Let's face it: Reality TV has a bad reputation for setting its stars on a path to self-destruction. But every once in awhile, a few lucky souls make it through the sudden rush of fame and go on to lead normal, healthy and happy lives — like former "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills" star Lauren Conrad. LC (seen here in 2006 at the height of her reality TV fame at age 20) can definitely be called a reality TV success story. The wife, mom and lifestyle guru turns 32 on Feb. 1, 2018, so in honor Lauren's birthday, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at all the reality stars who turned out okay in spite of their TV fame. Keep reading for more…
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Lauren Conrad has proved that against the odds, she has what it takes to make it. The former reality TV star made a splash in the world of fashion in 2009 with the launch of her line LC Lauren Conrad, sold exclusively at Kohl's, which led to a runway debut in 2015 and numerous collaborations (including a Disney-inspired line). Lauren's also a New York Times bestselling author with more than nine books to her name, including her 2016 entertaining guide, "Lauren Conrad Celebrate." As if she wasn't busy enough, LC also launched her popular self-titled lifestyle website in 2011 on which she shares all her tips and tricks to help us live our best lives while looking great too. In 2014, Lauren married attorney William Tell, a former guitarist for the band Something Corporate. In 2017, the couple welcomed their first child, Liam James Tell.
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Admittedly, RuPaul was a household name long before his hit reality TV series, "RuPaul's Drag Race," premiered in 2009. But since he's our favorite queen who knows how to "work," we couldn't leave him off our list. On Feb. 2, 2018, RuPaul's VH1 reality TV competition series, which is dedicated to finding drag's "next superstar," will turn nine years old. Keep reading to see what this fierce and fabulous star is doing today…
Along with hosting his own reality series, actor, host, singer, writer and all-around superstar RuPaul has made it abundantly clear he's not done ruling the world. A year after "RuPaul's Drag Race" debuted in 2009, the beloved drag queen published "Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Style." He's also steadily added acting credits to his name. In 2017, RuPaul appeared on the hit comedy series "Broad City" and also made a stop on the Netflix original series "Girl Boss." After a tense few months of uncertainty over whether or not "RuPaul's Drag Race" would be renewed for a 10th season in 2018, we finally learned he would be back, sashaying and shante-ing in March 2018. RuPaul — who married his longtime partner, Georges LeBar, in 2017 exactly 23 years after they met — is also working on an upcoming documentary project titled "Allee Willis Loves Detroit."
In 2009, the world got a peek behind the curtain at the fairy tale romance of E! News anchor and host Giuliana Rancic and her former reality TV star husband, Bill Rancic (who was the first contestant to ever win the competition series "The Apprentice") thanks to their own reality series, "Giuliana & Bill." The show ran from 2009 to 2014 and included some heavy topics, like Giuliana's battle with breast cancer and the couple's struggles to have a child.
Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic beat the odds (and the reality TV marriage curse) by making it through seven seasons of their reality series, "Giuliana & Bill," without getting a divorce. Since the show came to an end in 2014, a lot has changed for the couple, who are parents to a son, Duke. Giuliana, who recently celebrated her sixth year of being cancer-free, launched her own clothing line with HSN as well as a wine label (Xo, G), which has kept her busy since she left her anchor position with "E! News" — though she continues to work the red carpet alongside Ryan Seacrest during award season (she officially ended her tenure on "Fashion Police" in 2017). Bill has continued his work as a motivational speaker and author. In 2016, he published his first fiction novel, "First Light," while also running his three restaurants — RPM Italian (located in Chicago and Washington D.C.) and RPM Steak Chicago. Since 2015, the couple have called Chicago home.
Another "Laguna Beach" alum who made it out of the reality TV crosshairs is the show's No. 1 villain, Kristin Cavallari. Kristin was involved in one of the biggest reality TV love triangles of the decade with boyfriend Stephen Colletti and her arch rival, Lauren Conrad.
Since leaving both "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills," Kristin Cavallari has transformed herself into a mom, wife, fashion and jewelry designer and even a domestic goddess. In 2012, Kristin welcomed her first child with then-fiance Jay Cutler, an NFL quarterback, which was followed by their marriage in 2013. Around that time, Kristin also launched her shoe line with Chinese Laundry and a jewelry line with GLAMboutique. In 2014, Kristin and Jay welcomed their second son and in November 2015, their third child, a girl, arrived. Sadly, just weeks after the birth of their daughter, Kristin's brother, Michael Cavallari, was found dead in Utah after apparently freezing to death following a car accident. Although Kristin has shared that her brother's death was one of the most painful events in her life, she's proven she has strength and resilience. In 2016, Kristin published her first book, "Balancing in Heels: My Journey to Health, Happiness and Making it All Work," which went on to become a New York Times bestseller. The book's success was followed by the launch of her newest "baby" — jewelry line Uncommon James. In April 2018, Kristin's set to release her first cookbook, "True Roots: A Mindful Kitchen," which features recipes free of dairy, gluten and refined sugar. As for her feud with Lauren Conrad? Kristin's admitted it was "totally true" but in 2016 announced that it was officially squashed.
