When Reality Stars

Become REAL Stars

9/3/2006 7:06 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Hasselbeck, Clarkson and KnoxvillePuck. Omarosa. LC. If you're a fan of reality TV then you probably recognize those one name monikers and the "characters" that go with them.

With every passing day there seem to be more and more reality shows filled with an endless pool of wannabe stars clamoring for fame. While most will be forgotten faster than you can say Darva Conger, a rare few have managed to eek out legit careers. And by legit we mean more than just appearing on more reality shows.

TMZ reveals which reality stars have beaten the odds and gone on to become real stars.

Kelly ClarksonKelly Clarkson

At first, things didn't seem to look too good for America's first "Idol" winner. Shortly after obtaining the now illustrious crown, Kelly Clarkson co-starred in the 2003 film "From Justin to Kelly" with "Idol" loser Justin Guarini - may he rest in peace. The film turned out to be a flop of epic proportions. But the talented singer endured long enough to obtain new management and release the 2004 multi-platinum album "Breakaway," which featured 5 hit singles including the monster track "Since U Been Gone." While past "Idol" winners (and Clay Aiken) have gone on to earn platinum-selling albums, Clarkson is the only "Idol" to receive the biggest musical career legitimizer there is -- two Grammy awards. We'd like to see Simon Cowell badmouth that!

Johnny KnoxvilleJohnny Knoxville

Not even Paris Hilton could have imagined that videotaping yourself getting kicked in the groin or barbecuing your steak-covered body on a grill could lead to a legitimate acting career. Well, that's exactly what happened to Johnny Knoxville after his MTV stunt show, and it's big screen version, "Jackass" became a huge hit. Soon Knoxville's fearless attitude and rockstar looks had the studios knocking down his doors. Johnny has gone on to star in over ten films including last summer's hit "The Dukes of Hazzard." While Knoxville hasn't abandoned his reality show roots, "Jackass: Number Two" comes out this month, nothing says you've arrived quite like being linked to your on screen co-star (Jessica Simpson).

Jacinda BarrettJacinda Barrett

Another MTV alum who's caught Hollywood's eye is former London "Real World" roommate Jacinda Barrett. Since appearing on the reality show in '95, the former model has been steadily building a solid resume. She's co-starred with A-listers like Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in "The Human Stain", and with Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant In "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason." This summer she starred in the remake of "Poseidon" and will next be seen with Zach Braff in "The Last Kiss" and with "Napoleon Dynamite's" Jon Heder in "School For Scoundrels." We think it's safe to say you won't be seeing Jacinda on a "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" in the near future.

Elisabeth HasselbeckElisabeth Hasselbeck

Elisabeth Hasselbeck's experience roughing it in the wilds of "Survivor:The Australian Outback" was nothing compared to her mornings spent sparring with the other ladies on "The View." After her jungle days ended, Ms. Lizzie hosted E!'s "The Look for Less." That led to the high profile gig on "The View" and, eventually, to becoming Barbara Walters' conservative crybaby. And now that Meredith Vieira and Star Jones have left the show, Hasselbeck has firmly cemented her place at the gabfest's table. But with outspoken talkshow vet Rosie O'Donnell joining the morning show on September 5, all eyes will be on Elisabeth to see if she holds her own or crashes and burns under Rosie's reign. Regardless, as far as her career goes, and at least for now, it appears the tribe has spoken.

Jennifer HudsonJennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson, like Clarkson, got her start on "American Idol" but unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, she didn't win. After being voted off midway through the third season of the "Idol" finals, many thought Hudson would wind up just another reality show contestant ... waiting tables at Applebees. But Hudson surprised everyone by beating out hundreds of singers, including "Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino, to land a role in the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls" alongside Beyoncé and Jamie Foxx. Although the film doesn't come out until December, early buzz says Hudson is so good she could get an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress. Nomination or not, Jennifer Hudson is already turning out to be a true American idol.