Georgia is an up and coming hub for filmmakers and actors to hone their craft, so it’s no wonder that the Peach State has been the birthplace of so may A-list celebrities. While everyone knows that stars like Tyler Perry and Holly Hunter called Georgia home, they are far from the only famous faces that hail from there.
America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts was born in 1967 in Smyrna, Georgia. Both of Roberts’ parents had been actors and clearly their love of the craft was passed on to their daughter. After high school, Roberts attended Georgia State University, though she soon dropped out and moved to New York City to pursue a career in show business. Roberts soon began appearing in movies like Satisfaction, which also starred Liam Neeson and Justine Bateman, before catching her big break in Pretty Woman opposite Richard Gere. That film ushered in an era of Roberts playing leading ladies, which earned her plenty of awards and accolades for her efforts.
American Idol host and possibly the busiest man in Hollywood Ryan Seacrest can also call the Peach State home. Seacrest was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He briefly attended the University of Georgia but left the school at the age of 19 to move to Hollywood and pursue a career in broadcasting. After working as host on a series of shows, including Ultimate Revenge and Gladiators 2000, Seacrest finally landed a gig that catapulted him to stardom: hosting a new reality show called American Idol. Though he was merely a co-host for the first season, he soon became the face of the program during Season 2 after Brian Dunkleman left the show.
Shelton Jackson, better known as Spike Lee, might be famous for his love of New York City and the New York Knicks, but the filmmaker was actually born in Atlanta. He and his family moved to Brooklyn soon after, which is where several of Lee’s most famous movies, such as Do The Right Thing, have been set. Most of Lee’s films focus on race, colorism, and the Black experience in America. One of Lee’s latest ventures, Da 5 Bloods, starred the recently passed Chadwick Boseman. Lee shares two children with his wife, attorney Tonya Lewis, a daughter named Satchel and a son named Jackson.
Chloë Grace Moretz
Chloë Grace Moretz was born in Atlanta as well, though her family later moved to Cartersville, Georgia where Moretz spent a good deal of her youth. In 2002, the Moretz family moved to New York City so Chloë’s older brother, Trevor, could attend a performing arts school. This experience is what initially got Chloë interested in acting. By 2005, she’d been cast in The Amityville Horror, co-starring with Ryan Reynolds. A few short years later, in 2010, Chloë got her first big break after starring in Kick-Ass as the foul-mouthed Hit Girl. Her career has only continued to skyrocket since.
Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning
Sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning were both born in Conyers, Georgia. Dakota, the elder of the two, was born in 1994 and Elle followed four years later in 1998. From a young age, Dakota showed a real talent for acting and often appeared in local theatrical productions. Her role in I Am Sam opposite Sean Penn made Dakota the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. As Dakota’s star continued to rise, Elle began her own career, proving that the sisters’ talents were a family trait. She also appeared in I Am Sam, playing her older sister’s younger self in the film. She had her own breakthrough moment in 2011’s Super 8.
Terry Eugene Bollea, but more widely recognized by his wrestling name of Hulk Hogan, is famously billed in the ring as hailing from Hollywood, Florida, but the WWE superstar was born in 1953 in Atlanta. His family moved to Florida when the wrestler was a baby. Hogan had noticeable athletic talents even as a teen and his performance as a baseball pitcher soon attracted the notice of scouts, but an injury ended those aspirations. Instead, young Hogan turned his attention to wrestling and began a career that would soon garner international acclaim as perhaps the most accomplished professional wrestler of all time.
Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson was also born in Atlanta, Georgia. Thompson got his career started early when he landed a role on Nickelodeon’s All That, which also produced fellow child stars Drake Bell and Amanda Bynes. Thompson was a standout on the children’s sketch comedy show and soon got his own show on the channel, Kenen And Kel, which also starred fellow All That alum Kel Mitchell. The two proved to be a formidable duo and soon landed starring roles in the movie Good Burger. Since his heady days as a teen movie star, Thompson went on to star in several kid-friendly films such as Fat Albert before landing at SNL in 2003, where he’s been ever since.
Although Kanye West is famous for being from Chicago, Illinois, he was actually born in Atlanta. After his parents divorced when the rapper was 3-years-old, he and his mother moved to Chicago. He and his mother also spent some time living in Nanjing, China while she taught at Nanjing University. West attended Chicago State University until he was 20-years-old, at which time he dropped out in order to focus on his music career. The gamble paid off handsomely, and today West enjoys a reputation as a musical genius, though he’s more often in the news these days for more controversial reasons.
The late actress Brittany Murphy was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977, but after her parents divorced two years later, she and her mother moved to Edison, New Jersey. Murphy knew from a young age that she wanted to be in show business, and had little trouble convincing her mother to move once again to Los Angeles to achieve her dream. In 1995, Murphy snagged a breakout role in Clueless, which also starred Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd. Tragically, the actress died in December 2009 from a combination of pneumonia and other factors.
Country music star Jason Aldean, born Jason Aldine Williams, hails from Macon, Georgia, where the “Got What I Got” singer was also raised, though he’d spend summers in Halstead, Florida with his father after his parents separated. His musical talents were clear from a young age and his parents encouraged him when he expressed interest in a music career. With their help, he was able to become the country music legend he is today, though it took years for Aldean’s talents to finally be acknowledged.
Another country star, Luke Bryan, also comes from Georgia. He was born in Leesburg, Georgia and after completing high school, Bryan planned to move to Nashville to pursue a career in music. His plans were put on hold, however, following the tragic death of his older brother, Chris, from a car accident. Bryan remained with his family for two more years before his father urged him to go ahead with Nashville plans. Soon, Bryan became widely recognized for both his songwriting and singing talents, both of which helped launch his career as the face of country music. Currently, Bryan is a judge on American Idol, along with Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
Georgia, and particularly Atlanta, has a habit of producing some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry today. With its growing reputation as a filming hub, it’s almost certain that even more young talent will soon appear.