11 Famous People Who Hadn’t Made It In Their Twenties
Being young, especially once you’ve graduated, is scary. You probably don’t have a lot of money and everyone’s very interested in your five year plan. Your family frequently like to check up on your answer to the “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” question and you’re probably beginning to worry about it a bit yourself. Then you’re bombarded with images and media coverage of ridiculously successful young people, some of whom are actually younger than you, and it’s easy to get down about things.
But don’t worry.
Maybe you don’t have a plan right now, that’s OK. Maybe it’s going to take you a while to work your way up, or try different things and fail before you succeed, and that’s also totally OK. We’ve put together a list of people who probably felt exactly how you do right now, and who struggled throughout their twenties. Now, many of them are household names, so there’s still plenty of time for you to figure things out and make your millions.
1. Samuel L. Jackson.
You can’t really avoid seeing Samuel L. Jackson in a film at some point, but it took him a long time to reach the level of fame he has today. His first big acting role was in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991, when he was 43.
2. Sheryl Sandberg.
Sandberg didn’t have a bad start in life, attending both Harvard College and Harvard Business School. But, it wasn’t until she was 32 years old that she landed her first position of power, at Google. Then, at the age of 38 Sandberg was appointed COO of Facebook. She was the first ever woman to sit on Facebook’s board and has been named one of the top 100 most influential women by Time magazine. So, if you’ve got big plans, it’s alright if you’re not running the world just yet.
3. Jon Hamm.
You probably know Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men – it was one of his first major roles, which he landed in his late thirties. Before his big break as one of the coolest men on TV, he was overlooked for roles because he looked too old and had to continue to work as a waiter.
4. Oprah Winfrey.
The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered when Winfrey was 32. Up until then she’d had a really, really hard time, both in her personal and professional life. At one point, before The Oprah Winfrey Show was created, she managed to get hired by a local TV news station, only to be fired for apparently being “unfit for television”. So, even if people around you aren’t mega supportive, or they tell you you can’t achieve the things you want to, remember they’re probably wrong.
5. J.K. Rowling.
You might’ve heard this story. When Rowling had the idea for the ridiculously successful Harry Potter books, she was living on benefits and the first book was rejected by 12 publishers until, finally, Bloomsbury gave her a chance. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out Rowling was 32. Now, she is the UK’s best-selling living author.
6. Charles Darwin.
You’ve definitely heard of this guy, but for a very long time in Darwin’s life he kept a low profile. It wasn’t until he wrote On the Origin of Species, when he was 50 years old, that he began to make a massive impact on the world.
7. Ricky Gervais.
Gervais didn’t make his mainstream TV debut until he was in his thirties. He then went on to create The Office and has won seven BAFTAs, three Golden Globes and two Emmys. Not bad for someone who had to wait years to make it onto TV.
8. Ray Kroc.
Ray Kroc worked as a milkshake device salesman until he bought McDonald’s when he was 52. He went on to grow the company into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.
9. Alan Rickman.
Alan Rickman had an incredibly impressive acting career. He starred as Snape in the Harry Potter films, of course, and was in Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Love Actually, and Sweeney Todd to name only a few. His first BBC role was in 1978, and his first film role came ten years later when he was 42 years old – definitive proof you can achieve a lot, even if you don’t make it right away.
10. Stan Lee.
Lee didn’t create his first major hit comic, The Fantastic Four, until he was 38 years old. He went on to create Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Iron man and the X-Men. But he had to work his way up to get there, starting off by filling the inkwells and going out to get lunch for artists at the company.
11. Harrison Ford.
The actor took on a lot of minor, and uncredited, roles before he made it big. He spent a long time unhappy with the acting roles that were on offer to him and taught himself carpentry. Finally, after years of setbacks and almost giving up on a career in acting to become a full-time carpenter, Ford got his first major film role. He starred in American Graffiti when he was 31. At the age of 35, he was Han Solo.
A lot of the people on this list had to do things they hated or be rejected by others before they became successful in their thirties, or much later in life. Whether you want to write, act, or change the world with a scientific theory you haven’t exactly come up with yet – it’s all ahead of you.