Famous People Who Started in Hospitality
By Alex Witney · Mar 6, 2023
The hospitality industry isn't just a place to earn some quick cash - it's a launchpad for fame and fortune! From flipping burgers at fast food joints to serving guests at hotels and resorts, many famous faces started their careers in hospitality. Not only did they develop invaluable skills like multitasking and handling pressure, but they also learned how to deal with the public - which is a must-have for anyone in the public eye!
So, without further ado, let's take a look at 20 famous people who started their journey to success in the hospitality industry and how their experiences helped them get where they are today:
Before he became President of the United States, Barack Obama scooped ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Not only did he learn the value of hard work and responsibility, he also launched a summer opportunities project to help other teenagers land their first jobs.
Believe it or not, Madonna worked at a Dunkin Donuts in Times Square before she became a pop icon. She reportedly worked behind the till and her confidence couldn't be denied, as she famously said, “I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, worked at McDonald's before he became a billionaire. He worked the grill and said that the job taught him responsibility. In his own words, "My first week on the job, a five-gallon, wall-mounted ketchup dispenser got stuck open in the kitchen and dumped a prodigious quantity of ketchup into every hard-to-reach kitchen crevice. Since I was the new guy, they handed me the cleaning solution and said, ‘Get going!'”
Before she was Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta worked as a waitress in a café in Greenwich Village, New York. She waited tables at the Cornelia Street Café to cover her rent. One of her co-workers even took some early shots of Gaga and went on to be a fashion photographer.
Comedian Chris Rock worked in a restaurant where he leftovers into the bin and then loaded up the dishwasher. He never got a raise or a promotion and joked that he was kept in the back because of his teeth.
After dropping out of UCLA, James Franco worked at a McDonald's drive-thru in Los Angeles where he practiced different accents on customers. He even wrote an essay for the Washington Post about how McDonald's was there for him when he needed it the most.
"When I needed McDonald's, McDonald's was there for me," he said. "When no one else was."
Before she was Rachel Green on "Friends," Jennifer Aniston worked as a waitress. According to Marie Claire, she wasn't the best at remembering orders and reportedly dropped a few burgers in customers' laps – cheese, bacon, and all.
"I wasn't a good waitress," she said. "But I was told that I was very nice and charming, so people liked me anyway."
Before he became a Hollywood A-lister, Chris Pratt lived in a van with his friend and worked as a waiter at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Hawaii. The restaurant was actually where Pratt was discovered and recruited for his first big role in "Cursed Part 3"!
Mariah Carey worked as a waitress when she first moved to Manhattan, but according to her unauthorised biography, she didn’t enjoy her time there...
"Why am I here? I want to be in the studio. I want to be singing. I want to be doing my thing," she reportedly said.
Before she became a rap superstar, Nicki Minaj worked at Red Lobster as a waitress. However, she was fired from her job after she swore at a couple who walked off with her pen.
"It was the principle," she told GQ.
You won't believe where Eva Mendes used to work before making it big in Hollywood. She was a server at Hot Dog on a Stick! And if you don't believe us, the restaurant has photo evidence on their website to prove it.
Country music superstar Shania Twain may have been singing in bars at night, but during the day, she was a hardworking employee of McDonald's. "I worked at McDonald's for several years as a teenager after school," Shania told Us Weekly.
The "Happy" singer may be a hitmaker now, but he wasn't always good at everything he turned his attention to. In fact, Pharrell was fired from McDonald's not once, not twice, but three separate times! "At a certain point they just realised that I was no help," he admitted on Late Night with Seth Meyers. "I was only good at eating the chicken nuggets."
Before her days as a successful actress, Eva Longoria worked at Wendy's throughout her teenage years. And her motivation for getting a job there? According to Food Beast, Longoria wanted to pay for her own quinceañara after her dad told her she wouldn't be getting one. "So I went and got a job, paid for it myself, and then raised money for my family," she explained.
Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet before hitting it big in Hollywood. In addition to data entry, she also worked as a waitress in between auditions. "I had to make money," she said. "I couldn't sit around twiddling my thumbs."
You know him as the suave and sophisticated Don Draper from Mad Men, but before he was sipping cocktails in the corner office, Jon Hamm was serving up gyros at a Greek restaurant in St. Louis. Despite the long hours and demanding customers, Hamm looks back on his time in the hospitality industry fondly. "I learned how to be nice to people and to ask for help when I need it. I learned to love work and find meaning in it," he said in an interview.
Before she was the world’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock was a humble hostess at a restaurant in New York City. But she wasn't the only future star working there - she shared the workplace with none other than Jennifer Coolidge, who played Stifler's mom in American Pie. Coolidge was a cocktail waitress at the restaurant, but Bullock eventually took over all her shifts because Coolidge wasn't the most reliable employee.
While working at a sandwich deli in Reading, England, Kate Winslet received a phone call that changed her life forever. She had landed her first major acting role in the movie Heavenly Creatures. From there, she went on to become one of the most talented actresses of her generation, starring in movies like Titanic and The Reader.
Before he was John McClane, the badass cop from Die Hard, Bruce Willis was known as Bruno and worked as a bartender in some of New York's hottest spots. But even then, you could tell he had star power. "He had that special charisma that drew people to him," one of his former colleagues recalled.
You might know Kelis as the singer of hits like "Milkshake" and "Bossy," but did you know she's also a professionally trained chef? In fact, her love of food dates back to before her music career. In an interview, she revealed that she used to work in a pizzeria as a teenager, and she even has plans to open her own farm-to-table restaurant someday. She's so passionate about food that she named one of her albums 'Food' - talk about dedication!
So if you’re thinking about a job in hospitality - check out the GiGL app and apply with a video in seconds!