Rejection is a part of life... and that's definitely true for celebrities and mere mortals alike. As long as you’re aiming for anything at all, you’re bound to be rejected. That’s just the world we live in. If we can learn anything from the vast number of celebrity rejections we hear about, it’s that hearing the word "no" doesn’t mean it’s the end of our dreams, and it doesn't mean we can't keep going until we finally get what we want. It’s difficult to pick yourself up again afterward, but if celebrities can be rejected and continue on to greatness, then why can’t you? You might just need a little motivation to get the fires of passion burning inside of you once again. The next time you’re rejected, whether at work or in your personal life, think of these 15 awesome and inspiring celebrities and you'll feel better in no time.
The quirky Australian singer-songwriter may be a worldwide phenomenon in 2016, but you may not be aware of just how long and challenging the road was for her. Sia Furler’s talent wasn’t enough to ensure the success of her first crack at a solo career in 1997. She didn’t reach mainstream success with her debut solo record OnlySee, which Sia herself described as “like the worst trip-hop sh*t you’ll ever hear.” After briefly working as a hostess in Tokyo and then moving to London, Sia’s second album Healing is Difficult flopped too. Despite having the hit Taken for Granted on the record, the label’s delay in releasing the album ruined Sia’s chances for success in 2001. But after many more years of backup singing, penning number-one songs for other artists, and a stint in rehab, the gifted artist enjoyed the worldwide success of her masterpiece 1000 Forms of Fear, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
14 Meryl Streep
She’s now considered to be one of the greatest actresses of our time, if not the greatest, and we’ve seen her in one blockbuster hit after another. She's played characters from singing witches to evil bosses to former Prime Ministers of England. But things didn’t always look so promising for Meryl, who was once told that she wasn’t beautiful enough for the screen. Meryl has confirmed that film producer Dino De Laurentiis Senior told his son in Italian that she was brutta, which translates to ugly. As a result, Meryl lost the female lead in King Kong. Though the story has been embellished several times in the media, the underlying message to persevere remains as real and important as ever. The actress could have rolled over and given up (which would have been tempting if you had a big-shot producer making comments like that!), but instead, she tossed his remark aside and continued on her road to stardom.
13 Hugh Jackman
Aussie film and stage sensation Hugh Jackman is no stranger to rejection. He was actually fired from his job at 7-Eleven because he was chatting too much with the customers. That must have really sucked, but it clearly prepared him for the auditions he wouldn’t make it through in the future. If a superstar like Hugh can be fired from a cashier job and declined for movie and stage roles, it’s pretty clear that rejection is an inevitable and we all have to face it from time to time. Though Hugh has stated that the humiliation will get easier over time, it can still feel pretty rotten, whether you’re failing at an interim job or in your career that’s super important to you. Hugh has explained that it’s important to keep in mind that being wrong for a certain part (or any job role) doesn’t necessarily indicate that there’s something wrong with you!
12 Walt Disney
He built one of the biggest entertainment empires the world has ever known, and his name is instantly recognizable, now synonymous with the word "magical." It’s kind of hard to believe that Walter Elias Disney was fired from the first newspaper he was hired to work for, isn’t it? The Kansas City Star newspaper reportedly got rid of young Walt because they deemed him to not be creative enough. Ha! Not long after, Walt opened his first animation business but was forced to declare bankruptcy at the age of 21 after debt had ruined his studio. This would have had some people throwing their hands in the air in resignation, but Walt, on the other hand, became more determined to succeed than ever. Today, we know where that determination got him. With remaining companies, theme parks, and a worldwide legacy, Walt passed away in 1965 with a net worth of about $5 billion.
