, this wildly successful singer got her start on the show Kids Incorporated on the Disney Channel from 1984-1989. She also dedicated her voice to several Peanuts cartoon television specials. She joined the all-female trio Wild Orchid, and by 1994 they were signed to RCA Records. It wasn’t until 2003 that Fergie joined The Black Eyed Peas for their song “Shut Up,” and after its success, she joined the group full-time. While still a member of the band, she released her debut solo album The Duchess in 2006. Though Fergie is no longer an active member of The Black Eyed Peas, she continues to make solo music and released her latest album Double Duchess in 2017.
Drake is, without a doubt, one of the most successful rap artists in the business today. In addition to three Grammy awards, six American Music Awards and a record-breaking 13 Billboard Music Awards, he has released four studio albums and over 100 singles that have earned him the most charted songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list. But before all this musical fame, he began with a role on Degrassi: The Next Generation in the early 2000s. Though he wanted to pursue an acting career at first, he left the show in 2007 after he released his first mixtape Room for Improvement. He continued to release mixtapes before his first studio album Thank Me Later in 2010. His latest release was More Life in 2017 which landed at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart.
12. Taylor Momsen
We know her as Little J on Gossip Girl, but before she was causing drama on the Upper East Side, Taylor Momsen was saving Christmas as Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Momsen got her breakout role in 2000 at age seven. She went on to act in projects like the movies Saving Shiloh and Underdog before landing the role of Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl in 2007. Though she enjoyed acting, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in music. In 2009, her band The Pretty Reckless signed a record deal with Interscope Records. They’ve released three studio albums and have had four singles rank at the top spot on the US Rock Chart.
If anyone knows how to shake things up, it’s Zendaya. The actress and singer got her start by modeling clothings brands and acting in commercials, but she got her breakout role in 2010 on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up! as Rocky Blue. Her first single, “Swag It Out,” was released in 2011. She signed with Hollywood Records in 2012 and has gone on to release multiple singles. Her debut album Zendaya was released in 2013 and landed her at number 51 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
14. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan broke into the entertainment business at age three when she signed with Ford Models. She got her first acting role in 1996 at age 10 on the soap opera Another World: Soap Opera Magazine. But in 1998, Lohan got her breakout role in the Disney family comedy remake of The Parent Trap. She also went on to star in movies including Life-Size, Get a Clue, Freaky Friday, and the cult classic Mean Girls. During this time, Lohan also began working on her musical career. She signed a record deal with Casablanca and released her debut album Speak in 2004 and A Little More Personal (Raw) in 2005. Remember her classic songs such as “Rumors,” “Over,” or “Daughter to Father”? We sure do.
15. Christina Aguilera
She’s a powerhouse singer today, but long before Christina Aguilera was earning Grammy awards and breaking music records, she got her start as a child actor, first on the talent competition Star Search and then on The All New Mickey Mouse Club alongside fellow singers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. After recording the song “Reflection” for Disney’s Mulan, she signed with RCA records and kicked off her musical career. She’s released seven studio albums, six compilation albums, and she’s earned five Grammy awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was the youngest person to be included in Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Musicians of All Time in 2009.
16. Ariana Grande
By 2016, Ariana Grande was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. She’s earned numerous awards and nominations for her music, which includes three studio albums, which has racked up over nine billion views online. But before this, she began as a child actor! She got her first role on the Broadway musical 13 in 2008 and then went on to star as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon show Victorious. She got her own spin-off of Victorious called Sam and Cat, before transitioning to her music career. After a long silent period in 2017, fans are anxiously awaiting the arrival of her fourth album.