29+ Celebrities Who Were Once Cheerleaders


| LAST UPDATE 03/31/2022

By Peral Simons

They may be used to the spotlight, but once upon a time, these stars were on the sidelines, cheering their team to victory. From Meryl Streep to Miley Cyrus, here are celebs who traded in pom-poms for red carpets.

Kendall Jenner

Her athletic body and long legs may have helped her become the highest-paid model, but they once played another important role elsewhere: getting her to the top of the cheer pyramid at Sierra Canyon.

Kendall Jenner, Celebrity CheerleaderKendall Jenner, Celebrity Cheerleader
Noel Vasquez via Getty Images for Extra

Kendall has famously said that she used her time on the squad to escape the pressures of fame. With her famous family exploding in popularity on their reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the blue and white uniform was her source of comfort.

Jenna Dewan

Jenna Dewan rose to fame in the 2006 dance movie, Step Up. Here, she showed off her unbelievable dance skills with the handsome Channing Tatum by her side. Hearing that Dewan used to be a dancer and cheerleader in real-life comes as a surprise to no one.

Jenna Dewan, Cheerleader, TeenagerJenna Dewan, Cheerleader, Teenager
@jennadewan via Instagram

Jenna was a cheerleader for her high school in Texas. After that, she was a backup dancer for Janet Jackson, and the rest is history. Reflecting on the good old days, Dewan told AOL, "I'm a Texan dancer, so glitter eyeliner was a way of life for many years. It was like, you wake up, you put your glitter eyeliner on."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Mandy Moore

When Mandy Moore slipped on her cheerleading uniform to play the popular cheerleader Lana Thomas in The Princess Diaries, it was not her first time! Before this role, she was a Pop Warner cheerleader, where she likely picked up the skills needed to perfect the character.

Mandy Moore, Celebrity CheerleaderMandy Moore, Celebrity Cheerleader
@mandymooremm via Instagram

Speaking with James Corden, Moore recalled, "I loved cheerleading. I was not the most physically adept cheerleader, but I was very vocal." Of course, these vocals also helped her rise to fame as she established herself as a successful singer and actress, often combining the two in projects such as Tangled.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Cameron Diaz

The lovable actress Cameron Diaz experienced her first audience applause while cheerleading at Long Beach Poly High - and pretty much ran with it from there. Described as "fly" by her former classmate Snoop Dogg, it seems Diaz was the 'it' girl of her high school.

Cameron Diaz, Cheerleader, ThrowbackCameron Diaz, Cheerleader, Throwback
Frank Micelotta via Getty Images

Therefore, it only makes sense that she went on to become the popular actress she is today, adored by everyone in Hollywood. Her perky, bubbly personality likely shone through her cheer uniform and helped her land her career-changing part in Charlie's Angels. Since then, it has been awards and glamour all the way.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Blake Lively

While filming for her part in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Blake Lively was still attending Burbank High School and making time for regular teenage activities, such as cheerleading and choir. Despite her Hollywood parents, Blake wasn't always set on a career in the limelight.

Blake Lively Instagram, CheerleaderBlake Lively Instagram, Cheerleader
@blakelively via Instagram

If she hadn't become the famous actress she is today, she would have likely achieved great success in multiple other fields. After years of acting lessons, Blake hung up her cheer uniform and focused all her efforts on her career ahead. Landing the role of Serena Van der Woodsen on the CW's Gossip Girl, she never looked back.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones has long understood the importance of balance. That's why when she tried out for her high school cheerleading team, she simultaneously signed up for the math club and became a member of the National Honor Society. In her own words, she was a "well-rounded student."

viral celebrity throwback instagramviral celebrity throwback instagram
@rashidajones via Instagram

Perhaps it was this confident mindset of trying her hands at everything that helped her to land career-changing roles in Myth America, The Social Network, The Muppets, and Toy Story 4. That was all, of course, before she stole all our hearts as Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Before becoming the "Queen of Pop," Madonna was once a pretty-much unknown member of her Rochester Adams High School cheerleading squad. It's hard to imagine the icon in anyone else's shadow, but Madonna's younger years were spent cheering on the sidelines for the star players.

Madonna Cheerleader, Celebrity ThrowbackMadonna Cheerleader, Celebrity Throwback
Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Perhaps unknowing to her, this time prepared her for a lifetime in front of a screaming audience. Madonna used this time to practice her dance and performing skills, earning her a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. After dropping out in 1978, she moved to New York and focused on becoming a pop star.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Meryl Streep

It seems Meryl Streep has literally done it all: just when we thought we'd seen her in every role possible, pictures have emerged of the star in another costume - a cheerleader's uniform! Before becoming one of the greatest actresses of all time, Streep was a varsity cheerleader at Bernard's High School in New Jersey.