11 Lady Gaga
Before she adopted the stage name Lady Gaga, put out her record The Fame in 2008 and became a household icon, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was dropped from her record label, Def Jam, in 2006. After struggling with bullying throughout high school and dropping out of the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, this had to have been a devastating blow for Gaga! Being rejected after getting your hopes up is one of the worst feelings ever, and it’s good to know that superstars can relate to this too. She may have been disheartened at the time, but this rejection allowed Gaga to develop her craft into something that would be not only commercially successful but a phenomenon, unlike anything the world had seen before. If the singer-songwriter had quit and not kept going, we would never have been blessed with super powerful songs like "Born This Way". And we wouldn't think that you could actually wear a dress made of meat.
10 Elvis Presley
If the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll can be rejected, then it’s totally okay if you are too. Because eventually he went to do great things, even after being rejected. Believe it or not, before he’d become a legend and sold millions and millions of albums, Elvis’s performance manager Jimmy Denny told him to return to truck driving because “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son.” The strange advice came after one of the King’s first performances at the Grand Ole Opry, and boy, is the world grateful that the Mississippi-born rock star wasn’t having a bar of it! Who would our moms have swooned over in the ‘50s and ‘60s? Rather than listening to Jimmy’s advice, the young performer went on to revolutionize rock ‘n’ roll music in the United States, enjoyed an extensive music and film career, and built an unshakeable legacy before his untimely death in 1977. Think about that the next time someone tells you no!
9 Stephen King
The publishing industry is infamous for rejecting the manuscripts of tons of talented authors, and you certainly need thick skin to survive a business in which your success is determined by the personal opinion of others. A twenty-year-old Stephen King submitted his manuscript Carrie to about 30 publishers, who all decided it wasn’t for them and turned it down. The many roadblocks actually made the aspiring author give up and throw his work in the trash. Luckily his wife scooped it up and sent it back out there, because once it eventually did get published, Carrie became a huge success, and even became a totally iconic horror movie. The thriller launched Stephen into a career spanning decades, which allowed him to make millions of dollars doing what he loved. Today the Maine-born author is known as one of the best-selling novelists of all time, and an inspiration to writers everywhere!
8 Marilyn Monroe
Since she's such a timeless icon today, it may be pretty shocking to hear that Marilyn Monroe faced her fair share of rejection. Norma Jeane Mortensen, better known as Marilyn Monroe, was reportedly told early in her career by a modeling agency that she didn’t naturally possess what it took to become a model. They even suggested she get a normal job or get married instead. Indeed, Marilyn went on to become an internationally successful model and movie star in her own right. The star's story teaches us about persevering even beyond the first hurdle too because it wasn’t exactly a smooth run for her after she booked her first couple of jobs. In 1949, Marilyn was dropped from 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures, which led her to a dark place. After this, Marilyn was so desperate that she was posing nude for only $50. She picked herself up, though and is now embedded in history as the ultimate representation of beauty.
7 One Direction
The thing about the world we live in today is that we get to see current and future stars being rejected right in front of our eyes. It’s sometimes hard to watch, but at least we have cold evidence that the world has challenges for the rich and famous too. British boyband One Direction were so successful after the release of their debut single What Makes You Beautiful in 2011, that you may have forgotten about the rejection they faced on the British X Factor in 2010. Firstly, the boys weren’t deemed good enough to remain in the competition as solo acts, before they were even put in the group. After being cut they were brought back and rapidly built up their fan base after performing each week on the reality show. But despite their popularity and star quality, the boys didn’t even win the season finale. Luckily for teenage girls everywhere, it was going to take a bit more than that to stop them.
6 Nicki Minaj
Trinidadian hip-hop goddess Nicki may be currently enjoying unprecedented success in the male-orientated bubble of rap music, but that was sadly not always the case. The rapper developed a backbone from quite a young age, having to deal with an international move and an addicted, abusive father who set fire to the family home. This ultimately shaped her into a strong, independent woman with enough spine to face all the rejections that would come her way on the path to becoming a rapping queen. Now a household name and inspiration to anybody hoping to turn their rags to riches, Nicki still maintains that she was “told no a billion times.” Before she eventually received the yes that propelled her to international stardom, the Anaconda singer worked long hours at jobs she hated during the day, and slowly built her skills and experience at night. We think it paid off!
