While critics and audiences haven’t always taken career turns from modeling to acting very seriously, some women have broken through in a big way. Here are five awesome actresses that started out as models, in order to pay the bills and get to know the movie making industry better before diving in.

Milla Jovovich

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Milla Jovovich

Milla Jovovich, photo from The Playlist

The beautiful Ukraine-born Milla began modeling at the very young age of 11 and has appeared on hundreds of runways and in tons of magazines and advertisements since. She went from L’Oreal and Versace to ‘Resident Evil’ and she also had an adorable role in ‘The Fifth Element’.

Cameron Diaz

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz, photo from Celebrity Photo Collection

Cameron started as a fashion model in 1990, at the age of 17, working in print ads for designers such as Calvin Klein and Levi’s. She then turned to acting and scored parts in ‘The Mask’, ‘There’s Something About Mary’ and, more recently, ‘Bad Teacher‘.

Monica Bellucci

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Monica Belluci

Monica Belluci, photo from The Randomizer

Monica began modeling at age 16. She made a living from runways shows and ads before becoming Dracula’s bride in ‘Dracula’ (1992). Since then, she appeared in blockbusters like ‘Malena’, ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Passion of the Christ’.

Halle Berry

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Halle Berry

Halle Berry, photo from Cool Wallpapers

In 1986, she was a runner-up for Miss USA. Halle was the first black American in the Miss World Competition and she also modeled for several years afterward, appearing in print and television ads. Concerning her acting career, she did a great job in picking her movies and she won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in ‘Monster’s Ball’ in 2001.

Charlize Theron

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron, photo frin Fabregas Blog

Last but not least, the South African beauty started her modeling career in Milan at 16. Five years later she was living in LA and struggling to find work as an actress. She showed everyone that she doesn’t rely on her looks when she accepted the part of the serial killer in ‘Monster’, in 2003, which brought her lots of awards, including an Oscar for Best Actress.

Bonus: Brooklyn Decker

Models That Became Big Shot Movie Stars Brooklyn Decker

Brooklyn Decker, photo from Cellar Door

Sports Illustrated cover-girl Brooklyn Decker made the jump from model to actress with ‘Just Go With It’, where she was on the set with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Let’s hope her future is as bright as Cameron’s or Charlize’s turned out to be.