Stars who need to realize they aren't famous anymore

We've all heard the term "fame is fleeting," but for the celebs on this list, they somehow missed the memo. Of course, there are definitely different echelons in the celebrity hierarchy. For example, Julia Roberts on the red carpet, sporting a full set of borrowed Harry Winston diamonds? Of course. Frankie Grande right behind her wearing a metric ton of glitter and a body paint shirt? Yeah, not so much.

This list is full of Grande's fame-adjacent amigos, whether they've fallen off the A-List, or never got there in the first place. We're dealing with folks like Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, who came out of involuntary retirement to complete the cycle of their low-key stardom by returning to the reboot of the show that made them reality TV villains. Or alternately, there's Tyrese Gibson, a bonafide R&B star, who also happens to have a recurring role in one of the biggest film franchises of all time, and yet, he's now arguably best known for his social media antics. Unfortunately for these folks, the train to Tinseltown left, and they didn't have a ticket. These are the stars who need to realize they aren't famous anymore.

Stacey's Hollywood hopes were dashed

Stacey Dash should be more famous than she is infamous — she's jaw-droppingly gorgeous, was great as Dionne in the 1995 classic Clueless, and she hasn't aged at all since then. Unfortunately, work has mostly dried up for her since 2001. Her resumé is peppered with occasional bit parts on television and only direct-to-video film roles. She became a conservative commentator, but she even lost that gig. In January 2017, Fox News announced that Dash's three-year stint on the network had concluded following controversial comments about race and a 2015 suspension after she swore on air while speaking about then-President Barack Obama.

After Fox News, Dash launched a short-lived bid for a California congressional seat, but she waved the white flag after just one month, declaring that "the overall bitterness surrounding our political process, participating in the rigors of campaigning, and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of my family," reported CNN. Dash's latest career efforts, as of this writing, seem to blend her past and present. Of the four film projects she has in the works, two deal directly with conservative issues, including the controversial anti-abortion flick Roe v. Wade. Not exactly summer blockbuster fare right there.

Tyrese's bills came in fast and made him furious

Tyrese Gibson doesn't have much going on in terms of acting outside of his roles in the Transformers and the Fast and the Furious franchises. He seemingly took that frustration out on his Fast co-star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson via a series of social media rants in September and October 2017. In those rants, Gibson begged Johnson to return his calls, then berated the Baywatch star for having the audacity to pursue a spin-off of the Fast series.

As of this writing, the only film projects Gibson has slated for the near future are Desert Eagle (2020) and Fast And The Furious 9 (2019). He pivoted to music, but this October 2017 Instagram post certainly raised some eyebrows. "When they push #Fast movie to 2020 it's back to your day job — CAA's Mark Cheatum thank you for the 7 shows so far I just wanna do 20 shows please and get back to the house #BarclaysArena #PhilipsArena #ImNotCheap real offers only and I'm at you." Okay.

Gibson's troubles continued throughout 2017 as he and his ex-wife engaged in a contentious child custody dispute, during which Gibson dubiously claimed Will and Jada Pinkett Smith gave him $5 million to help with legal costs. By September 2018, American Express had allegedly sued him for an outstanding balance of $61,071.35, according to The Blast. Oof. When your headlines are more about your unpaid bills than your big-time paydays, that's the wrong kind of fame, right?

Bow Wow, coming soon to a mall near you!

Bow Wow was a superstar when he was Lil' Bow Wow. Now that he's not so lil', he's made some big public gaffes — like tweeting then deleting an edited photo of the original Death Row Records lineup from 1996 with his childhood face squeezed in between Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight, which followers quickly pointed out was fake. Or when he tweeted a photo of a supposed private jet he was boarding, which followers pointed out was actually a promotional photo from a Ft. Lauderdale airport. Or when he posted a video of him allegedly being mobbed by fans, which followers pointed out — well, you get the idea.

Then there's Bow Wow's career lull, in both music and television. He has no big acting or hosting projects slated, as of this writing. In fact, his last notable gig was a two-year stint on BET's 106 & Park before the series was cancelled. No biggie, he just pivoted back to rap, right? Well, according to BET, the track list released in 2018 for Bow Wow's next album was a disturbing list of insults apparently aimed at ex-girlfriends (e.g. "My Ex Is A Piece Of Sh** (F**k You B**ch) Interlude." That project hasn't been released.

