16 Celebs Who Pursued Secondary Careers While Still Working In Entertainment

    Who knew Dylan Sprouse loved gaming so much?

    Plenty of former actors and musicians have hung up their Hollywood hats in favor of a life — and career! — outside of the spotlight. Some, however, have chosen to pursue a second form of employment alongside their entertainment endeavors.

    Here are 16 celebs who pursued secondary careers while still working in entertainment:

    1. While studying at NYU, former Disney Channel actor Dylan Sprouse worked as a restaurant host "as a way to primarily feed [his] over bountiful video game addiction."

    On Tumblr, he wrote, "To clear up the air (which is admittedly pretty rude), I did not take this job because I 'lost all my money.' I am financially secure...I also [see] this as a way to try a new experience, working somewhat below the means I’m used to, as well as a way to socialize and get out of the house," he wrote. "I feel most comfortable when I’m working and doing something, to criticize someone [for] that is pretty odd."

    After graduation, he opened up All-Wise Meadery. He currently holds the position of CEO and head mazer.

    He also continues to act, most recently appearing in My Fake Boyfriend.

    2. After 14-year-old Drew Barrymore was legally emancipated from her mother, she worked at the Living Room, a coffee house near her apartment.

    In her memoir, Wildflower, she wrote, "I wasn’t great at my job. I wasn’t really great at anything. I had only done two things: acted and had wild life experiences. But neither of those prepares you for the real world. ... I could tell my boss, who had hired me on the novel idea of having a washed-up former child actor behind the counter, was patient with all my learning curves, but was also irritated with me."

    She quit her job after her frustrated boss asked her, "Why don’t you go out and find yourself?"

    Around the same time, her movies Far from Home and See You in the Morning (1989) premiered, but she took a brief break from acting before returning in Motorama (1991).

    3. Jennifer Stone, who played Harper Finkle on Wizards of Waverly Place, started her nursing career on the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In April 2020, She told Deadline, "I just graduated from nursing school in December and this is my very first nursing job. There are nurses that I have the privilege of learning from that have been doing this for years. ... They have been on the front lines since the very first COVID-19 case came through the door. I am blessed to be able to help in any way that I can, but I look at the nurses that I’m learning from as the heroes. I just consider myself very blessed to have worked hard to get this skill set and to actually be able to help like they do."

    She also continues to act. Most recently, she wrote and starred in The In-Between.

    4. American Pie's Chris Owen worked as a server in a sushi restaurant around 2014.

    He told NY Daily News, "Life doesn't always go the way you planned. I love acting, and this job lets me stay in the fight. ... I get recognized a lot. I walk up to the table and see the look in their eyes. ... People get excited, and it feels good. I like connecting with people for that brief moment in time."

    Around the same time, he appeared in the movie Bachelors. He also continues to act. Most recently, he had a role in Off-Time.

    5. Danielle Fishel, who played Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World, worked as a math tutor during her time at California State University, Fullerton.

    On Tumblr, she wrote, "Yes, I was sometimes the oldest person in class, I was whispered about many times, and I did forget how to do a few math equations. But I persevered, and sometimes, I wasn’t the oldest person in class, some of the whisperers became good friends, and I did so well in math, I even became a tutor."

    The year after she graduated, she reprised her role as Topanga in the spinoff Girl Meets World.

    6. Elvis Presley was drafted into the US Army in 1957 — when he was already considered one of the biggest names in music.

    From 1958–1960, he served as a regular soldier rather than taking up several branches' offers to let him serve as a musician or recruitment model.

    According to the Washington Post, he said, "People were expecting me to mess up, to goof up in one way or another. They thought I couldn’t take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise. Not only to the people who were wondering but to myself."

    His service increased his popularity with the older adult demographic. After returning to civilian life, he continued releasing music and making movies.

    7. Kal Penn left House to serve as the associate director in the White House office of public liaison in 2009.

    He told Entertainment Weekly, "I've been thinking about [moving into politics] for a while. I love what I do as an actor. I couldn't love it more. But probably from the time I was a kid, I really enjoyed that balance between the arts and public service. ... In '06, I started this international studies program at Stanford, where they actually let you do most of the course work online. So it was something I could do while I was acting. And I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else."

    In 2010, he took a short hiatus from the White House to film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. He continues to act, most recently appearing in Smile.

    8. Reed Alexander, who played Nevel Papperman on iCarly, was a food blogger during his time on Nickelodeon.

    He also wrote a cookbook called Kewl Bites.

    He went on to pursue journalism, earning a bachelor's from NYU and a master's from Columbia. Currently, he works as a financial reporter for Insider and a journalism professor at the University of Miami.

    He told the Post Athens, "I would say being on the Today show and being around broadcast journalists was the catalyst that changed things for me because I was always around reporters. They were interviewing me about iCarly and about my work, and at the same time I had great admiration for their jobs, and I thought they had the best job in the world. I realized, you know, I don’t have to be an actor forever, and I think when this show comes to an end, it’ll be around the time I’m going to college, and I think I should try and focus on journalism to see if I like it." 

    He's reprised his Nickelodeon role several times, first on Sam & Cat in 2014, then on the iCarly revival in 2021.

    9. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor of California from 2003–2011.

    During his tenure, he took on a few minor roles in movies such as Around the World in 80 Days and The Kid & I. After leaving office, he continued working in film and voice acting.

    10. RoboCop actor Peter Weller began working as an art historian after graduating with his doctorate in Italian Renaissance art history from UCLA in 2013.

    He also continues to act. His most recent role was Brujt in Yamasong: March of the Hollows.

    11. Olesya Rulin, who played Kelsi Nielsen in High School Musical, worked at Nordstrom's after the movie premiered on Disney Channel.

    While casting for the sequel was taking place, she was in Paris studying economics. 

    She continues to act, most recently appearing in an episode of The Rookie.

    12. Hairspray's Nikki Blonsky worked for a hair salon in her hometown between auditions after earning her cosmetology license in 2011.

    At the time, she tweeted, "It's true, I'm working at Superstar Salon as a makeup artist & more I'm proud [to be] working & helping pay bills BUT I'll NEVER lose sight of my dreams."

    The same year, she appeared in Waiting for Forever. She continues to act and currently has several projects in the post-production stage.

    13. MC Hammer became an ordained minister in 1997 and began working as a pastor.

    He told the Washington Post, "Whether the bankruptcy played any role in my refocusing, that’s great. Hallelujah, I hope it did! But the most important part of what occurred to me was love, missing the love of God in the way that I had known it."

    He continued putting out albums while also preaching a sermon series called "Hammertime."

    14. After his music career reached a standstill in 1990, Vanilla Ice began selling off his houses. The large profit he turned inspired him to start flipping houses.

    He also studied construction and design.

    He balanced individual projects with his DIY show The Vanilla Ice Project and continued playing shows.

    15. Flash Gordon actor Sam J. Jones started working as a risk-management business consultant in 2003.

    He told the NY Daily News, "I started this whole other vocation at age 50, and a few years later, the phone started ringing to do movies again."

    After starting his new career, he played a role in the direct-to-video movie Revamped (2007). Since then, he's appeared in several movies, including Ted and An Unlikely Angel.

    16. And finally, after the Jonas Brothers' temporary split began in 2013, Kevin Jonas worked as a contractor with his construction company, Jonas Werner Homes.

    He cameoed on an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, where he was working on Kathy Wakile's house.

    Even after the band's 2019 reunion, Kevin continued working on outside projects. Most recently, he cowrote a children's book with his wife, Danielle.