Celebs Who Got Their Big Break Because Of A Relative

Some celebs work tirelessly for years just to launch their careers, while others are lucky enough to have fame fall right into their laps. These fortunate entertainers have close family members who've either handed them various opportunities, or they've been able to obtain success based on their familial connections. This isn't to say they're lacking in talent, but let's face it: their superstar relatives definitely helped them get their foot in the door. From a Disney star to a few international supermodels, here are the celebs who got famous because of a relative.

Miley Cyrus piggybacked off of Billy Ray's fame

While Billy Ray Cyrus was singing his achy breaky heart out all over the globe, there was another budding entertainer in his household who would soon take over the world. She was born as Destiny Hope, but Billy Ray gave her the nickname Miley because she always had a smile on her face, according to People. We're sure he saw something special in her before she became a superstar, but it would take a few years before he could help her land her first acting role.

Bill Ray crossed over into the acting world when he was cast in the 2001 David Lynch film Mulholland Drive followed by the 2001 television series Doc. In 2002, a young Miley made a guest appearance on the show, and she must have really impressed everyone. According to Billy Ray's interview with GQ, his relationship with Lynch helped Miley secure the lead role in the Disney's Hannah Montana. As Billy Ray stated, "Were it not for David Lynch, Miley would never have been Hannah Montana," but he definitely wasn't giving himself enough credit. If he had never became a chart-topping singer who caught the acting bug, we probably never would've been introduced to Miley at all.

She certainly has talent as an actress and singer ("Party in the U.S.A." will forever be our jam), but would she have become a household name if it weren't for her dad's connections? That's debatable.

Tom Arnold can thank Roseanne Barr

All Tom Arnold needed was a chance to prove himself in the industry so people could see he was really a force to be reckoned with. But he didn't get the opportunity to really flex his comedic prowess up until a 1983 chance encounter with actress and comedienne Roseanne Barr.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the two met in Minneapolis when Arnold, who was practicing his comedic chops, opened up one of Barr's shows. She was married to Bill Pentland at the time, so their relationship was strictly business. By 1988, she had landed the lead role on her own self-titled sitcom, and she hired Arnold to be a writer for the series.

He soon realized he got more out of that first meeting with Barr than he had anticipated. Not only was he a writer (and sometimes guest star) on one of television's most popular shows, but he also managed to snag a wife!

In 1990, Barr ditched Pentland after nearly 16 years of marriage, and she and Arnold got married four days after her divorce was finalized. According to Entertainment Weekly, their short-lived marriage was full of drama, and the press ate up all of the turmoil and dysfunction up until their 1994 divorce. Barr may have been Arnold's gateway into the entertainment biz but in a tweet, he jokingly called Roseanne reruns his own "personal civil war monuments."

Maybe helping a relative get famous isn't such a good thing after all.

Ashlee Simpson owes it all to big sis Jessica

Jessica Simpson found success in the music world with her hit songs, such as "I Think I'm In Love With You," and "I Wanna Love You Forever." According to MTV, she went on tour with 98 Degrees in the summer of 1999, and subsequently fell in love with the boy band's frontman, Nick Lachey. The picture perfect couple went on to get married in 2002, and they put the kiss of death on their relationship by appearing on their MTV reality show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. But this isn't about Jessica and her failed marriage, it's about her little sister, Ashlee, who also made a few guest appearances on the doomed show.

Ashlee was primed and prepped for superstardom thanks to her sister's success. She received her own spin-off series called The Ashlee Simpson Show, and she even released a few albums, including the chart-topping Autobiography that included the song "Shadow." The tune was all about, well, living in the shadow of Jessica's career, with lyrics such as: "Somebody listen please/It used to be so hard being me/Living in the shadow/Of someone else's dream." 

In an interview with IGN, she downplayed the meaning of the lyrics by saying, "I think for me, I know who I am and I have my own identity and everything, so for me it's just about staying true to who I am and everything." 

We want to believe her. We really do.

Beyonce paved the way for Solange

When you hear the last name Knowles, you probably instantly think of Beyoncé. But the "Flawless" singer also has a little sister who's been able to capitalize off of the surname, too. 

According to The Daily Beast, Solange started out as a backup dancer for her sister's group, Destiny's Child, and later appeared in the 2006 film Bring It On: All Or Nothing. She even released her own successful album, A Seat at the Table, and launched her own label, Saint Records, in 2013.