Meryl Streep, Cheerleader, TeenagerMeryl Streep, Cheerleader, Teenager
Bernards High School via Wikipedia Commons

Meryl actually balanced her time in high school between cheerleading and acting, appearing in several of her school's plays. When she received a place at Vassar College to study drama, she knew she had to put all her eggs in one basket and give up cheer. Safe to say, it paid off.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Chrissy Teigen

For some, landing a place on the cheerleading squad is more a matter of luck than skill. According to Chrissy Teigen, who cheered at Snohomish High School, this was her experience. Competing in several competitions with her team, she described herself as a mediocre cheerleader at best.

Chrissy Teigen, Cheerleader Celebrity Chrissy Teigen, Cheerleader Celebrity
@chrissyteigen via Instagram

"Truly no idea how I made this team. The best part is they claimed there was no JV/varsity, but one squad got to cheer for basketball and football, and the other (mine) got volleyball and wrestling," she joked on Instagram. With her contagious smile and bubbly personality, she was clearly a star in the making.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Reese Witherspoon

As a high school cheerleader, Reese Witherspoon was not only able to balance herself at the top of the pyramid but also her acting and cheerleading passions. While cheering for the Harding Academy Generals in Nashville and then the Harpeth Hall School, Reese competed in model and talent competitions, of which she won many.

reese witherspoon throwback instagramreese witherspoon throwback instagram
Instagram via @reesewitherspoon

Reflecting on her “days as a proud General,” Reese told Jimmy Fallon that she was a football and a wresting cheerleader, explaining that “you have a cheerleader for basically everything in the South.” Although the star eventually gave it all up to focus solely on acting, something tells us she still has the moves.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul can be found on the judging panel of basically every singing and dancing competition - but at one point in her life, she found herself at the other side of the judging table. Paula was a passionate cheerleader at Van Nuys High School in LA and then took it to a greater level as a Los Angeles Laker Girl.

paula abdul celebrity throwbackspaula abdul celebrity throwbacks
Lennox Mclendon/AP via Shutterstock

With her impeccable skills, she became the head choreographer for the squad. Here, at a Laker game, she was discovered by the Jacksons, who then recruited her as their choreographer for their Victory Tour. After a successful singing and dancing career later, Abdul credits her cheerleading moves for her success. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kylie Jenner

Today, this boss-lady may be shaking her dollar bills, but she was more used to shaking her pom-poms back in the day. Before becoming the incredibly successful owner of Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner was on the cheer squad at Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles.

Kylie Jenner Then NowKylie Jenner Then Now
@kyliejenner via Instagram

Although she eventually went on to be homeschooled with her sister, these were probably her final moments of being a regular teenager. Besides for the fact, of course, that she was appearing alongside her family on a top-rated reality TV Show! It's all relative.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Lucy Hale

Lucy Hale has always loved performing. Most famous for acting as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars, the star is a true triple threat: acting, singing, and cheerleading! From a young age, Hale was a member of the cheerleading squad at her school. She then gave it up to focus on her other talents.

Lucy Hale, Celebrity CheerleadersLucy Hale, Celebrity Cheerleaders
@lucyhale via Instagram

Participating in the singing competition American Juniors at a young age, Lucy actually refers to music as her "first love." Although her 2014 album, Road Between, did not gain critical acclaim, her acting career continues to go from strength to strength.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Sandra Bullock

Long before Bullock became an Academy-Award-winning actress, she was a cheerleader at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia. Sandra and her squad would cheer their basketball team to victory. Hilariously though, with her limited knowledge of the game itself, she wasn't too sure what she was cheering for.

Sandra Bullock, Cheerleader, TeenagerSandra Bullock, Cheerleader, Teenager
Elterlein/ ullstein bild via Getty Images

Bullock told Jimmy Kimmel, "I was not well-versed in basketball terminology, but I had spirit, and I was a good bottom of the pyramid." Asked by Kimmel how she knew when to cheer, she explained her hysterical approach. "I would just look to the head cheerleader and take her cues," she laughed.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Miley Cyrus

Years before she was swinging back and forth on a wrecking ball, Miley Cyrus was perfecting the art of performing while cheering for the Tennessee Premier Soccer team in her hometown of Franklin. At just five years old, Cyrus already loved to be in front of a crowd.

