Celebrities Who Were Once Cheerleaders


Alicia Silverstone

Shake those pom-poms high up in the air and do the splits like you just don’t care because this list is about to make you jump up and down with excitement. We’ve seen them in Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster films, various cooking shows, musical reality TV episodes and many other platforms – but they all have one thing in common: their spirits. No matter how many years have passed since their on-field glory days, their positive outlook, bright smiles and unique talent at making the crowd go wild are here to stay. Here is a look at some of your favorite celebrities that cheered their way to stardom.

Cameron Diaz

Before becoming an actress, Diaz was a cheerleader at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. Born into a Cuban-American family in Southern California, the blonde beauty got her start as a fashion model at age 16, working for the likes of Calvin Klein and Levi’s.

cheer-camron
Cameron Diaz

In 1994 at age 21, Diaz starred alongside Jim Carrey in The Mask, which launched her into the spotlight. Forbes ranked Diaz as one of the richest Hispanic female celebrity, and in 2013, The Hollywood Reporter named her the highest-paid actress over 40.

Rachael Ray

Long before her days of becoming a well known culinary star, Rachael Ray was a cheerleader at Lake George High School, in Lake George, New York. How cool is that?

cheer-ray
Rachael Ray

It’s not hard to see the striking resemblance to what she looks like today with her short brown hair and small button nose. Nowadays Ray is spending most of her time in the kitchen on her multiple shows on the Food Network. She even had her own line of kitchenware!

Jessica Simpson

Married to an NFL free agent, it seems all but destined that Simpson was a cheerleader during her years at Richardson North Junior High School in Texas.

cheer-jessica
Jessica Simpson

Even after Simpson dropped out of high school at age 15 to pursue her singing career, the blonde is still remembered by Cowboys fans as Tony Romo’s former biggest cheerleader. Simpson dropped out of J.J. Pearce High School after she impressed then-Columbia Records exec Tommy Mottola, who signed her for a record deal immediately.

Sandra Bullock

Once upon a time, before she became an award winning actress, Sandra Bullock was a cheerleader leading pep rallies at Washington-Lee High School.

cheer-sandra
Sandra Bullock

The Blind Side actress Sandra Bullock attended Washington-Lee High School nestled in Arlington Virginia. Bullock also performed in her school’s theater productions before graduating in the class of 1982.

Paula Abdul

It’s no surprise that Paula Abdul started off in cheerleading. She was a cheerleader and an honors student at Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles, California and after graduating went on to become a Laker Girl.

cheer-paula
Paula Abdul

Once there, she was nominated as the head choreographer for the squad. While she looks very cute in that Lakers uniform, Abdul traded in her pom-poms for a seat at the judge’s table as she became one of three judges of American Idol.

Katie Couric

Before graduating from the University of Virginia and beginning her successful career in journalism in 1979, Couric attended various public high schools in Arlington, Virgina where she was a spirited cheerleader.

cheer-katie
Katie Couric

The journalist and television host is now famous for being the Global Anchor of Yahoo! News and 60 minutes. We would never have guessed that Katie Couric would look so adorable as a cheerleader, but the famous journalist sure had some moves back in the day.

Halle Berry

The daughter of a hospital manager and psychiatric nurse Halle Berry did it all at Bedford High School in Cleveland, where she was a cheerleader, honors student, editor of the school newspaper, and was even prom queen.

cheer-berry
Halle Berry

Berry made her television debut in 1989 and two years later broke out on the big screen in Spike Lee’s film Jungle Fever. In 2001, the talented actress became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monsters Ball.

Kelly Ripa

Ripa, who grew up in southern New Jersey, showed an affinity for performance at a young age, as she became a cheerleader at Eastern Regional High School. It wasn’t until her drama teacher, Jim Beckley, encouraged her to pursue acting that she finally recognized her true calling.

cheer-Kelly
Kelly Ripa

After dropping out of college, Ripa moved to New York City to become an actress, and landed her first major role on the soap opera All My Children. Since then she has appeared as host of Live With Kelly and Ryan.

