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19 Actors Who Got Their Start Young But Went On To Be Award Winners


Being labeled a “child star” or “teen idol” can catapult a young actor’s career in the beginning. However, once that actor grows up, that kind of label may feel more like a burden than a blessing. Former child stars like Jennette McCurdy and Daniel Radcliffe have expressed the desire to distance themselves from their early roles.


Separating yourself from your breakout roles is challenging, but many performers have successfully redefined their careers. Some have proven themselves as extremely talented by taking home major awards.

Oscar awards

Here are 19 former child and teen stars who grew up to win major awards:

1.

At 14, Zendaya got her start as Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel show Shake It Up.

Zendaya in "Shake It Up"

At 24, she became the youngest person ever to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She earned the award for her role as Rue Bennett in Euphoria.

Zendaya winning an Emmy

2.

At 16, Ariana Grande made her Nickelodeon debut as Cat Valentine on Victorious.

Cat

At 26, she won her first Grammy — Best Pop Vocal Album for Sweetener.

Ariana Grande

At 28, she won her second Grammy — Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Rain on Me” with Lady Gaga.

Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga

3.

At 12, Olivia Rodrigo starred as Paige Olvera on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark.

Olivia Rodrigo in "Bizaardvark"

At 19, she won three Grammys — Album of the Year for Sour, Best Pop Solo Performance for “Drivers License,” and Best New Artist.

Olivia Rodrigo holding her Grammys

4.

At 13, Keke Palmer starred as the titular character in Akeelah and the Bee.

Akeelah

At 14, her role as Mary Thomas in Jump In! made her a Disney Channel star, and at 15, her lead role in True Jackson, VP made her a Nickelodeon star.


At 28, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for Keke Palmer’s Turnt Up with the Taylors.

Keke Palmer

5.

At 6, Drew Barrymore had her breakout role as Gertie Taylor in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Drew Barrymore

At 34, she won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries for Grey Gardens.

Drew Barrymore

6.

At 18, Anne Hathaway’s role as Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries made her a Disney star.

Screen shot from "The Princess Diaries"

At 31, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Les Misérables.

Anne Hathaway holding her Oscar

7.

At 17, Leonardo DiCaprio landed a recurring role as Luke Brower on Growing Pains.

Screen shot from "Growing Pains"

At 40, he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leonardo DiCaprio holding a Golden Globe

At 42, he won the Oscar for Best Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama, and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by Male Actor in a Leading Role for The Revenant.

Leonardo DiCaprio holding an Oscar

8.

At 16, Natalie Portman landed the role of Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Padmé Amidala

At 23, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress — Motion Picture for Closer.

Natalie Portman

At 29, she won the Oscar for Best Actress and the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama, and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture for Black Swan.

Natalie Portman holding her Oscar

9.

At 13, Christian Bale landed his breakout role as Jim Graham in Empire of the Sun.

Jim Graham

At 37, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor — Motion Picture, and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for The Fighter.

Christian Bale holding his Oscar

At 40, he won his second SAG Award — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for American Hustle.

Christian Bale in "American Hustle"

10.

At 14, Regina King got her first main role as Brenda Jenkins on the NBC show 227.

Brenda Jenkins

At 44 and 45, she won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for American Crime.

Regina King holding her Emmy

At 47, she won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Seven Seconds.

Regina King accepting her Emmy

At 48, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress — Motion Picture for If Beale Street Could Talk.

Regina King holding her Oscar

At 49, she won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Watchmen.

Regina King holding her Emmy

11.

At 5, Ron Howard landed the role of Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.

Screen shot from "The Andy Griffith Show"

At 24, he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy for Happy Days.

Ron Howard

At 44, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries for From the Earth to the Moon, which he co-produced.

Ron Howard

At 48, he won two Oscars for A Beautiful Mind — Best Picture and Best Director. The movie also earned him the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture — Drama.

Ron Howard holding his Oscars

At 50, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for Arrested Development, which he narrated and co-executive produced.

Ron Howard holding an Emmy

At 54 and 56, his work as an executive producer on Curious George earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.

Ron Howard

At 63, he won a Grammy for Best Music Film for The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.

Ron Howard

12.

At 18, Zac Efron became a Disney star by starring as Troy Bolton in High School Musical.

Screen shot from "High School Musical"

At 34, he won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Program Host for Down to Earth with Zac Efron.

Zack Efron

13.

At 16, Neil Patrick Harris was cast as the titular character in the ABC series Doogie Howser, M.D.

"Doogie Howser, M.D."

At 37, he won two Primetime Emmy Awards — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Glee and Outstanding Special Class Program for hosting the Tony Awards.

Neil Patrick Harris holding his Emmys

From 39-41, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Program for hosting the Tony Awards each year.

Neil Patrick Harris holding an Emmy

At 41, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Neil Patrick Harris holding a Tony

14.

At 12, Helen Hunt landed her first main role as Helga on the ABC series Swiss Family Robinson.

Screen shot from "Swiss Family Robinson"

At 31, 32, and 34, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy for Mad About You.

Helen Hunt holding an Golden Globe

At 32, she won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Mad About You.

Helen Hunt holding a SAG award

From 33-36, she took home the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Mad About You each year.

Helen Hunt holding an Emmy

At 35, she won the Oscar for Best Actress, the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy, and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture for As Good as It Gets.

Helen Hunt holding an Oscar

15.

At 13, Christina Aguilera joined The Mickey Mouse Club, which was quite the star factory in the ’90s.

Young Christina Aguilera

At 20, she won her first Grammy — Best New Artist.

Christina Aguilera holding her Grammy

At 22, she won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Lady Marmalade” with Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink.

Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Mya

At 24, she won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Beautiful.”

Christina Aguilera holding her Grammy

At 27, she won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Ain’t No Other Man.”

Christina Aguilera holding her Grammy

At 35, she won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Say Something” with A Great Big World.

Christina Aguilera

16.

At 12, Justin Timberlake debuted on The Mickey Mouse Club.

Young Justin Timberlake

At 23, he won his first two Grammy Awards — Best Pop Vocal Album for Justified and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Cry Me a River.”

Justin Timberlake holding his Grammys

At 26, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for “Dick in a Box” on Saturday Night Live. He shared the award with Katreese Barnes, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Asa Taccone.

Screen shot from "Dick in a Box"

At 26, he also won two more Grammy Awards — Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “My Love” with T.I. and Best Dance Recording for “SexyBack.”

Justin Timberlake

At 27, he won two additional Grammy Awards — Best Dance Recording for “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows” and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “What Goes Around… Comes Around.”

Justin Timberlake

At 28 and 30, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for SNL. At 30, he also won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for his SNL opening monologue. The award was shared with Katreese Barnes, Seth Meyers, and John Mulaney.

Justin Timberlake holding an Emmy

At 33, he took home three Grammy Awards — Best Music Video for “Suit & Tie” with Jay-Z, Best R&B Song for “Pusher Love Girl,” and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Holy Grail” with Jay-Z.

Justin Timberlake

At 36, he won one more Grammy — Best Song Written for Visual Media for “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

Justin Timberlake

17.

At 15, Keri Russell landed her spot on The Mickey Mouse Club.

Young Keri Russell

At 23, she won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series — Drama for Felicity.

Keri Russell holding her Golden Globe

18.

At 13, Ryan Gosling joined the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club.

Ryan Gosling

At 37, he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for La La Land.

Ryan Gosling holding a Golden Globe

19.

And finally, at 12, Britney Spears landed a role on The Mickey Mouse Club.

Young Britney Spears

At 24, she won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Toxic.”

Britney Spears


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