Miley Cyrus Instagram Cheerleader,Miley Cyrus Instagram Cheerleader,
@mileycyrus via Instagram

And it comes as no surprise that the Hanna Montana star has always known what she wants. Madi Wells, who cheered with Cyrus back in the day, told Mail Online, "Oh my gosh, she's always had the biggest attitude; she used to be so sassy all the time, that's what we loved about her." 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kirsten Dunst

When Kirsten Dunst kicked off the Bring it On franchise in 2000, she brought her real-life cheerleading skills to the big screen. Playing cheerleader Torrance Shipman, the actress was a natural cheer captain. That's because she actually was. "It was like me being in high school as myself," she said. "It wasn't a stretch at all." 

Kirsten Dunst Throwback Cheerleader Kirsten Dunst Throwback Cheerleader
Ken Jacque/ Universal/ Beacon/ Kobal via Shutterstock

After signing with Ford Modeling Agency at three years old and appearing in numerous commercials, the child star still managed to fit in regular activities such as cheerleading for Laurel Hall School and Notre Dame High School. In 2000, she gave it all up, only to end up starring in a cheerleading movie - art imitating life.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Brooke Shields

Although she took on controversially mature roles in movies such as Pretty Baby and Endless Love, Shields was a model student behind the scenes. From scoring only A's and B's in her exams to forcing the set to be closed down while taking her exams, Brooke had her priorities in order.

Brooke Shields Cheerleader TeenagerBrooke Shields Cheerleader Teenager
@brookeshields via Instagram

Like many on this list, Brooke Shields was also a dedicated cheerleader from high school through college and loved every minute of it. Her remarkable beauty led her down a path of modeling and acting, turning her into the household name she is today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Fergie's youthful years spent cheerleading and being a straight-A student at Glen A. Wilson High School were instrumental in her decision to study dance at college. From here, she landed herself a place in the Black Eyed Peas, where she became the iconic performer we know her for being.

Fergie Teenager Cheerleader, ThrowbackFergie Teenager Cheerleader, Throwback
@fergie via Instagram

They released their debut album together, Elephunk, which included singles such as Where is the Love? and Shut Up. Within weeks, they had become one of the most popular groups of all time. Like most performers on this list, her body flexibility and natural stage presence are undoubtedly due to her time on the squad.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Megan Fox

Sure, she may have played a deranged cheerleader in Jennifer's Body. But years before this, Megan Fox was just a regular cheerleader at Morningside Academy in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with a normal teenaged life. So, was cheerleading all it's cracked up to be?

Megan Fox, Cheerleader, TeenagerMegan Fox, Cheerleader, Teenager
Fox Atomic/ Kobal via Shutterstock

Unfortunately for Fox, the stereotypical idea that being on the cheer squad equals popularity proved false. Growing up in a very strict Pentecostal family, Megan fell victim to cruel bullying in high school as many mocked her way of life. Now a top-paid actress, it's all a distant memory.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan struggled to find where she belonged in high school. Despite being a child star, making it big at age twelve in movies such as The Parent Trap, Lindsay was a real high school student in New York. With her rising fame, she was understandably a little different from her peers.

Lindsay Lohan, Cheerleader, TeenagerLindsay Lohan, Cheerleader, Teenager
Erik Pendzich via Shutterstock

Speaking to MTV News, she said, "in high school, I was a floater. I mean, I played basketball, and I played soccer, and I did tennis, and I also did cheerleading." She explained this helped her to avoid "the drama in one specific clique." Lohan relived the memories as an adult as a cheerleader on Ugly Betty. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Eva Longoria

The Desperate Housewives star has long been admired for her impeccable figure and healthy lifestyle, which she maintains while being a successful actress, businesswoman, and mother. It's possible her physique and training mindset dates back to her high school days.

eva longoria cheerleader throwbackeva longoria cheerleader throwback
Twitter via @__aliese

Eva was a cheerleader at Roy Miller High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. Clearly keen to perfect the cheer craft, she then joined the cheerleader squad at Texas A&M college. At the same time, she showed off her beauty at local pageants, where she picked up a crown and a Hollywood agent.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Jessie James Decker

Despite being part of a military family that frequently moved around the country, Jessie James Decker still managed to secure the high school experience of being on the cheer squad. Not only that, but she was also busy auditioning for Nashville music labels, who were constantly rejecting her.

Jessie James, Decker CheerleaderJessie James, Decker Cheerleader
@JessieJDecker via Twitter

Posting the above photo in an Instagram post, Decker wrote, "15 and freshman year cheerleading... the age I discovered what it meant to be #kittenish #hidethebraces." Applying her cheer spirit, Decker fought for what she wanted, becoming a successful country-pop singer and songwriter and finding fame on reality TV.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Katie Holmes

This adorable child is none other than Katie Holmes. Holmes took to Instagram to share this throwback photo of herself as a six-year-old cheerleader for her sister's basketball team. Rocking the same big endearing smile that she's become famous for, this picture officially makes her the cutest cheerleader on this list.

Katie Holmes, Cheerleader InstagramKatie Holmes, Cheerleader Instagram
@katieholmes via Instagram

With her bangs, short bob hairstyle, and center split pose, fans couldn't help but notice her striking resemblance to her daughter, Suri, who she shares with her ex-husband Tom Cruise. Perhaps she'll follow in the cheerleading footsteps of her mother?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kelly Ripa

She is best known for being one half of the iconic Kelly and Ryan hosting duo - but before this success, Kelly practiced other forms of performance art! Ripa was a cheerleader at the Eastern Regional High School in New Jersey and was involved in their drama club. In both, she displayed her ease in front of a crowd at a young age.

kelly ripa throwback instagramkelly ripa throwback instagram
Ron Galella / Contributor via Getty Images

Her drama teacher recognized her acting props and encouraged her to focus on it. His words of advice proved valuable as Kelly dropped out of college and scored a major role on All My Children. In a 2014 episode of her talk show, she dressed as a cheerleader and showed the world she's still got the skills: splits and all.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer has made no secret of her struggles living in her older sister's shadow. It was only when she became a cheerleader for Seneca High School in Louisville, Kentucky, that she began to come into her own. Experiencing her first taste of fame, Diane continued to make a name for herself in multiple industries.

diane sawyer young throwbackdiane sawyer young throwback
Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

After winning America's Junior Miss scholarship pageant, she promoted the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the World's Fair. Next, she earned a degree from Wellesley College, studied law and journalism, and ended up on Richard Nixon's White House Staff. In 1978, she worked at CBS and then moved to ABC News, where she remains today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Alicia Silverstone

Like her iconic character Cher in the 1995 movie Clueless, Alicia flourished in high school. Drawing on her teenage experiences to bring the character to life, the main difference between them was that Alicia was a real-life cheerleader while Cher was not.

Alicia Silverstone, Cheerleader, TeenagerAlicia Silverstone, Cheerleader, Teenager
Kurt Krieger/ Corbis via Getty Images

Signing a modeling contract at just six years old, Silverstone became a teen idol by sixteen. Between winning MTV awards and starring in music videos, she was a cheerleader for the Bearcats at San Mateo High School. A few years after graduating, Alicia Silverstone applied her performing skills to become a Hollywood star.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Halle Berry

Halle Berry has always been an over-achiever. Now a successful model, actress, and director, Berry's multi-tasking skills date back to her time as a teenager at Bedford High School. Not only was she a top-performing cheerleader, but she also found the time to be an honors student, the school newspaper editor, and the prom queen.

Halle Berry, Celeb CheerleaderHalle Berry, Celeb Cheerleader
@halleberry via Instagram

After winning numerous beauty pageants, she made it to the small screen with her role in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. Never one to be satisfied until she reached the top, Halle achieved critical acclaim for her role in Monsters Ball and became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Actress!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kirstie Alley

Kirstie Alley is yet another star who seems to prove that the key to success as an actress is starting off as a cheerleader. Seriously, what's the connection? For Kirstie, after cheering at Wichita Southeast High School in Kansas and making a brief stopover at Kansas State University, it was onto Hollywood.

Kirstie Alley, Celebrity ThrowbacksKirstie Alley, Celebrity Throwbacks
@kirstiealley via Instagram

Getting her big break as Shelley Long on the appropriately named Cheers, she's gone on to win many acting roles, which have boosted her career into the big leagues. She even appeared as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars in 2011, where she showed off her old-school cheerleading moves.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Jessica Simpson

After cheerleading in both Richardson North Junior High School in Texas and J.J. Pearce High School, it almost felt like destiny that she would go on to marry NFL free agent Eric Johnson. With her background, she could be the ultimate cheerleading wife.

Jessica Simpson, Cheerleader, TeenagerJessica Simpson, Cheerleader, Teenager
SGranitz/ WireImage via Getty Images

It was during her time at J.J. Pearce High School that she caught the attention of Tommy Mottola, who gave her a record deal on behalf of Columbia Records. Simpson continued to perform in front of a crowd as a singer, songwriter, and actress. She has also found success as a businesswoman.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


The talented dancer once lent her skills to Riverdale High School's cheerleading squad. "I loved cheerleading — dancing, the game, the excitement, the energy — just everything was fun about it to me," she told MTV. She eventually rose to the top of the cheerleading pyramid, becoming the team captain.

ciara high school throwbackciara high school throwback
Instagram via @lakylethomas

When Ciara decided to focus on her singing career goals, she traded in her pom-poms for a microphone. Talking to MTV, she recalled, "unfortunately, I couldn't be as involved as I wanted to be because it was a year when my music started to become even more important to me."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below