Fergie

If you thought the My Humps singer is a knockout now, take a look at this photo of her on the spirit squad! Born Stacie Ann Ferguson, Fergie was a cheerleader and a straight-A student at Glen A. Wilson High School.

cheer-fergie
Fergie

After high school, Fergie studied dance, and in 2003, she replaced former Black Eyed Peas singer Kim Hill to create the album Elephunk which spawned the hit singles Where Is the Love? and Shut Up. Fergie’s cheerleading background has definitely helped with her flexibility while dancing on stage.

Eva Longoria

For Mexican-American actress Eva Longoria, cheerleading wasn’t only an extracurricular activity she enjoyed but also one that directly parlayed into a successful Hollywood career.

cheer-eva
Eva Longoria

Longoria was a cheerleader at Roy Miller High School, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and continued to cheer during her college years at Texas A&M-Kingsville. In 1998, Longoria won the Miss Corpus Christi pageant during which she was discovered by a theatrical agent in Los Angeles. Longoria is known best for her role as Gabrielle Solic in the ABC series Desperate Housewives.

Ciara

Ciara was the captain of Riverdale High School’s cheerleading squad and has wholeheartedly admitted to loving the dancing, energy, and excitement that came along with the sport.

cheer-ciara
Ciara

In an interview, the R&B singer revealed, “Unfortunately, I couldn’t be as involved as I wanted to be because it was a year when my music started to become even more important to me.” CiCi may have traded in her pom-poms, but focusing on her music definitely paid off big time in the end.

Mandy Moore

Life really does imitate art especially for actress and former cheerleader Mandy Moore. The Princess Diaries star used to be a Pop Warner cheerleader which probably explains why she was able to master her role as the pom pom waving Lana Thomas in The Princess Diaries.

cheer-mandy
Mandy Moore

Moore proved she had talent at a young age as she debuted her smash single, “Candy,” at just 15! Moore also starred in A Walk to Remember, and currently stars in TV show This Is Us.

Kirsten Dunst

With her impeccable performance as Torrance Shipman in the cheerleading comedy Bring It On, it’s no surprise that Kirsten Dunst was a cheerleader herself until 2000, which happened to be the same year the movie was released.

cheer-kirsten
Kirsten Dunst

Born in New Jersey, Dunst was signed to Ford Modeling Agency at 3-years-old and appeared in over 100 TV commercials. All the while, the blue-eyed beauty found time to be a cheerleader for Laurel Hall School and later Notre Dame High School.

Kathie Lee Gifford

She may have been born in Paris, but Kathie Lee Gifford arrived in Bowie, Maryland at just four years old and by 14 she was a cheerleader. Gifford won Maryland’s Junior Miss Pageant in 1970, an event that moved her out of Bowie and on her way to superstardom.

cheer-griffin
Kathie Lee Gifford

After high school graduation, Gifford studied drama and music at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s now best known for her 15-year run on the talk show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee. 

Madonna

Long before she was known as the Material Girl, Madonna grew up in Detroit as the child of blue-collar Italian-American immigrants. While Madonna attended Rochester Adams High School, she was a not only a straight-A student but also a member of the cheerleading squad.

cheer-madonna
Madonna

Although she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, Madonna dropped out and moved to New York City in 1978. It was there that the young artist began to develop into a pop music icon.

Nene Leakes

Here we have Nene Leakes before the fame and the fortune of starring in the popular E! reality series Real House Wives Of Atlanta. It now all makes sense to us why Leakes is so spunky and spirited on the show.

cheer-Neneleakes
Nene Leakes

From a young age the TV personality was clearly into rousing people up and putting on a good show, and it all started in grade school. She also looks like a natural with her casual pose showcasing her pom-poms.