In 2008, we met a young Bethenny Frankel on the hit Bravo reality series "The Real Housewives of New York City." Although Bethenny at the time was a chef and single lady living it up in NYC (definitely no housewife), she soon became one of the show's most pivotal and controversial stars.
Although the road hasn't been easy for Bethenny Frankel, she's proven she's a force to be reckoned with. After initially leaving "The Real Housewives of New York City" in 2010 to star on her own reality series, this vivacious entrepreneur, businesswoman and mother experienced the demise of her marriage to Jason Hoppy, which led to a nasty and highly publicized divorce battle. Although the experience was painful, Bethenny enjoyed wild success with her business venture, selling the Skinnygirl brand she'd launched in 2011 for an estimated $100 million. In 2015, she made the decision to return to her reality TV home on "RHONY" to the delight of her fans. In 2016, her long and drawn-out divorce was finalized but in 2017, she returned to the courtroom to sue her ex for increased custody of their daughter, Bryn. On the business front, Bethenny — who's dating banker Dennis Shields — has also launched a denim line. Learning from her past success, she's vowed to take the line "one step at a time," saying, "You start with one thing and do it well, so I think this line is incredible, and then if it does well, we'll move into other categories."
Small in stature but big on talent, Christian Siriano burst onto the celebrity scene in 2008 when he won Season 4 of Heidi Klum's reality fashion design series, "Project Runway."
After becoming the youngest designer to ever win "Project Runway," Christian Siriano wasted no time capitalizing on his newfound fame. Now considered the most successful designer to ever emerge from the reality series, Christian's eponymous label has appeared on the runways of New York Fashion Week every season since his big win. In 2012, he opened his first store in New York and in 2013, he joined the Council of Fashion Designers of America (an impressive feat for any designer, let alone a 27 year old). His creations are on the racks at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other high-end retailers, but he's also created an affordable shoe and handbag line for Payless ShoeSource. Christian — who married his longtime love, music producer Brad Walsh, in 2016 — has even partnered with brands like Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant, Disney and more. His famous clientele includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Angela Bassett, Alexa Chung and dozens more.
It's almost hard to remember that dynamic singer and actress Jennifer Hudson was once a contestant on Season 3 of the reality competition series "American Idol" in 2004. Unbelievable as it might be, Jennifer came in at No. 7 on the show, which was won by another talented singer that year, Fantasia Barrino.
There have been some incredible highs and devastating lows in Jennifer Hudson's life since leaving "American Idol" in 2004. Later that year, she made her Broadway debut in the musical "Hairspray," which she followed with a run in the 2006 Broadway production of "The Best Little Whore House in Texas." That same year, she starred alongside Eddie Murphy and Beyonce in the musical drama "Dreamgirls" (her first big-screen role) and earned an Academy Award for her performance. That was also the year J.Hud, a popular Weight Watchers spokeswoman for four years, met and fell in love with fellow reality show veteran David Otunga, a Harvard-trained lawyer-turned-professional wrestler, who in 2008 proposed to the talented singer and actress. Her Oscar success and new engagement were followed by a co-starring role in the 2008 movie "Sex and the City." Sadly, also in 2008, Jennifer's mother, sister and nephew were gunned down in an unthinkable act of domestic violence committed by her sister's former boyfriend. Although Jennifer was clearly devastated, she dedicated herself to honoring her loss by living the best life she could. In 2009, David and Jennifer welcomed a son, David Otunga Jr. The same year, Jennifer took home a Grammy for best R&B album. The talented star has remained a visible presence on the big and small screens over the years, appearing as a coach on "The Voice UK" and "The Voice" in the U.S. In 2017, she announced her decision to split from David. On Jan. 22, 2018, Jennifer returned to the big screen with the drama "Monster," a film about an incarcerated teen.
In 2003, the very first season of "The Bachelorette" aired. It starred the runner-up from the previous season of "The Bachelor," Trista Rehn. In the end, Trista gave her final rose to hunky firefighter Ryan Sutter, who dropped to his knee and asked for Trista's hand in marriage.
