Cheerleaders are full of energy and are comfortable performing in front of large crowds. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many celebrities grew up high kicking and flipping before they tumbled into fame. Actually, you’ll be amazed to find out that some well-known child stars even found time among their hectic schedules to join the pep squad. Given the physical demands of cheerleading, it’s no wonder these former squad members went on to have spirited careers. Although they eventually left the sidelines for center stage, you’ll never believe which famous women (and men!) on this list traded in their pom-poms for a future in the spotlight!
1. Megan Fox
Megan Fox was a dancer and swimmer as a child. Those early years of athleticism probably helped when she joined the cheer squad in high school and later played a possessed cheerleader in “Jennifer’s Body.” Although she says she was an outcast then, she grew up to be one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
When she wasn’t in her cheerleader uniform, Megan donned another costume during her teen years. From the splits to banana splits, you’d probably never have guessed that Megan wore a giant banana costume as part of an after-school stint working at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Florida.
2. Blake Lively
Proving that cheerleaders aren’t just ditzy blondes, Blake Lively had an extensive list of extracurriculars in high school that included not only the cheer squad but serving as class president and as a member of Burbank High School’s championship choir. Lively she certainly was!
Born into a showbiz family, it seems she was practically destined for fame. Lively landed her first big-screen role as sporty teen Bridget Vreeland in the 2005 film “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Juggling cheer practice and schoolwork, Lively also made time to film between her junior and senior years.
3. Cameron Diaz
Before she was recognized as a bona fide Hollywood sex symbol, California native Cameron Diaz was a cheerleader at Long Beach Poly High. It’s easy to see the same brand of perk she undoubtedly used in her high school years in her later blockbusters like “Charlie’s Angels.”
Before the modeling and acting world took notice of the bubbly blonde, Diaz turned heads in high school and has been described by classmate and fellow future star Snoop Dogg as being “fly” back then. And, unsurprisingly, that still seems to be the case.
4. Kirsten Dunst
It’s no surprise that the spirited blonde actress who played cheerleading captain Torrance Shipman in the popular teen comedy “Bring It On,” was herself a cheerleader in high school. Although the “spirit fingers” were probably unique to “Bring It On,” Dunst has said she most identified with that character.
“It was like me being in high school as myself,” she said. “It wasn’t a stretch at all.” Dunst was already on the up and up in Hollywood with several screen credits by the time she was climbing the cheerleading pyramid at Laurel Hall School and later at Notre Dame High School in LA.
5. Jennifer Lawrence
The queen of sass was flipping across the football field years before kicking butt and taking names in “The Hunger Games.” Perhaps her pom-pom days at Kammerer Middle School in Kentucky helped her get used to crowds watching her every move.
Naturally athletic, Lawrence’s after-school activities included more than just cheerleading. Although she later said she didn’t like team sports, she was also involved in softball, field hockey, basketball and horseback riding. That athleticism was definitely apparent in her role as Katniss Everdeen.
You’ll never believe which other Hollywood leading ladies landed on this list, keep reading!
6. Alicia Silverstone
As if! Yes, it’s true. The bubbly blonde who played charming, popular girl Cher in the 1995 cult hit “Clueless” was something of a high school sweetheart in real life. Born in San Francisco, Silverstone signed a modeling contract at age six and was a teen idol by 16.
When she wasn’t winning an MTV Movie Award for her film debut in “Crush,” or taking over VH1 with her music video for Aerosmith’s “Cryin,” Silverstone was a student at San Mateo High School, where she rallied for her fellow Bearcats. That’s like, so totally rad!
7. Halle Berry
From her teenage years at Bedford High School in Cleveland to the red carpets of Hollywood, Halle Berry has had the crowds going wild. Before she became an Oscar winner, Berry was a cheerleader, school newspaper editor, an honors student and prom queen!
All of that drive, pep and stage presence most likely helped Berry go on to win several beauty pageants after attending Cuyahoga Community College and later break into the acting scene to become one of Hollywood’s most famous leading ladies.
8. Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock’s character may have rolled her eyes at the prospect of wearing what she deemed were revealing costumes in “Miss Congeniality,” but this spunky rom-com darling was proud to don a cheerleading uniform as a high schooler in Virginia.
Bullock spent much of her childhood in Germany with her musical parents but made it back to the States in time to study at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. In 2015, the lovable “The Blind Side” star told Glamour that she still “embarrassingly” owns her cheer uniform. And we’re sure she’d still look amazing in it!