Whether you believe Solange would've been a star with or without being related to a superstar, whatever you do, don't refer to her as "Beyoncé's little sister," which is something a fan in Australia found out the hard way. 

According to Dish Nation, Solange heard someone behind her say "that's Beyoncé's sister" at an event, and she went completely "crazy." Personally, we wouldn't mind being related to the "Single Ladies" songstress, but we can only imagine how difficult it must be to be related to someone with as much star power as Queen Bey.

Aaron Spelling probably helped his daughter Tori

When we first met Tori Spelling, she was playing the role of Donna Martin on the hit '90s sitcom Beverly Hills, 90201. At the time, plenty of viewers were aware of Tori's impressive Hollywood pedigree. Her father, Aaron Spelling, was the producer behind popular shows, such as Charlie's Angels, and The Love Boat. Everyone just assumed she had landed the role of Donna because of her dad, who was executive producer on 90210 also–and Tori more or less confirmed rumors during a 2000 interview with Entertainment Weekly.

When the cast was asked how they were led to audition for the show, Tori said she learned about the show from her agent. She claimed she hadn't "heard anything about [the program]," so later on, she dug through her dad's suitcase, found the script, and fell in love with the character Andrea Zuckerman. She would eventually lose out on the role to actress Gabrielle Carteris, and she was given the role of Donna instead. Tori ended her statement by saying she was sure being cast on the show "had something to do with my dad."

Aaron died in 2006 after complications from a stroke, according to People, and Tori has managed to keep her celebrity star shining bright by appearing in her own Oxygen reality show with her husband and children called Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.

Kendall Jenner walks runways thanks to Kim Kardashian

We've all heard the story about how Kim Kardashian got famous: she went from being Paris Hilton's BFF to releasing a sex tape with former boyfriend, Ray J, which helped to catapult her into superstardom. She and her blended family were soon granted their own E! reality show called Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The program heavily focused on her mother, Kris Jenner, and her sisters, Kourtney and Khloe. However, no one expected that Kim's younger half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, would become the breakout stars. It wasn't necessarily their infrequent appearances on the show that caught peoples' attention–it was their social media presence that helped launch their careers outside of Kim's shadow.

While Kylie got busy with her Kylie Cosmetics makeup line, Kendall dipped her toe in the modeling world. Kim had become friends with many top designers, including Balmain's head designer, Olivier Rousteing. Soon enough, it appeared that Kim's connections had helped Kendall climb her way to the top of the fashion food chain. She even partied alongside Rousteing at his star-studded 30th birthday party.

Unlike some of the other relatives on our list, Kim was really hands-on when it came to Kendall's career. During an episode of their reality show (via Daily Mail), Kim accompanied Kendall to a photo shoot in New York, and helped the budding, hesitant model book a runway show despite Kendall telling her sister "runway modeling scares me." That doesn't seem to be much of a problem anymore.

Joan Rivers was determined to make Melissa a star

Before her untimely 2014 death during vocal cord surgery, it was rare to see Joan Rivers without her beloved daughter, Melissa, by her side. In her early years, she made a living as a comedienne and television personality, and she reportedly did whatever she could to bring Melissa into the fold. According to Leslie Bennetts' book Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers (via Daily Mail), there were rumors in the industry that Joan would "pull every possible string" to ensure Melissa was booked for gigs right alongside her.

Mark Simone, the host of a WOR radio show, said Joan was booked for his program "like 400 times," and Melissa would show up with her for each appearance, which was something nobody at the station "really wanted."

In another instance, Joan was approached to appear on Celebrity Apprentice, but Bennetts' book claimed she'd initially declined the offer, saying she'd rather "kill" herself than be on the show. By 2009, she had a change of heart, but she allegedly refused to move forward unless her daughter was on the cast, as well. The producers didn't want to include Melissa at first, but they "finally conceded" after Joan put up a good fight. Rivers went on to win that season of the show.

Now that Joan has passed on, it really makes you wonder if Melissa will be able to maintain her stardom without her mom's connections and influence.

Stella McCartney gives thanks to this Beatle

She's the daughter of one of the most famous musicians in the world, but Stella McCartney isn't serenading her fans like her father Paul did with The Beatles. Instead, the legend's daughter is a fashion designer who has made waves in the industry, thanks to her luxury faux-fur and eco-friendly pieces.