Perhaps this was all a calculated career implosion. To wit, Bow Wow's since-deleted July 2018 tweet (via Us Weekly): "Ima quit all this s**t. Down size my home. Sale [sic] everything. And go to work at gamestop." 

Ashley Greene's career has been at a red light for years

After Twilight, Ashley Greene just couldn't seem to escape vampire Alice Cullen. In 2012, she managed to land her first starring role in The Apparition, but the movie was a critical and commercial bomb, returning less than a third of its budget at the box office. This became a pattern. Her next film, CBGB made $40,400, and her television work hasn't fared well, either. Pan Am lasted just one season from 2011 to 2012, and Greene's 2016 single-season role on Rogue coincided with the series' last season.

Fortunately for Greene, her personal life seems to be a photo negative of her professional pursuits. According to Us Weekly, Greene married "Australian hunk" Paul Khoury in September 2018. For their honeymoon, the newlyweds visited a nude beach, which Greene commemorated with a topless Instagram photo captioned, "He keeps me wild and free." Of the saucy snap, Greene hinted to the tab that her new hubs is rather adventurous. "[Paul]'s not a nudist, but he's not afraid of being naked," she said. Is it getting hot in here? Because even though Greene's career isn't exactly on fire, her life sounds like a deleted scene from Fifty Shades of Grey.

From Broadway to broadcast TV to a guest spot on YouTube

The Pussycat Dolls broke up for good in 2010. Since then, frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger's efforts at solo stardom have stalled. Of her two studio albums, the last of which dropped in 2011, her highest-ranking chart position petered out at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. She hasn't released an album since.

Scherzinger did put in a long tenure on the X Factor in the UK, but that wasn't without its fare share of controversy. Rumor has it she was fired from the show in 2017, which is an unlucky twist considering she turned down the chance to reprise her critically acclaimed performance as Grizabella in the Broadway transfer of Cats the year prior — a decision that reportedly angered show creator Andrew Lloyd Weber. Scherzinger's only endeavors for 2018 represented even more of a fame retraction. She logged only one appearance on Lip Sync Battle and a celebrity guest spot on the YouTube original series, The Sidemen Show whatever that is.

Is Bieber's fame contagious?

Chantel Jeffries dated pop star Justin Bieber briefly during the height of his legal troubles in January 2014. She then reportedly hooked up with him off-and-on for a few years, although she's adamantly denied any romance between them. The result has been a startlingly large celebrity presence of her own. Just how large? How does more than 4.2 million followers sound? Jeffries capitalized on her fame by becoming — brace yourselves — a model. She's also a DJ signed to an obscure Universal Music Group offshoot, according to the Daily Mail.

All that said, does being the former (maybe) flame of The Biebs and a current Instagram model/club DJ earn someone red carpet invites for years? In the case of Jeffries, if these events from 2015, 2016, 2017, and beyond are any indication, the answer is, perhaps depressingly, we guess so.

Covering yourself in glitter doesn't make you a star

Frankie J. Grande keeps trying to piggyback off half-sister Ariana Grande's fame. The problem is, where Ariana is a talented vocalist, seasoned Broadway performer, and former Nickelodeon star, Frankie doesn't seem to do much. Sure, he's super into makeup, glitter, and fashion, but so are toddlers who wander into their mothers' bathrooms.

But that hasn't stopped Frankie from showing up at awards shows, making appearances on every possible TV show that will book him — Hot T, anyone? —  and becoming one of the most reviled cast members of Big Brother. According to Tubefilter, Frankie's biggest break, as of this writing, was becoming one of the hosts of Amazon's "first-ever live, daily show" called Style Code Live, so that's … something.

However, none of that has generated enough juice for Frankie to make headlines on his own. In fact, nearly every tabloid story he's mentioned in is directly related to his megastar sister. Even his own sobriety story was filtered through the lens of Ariana's life, as his downward spiral into substance abuse was allegedly triggered by the terrorist attack at her Manchester, UK concert. It's about time he accepted that his sister got all the star power in their gene pool.

Hopefully Christina Milian banked some mill-i-ons

Christina Milian had a hit back in 2004 with "Dip It Low." She had a reality show, Christina Milian: Turned Up, that was canceled in 2016, and she appeared as a correspondent on The Voice, but she hasn't had a hit song of her own in ages, despite being talented and stunningly beautiful. The biggest headline she made in 2018 was when her house was broken into "twice in four days," according to Page Six. But perhaps the most alarming harbinger for her career was this: She's starring in a Hallmark Christmas movie. Just ask Lacey Chabert how that's going. Who? Exactly.

