When we watch people star in movies and television shows or read their award-winning stories, we often don’t think about their origins before they were famous. Louisiana has raised plenty of unknowns to be famous authors, actors, musicians, athletes, and activists. Here are just a few people who called Louisiana home before going on to do incredible things.
1. John Kennedy Toole
The author of The Confederacy of Dunces was born in none other than New Orleans.
2. Arna Bontemps
Born in Alexandria, this Creole Bricklayer grew up to publish poems that brought attention to the suffering of African Americans. Check his famous 1924 poem "Crisis".
3. Jimmy Swaggart
This man wears many hats: teacher, musician, author, pastor, and televangelist! He was born in Ferriday 80 years ago.
4. Jerry Lee Lewis
"The Killer" was also born in Ferriday and grew up to be "Rock and Roll's first Wildman". Rock on!
5. Pauline Cushman
Born In New Orleans in mid June 1833, this talented lady was both an actress and a Union spy!
6. Ellen Degeneres
We have Ellen! Well, New Orleans does anyway. She was born in Metairie and grew up to be quite the comedian and talk show host, as well as a major proponent for LGBT rights.
7. Peyton Manning
The Football quarterback was born and raised in New Orleans before moving on to the Denver Broncoes. Go long!
8. Kitty Carlisle
Give a round of applause for this talented singer, actress, and spokeswoman for the arts. She was born in New Orleans and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame shortly before her death.
9. Ian Somerhalder
The 35 year old actor wasn't always running around on television playing a teenage vampire. His roots began in Covington, a peaceful place that you wouldn't think could be the hometown for such a famous creature of the night.
10. Anne Rice
The author of the spooky "Interview With a Vampire" book series and other equally creepy stories was inspired by none other than her own hometown, New Orleans.
11. Dr. John
The famous "Night Tripper" became known for his blend of rhythm and blues coupled with funky rock. He paved the way for many new sounds and still jams in his childhood city, New Orleans.
12. Buddy Guy
This Chicago Electric Blues guitarist strummed his first notes in Lettsworth where he practiced on a handmade two string Diddley bow!
13. Lil' Wayne.
The artist grew up in New Orleans before moving on to a successful career as a rapper.
14. Louis Armstrong
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong didn't let his poor beginnings in New Orleans prevent him from going on to have an astounding career as a trumpeter and pioneer for the Jazz Movement.
15. Truman Capote
The author of "In Cold Blood" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" began his life in New Orleans. His writing career extended to screen and playwriting; talents he fostered until his death in 1984.
16. Reese Witherspoon
The sweet and talented actress has humble roots in a Southern Baptist Church in New Orleans. Once she stated making movies she changed her name, but she hasn't forgotten where she came from.
Every place has the potential to raise future stars. There’s no denying that Louisiana has its share of pretty spectacular human beings who have gone on to change the world. Who else is missing from our list? Tell us in the comments below!