29+ Stars Who Gave Up Their Careers To Be Parents
| LAST UPDATE 02/22/2022
From Jennifer Garner to Eva Mendes, these stars have traded in the red carpets and flashing lights for bedtime stories and pacifiers. Here are devoted parents who sacrificed their careers for their families.
Back in the day, Mila Kunis was willing to go to great lengths to become a successful actress. She even lied to the That 70s Show casting director about her age. But today, her priorities have shifted.
And it seems like she couldn't be happier to focus on time with her family. "It is the most life-changing experience," the actress said about being a mom. "I am proud to be a stay-at-home mom. I have no desire to be in front of the camera," Kunis admitted after spending time with her two kids.
Jamie Lynn Spears
"I was in complete and total shock," revealed Jamie Lynn Spears to OK! Magazine about finding out that she was pregnant. The teen mom left behind her hit series Zoey 101 to dedicate her time to her new baby girl. She made a big decision, and it seems like she doesn't regret a thing.
Spears explained that she had a plan for her and Maddie: "I got me a little house. I put a big gate up... I was like, 'I'm going to stay here, raise my baby, and figure this out." And while she did that for the first few years, the actress eventually returned to the big screens.
After stealing the hearts of many Dawson's Creek viewers, it seemed like Katie Holmes wasn't leaving the spotlight anytime soon. But unfortunately for fans, Holmes took a step back from her acting days to spend more quality time with her daughter Suri Cruise.
"My child is the most important person to me, and her upbringing is paramount to my work," the star confessed. And based on the mother-daughter tight-knit relationship, we're gonna go ahead and guess that Holmes is happy with the decision she made.
Arguably one of the most beloved Hollywood actresses is Jennifer Garner. From 13 Going On 30 to Daredevil, the star has given many remarkable performances. Yet sadly for her many fans, Garner kissed that life goodbye after welcoming her kids into the world.
After taking a long break from working, her agent finally said to her, "He said, 'This is going to be a call about… you doing this little movie, or it's going to be a call about you retiring," Garner recollected. After hearing that sentence, she realized she needed to find a way to be an actress and a mother.
When Debra Winger announced that she would no longer be spending her days on set and reading off a script, many were taken aback. They wondered why the Oscar-winning actress was leaving Hollywood after she had only been in it for a short period of time.
Winger ultimately made the decision to focus on her two children, Gideon and Noah. "I looked around and thought: It's time to go," the 40-year-old actress explained. Since her 1995 retirement, she's had a few roles here and there, but overall her family comes first.
Arguably one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood is Angelina Jolie. From her fierce looks to her talented skills, the award-winning star has given many unforgettable performances. So people were caught off guard when they learned that Jolie would longer be acting.
"I feel like I'm lacking in all the skills to be a traditional stay-at-home mom," Jolie admitted about spending her days with her 6 kids. "God, isn't that funny? There was a day I was an action star, and now the kids are telling me to get off the trampoline."
While memorizing lines or getting to set on time is probably a difficult job, it's nothing compared to motherhood - and Jessica Biel couldn't agree more. "You're stretched thin kind of everywhere," she admitted after taking a hiatus in 2015. "You don't have a choice," she said, referring to her many responsibilities.
"It's called get in the car, open the front door... be Mom, because... You have a 2-year-old who just wants to play with you, and that's what's most important," Biel said. And while she may not be showing off her talents anymore, when she's not busy with mom duties, she wows us with an occasional red carpet outing.
When Demi Moore and Bruce Willis' three girls, Rumer, Tallulah, and Scout were still young, the two famous stars decided to take a step back from all the glitz and the glam. To focus on parenting, they moved away from Hollywood and settled in Hailey, Idaho in 1988.
Moores eldest daughter Rumer commended her mom's decision to spend more time at home: "I'm incredibly grateful that both of my parents have made such an effort my entire life." All the time spent together has allowed Moore to return to her career now that her kids are older.
"I really do love being a family person. I love cooking and packing lunches and making pancakes on Saturday mornings and all that sort of stuff," admitted Shania Twain. The country singer chose to leave behind her life as a famous artist when she gave birth to her son, Eja.
Although it seemed like just stepping away from the fame wasn't enough, because Twain even moved all the way to Switzerland at one point. "It's a very beautiful region, very scenic," she said about her home. And while fans may miss her phenomenal vocals, we're happy that the singer enjoyed her days being a mother.
Candace Cameron Bure
This star spent the majority of her childhood on screen, so it comes as no surprise that when it came time to raise her own kids, she was ready to take a break from acting. After announcing her hiatus in 2001, Candace Cameron Bure lived in her very own Full House.
While she did finally return to acting in 2016 to star in the spin-off Fuller House, the mother of 3 made it clear that "being a mom is my biggest priority." Bure continued, "We set firm boundaries, but there is always love and grace." We have no doubt this star knows how to maintain a home with numerous people.
Kate Hudson has been the star of many rom-coms over the years. From How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days to Bride Wars, she's lived many different lives on screen. But when it came time to live her own life and raise her family, she put those days behind her.
Hudson has shifted her focus onto maintaining her household and managing her clothing line. "The only expectations I really have that are really high on my life is with my kids and with family stuff," Hudson confessed. "Other than that? It's like, I just let it go."
In the 1990s, Robin Wright was making headlines for her part of the Princess Bride. She was on her way to achieving mass fame when she did a 360 turn and chose parenthood over stardom. The actress knew what she was sacrificing, but it seemed like she didn't mind too much.
"I knew by making that choice to be a full-time mom and turning down commercial movies took me out of the game… and I was absolutely fine with that," she recalled. Now that her kids are older, Wright has decided to find an equilibrium: "The kids are grown… so I'm a free bird."
This former Hollywood IT girl was at the top of her game back in the '90s. She was the starring role in films like Never Been Kissed, The Glass House, and more. But after many years spent in the spotlight, Leelee Sobieski said goodbye to that chapter of her life.
"I am just focused on my kids... that's mainly why I stopped," the former actress explained. She switched out her days in Hollywood for days filled with "baths, buying milk, cleaning something, making some decision, reading weird baby blogs, worrying I disciplined in the wrong way."
It seems like this reality star has had a camera following her every move for half her life. Since 2007, Kourtney Kardashian and her sister's lives have been kept up with by thousands of people. So it was surprising when she decided to take a step back from KUWTK to spend more quality time with her 3 kids.
"I just decided to spend more time as a mom and put more of my energy there," she revealed about leaving after the 18 seasons of the show. Today she spends her days focusing on her wellness website, Poosh, and hanging out with Travis Barker and her kids.
Snooki spent nearly a whole decade going to wild parties and dealing with loads of drama. And while fans might have never seen it coming, the Jersey Shore star finally put that lifestyle behind her. Now, rather than days spent at Seaside Heights, this former reality star fills her days spending time with her 3 kids.
In 2019 after leaving the show, she explained, "It was really hard, but I had to think about... where I really wanted myself to be, & it's being a mom... [with my] kids." But that doesn't mean Snooki was gone for good: "You're still going to see me - just not on Jersey Shore," she admitted.
Fans were caught off guard when Lauryn Hill just disappeared from the limelight. They wondered where she had gone, especially since the actress was at the peak of her career. Her tracks were beloved by many, and the singer was even winning many awards.
But all the glitz and glam wasn't enough to keep her from staying. In 2012 she wrote on Tumblr, "I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise," she said. "I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family."
Kellie Shanygne Williams
This actress didn't just act in Family Matters, but she also completely understood the show's name. Kellie Shanygne Williams may have spent her childhood playing Urkel's neighbor. But when it came time to raise her own family, she retired from her career for good.
After welcoming her first kid into the world back in 2010, her days became spent being a mom and a philanthropist. And while she no longer pursues acting, her daughter has begun to. Hannah Belle may just be 11 years old, but she's already set to appear on Merry Little Switchmas.
This supermodel was at the top of her industry back in the late 90's early 00's. From walking Victoria's Secret infamous fashion show to gracing the covers of Elle, Vogue, and Marie Claire magazine, Rhea Durham was a sought-after model. But when she married actor Mark Wahlberg, things took a turn.
In 2006, she stepped away from the high fashion lifestyle and shifted her attention onto parenthood. "I love my life… the traditions of family and home. Babies, kids, holidays — that's what I'm good at." Durham shared, "It's hectic and stressful at times. But I'm really happy."
Before kissing the spotlight goodbye in 2005, this actress was the talk of the town. Elizabeth Hurley appeared in various hit films during the late 90's early 00's. From Austin Powers to Bedazzled, the actress's face was arguably easily recognized by many.
"Looking after my son became my number-one task," she revealed about spending time with Damian. It took a while until the mom was ready to jump back into acting, "And I don't regret it for a moment. I always put him first." Since returning in 2010, Hurley has been seen on The Royals as Queen Helena.
She may be one of the stars on The Big Bang Theory, but Mayim Bialik was never a huge fan of being a famous star. To be fair, the actress has never taken the traditional route - after all, she does have a Ph. D in neuroscience and still is a Hollywood star.
When her kids were younger, Bialik took a break from acting. "That's right! I chose to stay home with my kids when they were young," she revealed about her 2005 hiatus. "I was there for every bath, every boo-boo... and everything in between." But now that they are older, she's found a way to manage motherhood and her career.
Eva Mendes wasn't planning on putting her acting career on pause when she first gave birth to her baby in 2014. "Nobody told me it was gonna really be a job... A chauffeur, a cook, a personal assistant to an abusive boss," she teased. After understanding how much work it would be, the actress took some time off.
Instead of strutting down the red carpets and getting ready for award shows, this mama puts all her attention on raising her kids right. "The stakes are really high, so yeah, I'm a helicopter parent," she admitted. We wonder if her hubby, Ryan Gosling has a similar parenting style.
Unfortunately, after choosing her family over her acting career, Gwyneth Paltrow was met with criticism from many fans. "I think some people, they don't understand the choice that I've made," she revealed. But regardless of the judgment, she's happy with how things worked out.
After spending years with her two kids, Paltrow didn't return to acting but instead created her very own wellness company. Goop has since become a massive success, and Paltrow couldn't be more grateful for her decision. "I've learned so much about myself through the process," she said.
Although this star has achieved many difficult careers, from being a movie star to recording many albums, and even creating a fashion line, Jessica Simpson has always worked hard. But nothing could have prepared her for the obstacle that motherhood is.
"We are trying our best to be as present as possible and enjoy every part of having a newborn," she shared about her and her husband, Eric Johnson. "We know how fast the time goes and how precious it is." This is why she chose to spend most of her days at home rather than in the recording studio.
While Gisele Bündchen didn't exactly just walk off the runways after having kids, she did have a huge shift in her professional life after becoming a mother. The former Victoria Secret Angel confessed, "I kind of lost myself. It was like a part of me died."
The mom of two explained, "I'd been this very independent person. It was all about me. But now I had this little being, and I suddenly felt l couldn't do other things." After learning that she may need to sacrifice some projects, Bündchen has figured out how to balance life being a mom and a boss-lady.
Jennifer Love Hewitt
At the height of her acting career, Jennifer Love Hewitt made a 360 and shifted her focus on being a mother. The former Hollywood star received criticism for her decision. "They were like, 'You're in the middle of a career; you can't do that,'" Hewitt recalled.
After giving birth to her second baby, she took a well-needed break. "I needed to work on myself, get into a different place," she explained. Finally, after many years, the beloved star returned to our screens by appearing on 9-1-1 in 2018, and we couldn't be happier to have her back.
Many may already be familiar with the fact that Meghan Markle kissed goodbye her life on screen to marry into the Royal Family. But what was even more surprising was when she and Prince Harry chose to raise their son, Archie away from the Royal lifestyle.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their way to America, "to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter," explained the former Suits star.
Fans were devasted to learn that Katherine Heigl was leaving her role as Izzy on Grey's Anatomy. It seemed sudden to those who were avid watchers of the drama-filled show - but in reality, it was expected for the actress. "I started a family, and it changed everything," she admitted.
Having children shifted her outlook on working, "It changed my desire to work full-time," Heigl explained. "I went on family leave and just got to be a [mom], and it changed my whole perspective." After retiring, she's had two more kids, and it seems like she couldn't be happier with her decision!
Even though Jessica Alba was at the peak of her acting career, having a child completely changed the way she viewed motherhood and working. "I had this real moment of, I want to live, and thrive, and spend as much time with this little person that I'm bringing into the world as possible," the actress recalled.
After welcoming her first kid in 2008, Alba has gone on to have two other children. "I couldn't go back to what I was doing before," she confessed. So she started her own eco-friendly company, The Honest Company. Not only do they provide baby-safe products for mothers, but they also offer many clean beauty products.
Kristen Bell knew that when it came time to raise her kids, she was gonna give them her all. 'I want to be very hands-on," the Frozen star admitted, "I want to cook for my family and feel present for them." To fully commit to her new role as a mom, she needed to take a hiatus from acting.
