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5 celebrities who got fired before they hit the big time

5 celebrities who got fired before they hit the big time, with Money Bites
These celebrities show it’s always possible to make a career comeback.

Bite-Size Read:

  • Getting fired means both being rejected and losing your income. 
  • However, you’re in good company as many household names have experienced being fired.
  • Celebrities including Anna Wintour, Kerry Washington, and Steve Jobs are all examples of people who became incredibly successful after they got fired.


Getting fired can be gut wrenching.

Not only do you experience rejection but you lose your income too. The experience of losing your job is a very human and humbling time, which many of us have been through, including celebrities. 

What do Anna Wintour, Kerry Washington and Steve Jobs all have in common? 

All three celebrities were all fired from jobs. And that experience of being ousted happened right before they found big success. So, while being fired is painful, it can help push you towards something better. Learning from celebrities who have been fired is a great way to remember that it can happen to anyone and that you can still succeed in what you want to do.




Here’s 5 celebrities who got fired before they hit the big time: 




1. Oprah was fired because…she was “unfit for TV news”

  • The job: Oprah was offered a TV evening news co-anchor role straight out of University.
  • You’re fired: She was fired after 7 months because a producer told her she was too emotionally involved in her stories and “unfit for TV news”.
  • What happened next: While Oprah was kicked out of the news studio, she moved to a job on a failing talk show. Her personable style turned out to be exactly the right fit for the show. Eventually, she would go on to headline her own talk show and start a production company.




2. Walt Disney was fired because…he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”

  • The job: Walt first worked in an animator job at the Kansas City Star newspaper.
  • You’re fired: He was fired because his newspaper editor said he wasn’t creative enough and “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.
  • What happened next: Walt moved to Hollywood and created the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. Walt went on to win the most Oscars ever awarded to an individual in the history of Hollywood. Disney even went on to purchase ABC in 1996, which happen to own the newspaper Walt Disney was originally fired from.




3. Steve Jobs was fired because…he lost a company power struggle

  • The job: Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in a California garage at the age of 21. They eventually hired a CEO so that Steve Jobs could focus on creating the Macintosh computer.
  • You’re fired: When the Macintosh didn’t sell as well as expected, there was a power struggle between Steve Jobs and the CEO. Steve was then pushed out of the company he founded.
  • What happened next: Steve spent the summer considering alternative careers, including becoming an astronaut. He stuck with tech and co-founded another company called NeXT. When Apple acquired his company, Steve returned to his old company. He then helped bring about products including the iPad and iPhone.




4. Anna Wintour was fired because…she “didn’t understand the American market”

  • The job: Anna Wintour was a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in the UK before transferring to the New York version of the magazine.
  • You’re fired: She only lasted 9 months before she was fired because the magazine editor didn’t like her edgy photoshoots. She was told she would never understand the American market.
  • What happened next: Anna held a range of positions before becoming the creative director and editor-in-chief of British Vogue. She then transferred to American Vogue as their editor‑in‑chief, a position she’s held since 1988. And Anna’s response today to being fired? Anna credits being fired as having helped her career, adding that “I think everyone should be fired, it’s character building”.




5. Kerry Washington was fired because…her TV roles were recast

  • The job: Kerry was working on a TV show pilot, which is a sample episode that they film to see if the TV show will get made into a full series.
  • You’re fired: While the TV show was given the green light to be made into a full series, Kerry was cut from the cast. She was effectively fired and her role given to someone else. This happened to her twice, and both times because they wanted someone “more urban”.
  • What happened next: Kerry went on to have her breakout role as Olivia Pope in the hit TV series Scandal. She earned multiple award nominations, including a 2015 People’s Choice Award nomination. We bet those TV pilot directors are kicking themselves right now.

Remember that one company rejecting you does not determine your value.

If Anna Wintour had given up on magazines, she wouldn’t have found huge success at Vogue. If Steve Jobs had given up on tech after Apple fired him, we wouldn’t have the iPhone. While being fired can be painful, remember that you are in good company and it’s always possible to make a career comeback. 

Written by Kate Crowhurst

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