Stars You Didn't Know Were in Pageants
Halle Berry, Gal Gadot and more celebs who walked across the pageant stage
Even before she was The Bachelorette, things were coming up roses for Hannah, who won Miss Alabama USA in 2018. But there was a darker side, too; the star recently opened up about the lasting effects of her pageant career.
"I had a director of a pageant, she emailed me a picture of another girl's body and said, 'I need you to look like this in your swimsuit before this time,' " Brown said in a clip from the Facebook Watch show At Home with the Robertsons. "It killed me, it really did. I would go a year without eating carbs. It really messed with me a lot and I dealt with some anxiety and depression because of it."
"Hey, we all gotta start somewhere," the actress joked while sharing a highlight reel of her teen pageant work as Miss Orange County, which noted that the young starlet "would like to become an actress." Her talents at the time? Oil painting and softball.
A pageant KING! In a throwback Instagram post in early 2021, the actor revealed that "for 43 years I was Little Mr Texas...until i wasn't."
The comedian's pageant hair and electric blue gown were serious business when she competed for Miss Teen of America.
The Texas-born Telenovela star got her start as Miss Corpus Christi in 1998.
The Academy Award winner competed for Miss USA in 1986 (she was Miss Ohio) and just barely missed out on the crown, landing as first runner-up.
The doors to Winfrey's storied TV career were opened by her Miss Black Tennessee win — and Miss Black America entry — in 1972.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
On her way to international superstardom, Priyanka got her start as Miss India — eventually going on to win Miss World in 2000 (no biggie).
Williams made history in 1983 as the first black woman to win Miss America, but she famously stepped down following a nude photo leak. “For years, I'd walk into an audition and feel the judgment,” Williams told PEOPLE in 2012. “I was a scandalous Miss America. Vanessa the Undressa. But I silently thought, one day you'll see what I'm made of.” The experience came full circle: In 2015, the star was welcomed back to judge the pageant.
Gadot exploded onto the scene when she won the part of Wonder Woman, but back in 2004, she won a different title: Miss Israel.
Another Wonder Woman who got her start in the pageant world, Carter was named Miss World USA in 1972 after striking it big in her home state of Arizona.
Before she became a TRL host or married a boy bander, Vanessa Minnillo was the first-ever Miss Teen USA winner from South Carolina, in 1998. Fun fact: She was also named Miss Congeniality.
Before she hit it big with acting, the Memphis native competed in the Miss Teenage America Pageant when she was 16, and even scored the title of Miss Congeniality.
The street style star rose to fame as Miss USA 2012. She went on to win Miss Universe the same year — the first American winner since 1997.
In 1974, Burke was named Miss Florida, and went on to compete in the Miss America competition, at which she reportedly won a talent scholarship.
The Miss Louisiana Teen USA went on to win Miss USA in 1996 and later compete in Miss Universe. The pageant success propelled her into television stardom — particularly with a memorable Doritos commercial during the 1998 Super Bowl.
The revered journalist was a revered beauty queen in 1963, when she was named America's Junior Miss at age 17.
The former Fox News anchor, and now special contributor to PEOPLE (the TV Show!), took a teary victory lap as Miss America 1989. She eventually took on the role of chairwoman of the Miss America organization in an attempt to modernize the competition (including, controversially, eliminating the swimsuit competition) but stepped down in 2019.