Evolution of the Slash: A Retrospective of Models-Turned-Actresses

Beauty and fame often go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense that models and actresses seem to be forever trading places. The latest model to make the jump to acting is Erin Wasson, who we got a first look at in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter today. And she's following in the footsteps of some of acting's biggest names, like Mila Jovovich and Cameron Diaz, who got their start as models. But while the model-turned-actress is certainly not a new breed, there seem to have been even more slashes emerging recently: Gemma Ward, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Brooklyn Decker, for instance, have all made the jump. And the new Mad Max movie (Mad Max: Fury Road) is almost cast entirely with models: former model Charlize Theron and more current ones Abbey Lee and Rosie Huntington Whitely are all set to star. And while the model/actress transition is certainly not rare--it can be hard to pull off (see: Cindy Crawford in Fair Game). Click through for our round-up of the most memorable models-turned-actresses.
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Hayley Phelan
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Beauty and fame often go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense that models and actresses seem to be forever trading places. The latest model to make the jump to acting is Erin Wasson, who we got a first look at in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter today. And she's following in the footsteps of some of acting's biggest names, like Mila Jovovich and Cameron Diaz, who got their start as models. But while the model-turned-actress is certainly not a new breed, there seem to have been even more slashes emerging recently: Gemma Ward, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Brooklyn Decker, for instance, have all made the jump. And the new Mad Max movie (Mad Max: Fury Road) is almost cast entirely with models: former model Charlize Theron and more current ones Abbey Lee and Rosie Huntington Whitely are all set to star. And while the model/actress transition is certainly not rare--it can be hard to pull off (see: Cindy Crawford in Fair Game). Click through for our round-up of the most memorable models-turned-actresses.
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Beauty and fame often go hand-in-hand, so it makes sense that models and actresses seem to be forever trading places.

The latest model to make the jump to acting is Erin Wasson, who we got a first look at in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter today. And she's following in the footsteps of some of acting's biggest names, like Mila Jovovich and Cameron Diaz, who got their start as models. But while the model-turned-actress is certainly not a new breed, there seem to have been even more slashes emerging recently: Gemma Ward, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Brooklyn Decker, for instance, have all made the jump. And the new Mad Max movie (Mad Max: Fury Road) is almost cast entirely with models: former model Charlize Theron and more current ones Abbey Lee and Rosie Huntington Whitely are all set to star.

And while the model/actress transition is certainly not rare--it can be hard to pull off (see: Cindy Crawford in Fair Game).

Click through for our round-up of the most memorable models-turned-actresses.

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Brooke Shields Model Beginnings: Shields started modeling fresh out of the oven, landing an Ivory Soap campaign at 11 months old. At 14 she became the youngest ever cover model for Vogue, and then of course came that infamous Calvin Klein campaign. Big Acting Break: Her first role was a child prostitute in Pretty Baby, filmed when she was just 11 years old. But it's her role as Emmeline in the steamy film Blue Lagoon that Shields is best known for, filmed when she was 14 years old. Shields' acting career started out with a great deal of fuss and controversy, but now most of her roles are playing warm, mom-esque roles on television shows like Hannah Montana. The Verdict: Shields is still working (remember Lipstick Jungle?) so we say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Milla Jovovich Model Beginnings: Jovovich started modeling at nine years old, and got her big break at the ripe old age of 11, when photographed Gene Lemuel showed her pictures to Herb Ritts. Ritts immediately booked her for the cover of Lei (photo at left) and since then her career has been one upward climb, including hundreds of covers and beauty and fashion campaigns. Big Acting Break: Jovovich dabbled in acting early on, appearing in a few made-for-tv-movies and in small roles on television series. She caught Hollywood's attention with the lead role in 1991's Return to Blue Lagoon (sparking comparisons between her and Brooke Shields) and with a bit part in 1993's Dazed and Confused but it wasn't until her unforgettable role, six years later, in Fifth Element that she was finally taken seriously as an actress. She's gone on to appear in several other successful movies, including the lead in Resident Evil and (our fave) Zoolander. The Verdict: Jovovich may be a respected actress now, but she received mixed reviews when she first came onto the scene, even being nominated for "Worst Actress" at the Razzie Awards--twice! However as a successful model, actress and singer, we think it's safe to say Jovovich gets the last laugh.

