Nine Celebrities Who Have Successfully Reinvented Their Careers

1. Angelina Jolie:  She was of the most controversial sex symbols of the early 2000s: She wore her husband's, Billy Bob Thorton, blood around her neck in a vial, got creepily close to her brother in public, and may have caused the end of Jennifer Aniston’s marriage to Brad Pitt. But in 2001, when filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, in Cambodia, something changed. Seemingly overnight, Jolie became a human rights activist. She has subsequently traveled war-torn lands, from Africa to the Middle East, spreading her message and helping pass a UN resolution to prevent sexual violence against women in war zones.  

2. Robert Downey Jr:  Fifteen years ago, Robert Downey was unhireable in Hollywood after numerous drug arrests.  From 1996 through 2001, Downey was arrested numerous times on drug-related charges including cocaine and heroin.  After sobering up and working hard, he is now one of the highest paid leading men in Hollywood.

3. Kim Kardashian:  Who would’ve thought that a sex tape could transform a life in a good way? Kim went from Paris Hilton’s lowly assistant into one of the biggest stars in the world. She’s one of the most followed personalities across all social media channels, married to Kanye West, and reportedly one of the highest-paid reality television stars in America.  Not bad for an assistant.

4. Floyd Mayweather:  People forget that for the first 10 years of his career, his nickname was Pretty Boy Floyd- a pretty generic name used by dozens of other boxers named Floyd over the years.  But once he controlled his own brand, Floyd created a new persona:  Floyd "Money" Mayweather.  Boring fighters don't sell tickets; villains do.  It seems to be paying off.  According to Forbes, he was the highest paid athlete in 2014 and 2015, earning over $100m per year.

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger:  Arnold has had two successful reinventions so far:  He transformed himself from a professional bodybuilder into one of the most successful actors in Hollywood.  Then he followed his political hero, Ronald Reagan, and became the governor of California.  After serving two terms, he returned to the big screen at age 65.  Not bad for a poor kid from Austria.

6. Jerry Springer:  Jerry’s first career was politics.  He was first an aide in Robert Kennedy’s presidential election and then, at age 33, became the mayor of Cincinnati.   After losing a bid for governor, he became a TV news anchor.  In 1991, he launched the now infamous, The Jerry Springer Show, originally slated to be a political debate show.  After low ratings, he focused on topics like domestic issues, and saw his ratings soar.  

7. Ice Cube: Who would have thought that the “gangster rapper” would be making kids movies 20 years after leaving N.W.A.  Remember, they were the group that sung, “F—k The Police.” His most profitable venture in his career has been his production company, Cube Vision, which produced the family friendly Are We There Yet franchise. 

8. George Foreman: These days, most of us think of George Foreman as “ that grill guy.” Back in the ‘70s, he was the heavyweight champ who lost his title to Muhammad Ali.  In the mid-1980s, Foreman partnered with Russell Hobbs, Inc. to produce the fat-reducing George Foreman grills, which have since sold over 100 million units.  According to Wikipedia, Foreman was paid $137 million in 1999 in order to buy out the right to use his name.  It’s estimated that he has made a total of over $200 million from the endorsement, substantially more than he earned as a boxer

9. Madonna:  It’s been almost thirty years since Madonna became a pop star. She remains relevant, even in her 50s, because she has mastered the art of reinventing herself.  Every album is a different version of Madonna.  Over the years, her music has ranged from R&B, to pop, to EDM, to rock and disco.  Like a chameleon, her look has changed dozens of times over the years, from jean jackets and teased hair to dominatrix outfits. Madonna has succeeded as an actress as well, winning critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for Evita.  She’s also been a successful record executive, producer and designer.  Always keeping her fans guessing what’s next has been the secret to a long and successful career.