By Debra Auerbach
Awards season is a time when Hollywood's rich and famous get together to be honored for their performances in the year's big movies. But these mega-stars weren't always in the spotlight; many of them came from humble beginnings and held less-than-glamorous jobs before they had their big break.
Read on to learn about the jobs some of this year's Oscar nominees held before they were stars:
Barkhad Abdi, limo driver
Nominated for: Actor in a supporting role, "Captain Phillips"
Barkhad Abdi's story is a true example of realizing the American dream. Abdi, a Somali-born immigrant, was working as a limo driver in Minneapolis, until an open casting call caught his eye two years ago. Abdi beat out hundreds of others for the role of Muse, the leader of a group of Somali pirates who hijack Captain Phillips' ship. Now he's still riding in limos, yet as a passenger headed to awards shows.
Amy Adams, ballerina
Nominated for: Actress in a leading role, "American Hustle"
Amy Adams is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood, and with a Golden Globe under her belt, she's poised to potentially win the biggest honor for an actress at the Oscars. Yet she didn't always have her sights set on the silver screen. She originally had ambitions to be a ballet dancer, training as an apprentice at a local Colorado dance company. She also performed as a dancer at theaters in Colorado and Minnesota, before landing her first movie role in "Drop Dead Gorgeous."
Bradley Cooper, doorman
Nominated for: Actor in a supporting role, "American Hustle"
Bradley Cooper has proved himself to be a serious actor, but his good looks and charming personality certainly help to make him the whole package. Hotel guests at the Morgans hotel in New York were lucky enough to be greeted by those piercing blue eyes when he worked as a doorman there in the late 90s. He even helped a young Leonardo DiCaprio with his luggage during the actor's stay at the hotel. But now he's vacationing with Leo and letting someone else take his bags to his hotel room.
Jennifer Lawrence, model
Nominated for: Actress in a supporting role, "American Hustle"
Many would consider Jennifer Lawrence to be a role model for her refreshing honesty, self-deprecating humor and healthy body image. But before she was famous, she was a different kind of model. Lawrence was hired as a model for an Abercrombie & Fitch ad campaign. While the retailer didn't end up using her photos, you won't find any of her recent acting work on the cutting room floor.
Matthew McConaughey, lawyer
Nominated for: Actor in a leading role, "Dallas Buyers Club"
Matthew McConaughey is a favorite to win an Oscar for his critically acclaimed performance as an HIV-positive man in "Dallas Buyers Club." Yet he wasn't always on a path to stardom. He attended The University of Texas at Austin, with the goal of becoming a lawyer. He eventually changed his major to acting, but he was able to put some of what he learned as a law undergrad to use in his role as a lawyer in "A Time to Kill."
Brad Pitt, dancing chicken
Nominated for: Best picture, "12 Years a Slave" (producer)
Brad Pitt has been a famous actor for such a long time, it's hard to imagine that he had any other life before acting. Yet after dropping out of the University of Missouri, he had to find a way to earn some money. Donning a chicken suit, he danced around and handed out flyers for restaurant chain El Pollo Loco. Luckily, he eventually found his calling as leading man and now has a coop full of kids with actress Angelina Jolie.
Julie Roberts, ice cream scooper
Nominated for: Actress in a supporting role, "August: Osage County"
Julia Roberts has played a diverse range of characters, from Richard Gere's "companion" in "Pretty Woman" to an evil queen in "Mirror Mirror." But one real-life role she played before making it big was that of an ice cream scooper at Baskin Robbins. Not only is she an excellent actress, but she can make a mean ice cream sundae, too.
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