Happily, Trista Sutter and Ryan Sutter are another reality TV couple whose love overcame the curse of reality show fame. The couple wed on Dec. 3, 2003, and have enjoyed 14 years of marital bliss, which has included the addition of two children (seen here with their parents in a pic from December 2017). While everything might seem rosy and perfect, Trista and Ryan have also experienced their fair share of marriage difficulties. In 2014, they decided to return to reality TV to participate in the series "Marriage Boot Camp," where they opened up about issues with communication over the years. Thankfully, they left the show stronger than ever. The couple, who reside in Vail, Colorado, experienced a health scare while on vacation in Croatia in June 2017 when Trista suffered a seizure and was hospitalized. Of the episode, Trista has said it's made her "vow to try my best to live this life to the fullest."
We first met Jamie Chung (center) in 2004 as a cast member of MTV's "The Real World: San Diego."
Jamie Chung is perhaps one of the most successful former "Real World" franchise cast members ever. After leaving the San Diego loft, Jamie worked hard to land roles on the big and small screens, starting with a walk-on role on "Veronica Mars," which led to a recurring role on the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives" in 2007. From there, Jamie climbed the ladder, landing parts in films like "Grownups" and "The Hangover Part II" (and its sequel). In 2012, she took on the role of Mulan on the hit fantasy series "Once Upon a Time" while also appearing as a regular cast member on "Believe," "Gotham" and "Resident Advisers." In 2017, Jamie landed a role on the sci-fi series "The Gifted" as well as a voice role on the animated series "Big Hero 6." In 2015, she married her longtime boyfriend, actor Bryan Greenberg. Up next for the talented actress is a starring role in the 2018 big-screen drama "1985."
Bob Harper made his small-screen debut in 2004 as the fitness trainer and coach with a heart of gold on the hit reality TV series "The Biggest Loser."
Over the years, Bob Harper has been known (and loved) for his compassionate approach to fitness coaching. As one of the most supportive and caring trainers on "The Biggest Loser," it was easy to feel like Bob was the contestants' best friend rather than a merciless fighter against the battle of the bulge. Sticking with the show until 2016 (serving as a trainer and, during the last year, the show's host), Bob also shared his passion for healthy living through numerous books including "Are You Ready?" and "Skinny Rules." In 2017, Bob's heart went from being his strongest asset to his greatest foe when he went into cardiac arrest while exercising at a gym. The experience left him in a coma for days and with two stents in his heart. Miraculously, Bob survived the episode, which was brought on by genetics, not his lifestyle. Of the ordeal, Bob says he battled depression and a "loss of trust" with his heart. However, he's now on the mend and more passionate than ever to share his love of fitness. In December 2017, his newest book, "The Super Carb Diet," hit bookshelves.
On Oct. 14, 2007, the world met the empire-minded Kardashian clan — led by middle sister and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian West — with the debut of the hit E! reality TV series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." The show starred the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan, including siblings Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Rob Kardashian and Kim, plus their half-sisters, Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner, and their parents, Kris Jenner and former Olympian Bruce Jenner, who's now living as her true self, Caitlyn Jenner.
Let's be honest: If there was a queen of reality TV, it would no doubt be Kim Kardashian West, who turned her reality fame into the foundation of an empire. The star of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," "Kourtney & Kim Take Miami" and "Kourtney & Kim Take New York" has proven herself to be a master of personal branding who's successfully launched everything from a beauty line, KKW, to her own personal "Kimojis" line to a wildly successful video game app, "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood." In 2013, Kim — who famously split from second husband Kris Humphries in 2011 after just 72 days of marriage — welcomed her first child, daughter North West, with then-fiance Kanye West. In 2014, they said "I do" and made "Kimye" our favorite celeb couple name of all time. In 2015, the two welcomed their second child, son Saint West. Unfortunately, Kim endured complications during both pregnancies, which left her unable to safely carry any more children. That's why, in 2017, Kim and Kanye made the difficult decision to use a surrogate to carry their third child, daughter Chicago West, who was born on Jan. 15, 2018. Although Kim briefly stepped away from social media and her reality show after being held at gunpoint in Paris in 2016 during a jewelry robbery, she's proven herself to be a true warrior and re-emerged just months later stronger than ever.
Karamo Brown (left) was one of the seven stars of "The Real World: Philadelphia" from 2004 to 2005. He was also the first openly gay African-American cast member to ever appear on the long-running MTV reality series.
After leaving "The Real World: Philadelphia" in 2005 and starring on MTV's "The Challenge" that same year, Karamo Brown made some major leaps in his career. Along with modeling since 2007, Karamo worked with the Oprah Winfrey Network as a host and producer and in 2015 served as a producer and host for eight episodes of "Huffpost Live." The handsome star worked as a correspondent for "Dr. Drew on Call" from 2014 to 2016 and later that year worked as a host for "Access Hollywood Live." Next, the openly gay father of two is set to star on the 2018 Netflix series reboot of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which premieres Feb. 7.