While celebs like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood certainly don’t make it seem that way, there are plenty of stars who came in second (or third or fourth or fifth) on a reality series who forged on and made a memorable name for themselves in the Hollywood world.
Case in point? Beyoncé didn’t win Star Search when she performed with Girl Tyme band members Kelly Rowland and LaTavia Roberson back in the early 1990s, and even Britney Spears didn’t come out on top when she appeared on the Ed McMahon-hosted show in 1992.
Justin Timberlake is another famous face who appeared on the reality series, adorably performing country music songs under the name “Justin Randell,” before continuing on to establish himself as both a pop icon and a strong force in the acting world.
There’s also Jennifer Hudson, who only made it to the top-seven show on American Idol before she went on to win an Academy Award for her breakout role in Dreamgirls, as well as Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who first rose to fame on Survivor: The Australian Outback in 2001 (remember that?!).
And of course, we couldn’t forget to mention the members of One Direction, including Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne. The young stars finished third in the seventh season of the U.K. X Factor before subsequently signing on to Simon Cowell‘s record label and becoming one of the biggest boy bands today.
PHOTOS: Stars Who Didn’t Win Their Reality Shows
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