Every year dozens of singers, models, lovers, fighters and goofballs come out of the woodwork to compete or perform in reality shows. Most of them quickly fade away, while others become a walking archetype of fame-hunger. A select few use their moment of fame and wealth to build a real career that will last decades past their moment in the lime light. Here’s a list of some of our favorites.
1. Jennifer Hudson
We know, we know: singing competitions have pumped out a dozen mega-stars. We’re not hating on Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, but Jennifer Hudson took that fame to a whole new level. Since she LOST American Idol, she has put out 2 albums of her own which won her a Grammy. She’s acted in several films and TV shows, winning an Oscar for “Dreamgirls”. She’s lost a ton of weight and championed a weight watchers campaign. All of this success came in the face of hardship after losing her mother, brother, and nephew in a tragic triple-homicide.
2. David Otunga
*BONUS* Hudson’s fiancé and co-parent David “punk” Otunga also got his start on the painfully bad “I Love New York,” an outrageous dating show on VH1. Perhaps he was overqualified for the role, since he’s a Harvard grad. Otunga is now a WWE wrestler and actor.
3. Lauren Conrad
This fashionista got her start playing the mean girl on MTV’s “Laguna Beach” (which either made her your favorite or your most-hated), followed by “The Hills”, which chronicled her time as an intern at a Beverly Hills fashion magazine. While she’s admitted to “Laguna Beach” being completely scripted, apparently she took her fashion career seriously. Conrad launched her own fashion line “Paper Crowns” as well as a yearly line for Kohl’s called “LC Lauren Conrad.” On top of that, she’s released a series of young adult novels that have made the New York Times best sellers list.
4. Kevin Powell
You probably don’t know who Kevin is, but he was a participant on “The Real World” back in 1992. He was known for being on an angry rampage for most of the show, but he’s put all that passion to good use since then. Powell is now a social activist with multiple poetry books under his belt. He’s even run for Congress!
5. Bethenny Frankel
Frankel was one of the original Real Housewives of New York, had a stint on the Apprentice, and got her own show “Bethenny Ever After” on Bravo. Since then, she has built an empire on her “Skinny Girl” brand of books, workout tapes, and cocktails. Frankel got her own talk show on FOX last year, which was a fun show for women, but it was cancelled in early 2014. Regardless, she isn’t going away any time soon.
6. Kendall Jenner
Kendall grew up on-screen as one of the little sibs on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Considering how *great* her sisters are at marketing themselves, I thought Kendall would become the ultimate fame-whore. Just the opposite, Kendall has kept her distance from the brand and has instead focused on her own high-fashion modelling career. She has runway modelled for Givenchy, Chanel and Marc Jacobs, and recently shot a spread for Vogue Paris. You go girl!