Celebs have plenty of dirty, little secrets scattered across the web: they’ve left their long-time spouse for the hot, young it-girl, failed to return excessive amounts of diamonds to a jeweler, had major work done on their inner ankles and studied English (gasp!) in college. Here’s the juice on 10 notables who’ve parlayed their degrees into successful careers in the spotlight.
1. Conan O’Brien
This funny guy took his studies very seriously. Conan attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where he wrote for the school’s humor magazine. No doubt he was fine-tuning his wit for his career as a television show writer (Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons) and late-night talk show host (The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Conan).
2. John Legend
Not only can John sing his behind off, but he can probably school you on the canon of African-American literature. John, also an Ivy Leaguer, attended the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to his alma mater in 2014 as a commencement speaker. This year, he added an Oscar to his list of achievements for penning the song, Glory, for the Selma movie soundtrack.
3. Joan Rivers
Love her or hate her, the late Joan Rivers was most definitely a trailblazer. The first woman to ever host a late night network television talk show studied English literature at Barnard College in New York, N.Y., and went on to have an extensive and controversial career in comedy and television hosting.
4. Toni Morrison
This Howard University (Washington, D.C.) graduate is a Noble Prize winner and cherished as one of the great American writers. Ms. Morrison worked as a teacher and an editor at a Random House in New York City, all while raising children, before publishing her first novel, The Bluest Eye, at 39.
5. Diane Sawyer
From 1962 – 1965, Diane refined the poise and grace she’d bring to TV journalism while touring the country as America’s Junior Miss. After her travels, she attended Wellesley College where she earned her bachelor’s in English and also sang in an a capella group.
6. Emma Watson
Hermoine, I mean, Emma, studied English at Brown University. It took her five years instead of four to complete her bachelor’s when she took time off to film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In addition to acting, other notable achievements include her appointment as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014.
7. James Franco
James is sort of a schoolaholic. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing from UCLA (Los Angeles, Calif.) and an MFA from Columbia University, Franco is currently a PhD candidate at Yale University. Don’t get excited or anything but that guy in your psychology class that kind of looks like that dude in the Spiderman movies just might be James Franco.
8. Glenn Jacobs (better known as Kane)
Don’t let his fierce visage intimidate you. Kane can be just as civil as the next English literature student. He graduated with his bachelor’s from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) to dominate in the wrestling ring of the WWE, having been the Intercontinental Champion twice and Tag Team Champion 12 times.
9. Vin Diesel
Wouldn’t you like to sit down and talk bouncing (his part-time job during his days at Hunter College) and books with this action super star?
10. Barbara Walters
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Barbara became a household name in the realm of TV journalism. She’s interviewed everyone from world leaders to pop stars, and saddened the news world when she retired from on-air hosting in 2014. She does continue, however, to act as producer on the The View.