5 Jim Carrey
Sure, he can make us laugh with his outrageous facial expressions and hit movies like Dumb and Dumber and Liar Liar, but that doesn’t mean that things have always been easy for the Canadian actor. While trying to make it as a stand-up comedian, Jim was allegedly booed off stage at a comedy club, though he used this rejection to fuel his passion to reach his goals. The Fun with Dick and Jane star went on to impress as an opening act for comedians Buddy Hackett and Rodney Dangerfield, but there were still more challenges before he achieved commercial success. Jim was rejected from Saturday Night Live twice in 1980! This may have been a blessing in disguise, as he went on to star in the sketch show In Living Color. Things were starting to look up from there, and Jim began starring in humorous film roles, including 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The rest, as they say, is history.
4 Katy Perry
She’s had massively popular singles, global tours, and a documentary was even made about her life. Who would have thought that before all that, Katy Perry dealt with some pretty discouraging setbacks? She put a lot on the line by dropping out of high school to chase her singing dreams, so it must have been almost catastrophic when her debut gospel album totally flopped with only 200 sales. The switch from gospel to pop music put her on the right track, but Katy was dropped from Island Def Jam after signing with them in 2003. It gets worse too! The Thinking of You singer signed with Columbia Records the next year in 2004, and was placed at the head of a band called The Matrix, but the project was shelved. It would have been easy to give up after such a bad run, but instead, Katy worked even harder and became the pop sensation we know today.
3 J.K. Rowling
It actually hurts to imagine a universe without Harry Potter. But that almost happened. When she wrote the fantasy series, J.K. Rowling's life was pretty rough, and she could have easily stopped altogether. The writer was coldly rejected by the first agent she sent her work to, who took no time to provide her any constructive feedback (which can be the silver lining in any rejection). Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone found a home with the second literary agent she queried, however, the book was rejected by publishers twelve times before it was accepted and turned into the phenomenon it now is. The Harry Potter series inspired a new generation of children into reading, provided the world with lovable characters whose charm will surely stand the test of time, and made J.K. some serious cash. After all of that, she was rejected again for her novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she submitted under the pen name Richard Galbraith.
Would you ever expect someone as amazing and as iconic as Madonna would Known as the Queen of Pop, Madonna was once rejected by a top producer just before she recorded her debut album with Sire Records. The rejection letter has been published online and has totally inspired budding musicians everywhere. The letter says that the label exec didn't love her demos and didn't feel she was ready for superstardom. Long story short, this guy must have suffered a serious lapse in judgment because Madge’s first self-titled record went on to sell more than 10 million copies globally. Ouch for him. Not only was Madonna’s first album hugely successful, but the Material Girl singer has gone on to enjoy a relentless career, with each comeback adding to the mark she’s left on the world. Madonna is now an icon, and a lesson for anybody who’s thinking of giving up.
In case you hadn’t heard, Oprah Winfrey is a legendary talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and to put it super obviously, billionaire. At the tender age of 22 with a life of troubled times already behind her, Oprah was hired to co-anchor the news in Baltimore at WJZ-TV. Soon enough, she was fired when WJZ noted that she wasn’t warm enough on air and continuously mispronounced important words. Oprah recalls this humiliating decision as devastating at the time, but it turned out to be a key event in her rise to stardom. WJZ removed her from the six o’clock news due to her apparent incompetence and had her host their failing talk show People are Talking instead. The show was a hit, garnering Oprah her first faithful viewers who would multiply by millions over the next thirty years. She then went on to host the morning show A.M. Chicago, before debuting the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. Since then, Oprah has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and has established herself as one of the most successful women of all time. The recurrent theme amongst rejected superstars is that not one allowed the critics to silence them, so why should you?