Megan Fox

For the Transformers actress cheerleading did not necessarily translate into high school popularity, as Fox was born in Tennessee into a strict Pentecostal family.

cheer-fox
Megan Fox

When the actress’ family moved to Florida, Fox attended Morningside Academy in Port St. Lucie, where she was a member of the cheerleading squad, but was also bullied. After moving to California, Fox made her acting debut in 2001 and three years later starred alongside Lindsay Lohan as a cheerleader in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.

Denise Richards

Denise Richards went through many phases as she grew up in Illinois as an athletic tomboy. That was before she became a cheerleader for El Camino High School after moving to Oceanside California with her family.

cheer-richards
Denise Richards

After graduating, Richards spent the majority of the 1990s taking on roles in productions such as Saved By The Bell, and Married With Children until she met former husband, Charlie Sheen. Given her cheer background, she may have been the one who taught him to spell W-I-N-N-I-N-G.

Brooklyn Decker

Even at age 30, model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker could probably still pass for a high school cheerleader. In 2005, Decker attended and cheered for Butler High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

cheer-brooklyn
Brooklyn Decker

Not only was Decker a member of the spirit squad but she was also her school’s senior class president. We wonder if she’s responsible for planning her 10-year reunion? If so, we’re sure all of her classmates will be green with envy after one look at the successful actress and supermodel.

Olivia Wilde

While Olivia Wilde attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, she was on the step team. According to the Love The Coopers actress, stepping is another form of cheering.

cheer-wilde
Olivia Wilde

Wilde even commented on this photo saying, “This was a great squad. The funny thing about this picture is that my high school happens to also be the school that George W. Bush went to. And one of the most famous photographs of him was as head cheerleader in almost this exact same outfit.”

Lindsay Lohan

The daughter of a former Wall Street trader, Lohan grew up on Long Island in New York, where she cheerlead for both Cold Spring Harbor High School and Sanford H. Calhoun high school, before opting for homeschooling.

cheer-lohan
Lindsay Lohan

Lohan began her career as a child model for brands like Abercrombie, Calvin Klein, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Jell-O.  In 1998 Lohan landed her first successful movie role in The Parent Trap, followed by Freaky Friday in 2003.

Olivia Munn

Although Munn was raised primarily in Japan, where her stepfather was stationed in the Air Force, her roots run deep in Oklahoma. It should come as no surprise that cheerleading is a part of the actress’ background.

cheer-munn
Olivia Munn

When her mother and stepfather split, Munn moved back to Oklahoma City where she began cheering for Putnam City North High School. After graduating with a degree in journalism, Munn moved to Los Angeles and began working in show business ultimately landing the lead in Iron Man.

Meryl Streep

Who would have known that Streep was the type to rock a cheerleader uniform? Someone very sneaky managed to get ahold of Streep’s high school yearbook in 2012 and shared the photographic evidence of her cheer days with the world.

Cheer-streep
Meryl Streep

Apparently, before she was one of the world’s greatest living actresses, Streep was a varsity cheerleader at Bernards High School in New Jersey. We bet she was one of the fiercest gals on the squad.

Kathy Griffin

The controversial comedian is almost unrecognizable as a 17-year-old in this astonishing photo from her high school yearbook. Griffin attended Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

cheer-kathy
Kathy Griffin

The outspoken redhead – who has made no secret of her numerous procedures – has come a long way from her days as a fresh-faced member of her school spirit squad. Here we can see popular Kathy standing on her teammate’s hands as they pose in what appears to be an impeccable formation.

Alicia Silverstone

This photo is living proof that Alicia Silverstone was and always will be an all-American beauty. With her luscious long blonde locks, baby blue eyes, and ruby red lips, Alicia looks even more patriotic in her red white and blue uniform.

cheer-alicia
Alicia Silverstone

Born to British parents in San Francisco, the Clueless actress honed her performance chops at San Mateo High School, by cheering on her fellow Bearcats. She probably never guessed that her cheerleading experience would lead to a career in Hollywood.

