Before they Were Famous: Beauty Queens turned Actresses

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Before they Were Famous: Beauty Queens turned Actresses
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Before they Were Famous: Beauty Queens turned Actresses

Miss USA 1996, Ali Landry, adjusts her new crown with help from Miss USA 1995, Shanna Lynn Moakler,  on February 2, 1996 in South Padre Island, Texas. 

Photo Credit: Pat Sullivan, AP

Years before debuting on the scene with her hit single "Hit Me Baby One More Time" songstress Britney Spears won over countless crowds and panels in her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana since the age of 3.

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur, WireImage/Getty Images

It's goes as no surprise that among the many achievements of beauty Cybill Shepherd lies a few beauty pageant titles; on November 4, 1966 she was selected as Ms. Congeniality in the Miss Teenage American Pageant.

Photo Credit: AP

As stunning as ever, actress Debra Messing poses on the red carpet during Fleetwood Mac Reunites on May 22, 1997. Prior to award-clad success in Hollywood, Messing began to turn heads on the beauty circuit and has the sash to prove it having been crowned Rhode Island Junior Miss pageant in 1986.

Photo Credit: Jim Smeal, WireImage/Getty Images

Before the record deals and T.V. shows, Demi Lovato was basking in the spotlight of a different variety. At the age of 8, Lovato won the crown in the 2000 Texas State Miniature Miss pageant. Shown here in 2001, Lovato poses with fellow pageant winners Leslie Bramlett and Sabrina LaVoie.

Photo Credit: Texas Cinderella Pageants

The career path for Eva Longoria was rather straightforward; shortly after acquiring the title in the 1998 Miss Corpus Christi pageant Longoria entered into a talent contest that had her leaving her hometown and venturing to Los Angeles. While there, she was quickly snatched up by a talent agent and the rest is history. 

Photo Credit: Barry King, WireImage/Getty Images

Many recognize the beauty Gal Gidot from the successful "Fast & Furious" films where she had gotten her Hollywood start. In her homeland of Israel she is famous for another reason; in 2004 she represented her country in the Miss Universe contest shortly after seizing the title of Miss Israel.

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Buendia, AFP/Getty Images

Halle Berry poses with several contestants during a press event at the 1986 Miss World pageant. At the close of the evening's festivities, Berry was named as the 5th runner up which was quite the feat considering that her participation marked the first for African-American women in the contest.

Photo Credit: Tom Stoddart. Getty Images

Prior to being beamed up and becoming a regular on the hit series 'Star Trek: Voyager' series, blonde bombshell Jeri Ryan was making her name known in the pageant circuit. In 1989 Ryan was chosen as Miss Illinois after having won the preliminary swimsuit competition.

Photo Credit: Gerard Buckhart, AFP/Getty Images

Lucy Lawless, better known to most as Xena from the action-packed 90's series 'Xena: Warrior Princess' is known to her country not only as a successful actress but also as a pageant queen. In 1989 Lawless set siege upon the Miss New Zealand competition and emerged triumphant.

Photo Credit: New York Daily News/Getty Images

The road to stardom wasn't exactly a direct one for the now famous Michelle Pfeiffer; from grocery store attendant to pursing career as a court stenographer Pfeiffer eventually found herself pursuing the dream of acting. After having competed in the Miss Orange County and Miss California beauty pageants in 1978 she received representation and quickly began on the path to success.

Photo Credit: ABC/Getty Images

There are very few celebrities whose pageants successes measure up to that of their acting careers. For the 1960's sex symbol Raquel Welch pageants were an obvious path in her early years. Having accumulated various titles including "Miss La Jolla" and "Miss Contour" Welch quickly became aware of her opportunities and shortly thereafter began appearing on air.

Photo Credit: ABC/Getty Images

When Sarah Palin was announced as the Vice Presidential candidate in the 2008 election, perhaps the most talked about point was her looks. This came as no surprise to many Alaskan natives who knew Palin not solely for her political efforts but also for her winning of the 1984 Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and her third place finish in that years' Miss Alaska pageant.

Photo Credit: Anchorage Daily News/Getty Images

In 1976, Sharon Stone wasn't the starlet that we know her as today; she didn't have any Golden Globes or SAG Awards. What she did have, however, was a crown from winning the Miss Crawford County beauty pageant and the $50 she had won from taking a bet to enter the contest.

Photo Credit: Carmen Valdes, WireImage/Getty Images

From an early age Tiffani Theissen frequented the contest circuit. Her biggest victory, and perhaps the one which catapulted her to stardom, came in 1987 where she was crowned Miss Junior America. Shortly thereafter she found her way to Hollywood where she became was hired as Kelly Kapowski on the hit series 'Saved By The Bell.'

Photo Credit: Ron Galella, WireImage/Getty Images

In 1998 before hitting it off with 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey, Vanessa Minnillo was heating up the stage on her own. The 17-year-old Minnillo eventually went on to claim the title in the Miss Teen USA pageant.

Photo Credit: Miss Universe Organization/AP

Vanessa Williams adjusts her crown during her coronation walk as she holds the scepter after she is named Miss America 1984 at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. on September 17, 1983.  Williams was the first African American to win the competition.  

Photo Credit: AP

Vanna White, best known as the hostess of the primetime hit 'Wheel of Fortune', began her career shortly after finishing as the fourth runner-up in the 1978 Miss Georgia Universe Beauty Pageant 

Photo Credit: Ron Galella, WireImage/Getty Images

 

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From an early age Tiffani Theissen

In 1998 before hitting it off with 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey, Vanessa Minnillo was heating up the stage on her own. The 17-year-old Minnillo

Vanessa Williams adjusts her crown during her coronation walk as she holds the scepter after she is named Miss America 1984 at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. on September 17, 1983.

Vanna White, best known as the hostess of the primetime hit

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You know their names and you know their faces, but do you know how they got their start? Surprisingly, a lot of celebrities get their first shot at fame doing something you might not expect!

Many start their careers as models, and some as beauty queens. We've done a little digging, and found out which famous celebs have spent part of their youth participating in Beauty Pageants. You may not be too shocked to find that Vanna White and Vanessa Minnillo were part of the pageant world, but did you know Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry and Sarah Palin were as well?

Click through the gallery above to see more celebs who were beauty queens before they were famous!

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