Most of us relate stardom to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or big metropolis cities like New York, Paris, and London, and with good reason. For over a century, celebrities have made their names in California, and who wouldn’t like to spend their downtime in the Big Apple or jet-setting across Europe?
But not all celebrities are born in Hollywood. Most are blow-ins, setting their sites on fame from various other states. Many accomplished actresses, singers, and prominent figures have come out of Texas. This article pays homage to the trailblazing female celebrities from Texas.
Female Celebrities From Texas
Texas is a remarkable place. It’s home to some of America’s biggest and best cities. As the largest state in the contiguous U.S., there are over 30 million people in the Lone Star State. It should be no surprise that it has produced several phenomenal women across various industries.
From blockbuster actresses to inspirational activists, let’s deeply dive into some of the most prominent female celebrities from Texas. While you may have heard of some of them, others may surprise and enlighten you. And, of course, you probably didn’t realize all of these women were from Texas.
Actresses From Texas
Texas has produced a lot of fine actresses over the years. Some have gone on to win prestigious awards at the very highest level. Others are lesser-known heroes that have starred in guilty pleasures or cult classics. With that, let’s jump in.
Mary Elizabeth, or Sissy, Spacek is one of the most accomplished actresses to come out of Texas. Born in Quitman, Texas, in 1949, she spent her childhood and school years in her hometown. She first hit the scene at 18 years old as a singer, under the stage name “Rainbo.”
However, she traded singing for acting within three years when she enrolled in the world-famous Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City. Her talents were quickly recognized, and she was cast as a model, extra, and eventually actress in several motion pictures.
Her breakout role came in 1973 when she was cast as Hollie alongside Martin Sheen in Terrence Malick’s Badlands. She also starred as Carrie White in the horror classic Carrie, based on the novel by Stephen King. Spacek won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1981 for her role in The Coal Miner’s Daughter.
She won several other awards throughout her career, including three Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Some of her most notable movies include Missing (1983), The River (1985), Crimes of the Heart (1987), and In The Bedroom (2002). Now aged 73, she continues to act in both film and TV.
Renée Zellweger was one of Hollywood’s household names from the late 90s through the early 2000s. After starring in the romantic comedy franchise Bridget Jones’s Diary, many people assumed that Zellweger was British. But she is a Texas native born and raised in Katy, TX.
Zellweger spent her teenage years in Texas and even attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied journalism. However, during her time at UT, she was introduced to theater. Her brief experience on stage inspired her to pursue a career in acting.
Initially, she played relatively minor roles but was featured in some successful movies throughout the 90s, like Dazed and Confused (1993) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). She got her first major break starring alongside Tom Cruise in the 1996 hit Jerry Maguire.
In 2001, her work in Nurse Betty was recognized at the Golden Globe Awards, where she picked up the Award for Best Performance in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. From here, she went on to star in major Hollywood movies, including Bridget Jones’s Diary and Chicago.
Zellweger was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and eventually won two of them. The first for Best Supporting Actress in Cold Mountain (2004) and her second, more recently in 2020, for Best Actress in Judy. She has also won four Golden Globes and two British Academy Film Awards.
Continuing to build on her illustrious career, Zellweger is now more selective with her roles but still active. She’s won of the most successful actresses in U.S. history and, in her prime, was among the highest paid.
Hillary Duff is a childhood icon for American girls who grew up in the 2000s. Known for her major hit franchise, Lizzie McGuire, Duff also had a successful singing career, albeit relatively brief. Although she remains a popular figure in pop culture, she hasn’t been as active since her first child was born in 2012.
Duff was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in a relatively wealthy and stable family with her parents and sister, Hailie, who also went on to act and sing. She grew up between San Antonio and Houston as her father ran a chain of convenience stores in both cities.
Hillary and Haylie were involved in acting, singing, and dancing from a young age. Her mother quickly recognized the sisters’ talents, and in 1993, the three of them moved to California to pursue careers in the entertainment business. However, their father remained in Texas.
As a bonafide child star, I was homeschooled from eight years old. She and her sister also modeled for several high-profile clothing brands when they were kids. After bouncing around Hollywood portraying minor roles in several kids’ TV shows, Disney approached Duff to star in the title role for a new series.
After its release in 2001, Lizzie McGuire became an instant hit, drawing in approximately 2.3 million viewers in every episode. Now 14 years old, Duff was a teen idol and a household name worldwide among kids and teens. However, the show ran for only two seasons (plus one movie) and ended because of a contract dispute.
For the next few years, Duff embarked on a solo music career. After that, she got back into acting and appeared in many big projects. Although she didn’t appear on another show as popular as Lizzie McGuire, she remains a popular figure because of her legacy.
Today, she’s a serial entrepreneur and is involved in a series of philanthropic endeavors. Now in her mid-thirties, she has a young family and mainly appears on TV shows rather than big movies.
Another big actress that you might not know is from Texas is Jennifer Garner. Now a Hollywood A-lister, she was born in Houston to Texan parents. But, by age three, her family had relocated to Charleston, West Virginia. From an early age, Garner took a keen interest in acting.
However, she enrolled at Denison University as a chemistry major when she finished high school. But, she quickly pursued her dreams and changed her major to theater. She also spent a semester studying at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, a highly regarded theater company in Connecticut.
Garner worked mainly in theater through college and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in theater performance. After graduation, she progressed in theater before finally making her on-screen debut in the TV movie Zoya.
After moving to New York, Garner began a successful TV career, starring in J.J. Abrams’ ABC hit series, Alias. 2000-2005, she appeared in several popular movies, including Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Catch Me If You Can (2002).
By then, Garner was a household name. After appearing as Elektra Natchios in the blockbuster Daredevil (starring Ben Affleck), she was rewarded with a spin-off movie, Elektra, where she again starred as the title character. Garner continues to star consistently in big movies.
She has been nominated for four Golden Globes, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. She has won one Golden Globe and one Screen Actors Guild Award.
Other Famous Actresses From Texas
- Jennifer Love Hewitt
- Eva Longoria
- Michelle Rodriguez
- Jessica Simpson
- Robin Wright
- Shelly Duvall
Musicians From Texas
Texas is known for its world-class stable of musicians. Through the years, Texas has produced global and national superstars that have performed on the biggest stages. Although Texas is mainly associated with country music and hip-hop, some talents have transcended musical genres.
But today is all about the women. So, let’s look at some of the biggest and most famous female singers from Texas.
The first name on our list is none other than Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. Perhaps the most prominent female pop star in history, Beyoncé was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Her introduction to performance came from attending dance class at Montessori School.
The story goes that her dance teacher heard her humming a song and nailing every high-pitched note. A star was born. From this point on, it was clear that Beyoncé was destined for great things. She sang in choirs, performed in talent shows, and won many competitions throughout childhood.
Understanding their daughter’s talent, Beyoncé’s parents enrolled her in elementary and high schools that helped develop kids in the arts. As a child, she participated in Star Search as part of a music and dance group called Girl’s Tyme. But they didn’t reach stardom just yet.
In 1997, when Beyoncé was 16, the group changed its name to Destiny’s Child. Within a few years, they were winning Grammys. 2003, Beyoncé released her first solo work, but Destiny’s Child didn’t officially disband until 2005. As a solo artist, Beyoncé’s career took off. The rest, as they say, is history.
Beyoncé’s fame and success have bled into various industries, from music to film, fashion to philanthropy. She holds a long list of records, including:
- Most Grammy wins as a female artist (28)
- First female artist to win “Best Rap Performance” at the Grammys
- Most Grammy wins by a vocalist, male or female (28)
- Most Grammy nominations as a female artist (79)
- The first artist to debut at #1 with their first six albums
- Highest yearly earnings for a female artist ($115 million)
This is just a sample of the records she’s broken throughout her career.
Janis Joplin, one of the United States’ favorite and most celebrated musicians, was a Texas native, born and raised in Port Arthur. Known for her jaw-dropping vocal range and hypnotic live performances, Joplin’s essence was symbolic of the music scene in the 1960s.
As a teen, Joplin knew she was different. She hung out with “rejects” and musicians and wasn’t among the popular kids in school. She was relentlessly bullied in high school and endured a tough time. But these years also introduced her to blues and rock music.
Although she attended the University of Texas at Austin, she dropped out to pursue her music career. After going solo, Joplin experienced rapid success. Her music reached number one in the charts, and was known to be one of the best live performers.
Sadly, just three months before her second solo album was released, she died from a heroin overdose aged just 27 (1970). However, her music lives on posthumously, and to this day, she is among the top-selling artists in the U.S.
Other Famous Singers From Texas
- Kelly Clarkson
- Selena Gomez
- Miranda Lambert
- Megan Thee Stallion
- Solange (Beyoncé’s sister)
Other Famous Female Celebrities from Texas
Undoubtedly, Texas has produced acting and musical talents that have set the world alight. These women continue to inspire young Texas natives through their work. But not all great women get the headlines or appear on national television daily.
Nonetheless, the work they do or have done impacts society in meaningful ways. So, before we finish, here’s a list of female celebrities from Texas that sometimes fly under the radar. We recommend googling some of these women to learn about their work and what they do to leave the world in a better place:
- Sandra Day O’Connor: Lawyer and politician. The first female associate justice of the Supreme Court, nominated by President Ronald Regan.
- Miriam A. Ferguson: Politician. The first female governor of Texas, serving between 1925 and 1927, then again from 1933 to 1935.
- Ann Richardson: Politician. The 45th governor of Texas, serving between 1991 and 1995. Recognized for her civil rights activism.
- Barbara Jordan: First African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Colleen Hoover: Author. Has sold over 20 million books, including It Ends With Us. Named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people worldwide.
- Sheryl Swoopes: Basketball player. Accolades include three WNBA MVP titles, three Olympic gold medals, a Fiba World Cup, and a WNBA Championship title—a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member.
- Melinda Gates: Philanthropist and entrepreneur. Consistently listed by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in the world. Former wife of Bill Gates.
- Gina Carano: MMA fighter and actress. One of the first female MMA stars. Now a successful actress, appearing in hits such as The Fast and The Furious (franchise), Deadpool, and The Mandalorian.
Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.