This article was originally published on DrGraduate
Admittedly, few among us got the glamour shot we hoped for in our high school yearbook. Braces and pimples dominated the day. And surprisingly, we were not alone: The rich and famous had their own awkward phases! Celebrities were real people too before they became larger-than-life. Some of them are barely recognizable as teens, to say the least—can you guess them all?
Who is this youngster, back in the day? Why, it's none other than Gwen Stefani. Before No Doubt, and long before The Voice, she was just a student like the rest of us. At Loara High School in Anaheim, Gwen got her first taste of the stage.
Gwen developed some of her musical chops back then as a piccolo player in the band. Her debut singing in front of a crowd was at a high school talent show. Did she ever incorporate her band training as a ska star? Not as far as we can tell. But we'd love if Gwen would break out that tiny flute, for old time's sake!
He is one of the wildest comedians around today. His style was rock and roll at first, and more recently, a wealthy hippie. But before fame, he had a very different look. "I was a chubby lad," Russell Brand explains.
Back in the early '90s, Russell was a student at a private school. He was smart enough to gain entry on a scholarship, which doesn't surprise any fans. But this cheeky lad was a bit too rebellious to stay. Expelled for poor attendance, all that remains now is this portrait. Vintage Brand, all the way.
This junior gal looks confident enough. For all we know, she might have a chance in modeling. But we do know. This is a young Emily Ratajkowski. She was destined to be a phenomenon, whether or not she knew it back then!
Emily attended San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, CA. She did start auditioning for TV roles, notably for Nickelodeon and Disney. But we all know her big breakout role would be the music video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", as a dancer. Pharrell Williams knew a star when he saw one!
This adorable dork must have had a hard time in high school. When you look a little different, teasing is guaranteed! Luckily, this picture is old, and he has moved on to bigger things. No one could guess that this is a flashback to George Clooney's younger years. But now, the world can see the truth.
For anyone that ever had an ugly duckling phase, you're not alone. Even George dealt with that situation for a short time. A very short time, to be sure. But it happened, and he won't be able to deny this proof!
One day, she would be urging you to shake ya boom boom. But at some point, she was just shaking her pom-poms. Born Stacy Ann Ferguson, this high school coed would become one of the biggest pop stars around. It's Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas!
Some might be surprised to know that the edgy pop star was once a clean-cut California cheerleader at Glen A. Wilson High School. And that's not all. Fergie was also a straight-A student and the spelling bee champion. To top it off, she was a Girl Scout. Usually, people try to hide a shady past. This time, it's the opposite!
Sure, he's awkward in the yearbook. But against the odds, he would become a rapper with a net worth of $180 million. Did he know it at this stage? Some say that Drake always knew he would be a star. Started from the bottom, now we're here!
Back at the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Canada, Drake demonstrated an interest in the arts. He started a career on TV as a teen, as original fans might know. His big break was on Degrassi, a show about being in high school. He temporarily dropped out of high school, to pursue this fake high school. Smart move, Drake!
Flashback: A young Kate Moss at Riddlesdown High School in Purley, UK. Before she was that chic '90s supermodel, she was a photogenic lass in uniform. Do you recognize her?
At just age 14, Kate was recruited as a model by the founder of Storm Management. Very quickly, she was booked for photoshoots and runways all around the world. Kate Moss is a household name nowadays. But just for a moment, look back before she was famous!
Before John Legend, and before Sports Illustrated, there was this. Once upon a time, model Chrissy Teigen was a cheerleader in Washington state. At Snohomish High School, she tried out her talents with pompoms. Was she any good?
According to Chrissy: "Watching cheer on Netflix got me reminiscing about how I sucked at cheerleading almost as much as I sucked at doing my brows." At least someone knows their strengths!
The queen of daytime TV had a long history of talk, as it turns out. Young Oprah Winfrey loved public speaking in high school, and joined the drama and debate club. She was also an advocate on the student council and competed on the speech team. Sounds about right!
Oprah went to East Nashville High School and graduated in 1971 as an honor student. She went on to Tennessee State University with a full scholarship. Soon after, she would take over the world.
All right, all right, all right: Young Matthew McConaughey is unmistakable here in his yearbook photo. In the 1980s, he attended Longview High School in Texas. Maybe that's where he picked up that enchanting drawl.
No one can say for sure, though. During high school, he was in an exchange program and lived in Australia for a year, too. Maybe he developed his unique communication in New South Wales. It's a mystery!
A legend all along, Jamie Foxx was seemingly born with talent in song, dance, rap, and comedy. But as a 1986 graduate of Terrell High School, no one knew the whole story yet. Back then, they may have known him as an athlete more than anything else.
During his teen years in Texas, Jamie played basketball and baseball. He also played football and participated in track. And believe it or not, he did it all with a jerry curl hairdo. Fans thought they knew it all until they saw his hair!
There's a reason she went with the nickname 'Posh' for The Spice Girls. Young Victoria Beckham was actually wealthy from the start and attended private school. How wealthy? Apparently, she would beg her parents not to drive her to school in their Rolls Royce.
Maybe the teen years were a little confusing for Vicky. But eventually, she made use of her rich girl image, side by side with Scary, Baby, Ginger, and Sporty. Posh was an essential role, and she was destined for greatness.
Funnyman Stephen Colbert had a dorky phase, the evidence shows. When he attended the Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, he posed for this yearbook photo. Look at that silly smile!
Young Steve was in school plays and wrote for the school newspaper. He started a teen band to cover the Rolling Stones and wowed local audiences. It was all training, in a way: He would soon pursue improv, writing, and comedy. Now, he makes millions laugh!
Rapper Kanye West is a native of Chicago, as many know. He graduated from Polaris High School, after doing well academically. Mother Donda was a college professor, and naturally, she always encouraged him to study.
Kanye was awarded a scholarship for Chicago's American Academy of Art. But as fans of his albums know, he quickly became a college dropout. Kanye wanted to pursue music directly, on his own terms. That usually doesn't work out well, but this time, he broke the mold.
Before Suits, and long before she encouraged Prince Harry to leave the royal family, Meghan Markle was a Catholic schoolgirl in LA at Immaculate Heart High School.
Meghan had big dreams even as a teen. She pursued acting early on and achieved more than most Hollywood hopefuls. But as we all know now, her real destiny was off the big screen and inside of a palace. Behold, the young Duchess of Sussex.
SNL regular Andy Samberg attended Berkeley High School in California. That's where he first experimented with creative writing. He perfected his craft at NYU, and we know the rest by now. How did he know his destiny so early on?
He explains: "I'm a comedian, and I decided I wanted to be a comedian when I was eight years old watching old Saturday Night Live episodes. I never decided to be a rapper because I'm not a rapper." Thanks for clarifying, Andy.
An heiress native to Los Angeles, Paris Hilton was always around glitz and glamour. She moved around from school to school, though, including boarding school. A recent documentary has revealed that Paris was having a very tough time with it all.
Anyone who watched This is Paris could tell you the troubles of that period. But just for a moment, pause and appreciate a good photo moment. Finest girl in her class? We can see it.
The internet went wild for this vintage photo of actor Peter Dinklage. In the 1980s, Peter rocked a mullet at Delbarton, a Catholic boys' academy in Morristown, New Jersey. Behold, the mullet.
Eventually, he would become a big deal as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones. But here, Peter was just a student having trouble fitting in at school. If only his classmates knew he was a star in the making!
This young, pretty woman is none other than Georgia native, Julia Roberts. As a student at Campbell High School in Smyrna, she was an active clarinet player. She dreamed of being a veterinarian, believe it or not. But as we all know from the future, that wasn't meant to be.
Julia initially attended Georgia State University. She ended up dropping out and went to NYC to be an actress and model. Some stars are once in a generation — and Julia certainly qualifies.
Snoop Dogg recalls the early days: "When I rapped in the hallways at school I would draw such a big crowd that the principal would think there was a fight going on. It made me begin to realize that I had a gift. I could tell that my raps interested people and that made me interested in myself."
High school was merely a short stint before superstardom. But sometimes, it's worth looking back for a laugh! Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. is this student's real name, which might surprise some. Snoop just works better, doesn't it?
Sean Penn had good influences from the beginning. Apparently, he went to high school with Robert Downey Jr., Charlie Sheen, and Rob Lowe at Santa Monica High School. They were not only classmates but friends.
Eventually, Robert Downey Jr. dropped out and Charlie Sheen was kicked out. Only Rob Lowe graduated alongside Sean. Looking back at the old days, it's shocking to see that all four friends made it in Hollywood. What are the odds?
Although Kim Kardashian attended a Catholic girls school, Marymount in Los Angeles, she ended up getting a GED. Maybe she regrets not going on a different path, as Kim is now training to be a lawyer, as fans may have heard.
It may have been too hard to focus during her teen years, since Kim's late father was a very famous lawyer. He represented O.J. Simpson during his murder trial, and that was a pretty big deal. It's still a big deal to this day!
Famous for That 70s Show, Topher Grace was successful early on. Before his quick, big break, he was a boarding school boy at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, and he had quite the baby face.
While at school, he was in theater productions. In the area, there was plenty of talent to inspire him. He was friends with future actress Kate Bosworth in middle school, and Chloë Sevigny was his babysitter. Topher trivia is fascinating, friends.
Fans love her wit and charm. She's an Oscar-winning actress, and that takes some smarts to pull off, to be sure. But most have no idea that Jennifer Lawrence is secretly an early dropout.
According to Jen: "I dropped out of middle school. I don’t technically have a GED or a diploma. I am self-educated. I wanted to forge my own path. I found what I wanted to do and I didn't want anything getting in the way of it." Today, the actress has a net worth of $160 million. Who needs algebra if you can count up that cash?
He's famously gorgeous, and he probably never had a choice but to become a Hollywood heartthrob. He spent his teen years at Harvard-Westlake High School in LA. He went away to study at Columbia University, but quickly, he flew back.
Fans may be surprised to hear he was ridiculed for his love of theater back then. He also tried to start a boy band. It was a mildly bumpy road. But there's a star in this yearbook photo for the trained eye. And now, no one's laughing!
Aidy Bryant is SNL-level hilarious, and as it turns out, she picked up her silly attitude in the southwest, and so did The View co-host Meghan McCain. Aidy recently revealed: "We're both Arizona women, that is true. Weirdly, we also went to the same high school."
That high school was Xavier College Preparatory, a single-sex Catholic school in Phoenix. At this point, it has produced a lot of talent, statistically. Is there something in the water there?
Adam Levine is another Los Angeles native who observed the entertainment industry from close range early on. At Brentwood School, he met a few future Maroon 5 members. Fellow schoolmates Jesse Carmichael and Mickey Madden were destined to make music too!
Adam says he couldn't focus on school at all at the time of this charming photo. He wasn't interested in anything but music, and he rebelled. He and his amigos formed a group called Kara's Flowers while in school. Eventually, this became Maroon 5. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Everyone witnessed singing sensation Justin Bieber during his teen years on stage. He managed to graduate from St. Michael Catholic Secondary School in Ontario while building his career. How did he do, really?
Apparently, he did very well. Even with the demands of fame, this teen graduated with a 4.0 — clearly, an overachiever in everything he does. Screaming girls couldn't distract the young Bieber from this mission, even early on.
Actor Matt Damon was once a member of the National Honor Society and a theater geek. But does fresh-faced Matt really look all that different from current-day Matt Damon?
A Boston boy through and through, Matt attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. While in class, he made a very important friend: Ben Affleck. They've stayed close for life, through all the ups and downs. Young Matt here had no idea what was in store yet. Or did he?
Best known as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman has a legion of loyal fans. They love his signature mustache and his terrifying glare. But would any of them recognize him as a youngster?
There is no way, really. Clean cut and fresh-faced, Nick looks like a different human being. But everyone knew him this way at Minooka High School in Minooka, Illinois. It's hard to imagine what this fresh-faced teen would soon become.
He wanted to go to Harvard and write for a living — and that's exactly what he did. Friends have revealed this youthful Conan O'Brien in his yearbook as a student in Brookline, MA. It's easy to recognize him, honestly. He just has that sort of face!
