Britney Spears before the fame.
Simon Cowell before the fame.Ian Derry/FOX
Khloe Kardashian before the fame.FOX / Getty Images Entertainment, Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic
Mario Lopez before the fame.Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Entertainment
In the fall of 2011, the long-standing British hit “The X Factor” finally made its way to American shores and has been a major hit ever since. A talented and ever-changing group of judges has helped narrow the contestant pool down to the final competitors over the seasons. Now, with the help of our friends at Snakkle.com we find out what these award-winning judges and hosts were doing before they were plucking stars from obscurity.
THEN: Here is little Britney Spears in a school pic around the time of her stint on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” in 1993. Britney grew up in Louisiana, but attended the nearby Park Lane Academy in Mississippi. When Britney was 10, she was also a contestant on “Star Search.” But she lost to 12-year-old Marty Thomas, leaving us all to ask now “Marty, WHO?!!” Now, Spears is on top of the pop charts, and even dishing out advice and praise to wanna-be Britneys!
TODAY: Has it really been over 15 years since Spears signed with Jive Records in 1997 and released her debut album “...Baby One More Time”? Now, at age 30, Spears made her highly anticipated debut as a judge on the singing competition show in 2012, and was an instant boost to the show’s ratings! Although some have criticized her critiques as generic and perhaps too forgiving, sweet Britney seems to always stick up for the underdog and try to build up any contestant that Simon may tear down with words of encouragement. Seems like Brit is still the well-meaning girl from a small town.
THEN: Simon Cowell was working in the mail room at EMI record company, trying to work his way up. Eventually he began working with artists there, and learned his talents for producing and talent-seeking.
NOW: Cowell was, and still is, a judge on the massively popular "Britain's Got Talent" in and was a former well-known judge on "American Idol." Now, he’s launched his own talent search show "The X Factor" in 2011. Cowell also owns his own record label, and produces several other competition shows for TV. We can't wait to see what new talent he finds on all of his hit shows.
THEN: A young Khloe Kardashian was just a normal 11-year-old girl with two older sisters whose names all began with a K.
TODAY: Khloe is married to basketball star Lamar Odom, and the two star in their own reality show “Khloe and Lamar”—a spin-off from her family's original reality show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Her new co-hosting role on “The X Factor” is her first "non-reality" show media job, and she has already garnered tons of praise—and (ahem), one memorable live wardrobe malfunction due to a VERY sheer shirt.
THEN: Here's proof that young Mario always had those handsome good looks and great win-you-over smile—exactly the qualities that landed him his standout role on TV's “Saved By The Bell.”
TODAY: After “Saved By The Bell” ended Lopez had several other jobs, including a hosting gig at “Extra.” Now, he’s joined “The X Factor” as co-host alongside Kardashian. He has already won praise for his ease on the stage—and he’s easy on the eyes as well.