Blake Lively

When speaking about women who can do it all, Blake Lively is a name that often comes up. With an actor father and talent scout mother, Lively seemed destined for the limelight.

cheer-lively
Blake Lively

However, she was initially not interested in performing at all. After years of acting conditioning, when Lively made it to Burbank High School she needed to find time not only for homework and cheerleading but also to film her scenes for the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Renee Zellweger

Believe it or not, Zellweger wasn’t always a cool and confident actress. During her time at Katy High School in Katy, Texas, Zellweger was a part of the cheerleading squad where she flipped, dipped, and did the occasional hand spring.

cheer-zel
Renee Zellweger

These talents have stuck with Zellweger because apparently, she’s still got the moves!  The Bridget Jones’s Diary actress stopped by the Jimmy Fallon Show to show off her cheerleading moves, as well as her incredibly toned legs.

Amy Poehler

Before she started making America laugh on shows like Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation, Poehler was energizing crowds at her high school’s football games.

cheer-amy
Amy Poehler

As a teen, Poehler moved from Newton to Burlington, Massachusetts where she was a pom-pom wielding cheerleader for Burlington High School from 1986 to 10 1989. After high school, she graduated from Boston College with a degree in communications and later Poehler moved to Chicago, where she continued to improve her comedic skills.

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer revealed that as a teenager she often felt overshadowed by her older sister. It wasn’t until she became a cheerleader for Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky that Sawyer began to break out of that loner stage.

cheer-diane
Diane Sawyer

Cheerleading was just the first taste of fame for Sawyer as she spent three years on tour promoting the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the World’s Fair, and in 1978, she appeared on televisions throughout the country after joining ABC News, where she still remains today.

Jennifer Lawrence

Just when we thought fried chicken was the best thing to come out of Kentucky, there’s The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence, who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, had a very busy extracurricular schedule.

cheer-jlaw
Jennifer Lawrence

During J-Law’s high school years she played softball, basketball, field hockey, and was also a member of the cheer team during her high school years. Since graduating and moving up in the ranks of Hollywood, Lawrence has starred in big name films including Silver Linings Playbook, and X-Men: First Class.

Miley Cyrus

Miley was so cute back in the day, who would have guessed that years later she would be swinging back and forth partially clothed on a giant wrecking ball? Anyways, back to cute baby cheerleader Miley.

cheer-cyrus
Miley Cyrus

When the Hannah Montana actress was seven years old, she became a cheerleader for the Tennessee Premier soccer team in her small hometown of Franklin. One might say that performing is in Miley Cyrus’ blood as she was born to country singer Billy Ray Cyrus.

Kendall Jenner

When fame got too much for the second youngest of the Kardashian Klan, she slipped into her uniform and escaped through competitive dance, better known as cheerleading.

cheer-kendall
Kendall Jenner

Throughout her high schools days, Kendall was a cheerleader, but we’re not talking about just any kind of cheerleader. To be even more specific Kendall was on the varsity squad for Sierra Canyon School. Girls on the varsity team were specially outfitted in a snazzy blue and white uniform complete with matching metallic pom poms as seen below.

Dakota Fanning

For Dakota Fanning, acting came long before cheering. Acting roles came pouring in left and right when she was a child, and the young star blossomed into a frequent guest on television shows like ER, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Practice, Spin City, Ally McBeal and The Ellen Show.

cheer-dakota
Dakota Fanning

With her acting career solidly built, Fanning began to focus on her education and other social aspects of school. She was on the varsity cheerleading squad at Campbell Hall School and was also named the homecoming queen.

Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but at the age of eight moved with her family to Pleasanton, California, where she was raised.

cheer-union
Gabrielle Union

During high school, Union was a cheerleader and took those skills to the silver screen playing Torrence’s rival cheerleader, Isis, in the 2000 smash hit film Bring It On. Sports are a big deal in the Union family, and Gabrielle once said,”In my family, if you couldn’t talk Cornhusker football, then you don’t get to have an opinion.”

Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd simply does not age – he has made a name for himself in Hollywood as the ever-so-lovable stud. Way before he was one of the industry’s favorite actors, Rudd was a cheerleader, or “yell leader” when he was a high school student in Overland Park, Kansas.