But as we know, the talented star felt like she needed to return to her career while also managing a household. It's definitely no easy task, and we applaud Bell for making it work! "All of us [working moms] are wearing yogurt, and all of our hands smell like urine," she laughed.
The former IT girl may no longer be constantly on the go in the Upper East Side, but she sure is still running around after her three kids. The blonde bombshell chose the stay-at-home lifestyle after welcoming her and her husband, Ryan Reynolds' first child in 2014.
"I want to be as present of a mother as humanly possible... but I also think the best way to be the best mother is to show them that you can have a life and have a passion and have an identity outside of just being a mother," explained the Gossip Girl star.
To follow her dreams of being an actress, Charlize Theron took a risk and moved from South Africa to the City of Angels. Unlike many others who try, this actress's career took off after she starred in The Devils Advocate. From there, she landed many successful roles.
Until one day, she shifted her life path and followed her second goal of becoming a mother. Not only does this super mama raise her kids, August and Jackson alone, but she's also never hired any help. "I have two beautiful daughters who, just like any parent, I want to protect, and I want to see thrive," Theron said.
While arguable most of the world knows her as Pam Beasley from The Office, this actress's kids just know her as a mom. When Jenna Fisher gave birth to her son, Weston, in 2011, she chose to put her career on pause. She revealed the news by posting on Twitter with the hashtag "#andlotsoftimewithmybaby."
While we were happy to see her spending time doing being a hands-on mother, we were a little happier when she finally returned to the acting industry. In 2015 Fisher's hiatus was over, and she was back on our screens, as the lead role Rhonda on the series You, Me, and the Apocalypse.
This award-winning actress put a pause on her successful career when it came time to raise her three children, Hazel, Henry, and Phinnaeus. Despite being an A-list star, Roberts's goal was to provide her kids with as much as a normal life as she could.
Luckily for fans, she didn't fully retire and instead just took on fewer acting gigs. But still, most of her days were spent being a present mother. "I get everybody out the door to school on time, clean, fed, happy. That's directing a whole production right there," Roberts joked.
Lauren Ambrose took a break from acting after welcoming her second son, Orson Handel, in 2012. But it didn't take long until the Six Feet Under star was back in business. After spending the first four years of her son's life with him, the actress appeared on The X Files.
Despite playing many roles over the years, being a mother was the role that assisted Ambrose the most with her career. "Having my son, I mean, I feel already that it makes me a better actress. Just the feeling and the love that expands in my… being is more than I ever thought possible," she admitted.
It took Poppy Montgomery missing many milestones in her son's life for her to realize that she needed to take a break from acting. "My children and my work are the things that fuel my soul. Finding the balance… is the dilemma women face every day," the Without a Trace star admitted.
In the end, Montgomery chose to spend her days filled with bath time and pacifiers. But of course, she couldn't stay away from her career for too long. And after her 4 year hiatus where she focused on her two children, the actress was ready to return to the big screen.
Phoebe Cates spent many years being an A-list star and appearing in many films such as Gremlins and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yet her time on screen came to an end when the actress had her two kids, Owen and Frankie. In 1994, she officially retired and said goodbye to her past life.
Although she did take on one more role in 2001 as a favor for her friend, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cates was done with acting for good. Instead, she chose to start a new profession and opened up a boutique. The flexibility in the hours allowed her to spend more time with her kids.
Meg Tilly thought it was possible to continue her full-time career as an actress while also raising three kids. And while it was working for a while, she decided it was time to reduce her on-screen time when all the traveling was affecting her daughter's personal life and friendships.
The Big Chill star then chose the life of days filled with laundry, cooking, and spending time with family. "I don't know if I did my son's wives a disservice now, because the boys are like, 'Oh moms, they make all the food and do all the laundry and all that,'" Tilly joked.
It wasn't hard for Salma Hayek to pick her family over her line of work. After giving birth to her daughter, Valentina, in 2007, the actress started to accept fewer projects and instead focused on raising her child with her husband, François Pinault. Hayek spoke to Marie Claire about her decision.
"I think if you are young and you have children, you still have so much to prove. When you have children later in life, you lose a bit of that urge for working," she continued. "At the time, I was thinking, I can do another movie that may or may not work, or I can be with my child… and not miss a moment of this precious time."