These celebrities, from Oprah Winfrey to RuPaul, owe their careers to their former teachers.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing famous people thank the people who helped make them who they are today. It shows not only a slice of humility, but also that celebrities aren’t created overnight. Most successful people are shaped — usually with the help of teachers.
If there’s one thing famous people have in common is that they all were inspired by a teacher who helped them get on the right path. Whether it’s a drama teacher showing a young actor the ropes or an English teacher dropping knowledge about the world.
These celebrities, from Oprah Winfrey to RuPaul, have not only thanked their former teachers for making them successful, they also still keep in contact with their former educators. Aww!
Below, all the stars who owe their careers to their encouraging teachers.
Oprah credits her fourth grade teacher, Mary Edwards, for being the successful woman she is today. She even invited her former teacher to her show back in 1989.
“I always, because of you, felt I could take on the world,” Oprah said on the show. “You did exactly what teachers are supposed to do, they create a spark for learning that lives with you from then on. It’s why I have a talk show today.”
Of course drag superstar RuPaul would credit his drama teacher for making him the fierce queen he is today.
“My 10th grade drama teacher Mr. Pannell. The one who told me, ‘Don’t take life TOO seriously,'” RuPaul captioned the above pic. “I love you, Bill.”
Although most celebrities thank their English or drama teachers, James says it was his journalism professor, Esther Wojcicki, who inspired him the most. He even calls her his “hero.”
During his junior and senior years at Palo Alto High School, James participated in a journalism program where students had to create their own newspapers.
“It had a huge impact on me,” he later said in a video. “[Her teaching module] is invaluable and engages students in ways that other kinds of teachings don’t.”
The Pirates of the Caribbean star owes his career to his former acting teacher, Patsy Rodenburg. In 2017, the actor even paid his respects by teaching a workshop alongside his old professor.
“Studying the art of performance changed my life forever – opening the door to the career I love,” he said. “I believe that every student, regardless of where they went to school, deserves the chance to learn these skills and it’s fantastic that Patsy and the Laurus Trust are placing such importance on this area.”
For the sake of this article, let’s ignore, uh, some of the recent controversial news surrounding the House of Cards actor and focus on this heartwarming moment from 2016. Back then, he returned to his old high school to honor his drama teacher, Robert Carrelli.
“Mentors, parents, friends, teachers can sometimes say just the right words at just the right time, and it can be life-changing for a young person,” the actor told the crowd. “The way that Mr. Carrelli taught means that he will always be a teacher, my teacher, and I will always be a student and his student.”
The Star Trek and X-Men star says his career wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for his drama teacher, Cecil Dormand. The two even still talk!
”Although many people in my life and career have had great influence on me, without this one man, none of it would have happened,” Patrick said back in 2011 when he was knighted by the Queen. ”He was the one that put a copy of Shakespeare in my hand, he was the one who told me it was a play and not a dramatic poem, he was the one who said, ‘Now get up on your feet and perform, this is a play, it’s life.’ He was the one who said when I was leaving the secondary modern ‘have you ever thought of doing this as a profession?’ He put me in a play with adults, so I owe literally everything to this man.”
The Arrested Development actor brought his middle school drama teacher to the 2018 SAG Awards.
“It’s because of her that I’ve had this path,” he said, “and I’m very grateful to her.”
Joy Behar And Whoopi Goldberg
It’s hard to believe the hosts on The View share more than a show, but both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar also shared a teacher. They brought him on the show in 2017 to thank him for inspiring them.
“We had you at different times, but you were so memorable to the both of us,” Whoopi said on the show. “I didn’t stick around in school, Joy did. But I don’t know if I would’ve stuck around as long as I did if it weren’t for you.”
The Theory of Everything actor probably wouldn’t have won that Oscar if it weren’t for his drama teacher, Simon Dormandy. The two are so close, Eddie still calls him when he needs acting advice.
“Occasionally I’ll call up Simon and say, ‘Can I just come and run through some stuff with you?’ He is still the person whose advice I seek,” Eddie told The Telegraph, adding that the teacher “was so inspiring, he gave me a career.”
Say what you want about R. Kelly’s problematic personal life, but he’s been incredibly supportive and appreciative of his former music teacher, Lena McLin. Back in 2015, he even donated a portion of his concert sales to his teacher so that she could afford to keep her house.
“On the first day I met her, Ms. McLin told me, ‘You’re going to be one of the greatest singers, songwriters and performers of all time,'” he told the Sun-Times. “She taught me opera, classical music, jazz, gospel. She said, ‘You are music. You’re not in any one category. Anything you attempt, you’ll be able to tap into the spirit of it, and that’s the gift you have.’ She made me.”
Earlier this year, she flew her high school drama teacher to New York for Teacher’s Appreciation Day.
“I know I would not be an actress today but for Jimmy validating my dream,” she wrote on Instagram. “He SAW me. He supported me, challenged me, pushed me, inspired me and believed in me. He put me on my path and has been a part of my life ever since. Thank you Jimmy! I love you.”
Back in 2013, the comedian thanked his former drama teacher for transforming a surly teenager into the blockbuster actor he is today.
“My life was quickly swirling around the toilet bowl, about to be flushed,” Black recalled then. “I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t met Deb Devine, who inspired me and for the first time gave me a reason to really love going to school. [She] opened my mind and soul to an exciting world of literature and communication…. I’m not too good with the mushy stuff, but she knows I love her.”
Aww — I’m not crying, you’re crying!