Naomi Campbell

Photo: Youtube

Photo: Youtube

Model Beginnings: As one of the original Supes, Naomi is a legend in every sense of the word. Her career took off at age 15 and never looked back (well, except to throw a cell phone or two). Big Acting Break: As a child, Naomi featured in music videos like Bob Marley's "Is This Love" and Culture Club's "I'll Tumble For Ya," and played Snow White in a TV series called The Chiffy Kids, and she also scored a reoccurring role in 1988 on the Cosby Show. In the mid-90s, she waded back into the waters of film with small roles in Miami Rhapsody and Spike Lee's Girl 6 but most of her forays were bit parts. Many of her credits are cameos as herself - we're partial to her appearance on Absolutely Fabulous. The Verdict: Frankly, we're too scared of her wrath to pass harsh judgement, so we'll just say this: at least she looked good doing it.

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Cameron Diaz Model Beginnings: Contracted with Elite Model Management, Diaz started modeling at age 16 and found minor success with companies like Calvin Klein and Levis. She also scored a cover of Seventeen, appropriately enough, at age 17. Big Acting Break: Without having ever taken so much as one acting class, Diaz landed the role of Tina in The Mask opposite Jim Carrey. She took her time in smaller films before breakout roles in My Best Friend's Wedding and There's Something About Mary which launched her into the superstar stratosphere. The Verdict: She's been nominated for Golden Globes for her roles in films like Vanilla Sky and Gangs of New York and she makes gobs of money as one of Hollywood's most in-demand actresses, so yea, we'd say she made the right choice on this one.

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Cindy Crawford Model Beginnings: Obviously, Crawford's illustrious modeling career needs no introduction. Catapulted to international success in the late nineties, Cindy was one of the original supermodels of the 90s, and beyond. Big Acting Break: While Cindy's modeling career might be legendary, her acting career was not. Remember Fair Game? No? Well, that's exactly the point. Crawford starred alongisde Billy Baldwin in the 1995 action thriller that was a colossal flop. The Verdict: Good thing she kept her day job!

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Tyra Banks Model Beginnings: Tyra might host a show about top models now, but she was actually rejected by six agencies before landing at Elite Model Management at age 16. She put school on hold to model in Europe and walked a record 25 shows her first season. The rest of her career is now the stuff of Top Model mythology: she nailed down a deal with Victoria's Secret and became a household name thanks to history-making covers of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and being a founding member of the VS Angels. Big Acting Break: Banks made the jump from fashion to acting with a character arc as Jackie Ames on the fourth season of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She would follow up with many TV appearances and started appearing in movies with 1995's Higher Learning, though we here at the Fashionista offices remember her best as Eve, the doll who came to life to help a young Lindsay Lohan in Life-Size. The Verdict: Tyra's roles are often fun (think of her recent cameo as actress Ursula Nyquist on Gossip Girl), and they all play into her greatest talent: Being Tyra.

Devon Aoki

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Model Beginnings: Homegirl got really lucky on this front: at age 13, her godmother introduced her to the Godmother of Modeling, Kate Moss. She was signed with Storm Management and by 16, had replaced Naomi Campbell as the face of Versace. Despite being short by model standards, she pulled in a number of huge ad campaigns and cover shoots. Big Acting Break: Aoki's first film appearance came in the marvelous classic, 2 Fast 2 Furious. Her only other major role to date was the assassin Miho in the Sin City films, a role she will reprise in a 2013 sequel. The Verdict: Obviously Aoki was born under a great star, since she got the model hookup with Kate, but we think her luck ends there.

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Brooklyn Decker Model Beginnings: Within a month of moving to New York City to make it as a model, Decker was already working with Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret. And with a body like that, it's no wonder why! Big Acting Break: Decker broke into acting with a guest appearance on NBC's Chuck where she played (shocker) a model. Since then she's played a series of roles that have required her to really get out of character, like another cameo on Royal Pains where she played supermodel, or in 2011's Adam Sandler movie, Just Go With It, where she plays an incredibly hot girl. Or in What to Expect When You're Expecting, where she plays an impossibly perfect pregnant woman married to a much older man. In 2012's Battleship, she gets slightly out of her character mold by playing a physical therapist, who, of course, is really hot. The Verdict: Even though she's acted alongside big names like Jennifer Aniston and Liam Neeson, Decker's films have largely been panned by audiences and critics alike, though her acting alone is certainly not to blame. We hope she continues to act, and breaks out of her "hot girl" persona a little more.