Paul Rudd

He was also elected Student Body President – which doesn’t come as much of a surprise to us, considering his smile is contagious. Fun fact, up until around 70 years ago, cheerleading was a predominantly male sport!

Jenna Dewan

She found fame thanks to her killer dance moves in the 2006 film Step Up, so it makes total sense that she used to be a dancer. But before she started in Hollywood, Jenna Dewan was an ordinary high school cheerleader in Texas.

Jenna Dewan

Jenna first got her big break in the entertainment industry, working as a back-up dancer for music icon Janet Jackson in 2001. The dancer turned actress shared a cute throwback photo on Instagram of her cheerleader days alongside the caption: ‘#tbt to Texas high school cheerleader days.’

Danielle Brooks

Before she starred in Orange Is the New Black, Danielle Brooks was a cheerleader. She did eventually quit because of how she felt in the skirt.

Danielle Brooks

In an emotional letter that the actress shared online, she wrote: “You really quit cheerleading because of how you felt you looked when you were wearing a skirt? OK! Never ever quit anything again because you’re scared of what others might think of you — unless you become an exotic dancer, the only exception. But even then, only quit because you want to.”

Melissa Rycroft

Unlike other ladies on this list, back when she was in high school Melissa Rycroft was on the drill squad. She was such a talented dancer already that she made it as first lieutenant.

Melissa Rycroft

Later, she became a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, and made her debut TV appearances on CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. She also appeared on The Bachelor and, afterward, Dancing with the Stars. Most recently, she was a host on CMT’s Redneck Island.

Stacy Keibler

Stacy Keibler used her good looks and smarts to get where she is today. Utilizing her athleticism, she got a job as a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader. Then, she used that as a springboard to enter professional wrestling as part of WCW from 1999 to 2001. That year, she moved to WWE, where she was a regular presence for five years.

Stacy Keibler

Keibler still makes occasional appearances but started concentrating on publishing a fitness editor at Stuff magazine in 2005, for which she also modeled. She’s appeared in several films and regularly appears as a TV hostess.

Samuel L. Jackson

He might be the last person you’d expect to appear on this list, but the truth is that Samuel L. Jackson was on the cheer squad when he was a student at Morehouse College. Interestingly, he joined in order to meet women, as Morehouse is a men’s school.

Samuel L. Jackson

While at school to become a marine biologist, he joined a local acting troupe to get points in a class. This piqued his interest and he switched majors, eventually getting a Bachelor of Arts in Drama degree.

Jesse James Decker

Jesse James Decker has come a long way since she was a 15-year-old cheerleader, but this has always been to the side of her music passion. That year, she was rejected by Nashville labels after auditioning, yet it was her experiences there that helped her get better.

Jesse James Decker

Within a few years, Decker was writing and performing hit music and started gaining recognition. She’s since appeared in reality TV shows alongside her husband, former NFL wide receiver Eric Decker, and gotten involved in fashion design.

Lucy Hale

Long before she became famous for her role as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars, Lucy Hale was a cheerleader in school. She’s been involved in singing and acting since she was young, though, and appeared as a competitor in the singing competition TV show American Juniors.

Lucy Hale

Hale made her big debut on the silver screen with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 in 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. Although she hasn’t found widespread success with music yet, she describes it as her “first love” and released an album in 2014, Road Between.

Sally Field

There is no denying that Sally Field has come a long way during her 50+ year career. Not only has she starred in hit movies such as Forrest Gump and Mrs. Doubtfire, but she also has two Academy Awards to her name!

Sally Field

What many casual fans don’t realize though is that the talented actress, who also had big TV roles in shows such as The Flying Nun and Gidget, enjoyed performing as a cheerleader when she was younger. She performed at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, California.

Reese Witherspoon

It feels like Reese Witherspoon has been around forever and yet, until this very day, she looks like she has been the same age for the last 30 years! Not only has she appeared in hit movies such as Legally Blonde, but Witherspoon has even won an Academy Award for her role in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

Reese Witherspoon

The talented actress posted this photo on social media of the good old days when she performed as a cheerleader at her school.

Steve Martin

We all know him for his stellar performances in blockbuster films such as The Pink Panther and Father of the Bride. But what we didn’t know is that Steve Martin was also a member of his high school cheerleading squad in Garden Grove, California.

Steve Martin

The comedian also tried to write funny cheers for his squad to perform, but they weren’t too pleased with them, to say the least.

Kirk Douglas

Before he became a world-renowned actor, Kirk Douglas actually rose to high school fame when he joined his cheerleading squad.

Kirk Douglas

He perfected his skills at his local high school, Amsterdam High School, in Amsterdam, New York. But that’s not all…

Michael Douglas

It’s clear Michael Douglas loves to follow in his father’s footsteps. Just like his pop, Douglas became a famous actor.

Michael Douglas

But before that, he joined his cheerleading squad, too, at Choate Preparatory School. Needless to say, the Douglas men are talented in many unexpected ways.

Chrissy Teigen

Chrissy Teigen seems to break the internet every time she posts a picture. She shared the cutest photo of herself as a high school cheerleader to Instagram.

Chrissy Teigen

Before her modeling days, she was a football cheerleader. Surrounded by her teammates, Teigen’s dimply smile and sleek dark hair as she posed in her Snohomish High School’s adorable red and white cheerleading uniform.

Kirstie Alley

Before she was an actress, Kristie Alley cheered on her school’s athletes in Wichita Southeast High School in Kansas. After dropping out of Kansas State University, the actress moved to Los Angeles to pursue Scientology and try and make it big in Hollywood.

Kirstie Alley

A few years later, she replaced actress Shelley Long on the cast of Cheers, gaining four Emmy nominations and one win for her role as Rebecca Howe. She has since played in many films and television series.

Jayma Mays

Given the role of Emma Pillsbury she plays on Glee, constantly going to battle with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, it’s ironic that Jayma Mays was a cheerleader herself in high school.

cheer-Jayma
Jayma Mays

With her ringlet curls, big bright smile, and perfectly pressed uniform, it looks like Mays made one heck of a cheerleader. It also seems as if she got on very well with the rest of the girls on her squad judging from her playful pose with the girl on her left.

Rashida Jones

While this photo doesn’t scream cheer captain like the pictures of other celebrities on this list, believe us that Jones was a contributing member of the spirit squad during her grade school days.

cheer-Rashida
Rashida Jones

Although Rashida Jones was a cheerleader, she has admitted to being one of those ‘well-rounded students,’ having also participated in math club and the National Honor Society. She was a pom-pom shaking student with a nerdy side, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of balance.

Phaedra Parks

From adorable cheerleader to power attorney, it’s easy to see how this Southern belle acquired her enviable self-esteem. Before Parks landed a spot on the riveting reality show Real House Wives Of Atlanta, and before she was throwing it down in the court room, she was a simple country girl with a drive for more.

cheer-Phaedra
Phaedra Parks

While attending Clarke Central High School located in Athens, Georgia, Phaedra passed the time by cheering on her school’s squad. After graduation in 1990, she went on to pursue a career in law.

Ann Margret

Going back in time a little bit, here’s yet another celebrity who was a cheerleader before becoming a superstar on the silver screen. The Swedish-American actress, singer, and dancer was a cheerleader at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.

cheer-margret
Ann Margret

We don’t know about you, but judging from this photo we see that Margaret had star potential way back in the day. Just look at that glimmer in her eye as well as that animated power stance.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Cheerleading isn’t all fun and games, and for some girls, the competitive sport can get dangerous, but not in the way you think.

cheer-snooki
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Before Jersey Shore, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was a high school cheerleader in Marlboro, N.Y., Polizzi said, “Cheerleading was my life in high school, but it wasn’t always easy for me. I started to be anorexic. There were freshmen, who were 70 pounds and I was, like, my spot as a flier is going to get taken away. So I ended up starving myself.’