Celebrity Drop-Outs That Landed on Their Feet
Marilyn Beck & Stacy Jenel Smith | 8/28/2014, 1:56 p.m.
Back to School time is upon us again. While statistics and common sense show that the surest path to a successful professional life is a good education, there happens to be a sizeable contingent of entertainment stars who found the classroom to be a bit dim so they nixed school for a shot at the big time. Wannabe actors who follow this path usually wind up struggling along on day jobs. However, there are those whose enormous talent — or luck - prevailed. They more than landed on their feet, but not without some bumps along the way.
For instance, there's Jay Z. Perhaps you saw him and wife Beyonce and cuddly daughter Blue Ivy owning the VMAs Sunday night. Jay Z and Beyonce topped the Forbes list of highest earning couples last year with a combined net worth of over $600 million. The recording industry mogul already had his mind on other things than textbooks while in Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, and left without graduating.
Likewise, his long-time protege Rihanna dropped out of her high school in the Bahamas at 16 and came to the States in hopes of landing a Def Jam recording contract. She's done OK.
Growing up early is often part of the equation for these types. Jim Carrey and his siblings grew up in poverty in Ontario, Canada, where they worked as janitors at a local factory. When his mother fell ill, he dropped out of school to help care for her. Carrey also managed to make himself a staple on the Toronto comedy club scene by age 16, when he worked up the nerve to move to Los Angeles to pursue show business. At the age of 14, Seth Rogen had already co-written a rough draft of "Superbad," and was an avid fan of stand-up comedy, so much so that he left Point Grey Secondary School in Vancouver to pursue a career in it. He was a successful standup when Judd Apatow cast him in "Freaks and Geeks." By age 16, with his parents having lost their jobs, he was the family breadwinner.
Juliette Lewis became legally emancipated from her parents at 14 and left high school just three weeks after starting. "American Idol's" Simon Cowell quit school at 16 and got a job as a mail boy at RCA. He worked his way up to music producer before becoming famous for crushing the dreams of wannabe musicians on TV.
In high school, Keanu Reeves was lukewarm toward academics, but took a keen interest in ice hockey and drama. He was a goalie for the hockey team but left school to pursue acting. Sarah Polley left high school during her senior year to devote herself to political activism.
Directors Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie also dropped out, although Tarantino has said he enjoyed history because it reminded him of the movies. Ritchie left school at 15 and never attended film school, saying that the work of film school graduates was boring and unwatchable.