Anyway, when OK! Magazine caught up with Milian in May 2018, they asked if she planned to reboot her music career, and her answer was, well, interesting. She said the reason she hasn't released any new music is because it's "in the process of some paperwork that has to be done to release it." She also said she's going to be releasing the music "independent again," so who exactly is holding her up with all that paperwork? Here's hoping her fans don't have to wait much longer for her to cut through all the red tape of … clicking "upload" on Soundcloud?

Aren't there already enough famous Simpsons?

In 2010, Cody Simpson was a YouTube star turned Justin Bieber acolyte who seemed poised to rival the Canadian wunderkind's pop super-stardom. However, four years later, Simpson cut ties with the Top 40 grist mill, leaving Atlantic Records to start Coast House Records, which "released his first independent album, the aptly named Free, in 2015," according to The Daily Telegraph.

It was the beginning of a sea change for Simpson, who began touring with a "60s rock"-inspired band, enrolled at UCLA film school, and started modeling (and surfing, of course) on the side. So basically, he's in a late 2000s Matthew McConaughey cocoon, and it's just a matter of time before his fame metamorphoses into whatever it's going to become. Meanwhile, his sister, Alli, still seems to be searching for mainstream fame…

Fame-chasing is a family trait

Alli Simpson has been making more of a straightforward run at the fame game since riding her brother Cody Simpson's coattails onto the scene in 2012. In an interview with Faze that same year, she spoke of her then-burgeoning ambitions in acting and music. "If there's something that you're really passionate about, you should just go for it and don't let anyone else stand in your way," she said.

We can't help but wonder what happened to that go-getter spirit, considering she all but abandoned the acting track since that interview — she logged only three credits to her name in the subsequent six years. She hasn't been very musically prolific, either, creating a scattershot of singles during the same time period. Alli's biggest success, as of this writing, is being "named the youngest nationally syndicated radio host" for the The Alli Simpson Show on Radio Disney, according to PopDust. That's great, but we honestly didn't know Radio Disney was a thing until a few seconds ago.  

Can you be famous for being friends with the woman who's famous for being famous?

Jonathan Cheban has been riding the Kardashian wave since it started, appearing on countless episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and other reality shows, including Millionaire Matchmaker. The founder of a successful PR firm, Cheban tried to parlay his KUWTK fame into his own series, The Spin Crowd, which was cancelled after one season. After that, he attempted to climb one of the lowest rungs of the reality TV ladder, Celebrity Big Brother, but he was rejected on account of his outlandish demands, according to The Sun.

Cheban has since become something of a glorified food blogger. He even declared in November 2017 that he was legally changing his name to "foodgod," which is the Instagram handle he uses to share his culinary adventures. His greatest gastronomic achievement, as far as we can tell, was introducing the world to Gold Chicken Wings — yes, that's chicken wings dipped in real 24K gold dust — that cost $1,000 for an order of 50. 

So, this is a guy who was spawned by reality TV, but who subsequently couldn't make it on reality TV, and who now rubs his arguably ill-gotten notoriety in everyone's face by chowing down on appetizers that cost a month's rent. What could go wrong?

Lizzie McGuire casts a long shadow

For a child star, there is no apex of fame greater than landing the lead in a Disney series, and while Hilary Duff's turn as Lizzie McGuire ensured her an A-List adolescence, her transition into grown-up fame hasn't gone as well. For starters, she's been rumored to call the paparazzi on herself when she's running errands, which is never a good sign. As far as her music career goes, she had great early success, but her attempt at a comeback flopped with her 2014 single "Chasing the Sun," which peaked at No. 79 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her second single from the same album, "All About You," didn't chart at all, and her third strike, "Sparks," peaked at No. 93. 

Duff actually had some notable acting projects going in 2018, but even those gigs couldn't fully escape the curse of her seemingly tainted stardom. For instance, her TV Land show Younger, consistently earned positive praise yet still landed on "Most Overlooked TV Shows" lists. She also took the controversial lead role in The Haunting of Sharon Tate, which the slain actress' family expressed their displeasure with even before its release. Is it possible that fans just aren't interested in Duff as anything other than a klutzy girl next door?