9. Kylie Jenner
It wasn’t that long ago that Kylie Jenner was an all-American teen going to high school and cheering on the pep squad. Not long before she transformed into the voluptuous sexpot that she’s known as now, this reality TV star was waving her pom-poms at Sierra Canyon School.
The cameras might have been following her family’s every move, but it is pretty endearing to see her as a fresh-faced teenager taking part in an average youth activity. Kylie later retired her poms to be homeschooled. There’s no “I” in “team,” but there is in “Kylie Cosmetics.”
10. Christina Aguilera
A young Christina Aguilera had already appeared on “Star Search” and “The Mickey Mouse Club” by the time she made the cheerleading squad in middle school at North Allegheny in Pennsylvania. The “Genie in a Bottle” singer’s stint on the squad was allegedly short, though.
Aguilera apparently gave up her spot on the squad to someone else in order to pursue singing. Although she looked the ideal cheerleader, it was probably a good career move as the pop culture icon went on to achieve worldwide fame for her powerful pipes.
11. Jessica Simpson
We’ve seen her dancing in various music videos over the years, and perhaps bombshell pop singing sensation Jessica Simpson got some of her moves from her days of cheerleading for Richardson North High School in Dallas.
At the age of 16, Simpson traded in her poms for a label deal with Columbia Records. From the athletics field to the world stage, Simpson maintained her signature bubbly disposition and Southern Charm that defined her persona as an entertainer and reality TV star.
If you love these peppy celebrity throwbacks, keep scrolling!
12. Chrissy Teigen
Supermodel Chrissy Teigen’s radiant personality and hilarious social media antics have earned her a spot in our hearts. Before she was gracing runways and magazine covers, Teigen used her stellar spirits to cheer at Snohomish High School in Washington.
She took to Instagram in June 2017 to share this black-and-white throwback of her picture-perfect looking squad, giving it the caption “Yes ladies!” By the looks of it, Teigen totally skipped that awkward high school phase and was just always supermodel flawless.
13. Eva Longoria
“Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria is famous for keeping a perfectly toned figure amid her hectic entertainment career. It seems her affinity for keeping in shape started at a young age when was an avid cheerleader in her home state of Texas.
Longoria first took up her pom-poms in high school. Her talents led her to continue cheering in college at Texas A&M. It was during her years studying for a degree in kinesiology that Longoria won the Miss Corpus Christi pageant in 1998. From there this beauty queen went on be a reigning Hollywood success.
14. Miley Cyrus
No stranger to performing, Miley Cyrus was leaping in her uniform as an adorable competitive cheerleader for the Tennessee Premier All-Stars team from the age of five to 13. A year after she hung her cheer uniform, she leapt onto the world radar in “Hannah Montana.”
Her image has noticeably changed since her days of pig tales and pom-poms, but it appears her early years in athletics help her to be accustomed to the demands of extensive physical training. Transitioning into more adult acting and singing roles, Cyrus is oft to display her propensity for, ahem, her flexibility.
15. Brooke Shields
Brooke Shields stirred controversy with her risque child roles in “Pretty Baby” and “The Blue Lagoon” a couple years after she hit double-digit age. Many thought her early on-screen parts were too mature for a girl of her age.
But, behind the scenes, Shields embodied the image of wholesome high school cheerleader. The brunette beauty icon also cheered in college. Sporting her trademark eyebrows and natural radiance in this yearbook photo, it’s no wonder Shields skyrocketed to become one of the world’s most recognized actresses and models.
The next few celebrities have connections to other former cheerleaders on this list, keep reading to find out who they are!
16. Kendall Jenner
Like her famous sister Kylie, who was previously mentioned on this list, Kendall Jenner was already a household name – thanks to her family’s reality series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” – when she started cheering for Sierra Canyon School in the greater LA area.
The lanky teen was already sporting the ideal high fashion body type that helped her somersault into the ranking of the top-paid model of 2017. Kendall has admitted that she was “really nervous” for her first day of high school. Those jitters don’t seem to be anywhere in sight though when she’s on the catwalk.
17. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan has been on the Hollywood scene since her breakout role in “The Parent Trap” at age 12. All the while steadily landing prime coming-of-age movie roles, Lohan was a real teen student who donned a pleated cheerleading skirt in high school in New York.
In 2004, she starred opposite fellow former cheerleader Megan Fox in “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.” Years later, she slipped into a cheerleader uniform again for an appearance on “Ugly Betty.” Although the “Mean Girls” star is known for her turbulent private life, we’ve always been rooting for team Lindsay!
18. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon has proved herself to be an actress of varied talents. But it’s no surprise given her breakout role as bubbly dynamo Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” that she was a picture-perfect member of the pep squad during her childhood in Tennessee.
The sprightly “Big Little Lies” star was cheering on the sports teams in her hometown of Nashville at Harding Academy Generals and later at Harpeth Hall School years before audiences were cheering for her in the movies.
19. Dakota Fanning
As one of the biggest child stars in Hollywood, one would think Dakota Fanning wouldn’t have a lot of extra time for activities like cheerleading. For most of the celebrities on this list, the sport came before their careers. For Fanning, though, things were the other way around.
She already had scores of film credits to her name, including blockbusters like “I am Sam,” “War of the World” and “Man on Fire,” by the time she was a varsity cheerleader for private Episcopal prep school Campbell Hall in California. Adding to her impressive resume, Fanning was also named homecoming queen.
20. Denise Richards
Only adding to her alluring charm, Bond Girl and Playboy model Denise Richards was an athletic tomboy growing up on the outskirts of Chicago. She was the only girl on her local baseball team before her family moved to California and she rallied the crowds as a cheerleader for El Camino High School.
Audiences were later rallying for her as she gained prominence with the likes of 1997 action flick “Starship Troopers” and no doubt became the subject of a lot of male fantasies in “Wild Things.” Richards also had a high-profile relationship with Charlie Sheen. Even though that didn’t work out, we still think she’s a W-I-N-N-E-R!
You’ll never believe what the next stars looked like in cheerleading uniforms, keep reading to find out!
Fergie was still going by Stacy Ann Ferguson when she was a cheerleader and straight-A student at Glen A. Wilson High School in California. From this picture, it appears the Black Eyed Peas frontwoman was always a magnetic force of nature (and a knockout) comfortable in the spotlight.
Before she was the subject of the cheers of adoring fans at her concert venues, Fergie was cheering on her high school. Her days of learning routines for the cheer squad likely came in handy for learning the intricate choreography that’s seen in her spectacular performances.
22. Mandy Moore
Going into the 2000s, Mandy Moore was the princess of bubblegum pop music. Tall and talented, she also got into the movie and TV scene. Breaking from her sweet, wholesome image, she played bully cheerleader Lana Thomas in 2001’s “The Princess Diaries.”
Art seems to have imitated life (except for the mean attitude) here as Moore was also a cheerleader in real life. The “This Is Us” actress was an adorable little pony-tailed pom-pom girl for several years for the Pop Warner sports organization in Orlando, Florida.
23. Meryl Streep
We all knew that Meryl Streep is one of the most talented actresses of our time, but did you know her talents on the silver screen came after she flaunted her talents (and her gams) on the cheer squad? Further proving that she can do anything, Streep looks like she’s barely changed since her high-kicking days in the 1960s.
Along with cheerleading, Streep appeared in several student plays at Bernards High School in New Jersey. However, she didn’t take a serious interest in acting until she got into drama at Vassar College. She definitely went on to clench V-I-C-T-O-R-Y as “the best actress of her generation.”
24. Paul Rudd
Paul Rudd has made a name for himself on Broadway and Hollywood as a lovably goofy stud, but, nope, this isn’t a scene from one of his silly movies. That’s right, when Rudd was a high school student in Kansas, he was a “yell leader.” Oh, and he was student body president.
Nowadays, male cheerleaders seem to take a lot of heat, but up until WWII cheerleading was a predominantly male sport. Anyways, Rudd should have effectively shut down any haters as his determination and talent have taken him far. Can we get a “P” for “phenomenal?”
25. Renee Zellweger
You had us at “Be Aggressive!” Before Hollywood was showing her the money, “Jerry Maguire” actress Renee Zellweger was a spirited cheerleader with a glint in her eye during her small-town Texas upbringing. She’s showed Jimmy Fallon that she can still pull a high kick and remembers her seventh-grade routine.
If you’ve seen the live-action musical “Chicago” it’s no wonder Zellweger’s choreographic training started early. Former classmates of the “Bridget Jones” star have recalled that she was not only attractive but kind and friendly – not at all the stereotypical “bubble head” cheerleader.
Popular R&B singer Ciara is known for her fancy footwork and killer choreography. The Atlanta-based singer-songwriter has been honing her love for dancing and spirited energy since her days as a cheerleader in high school.
Just like she “1, 2 Step(ed)” to the top of the music world, Ciara made it to the top of the cheer pyramid and was elected squad captain her senior year. Although she loved cheerleading, she gave it up to focus on music. Now married to NFL player Russell Wilson, she’s her husband’s biggest cheerleader.