As a student at Brookline High School, he was the editor of the school newspaper and graduated valedictorian. The boy was ambitious from the start. It's no surprise he ended up the longest-running late-night host on American TV, with all his shows combined. Nice, Conan.
It's not hard to see how recruiters spotted her so early on. A young Cindy Crawford is pictured here in her high school yearbook in Dekalb, IL. As a student, she had plans to study chemical engineering. Not many fashionistas know Cindy was a science geek!
That's exactly what she went on to do, at Northwestern University. But as everyone knows by now, she ended up on a very different career track. Imagine, Cindy almost ended up in a lab!
As a teen, Jimmy Fallon worshipped Saturday Night Live. He's not the only one who watched it religiously. But clearly, he was serious about joining the cast one day. The class clown started his songs and jokes in contests at Saugerties High School. Check out his younger look here!
Jimmy always saw his future in comedy. He even used his yearbook as an opportunity for laughs: "My high school yearbook quote was, 'A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants,' from the Chuckles the Clown episode, one of the funniest moments on television." In summary: Chuckles made him chuckle. Who knew?
She was once just Jenny from the block, and that block was in the Bronx. Jennifer Lopez attended Preston High School in the '80s. The proof is here, and it's shocking. Where is her famous, signature long hair?
It appears to be missing in action. Jen reflects: "Look what I wrote. Ha, that's just who I was. And that hair! At the time, I loved Madonna, and she had some crazy short hair, but I wasn't trying to emulate her or anything." Fair enough, say fans. Hair clarified.
John Mayer was once a student in Connecticut at Fairfield High School. One day, he would be a rockstar on stages across the world. But everyone has a beginning. John was pretty clean-cut back then. Look at that suit and tie!
Even though he seems like a proper boy, it turns out he wasn't the biggest fan of the classroom. John explains: “High School is like a spork: it's a crappy spoon and a crappy fork, so in the end it's just plain useless.” Food for thought, from John Mayer. Eat it with a spork.
This one is a tricky guessing game, but we will help. It's shocking to look at a young Bruce Willis. And everyone is initially confused for the same reason: He is unrecognizable with all that hair.
Bruce went to Penns Grove High School in the '70s, in Carneys Point, New Jersey. He was actually student council president, which few know today. Additionally, he was a member of the drama club, the baseball team, and the school TV crew. The future actor was a pretty active student in traditional activities.
Queen Bey grew up in Houston and attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, as well as Alief Elsik High School. She was a devoted member of her church choir as a teen but eventually chose hip hop.
Back then, was Beyoncé's family always dealing with bills, bills, bills? According to the singer: "I grew up in a very nice house in Houston, went to private school all my life and I've never even been to the 'hood." We believe you, B.
Scary Movie star Anna Faris graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School. That's a school in Edmonds, WA. Outside of the LA bubble, Anna was still acting professionally as a child in the Pacific Northwest. She was active in drama during high school, too.
It all seems to have worked out, and that's because of her talent. She's been in serious and silly roles, from Brokeback Mountain to Just Friends. But looking at this vintage photo of Anna in the yearbook, she looks like such a regular gal. Maybe that's why fans relate so well!
Who's this little cutie? Could it be a young Winona Ryder? Why yes, it is. As a student at Petaluma High School, she rocked short hair. Sometimes, fellow classmates made fun of her. But that didn't stop her from achieving a 4.0 GPA or acting on the side.
Winona made it big with the hit film Beetlejuice early on. Did this make her more popular? No, sadly. She shared: "I remember thinking, 'Ooh, it's like the number-one movie. This is going to make things great at school.' But it made things worse. They called me a witch." Kids are so mean sometimes.
Taraji P. Henson is one of the stars of Empire, and fans usually describe her as confident. Little do they know just how long she has been rocking that attitude. Check out this high school yearbook look, back in the '80s!
Social media made this one go viral. Was it the expression on her face, or her cools shades? Maybe it was the combo. Maybe, people just loved seeing a new side of Taraji!