It's not a good sign if even Diddy can't hook you up

Cassie is the model turned singer who also happens to be Diddy's protégé turned lover, which, truth be told, should have given her all kinds of advantages in the entertainment biz. But after a disastrous start, including flubbed early TV performances in 2006, she was forced to address the situation on her MySpace page (via MTV News). Blaming "stage fright," the then-19-year-old starlet promised she would make "no excuses" and that she was "working [her] a** off." 

More than a decade later, Cassie still hasn't made a real dent on the charts. Speaking with Billboard, the "Long Way 2 Go" singer said she's well aware that she still had, well… a long way to go. "Even though I've been around for a minute, people still don't really know me and that's ok, because now I'm being given the opportunity to teach them exactly who I am and in a way more confident space, because I am older now," she said. When asked if she would "rather win a Grammy or an Oscar," she said "I would love to be recognized for my music. I'd go the Grammy way, but an Oscar sounds really good, too."

With relatively unrecognizable acting credits in Step Up 2: The Streets, and The Perfect Match (her only theater-released feature films), as well as the straight-to-DVD Honey 3: Dare to Dance, she may have a long way to go in both spheres.

Just when we thought they were out, Swiffer pulled them back in

Once a member of the teen god triad that was The Jonas Brothers, oldest JoBro Kevin Jonas declared his intention to go "back [to his] first passion, which was the business side of things," following the family band's 2013 breakup. Of course, Kevin and his wife, Danielle, were simultaneously exploring the realm of reality TV at that time with their E! show Married to Jonas, which only lasted two seasons. Perhaps the one-two punch of losing his bro band and turfing it in cinema vérité was enough to drive Kevin from the entertainment business for good, which is exactly what he did the following year, when he started a contracting business in suburban New Jersey. Yep, you read that right.

Of course, a true Jonas can never stay out of the spotlight forever, so Kevin and Danielle have been seen in the ensuing years participating in charity events and partnering with brands such as "Swiffer for National Pets Month," according to Us Weekly. So, for anyone out there wondering why Kevin and Danielle Jonas seem to be popping back up on the scene, having seemingly eschewed the business, ask yourself this: What would it take for you to turn down a pile of cash in exchange for smiling next to a dust mop?

Has the sun set on ​Aubrey O'Day's fame?

Another failed Diddy protégé, Aubrey O'Day gained notoriety in 2004 for joining girl group Danity Kane in Making The Band 3. She was fired from the group in 2008 for allegedly trying to use the band to catapult herself into solo stardom. That didn't pan out. O'Day has done mostly reality TV, including her single-season star vehicle All About Aubrey in 2011, The Apprentice in 2012 (where she was fired again), and a Celebrity Big Brother stint in 2016. O'Day also turned her defunct relationship with Jersey Shore star Pauly D into yet another reality TV curiosity, since they met on the celeb dating show Famously Single and deconstructed their break-up on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.

On the music front, O'Day teamed up with fellow Danity Kane alum Shannon Bex to form Dumblonde, whose debut album SPIN described in 2015 as "electronic/dance-pop" that "rarely flags and frequently excites." Not bad, right? Hang on, because according to Billboard, the dancing duo has charted exactly once, peaking at No. 129 on the Billboard 200. Yikes! Maybe they could start dating, then break-up on a VH1 series?

​Azealia's beefing again? Bank on it.

For all of Azealia Banks' hype, she's never had a single song on the Billboard Hot 100. Her biggest chart success, Broke with Expensive Taste, peaked at No. 3, then dropped out of the Billboard 200 entirely. Her previous effort, the 1991 EP, peaked at No. 133. Compare that minor success with her major headlines, like her feuds with Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea, Zayn Malik, a child star, Russell Crowe (yep), and endless others, often involving her use of hate speech. She's been arrested for assault, kicked off Twitter, and was in danger of being banned from the U.K. What does she have to show for any of this? Not much, because she was also dropped from both her record label and her management company in 2015.

Three years and a slew of even more feuds and apologies later, Banks finally secured a new record deal in February 2018, but the only reason anyone still knows her name is because of her status as a perpetual beef-starter. And lo and behold, what's this? More feuding, you say? In September 2018, the combative rapper set her sights on billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk, of all people, because at this point, we could easily be convinced that Banks is some sort of internet flame war robot built to operate on salty comment threads for fuel.

What's Kim got to do with it anymore?