Photo: Gemma Ward Facebook

Photo: Gemma Ward Facebook

Gemma Ward Model Beginnings: Ward signed with IMG in 2003 and by September made her debut at Prada in Milan - as an exclusive. It didn't take long for Ward to start popping up everywhere, from runways to covers, and she even replaced big names like Kate Moss and Stella Tennant as the face of some major brands. Big Acting Break: Ward's first role came in the film Black Balloon, in which she played the girlfriend of a boy dealing with his brother's autism. Then she took a role in The Strangers terrifying Liv Tyler (and audiences everywhere) as a masked intruder. Ward was last seen as a mermaid in the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but has a small role in the highly anticipated Great Gatsby film due out later this year. The Verdict: Ward officially retired from modeling in 2009, so we're excited to throw our support behind her acting career--particularly when she's been brave enough to eschew typical "hot girl" roles that many models gravitate towards.

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Sasha Pivovarova Model Beginnings: Pivovarova has reigned the runways (and the campaigns, and the fashion editorials...) since her debut on the Prada runway in 2005. Big Acting Break: She played Justin Timberlake's mother-in-law (seriously) in sci-fi thriller In Time. But don't expect a grey wig and wrinkled makeup for this supermodel--Pivovarova's character didn't age past 25, since the film's premise was about "buying time" to stay ageless. The Verdict: Pivovarova has only dipped her toes into acting, so it's too early to tell exactly where it'll take her. For the record, we think she'd be perfect playing a Russian spy sometime in the future. (Cross your fingers)

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Lily Cole Model Beginnings: One of Cole's very first editorials was with Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue in 2003, and while Cole never devoted herself to modeling full time, she was incredibly successful. In just two years, she nabbed a British Vogue cover, Prada and Moschino ad campaigns, and a "Model of the Year" award at the 2004 British Fashion Awards. Cole is still modeling, and managed to receive her "Double First" from Cambridge University in the meantime. Big Acting Break: In 2006, Marilyn Manson announced that he'd chosen Cole to star as "Alice" his film Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, which sadly may not ever be released. Her first major role was in Heath Ledger's final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, for which she received high praise from director Terry Gilliam. The Verdict:Cole has expressed interest in refocusing her career from modeling to acting and we have to say, we're intrigued.

Photo: Youtube

Photo: Youtube

Agyness Deyn Model Beginnings: For years now, the British-born Deyn (nee Laura Hollins) has straddled the line between supermodel and style icon. Deyn landed her first US Vogue cover in 2007 alongside the likes of Chanel Iman, Coco Rocha, and Jessica Stam. Her trademark pixie cut and lanky frame have landed her campaigns for Burberry, Armani, Mulberry, and tons more. Big Acting Break: Aggy's film debut came in 2010, when she played Greek goddess Aphrodite in the blockbuster The Clash of the Titans. Along with some voiceover work (for her Doc Martens campaign and Rihanna's "We Found Love" video), she plays a stripper in the upcoming remake of 1996's Pusher, and is set to star in the film adaptation of the Scottish novel Sunset Song. She also recently made her stage debut in London in The Leisure Society. Final Verdict: Though she's appeared in a some select editorials over the past several years, it's clear that Aggy Deyn has decided to switch her focus to something with a little more dialogue. Her choice to take a step back from the blockbusters following her turn in Titans was probably a wise decision--it's generally better to work your way up when you're switching career paths. Vogue UK called her theatre debut "convincing and genuine," which leaves us with high hopes for her other roles to follow

Photo: IMDB

Photo: IMDB

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Model Beginnings: Rosie got her start in 2006 modeling for Victoria's Secret. But Rosie's career really took off in 2008 when Christopher Bailey plucked the English Rose to front a Burberry campaign. Since then, VS rewarded her with those wings; she posed nude for the Pirelli calendar and she's become the face of Burberry Body perfume. Big Acting Break: You can't just replace hottie Megan Fox with any old actress. So what could Michael Bay do except cast even hottie-er Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the third Transformers movie? The Verdict: Most critics got the impression that Rosie was cast more for her bangin' bod than her acting chops (you don't say?). It's her only acting role to date, however, so we'll just hold off on judging...for now.

Erin Wasson

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Model Beginnings: Texan Erin Wasson won a model search in 1999 and made her runway debut in 2000 for the likes of Balenciaga and Givenchy. The All-American model has modeled for the likes of Michael Kors and Victoria's Secret, and well landed multiple international Vogue covers. Big Acting Break: Wasson has nailed the "Cool Girl Muse" role thanks to her tight friendship with Alexander Wang, but it was her partnership with William Rast that saw her branch out into acting, appearing as the love interest of one Mr. Justin Timberlake in the 2008 ad campaign. No big. Next up is a role in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The Verdict: Jury is out until we can see this Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie!