When you think of states that have produced famous celebrities, you tend to think of places like California or New York. North Carolina isn’t very high on that list, at all, but there has still been some A-list talent to come from the Tar Heel State. Here are five people who called North Carolina their home throughout their childhood before becoming big-time stars.
One of the biggest stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Ava Gardner appeared in films throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s including “The Killers”, “The Barefoot Contessa” and “Seven Days in May”. The beautiful award-winning star took an incredibly winding path to Hollywood, and it all started in Grabtown, North Carolina where she was born on Christmas Eve in 1922.
When she was born, Gardner’s parents were tobacco sharecroppers, though they would end up losing the farm while she was a child. She remained in the state for several years while her parents worked odd jobs until she moved to Virginia briefly, then headed back to North Carolina. It was in Rock Ridge where she finished high school before leaving for New York City and beginning her film career.
Jaime Pressly is one of those rare people in Hollywood that has a southern accent and wasn’t really asked to change it. Instead, she has used it to her advantage thanks to roles in films including “Joe Dirt” and “Not Another Teen Movie” while also starring in memorable TV roles in “My Name is Earl” and “Mom”.
Pressly’s accent comes from her time in North Carolina, as she was born in Kinston on July 30, 1977. Pressly’s mother was a dance instructor while her father sold cars in North Carolina, and she remained there for the first 15 years of her life. She made her way to California with her family where she became a model in high school, starting her career. Over the years, Pressly has made her way back to North Carolina multiple times, remembering the state fondly.
Though his name might suggest that he’s from Greece, Zach Galifianakis was born and raised in North Carolina. Galifianakis was born on October 1, 1969 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina where his mother operated a community arts center while his father worked in oil. Galifianakis attended Wilkes Central High School and then North Carolina State University where he got into acting and honed his comedy skills.
It was clear that Galifianakis was a bright star in the comedy, and he started landing gigs as a writer, including a brief stint with “Saturday Night Live”. Eventually, he made his way in front of the camera as a star, landing memorable roles in hit films “The Hangover” and “Due Date” while also starring in the television series “Baskets”.
Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood started out her acting career at a very young age, appearing in TV shows as a child including “American Gothic” and “Once and Again”. When she got into adulthood, Wood transitioned into more serious roles and made her way to the big screen, starring in movies including “The Wrestler” and “The Ides of March”, while more recently appearing in “Frozen II” and “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”.
Wood’s parents Sara Lynn Moore and David Wood III are actors, as well, and were based out of Raleigh, North Carolina where Evan Rachel was born on September 7, 1987. Wood got involved in acting with her parents locally at a young age, and when her television career took off, the family moved to California where she became homeschooled and graduated at just 15 years old.
Michael C. Hall
One of the most critically acclaimed shows of the 20th century was “Dexter”, and its success was due in large part to leading man Michael C. Hall. Outside of “Dexter”, Hall has had appearances in “Six Feet Under”, “Game Night” and “Paycheck”, just to name a few. It’s been a solid career for Hall, and he did it after starting in North Carolina.
Hall was born in Raleigh on February 1, 1971 to parents that were not part of the acting scene. He was raised in the city and attended high school and part of college in North Carolina before eventually making his way to New York City to begin acting.