It's been more than 10 years since the release of Kim Kardashian's, ahem, adult video endeavor with her then boyfriend Ray J. Since then, she's become a celebrity the likes of which the world had previously never seen, turning the infamy of that public embarrassment into a personal brand worth a staggering $350 million, and all arguably out of thin air. After all, she doesn't dance, sing, or act, and even her attempt at writing was just a book full of selfies.

Compare that to her illicit co-star, who has attempted almost all of the above with not even a fraction of the success. His acting résumé includes a role in one of the Sharknado films, which is really all that needs to be said about it. His music was moderately successful, with a song that cracked the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008. But as is the case with Ray J, all roads eventually lead back to Kardashian, like his 2013 attempt at a diss track, transparently titled "I Hit It First," that he tried to deny was about Kardashian. In January 2017, Ray J talked all kinds of trash about Kardashian again on Celebrity Big Brother (via Cosmopolitan), including accusations that she cheated on him, which generated the only real buzz from his time on the show. "We're the same kind of player," he also said. "She was the female me." Hey, at least he's got a future in comedy.

When turning yourself into a villain goes wrong

Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag made bank on The Hills, then blew it all on plastic surgery and crystals. Still, Pratt insists the couple's drama was worth it. "We were fame whores, getting literally a million-plus a year in photos and being hated for it," Pratt told Vice. "It's frustrating for me that people don't recognize that this was genius."

The couple went on to write the book How to Be Famous and starred on a long list of reality TV shows, with each appearance more alienating than the last. Pratt explained to Complex, "Mercenaries is pretty much what we are. Call us in when you are ready for some action." Montag added, "We had these expectations of, 'Oh, we're going to have our own show.' My expectation of life and where I thought we were going to be is so different from our reality." In 2016, the couple revealed that it had squandered its fortune from the reality TV heyday.)

But don't count Speidi out yet. In 2018, the couple joined MTV's reboot of the show that made them stars, which even Pratt seems to view as the couple's last chance at a comeback. "Even with my own ego, I feel like in 2018, you need supporting cast members," he said on FaceTime with Justin Hill. "I would love to have a show just of my own, but I feel like The Hills series is more … in my manifestation." Alrighty.

Tila Tequila needs help, not a comment section

If nothing else, Tila Tequila may have one of the most eclectic résumés on the planet. She was a MySpace celebrity, then a bisexual reality star, then the fiancée to a late heiress, then a Hitler sympathizer, then a reality star again — but not for long because that pesky Nazi stuff caught up with her — then a conspiracy theorist.

Unfortunately, she is said to have "a history of mental illness, and is alleged to have been suicidal in the March of 2012, during which she spent time in rehab," according to The Telegraph. If that's true — and it seems to be the case, judging by some of her more outlandish behavior, like writing on Facebook (via Life & Style) that she prayed for the deaths of several adult film actors who died in early 2018 — then perhaps the suspension of her social media accounts is a good thing. 

Surprisingly, mainstream media outlets, even the sleazy ones that will make reality TV out of anything, haven't fanned the flames of whatever is going on with Tequila since 2015. Hopefully, the fame vacuum created by the loss of even a social media audience will create an opportunity for her to get the help she seems to clearly need.

In Hollywood, you have to make money to make money

Dianna Agron wasn't exactly a breakout star of Glee, and she was even excluded from the Cory Monteith tribute episode, which many speculated was because of her allegedly terrible relationship with show creator Ryan Murphy. The actress' attempts at big screen stardom fell similarly flat. In 2011, I Am Number Four did okay commercially, but failed to raise her star status. In 2013, The Family fared somewhat better, but that film was also bolstered by A-list co-stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. Since leaving Glee, one could argue that Agron's most publicized role has been in Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One" music video. 

In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, she had this to say about Hollywood: "Nobody wants to pay anybody any more. And yet if you talk about this in depth, you'll see studio heads lash out and say, No it's not that way.' But it is."

That's interesting, because according to Box Office Mojo, Agron's worldwide box office grosses for the roughly seven-year span of her film career top off at $318 million, which sounds impressive until you compare it to someone like Jennifer Lawrence, who boasts well over $5 billion in the same metric. Sounds like Agron doesn't have the most realistic perspective on her own fame meter, huh? On the bright side: In 2016, she married one of the members of Mumford and Sons. Maybe it's time to enjoy that for a bit?