All those stylish, glamorous celebrities who look like they were born in a suit or a gown were young and broke once. They worked those same jobs all teenagers and college students do to stay afloat and inadvertently have their soul humbled to pieces. Here’s a few former food industry favorites.
1. Nicki Minaj
It sounds like the colorful rapper had as much sass back in the day as she does now. Minaj worked as a waitress at Red Lobster as a teenager. She was subsequently fired because she followed a couple who jacked her pen to the parking lot and flipped them off.
Photo: Athena LeTrelle
2. Eva Mendes
The actress — and model and singer and designer — had another title that wasn’t as glamorous when she was a youngin’. Mendes was a server at Hot Dog on a Stick as well as an Italian joint called Ciao at a California mall. She was stoked, recalling, “I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get my work permit. Because at 15 you get your work permit in California, and I couldn’t wait to legally work.”
3. Brad Pitt
Before the Hollywood hunk turned into a celebrated actor who then turned into an international activist, he was just a dude in a chicken suit. Working at an El Pollo Loco, his first gig in Los Angeles actually, Pitt’s job was to entertain and bring in foot traffic with his costume.
Photo: Gage Skidmore
4. Rachel McAdams
Well before she was known as a ‘Mean Girl’ or remembered for a passionate rainy kiss, the actress did a three-year stint at McDonald’s. And even though she remembers the fast food chain as “a great place to work,” McAdams recalls, “I was not a great employee. I broke the orange juice machine one day.”
She was also a bit slow, explaining in one interview, “I had a little bit of an OCD thing with hand washing and just didn’t have time. They were like, ‘Hey, the drive-thru’s backing up. Stop washing your hands!’”
5. James Franco
The jack-of-all-trades actor has pretty much taken on any and all creative gigs, but he rehearsed his skills while working at McDonald’s when he was much younger. Though he only worked beneath the golden arches for three months, the place had a big impact, leading Franco to write an article for The Washington Post titled, “McDonald’s Was There For Me When No One Else Was.” Sounds poetic, but the goofball had his good time. When he’d work the drive-thru, Franco would flirt with customers and practice foreign accents, explaining, “I’d be French and then Italian. One girl who liked me came around the drive-thru again and said, ‘Could you give me some Italian lessons?’”
6. Eva Longoria
The actress in no way regrets her time as a young, bright-eyed employee of Wendy’s. Longoria looks back on her several-year employment fondly, once telling Katie Couric, “I make a good Frosty. I was manager by the time I was 18. I love Wendy’s. I love that whole experience in my life. There’s four girls in my family, no boys, and I’m the baby. Nobody got a quinceañara, which is the 15th birthday for us Mexicans, and my dad said, ‘Your sisters didn’t get a quinceañara, so you’re not getting a quinceañara.’ So I went and got a job, paid for it myself, and then raised money for my family.”
7. Pharrell Williams
The singer-rapper-producer is great at a lot of jobs. McDonald’s was not one of them. Williams was fired three times, once telling Seth Meyers, “I was lazy. I was very lazy.” He said the only thing he was ever good at there was eating Chicken McNuggets.
8. Jason Lee
The skateboarder-actor apparently doesn’t hate to reflect on where he came from. Years ago, when the writer’s strike threatened his livelihood, Lee laid out his Plan B, “I’d go back to the Taco Bell that I worked at in Huntington Beach, California when I was 16 and ask for my job again. I’ll probably have to wear a mustache net though.”
The musician worked at the McDonald’s in her hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, as a young teen, before moving onto stardom. While some may look back at their fast food employment experience as a fun stepping stone and learning tool, Pink isn’t one of them, saying, “Sometimes I dream I’m back there, broke and working at McDonald’s. It’s like the worst nightmare because I would never want to be back there. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.”
10. Jennifer Hudson
Burger King was the first job the singer-actress ever had, being employed at the fast food joint on East 87th and State Street in Chicago. Working alongside her sister at age 16, Hudson would supposedly sing while flipping burgers and working the drive-thru. After Simon Cowell criticized the star for not thanking American Idol in her Oscar acceptance speech, Hudson rhetorically asked if she should thank Burger King, too. Burger King responded with awarding her free burgers for life.