It’s hard to imagine that some of Hollywood’s biggest names were once aspiring actors or singers, just trying to make a name for themselves, dealing with rejection occasionally and hoping that one day their dreams would come true and they would be launched into the spotlight.
But they were, and believe it or not, Phoenix has some pretty popular celebrities to be proud of.
Let’s start with:
Emma Stone is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s biggest names. The quirky-yet-stunning actress took the film industry by storm and has some pretty big films under her belt, some of the most popular being “The Help,” “Easy A,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
Despite her stardom, if you see her walking the streets of downtown Phoenix, you shouldn’t be too surprised. Before she starting landing huge Hollywood roles, Stone made her stage debut at the Valley Youth Theatre located just a minute away from the ASU Downtown campus.
Stone performed in multiple shows at the theater, playing Otter in “The Wind in the Willows,” Eeyore in “A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail,” Old Queen Maude in “The Princess and the Pea” and Portia in “Cinderella.” The actress obviously didn’t let her lack of leading roles define her, because she was eventually able to shoot straight to the top.
Everyone knows how brutal American Idol can be. Many talented sings get rejected every season, and for America’s enjoyment, many less-talented singers get rejected, too, on national television. Despite all of this, Sparks was able to win season six of American Idol at only 17.
She went on to record radio hits such as “Tattoo,” “Battlefield” and “No Air,” which earned her a Grammy. Born in Phoenix, Sparks started making a name for herself in the city. In 2006, she was one of six winners of Phoenix’s Torrid search for the “Next Plus-Size Model.”
Sparks also won best young artist of the year in Arizona for three years as well as Arizona Idol, a talent competition by Phoenix’s Fox station, KSAZ-TV, located in downtown Phoenix. Recently, Jordin Sparks has starred in the film “Sparkle,” is currently shooting another film and released a new single in August called “Skipping a Beat.”
Steven Spielberg is a writer, producer and director. He is also probably one of the most respected and influential men in the film industry, with the reputation of everything he touches turning into gold.
Spielberg has countless films in his name, three Oscars and 145 other awards, and has a net worth of $3.1 billion. Some of his films include “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Jurassic Park” and “Cowboys & Aliens.”
And because every huge Hollywood name has to start somewhere, naturally, Spielberg is the same. Even though the billionaire film expert was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix and screened his first film inside Phoenix Theatre.
Back then it was known as Phoenix Little Theatre, but it’s where Spielberg got his start. It was 1964 and Spielberg was just a junior in high school trying to make his way. His film, “Firelight,” had a production budget of just under $600. The science fiction film was about a town invaded by aliens.
Spielberg charged 75 cents a ticket.