27. Paula Abdul
It’s pretty easy to draw the line between Paula Abdul’s early pursuits that laid the foundation for her later career. Now a judge on basically every reality dancing and singing competition, the 80s icon was fond of performing from a young age. She started cheerleading in high school.
Then, as a freshman at California State University in Northridge, she was selected as one out of 700 contestants vying for a spot with the famed Laker Girls. She became the troupe’s head choreographer within a year. It was actually at a Lakers game that the Jacksons discovered her.
Continue scrolling to see if you can recognize the famous faces of celebrities back when they were young cheerleaders.
28. Kirstie Alley
Long before she joined the cast of “Cheers,” Kirstie Alley was involved in another kind of cheering. Cheerleading, to be exact. Alley led her classmate in pep rallies at Wichita Southeast High School decade before she landed the role as the “Look Who’s Talking” leading lady.
Alley left her Kansas roots after a brief stint at university and headed Los Angeles to pursue Scientology and Hollywood. Two Emmys and several award nominations later, Alley may have tapped into her cheerleading training as a contestant on the 2011-12 season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
29. Katie Couric
Perhaps award-winning journalist Katie Couric’s experience as a cheerleader in high school in Virginia gave her an initial taste of addressing the masses. Couric kept her poise as a cheerleader in front of crowds at Yorktown High School.
She is now recognized as a leading news industry icon, who has been a host for several huge TV networks. But like many of the celebrities on this list, she was involved in many extracurricular activities (namely a radio internship) that paved the way for future fame.
The “Material Girl” actually got her entertainment start as a backup dancer before she became the “Queen of Pop.” Her proclivity for movement began young. During her upbringing in Michigan, Madonna was a straight-A student cheerleading squad member at Rochester Adams High School.
Her moves obviously started impressing people early as she earned a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. Despite her affinity for the art, Madonna dropped out of college in 1978 and moved to New York. From there, she worked her way up to become the “Vogue” performer we know her as today.
31. Rachel Ray
The Food Network queen of quick cooking coined the catchphrase E-V-O-O (extra virgin olive oil), but before she was spelling out culinary tips, she was spelling out inspiring cheers for her high school in upstate New York.
If her present personality is any indicator (and we think it is), it’s very easy to envision Ray as an infectiously bubbly instigator of school spirit. She eventually replaced her pom-poms with kitchen utensils. Now foodies the world over applaud her yummy dishes with a capital “Yum-o!.”
32. Samuel L. Jackson
The king of cool, Shaft himself, is known for his numerous tough guy roles in acclaimed hits like “Goodfellas,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained.” At first mention, it may sound out of character that the “Snakes on a Plane” actor joined the cheer squad in college.
Then again, when you find out he went to Georgia’s all-male Morehouse College and did the stunt to meet women from schools all around, it sounds very much like the powerhouse Hollywood legend. It turns out that Jackson met his wife LaTanya Richardson during those college years. What a champ!
The petite stature of the pint-sized powerhouse from the reality series “Jersey Shore” made her the perfect flyer for the squad at Marlboro High School in New York. Standing at just 4’8”, Snookie (born Nicole Elizabeth LaValle) was no doubt effortlessly flipped and spun by her spotters.
Known as a wild party girl on “Jersey Shore,” Snookie was very serious in her formative years as a cheerleader and gymnast. Years after high school, Snookie showcased her prowess for backflips and energetic jumps in a cheerleader-theme routine during her run on “Dancing with the Stars.”
34. Steve Martin
Funnyman Steve Martin has been entertaining for decades in Hollywood. As a high schooler in Garden Grove, California, the comedian was entertaining in a different way- namely the “Father of the Bride” actor was a member of his school’s cheerleading squad.
According to a 1978 Newsweek article, Martin was already practicing his comedic antics by writing his own cheers, if you can call them that. “Die, you gravy-sucking pigs!” went one. Given to say, the cheer didn’t make the cut. Luckily, he found his talents more suited for Tinseltown.
35. Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler constantly cracks us up on SNL. The hilarious actress and comedian is obviously a hoot on “Parks and Recreation,” but you’ll also get a kick out of the fact that one of her earlier gigs was as a cheerleader at Burlington High School in Massachusetts.
Long before she was saying memorable lines like “I’m not a normal mom, I’m a cool mom,” she was making memories revving up crowds at football games. During college, she traded in the flips and dips for improv comedy. Still, it’s a certain brand of spunky pep that gives her star quality.
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