The Rise Of Modern Stars: From Reality TV Shows To Instagram Influencers

Emerged from talent shows, reality TV, model scouts, and social media.


Every celebrity’s career has started in its unique way (and some stories are pretty mind-blowing). But there are still several paths to stardom that the majority follows. Aside from Hollywood actors and athletes, most stars we follow today emerged from talent shows, reality TV, model scouts, and social media.

Talent Shows

Talent shows may seem like they are a thing of the past, but this isn’t really the case. X-Factor, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice may not be as popular among the younger audience as they once were, but older viewers outside the millennial generation and Gen Z still appreciate them.

Talent shows gave rise to some of the richest reality TV stars, and many of them remain at the top of the celebrity food chain. Just look at the list of the highest-earning reality TV contestants. Many of them, including Perrie Edwards (with a net worth of about $8 million) and Jesy Nelson ($7.8 million) became popular thanks to X-Factor.

Besides, tons of universally admired performers, such as Harry Styles and Adam Lambert, started their careers on talent shows.

Reality TV

But other reality TV shows are true celebrity influencer factories as well. Think of The Bachelor, Survivor, Too Hot to Handle, you name it. Once a new season airs or is released on streaming platforms, contestants’ Instagram followings skyrocket. A lot of people are actually frustrated at how easy it is for a reality TV person to get rich and famous overnight without even trying.

The list of celebrities who became popular thanks to reality TV is basically endless. Trying to name all of them is a thankless job. But if you need a couple of the most impressive examples, think of Gigi and Bella Hadid, the Kardashians, and Kylie and Kendall Jenner. Reality TV may no longer be their main line of work but it’s what put them on the radar at the beginning of their careers.


The ways top models are discovered vary. Sure, most just send their photos to a modeling agency. But some of the stories are much cooler:

  • Naomi Campbell.

Naomi Campbell was out with her mother when a scout discovered her. She got her first modeling job mere weeks later.

  • Chrissy Teigen

The legend has it that Chrissy Teigen was offered her first modeling gig when she was at her workplace at a surf shop. A scout walked in and saw Teigen’s potential.

  • Winnie Harlow

Winnie Harlow, who is now one of the most in-demand models in the industry, must’ve been starstruck when she got a DM from none other than Naomi Campbell herself. Well, this was how her career started.

  • Candice Swanepoel

According to Harper’s Bazaar, Candice Swanepoel was shopping at a flea market when a scout spotted her and offered her to send her photos to a modeling agency. She became a Victoria’s Secret Angel soon after.

Instagram Influencers


A post shared by DAVID DOBRIK (@daviddobrik)

Instagram influencers become popular either outside of the platform or specifically for what they do on Instagram. For example, such influencers as Hannah Brown and David Dobrik are famous for the things they’ve done elsewhere. Brown was on reality TV (The Bachelorette), while Dobrik has a YouTube channel with a near-cult following.

But some Instagram influencers are Instagram influencers first and everything else second. Charli d'Amelio may have been a dancer before, but it was her smart use of social media platforms that got her 47 million followers on Instagram.

Youtubers and TikTokers


A post shared by Addison Rae (@addisonraee)

Famous YouTubers and Tiktokers are also among the influencers who emerged thanks to new media. Sure, channels with the largest numbers of followers often belong to celebrities known for something else (Billie Eilish, Rihanna, XXXTENTACION, and others). But some TikTokers, such as Addison Rae, got famous thanks to the recent rise of TikTok. The same is true for YouTube.

While rarely, YouTube and TikTok can sometimes turn content creators into true A-listers. The best example is probably Troye Sivan. His career started on YouTube but he is now one of the most popular and highest-earning singer-songwriters in the world.