It’s a complete myth that some of the world’s biggest celebrities aren’t blessed with intelligence. Many believe that the stars we see on the big screens or in magazines are only famous for being incredibly beautiful or for dating another famous person or just because they were pretty good in one particular film or television show. While this is true to some extent, others have become celebrities because they have worked hard throughout their lives to reach the very top of their fields without handouts and truly utilising their intelligence.
Sure, you get the odd “air head” here or there who becomes a celebrity because they keep doing and saying stupid things that make people laugh (or despair), and I’m sure you can all think of a fair few. Yet the number of actors and actresses who have made it onto the Hollywood – or Bollywood – ‘A list’ having succeeded in the classroom as well as in the auditions and acting classes might surprise you.
Some have come through school with the dream of becoming an actor or actress one day, appearing in the biggest Bollywood movies or Hollywood blockbusters and focussed on their studies to ensure that they have the best back-up plan if the moviestar dream fell through; while others have made the decision to follow the acting dream having achieved their degrees and qualifications and decided that acting is the career for them.
One such example from the Hollywood side is Mayim Bialik, the actress who really shot to fame in the sci-fi comedy show The Big Bang Theory in her role as Amy Farrah-Fowler, the girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper. In the show she works as a neurobiologist, taking an interest in all areas of the brain and even studying animal behaviours, but in real life Mayim has a PhD in neurobiology. She has also produced books and released the findings of her studies into childhood behaviour and even designed a middle-school curriculum!
Natalie Portman is another who dispels the myth that actors can’t be clever. The star of films such as Star Wars where she played the role of Queen Amidala in Episode 1: the Phantom Menace (1999), Natalie was discovered by a modelling agency at the age of 11 and despite the many distractions, remained focussed on her education, actually missing the premiere of The Phantom Menace to study for her imminent high school exams. Soon after she announced that she would be taking a break from acting, and moved into on-campus accommodation at Harvard University to take a degree in psychology.
Bollywood, the other global movie superpower, has also got a number of particularly clever stars under its umbrella; one of which is the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, one of the biggest stars ever in Indian cinema. Despite going on to appear in dozens of successful movies in his career, acting was never high on his list of priorities and Amitabh took his education very seriously. He attended the Kirori Mal College in New Delhi and took a double major in Science and Arts before making the switch to the acting world.
Soha Ali Khan is another Bollywood star who proves that there is more to her than just her looks and her acting. Before moving into acting she studied at The British School in New Delhi and latterly Balliol College in Oxford, part of the world famous University of Oxford. After this she moved to the London School of Economics and Political Science and earned herself a Masters degree in International Relations.