Perhaps she gets her penchant for fashion from her father: Paul was certainly a fashion icon in his heyday. Who could forget those snazzy collarless suits and mop top haircuts that he and his bandmates used to sport? Stella doesn't deny that he, as well as her mom, the late Linda McCartney, helped propel her career as a designer, while simultaneously hindering it. Speaking to CNN, McCartney said her megastar parents "certainly opened a lot of doors and certainly closed some minds. So I think there was a balance."

Kaia Gerber is Cindy Crawford's mini-me

It seems like Cindy Crawford's kids, Kaia and Preston Gerber, were destined to be models. They have their mother's good looks, poise, and similar confidence on the runway. But it's no surprise that all eyes are on Kaia wherever she goes, especially since she has an uncanny resemblance to her mom.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Crawford said she knew it was inevitable that Kaia would become a supermodel, but she was still a little hesitant about her daughter entering the industry. "In some ways, I wish I could have pushed it off a year or two," she said. "But she's 16. That's how old I was when I started, which is young, but in fashion that's kind of the normal age when people start."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Crawford also talked about how amazing it was to see her kids take part in the job that she loves so much. And shockingly, Kaia might be the only person on Earth who doesn't see how much she resembles superstar mom. Kaia reportedly told Crawford, "We look nothing alike!" Eventually finally realized that looking like her mom's doppelgänger was actually a good thing! Embrace those good genes, Kaia!

Gigi & Bella Hadid used their mom's platform

When Yolanda Hadid first joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, we're sure she couldn't wait to rub elbows with the show's popular stars, including Kyle Richards and Lisa Vanderpump. But it was later revealed that she was using her time on the small screen to help launch the modeling careers of her daughters, Gigi and Bella.

E! Online stated the two budding models were "a big reason [Yolanda] decided to do the show" because she knew the platform would get them more exposure. Yolanda also worked as a model in her younger days, so her connections in the industry, so she was really able to give her girls the extra push they needed to turn their modeling dreams into a reality.

Her plan worked, and by 2016, Yolanda had quit the program due to her struggles with Lyme Disease, and Gigi and Bella were tearing up runways and lending their faces to major ad campaigns, including Tommy Hilfiger and Dior. And of course, their mother is now their biggest fan!

"They're really hard-working girls," Yolanda told WWD in January 2018, "There is no greater joy for a mother than to see your children succeed in something that they love to do."

Ben Affleck gave Casey a shot

Ben Affleck co-wrote the screenplay for the 1997 film Good Will Hunting with his pal Matt Damon, but it was director Gus Van Sant who tracked down Ben's brother, Casey, to beg him to appear in the film as the character Morgan O'Mally, according to an interview he gave to Variety. The role certainly helped to launch Casey's career as an actor (and later as a director), but it wasn't until 2007 that he landed his breakout role...with some help from Ben, of course.

When casting began for the film Gone Baby Gone, Ben put in a good word for Casey. According to his interview with Indie London, he showed the studio a screen test from Casey's role as Robert Ford in the 2007 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. In retelling the event, Ben said, "I [told the studio] he was going to blow up from [Jesse James] and that he was going to be great in [Gone Baby Gone]. I think they believed me...more or less."

Thanks to Ben's support, Casey has since gone on to make a name for himself as a star. He even snagged an Academy Award in 2017 for his role as Lee Chandler in Manchester by the Sea.

Dave Franco finally gave in to his brother James

Dave Franco desperately tried to forge his own path in the entertainment industry. Instead of solely relying on his brother James' fame, he took on small roles in comedic films, such as the 2014 Seth Rogen movie Neighbors. But when James came to him with a project they could work on together, Dave couldn't refuse.

James had his sights set on making the 2017 film The Disaster Artist, which took a behind-the-scenes look inside the 2003 cult classic The Rooma film The Daily Beast labeled as the "best worst movie ever."

When speaking with Business Insider, Dave admitted he had made a "conscious choice to distance himself" from his famous relative because he didn't want to be referred to as "James Franco's little brother" for the rest of his life. But when James proposed that he play the role of Greg Sestero in The Disaster Artist, he said "the dynamic" felt right so he accepted the gig.

In the end, he now sees James as a strong supporter rather than a stain on his résumé. "I can relate to the idea of how important it is to have an ally and someone who believes in you and encourages you," he said.

The 2017 film may be their first hit project together, but something tells us these two may be linking up to become an unstoppable brotherly force in the years to come.