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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

25 Entrepreneurs on the Celebrities Who Inspire Them

25 Entrepreneurs on the Celebrities Who Inspire Them
Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock

Celebrities may be best known for their albums or roles in movies, but many use the platform that comes with fame to do a whole lot of good. Some celebrities start businesses, while others focus on giving back to charity. In any case, it's no surprise that most people have a favorite celebrity whom they look up to.

Business News Daily asked entrepreneurs to share their famous role models. From singers and authors to actors, athletes and reality TV stars, here are 25 celebrities entrepreneurs find inspiring.

"[Leonardo DiCaprio is] a great actor, and front-line fighter for our environment. He hasn't sold out for "rom-coms" and does movies I enjoy through captivating performances. Leo inspires me as a business owner to not succumb to the standards of the industry — the Oscars [for example] — and write your own story, and that the best stories come from those who do good." –AJ Fountain, co-owner and president, Dr. Squatch Soap Co.

"Of all the celebrities out there, I'm most impressed by Dwayne Johnson. This might seem like an odd choice for someone in the makeup business but his clear devotion to appreciating his fans is an inspiration for anyone that runs a business with a focus on customer service and satisfaction. He is always posting on Instagram how grateful he is for his fans while showing the work and long hours that go into producing the movies and TV shows that make us love him. It is a kind of authenticity that doesn't sugarcoat how tough it is to succeed but how very worth it it is to go the extra mile to connect people to both the work and the outcome." – Julie Fredrickson, CEO and founder, Stowaway Cosmetics

"My inspirational celebrity is Bethenny Frankel. She worked her ass off to create a product and ultimately an entire lifestyle brand out of next to nothing. She finds voids in the market, supports women and puts her time and effort into projects and people she is passionate about. She shoots it straight, and I find her honesty refreshing." – Kristen Tomlan, founder and CEO, DŌ Cookie Dough Confections

"As a writer, I am inspired by J.K. Rowling. She was rejected 12 times by different publishers before a small publishing house finally accepted her manuscript. She went from poverty to extreme wealth by following her passion, believing in her dream, and refusing to give up. At the same time, she created a magical reading experience for children around the world." – Marissa Levin, CEO, Successful Culture

"The celebrity I find inspiring is Pitbull. I don't even really listen to his music but am amazed at the brand he has built for himself. As an entrepreneur, he has inspired me in so many different ways and I have learned so much! Specifically, seeing how he has continued to adapt and transition himself both musically and as a brand to align with the changing music industry climate. He has been adept at partnering with the right brands and leveraged his ethnic background and abilities to take advantage of opportunities outside of the music world." – Thomas Nguyen, co-owner and chief marketing officer, Peli Peli

"One of my personal inspirations is Jessica Alba and The Honest Company. Jessica identified a problem for her own family and, as a result, came up with a solution to provide nontoxic products to the masses. We need more celebrity mompreneurs like Jessica to help make the world a better place for our kids." – Molly Lindquist, founder and CEO, Consano

"Oprah has inspired me to understand that success is something you achieve based on how much you put into whatever it is that you would like to see success from — and it doesn't happen overnight. I learned from her that others can help you, just as others can provide obstacles, but ultimately, you make your own success and your own failure." – Allison Sinclair, founder and principal, Matryoshka Media Group

"I am inspired by Angelina Jolie. When I look at her, she exemplifies what good should come of fame. She takes issues that are important to humankind and she uses her influence with the media to shed light on the issues and talk about them. She seems to care deeply about our human race. She has accomplished great things in her work with the United Nations speaking on the behalf of refugees and children of Third World countries that have no voice in those forums." – Bethanie Nonami, founder and CEO, Memnto

"I'm a huge Reese Witherspoon fan, and admire her greatly. Many celebrities have gone into business, trying to build upon their brand, but very few movie stars have built companies of substance. But Draper James is a viable business, having recently raised a $10M Series B. Reese is doing this right — using her celebrity as a catapult to launch the company, but allowing the business to grow into its own path and image." – Terena Bell, co-founder and CEO, TVRunway

"Beyoncé has always been somebody I looked up to. And each year I admire her more. Besides her being an amazing singer, I look up to her for her business skills, willpower and courage. Without scandals, she gloriously moves the world with her songs and actions. As a businesswoman, it is not always easy to navigate in the world and success can quickly go to your head. However, Beyoncé always stays grounded and keeps focus, but also shows her vulnerable side." – Pamela Wagner, digital marketing specialist

"Alicia Keys is an inspiring celebrity because she is not only a wonderful role model to young women and a fabulous singer and pianist, but she also embraces the art of giving back to humanity through her philanthropic efforts. Through her nonprofit Keep a Child Alive Foundation, she provides medicine to Africans living with HIV and AIDS. Her donations to the youth also provides scholarships to children in need. Alicia Keys has also used her music in times of destruction during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and the earthquake in Haiti. I admire what she does nationally and internationally. It's always nice to see artists give back, and she seems to do it with so much humility and grace." – Erik Humphrey, founder and publisher, Quiet on the Set Magazine

"[Sophia Bush] does more than talk, she shows up. She has marched on the front lines for marriage equality, appeared in documentaries for women's rights, ran a marathon for charity and actively taps her network to raise funds for aid relief. She is a shining example of how a celebrity can use their reach to elevate the conversation make the world a better place." – Andrew Horn, founder, Tribute

"As an entrepreneur, the celebrity that most inspires me is Lauren Conrad. Lauren found her fame through the MTV shows 'Laguna Beach' and 'The Hills.' It would have been easy for her to fall into the stereotype of a dumb blonde teen reality star after that. However, she built a brand around herself with best-selling books, a gorgeous clothing line, and a successful beauty blog among other things. Lauren is also an incredible inspiration for young women looking to be leaders in the business world. When asked on a morning radio show what her favorite position was, she responded beautifully with the answer 'CEO.'" – Stacy Sailer, co-founder, Paired Media

"A celebrity who inspires me is Curtis Jackson (50 Cent). Most people think of just the rapper initially, but I think of his story. Even through his surroundings and misfortunes he built an empire and streamed successfully into multiple business ventures." – Raygrid Calderon, CEO and lead developer, Dreemkacher

"He started from the bottom and climbed the ladder to reach his lifelong dream of hosting 'The Tonight Show.' His talent for humor carried him, but it was his hard work and long hours put in that were the real drivers in his success. I always try to apply the same mindset in my professional life." – Dan Brinton, CEO, Fractured Prune

"I'm big-time inspired by comedian extraordinaire Amy Schumer. She's the kind of new school 'riot grrrl' that kicks me back into action, no matter what I'm facing down." – Cheryl Laughlin, indie screenwriter and owner, Bits Of Love Jewelry

"I think of Ellen DeGeneres as my inspiration for starting a very unique nonprofit. I look to her because she is authentic, humble, diligent, smart, and her slogan, 'Be kind to one another,' is powerful in its simplicity. In many cases, successful people are ambitious and focused, but may not be grateful. Ellen embodies the skills and characteristics that I aim to have and maintain as I grow my nonprofit, mission and philanthropy." – Jodi O'Donnell-Ames, president and founder, Hope Loves Company

"Pharrell inspires me because of his professionalism, because of the strategic selection of brand partners for him — Chanel, Montcler, Moynat, Rizzoli, Louis Vuitton — and because the team that he's assembled — from manager, to publicist, to agents — is not only the best in the business, [it's comprised of] some of the most stand-up people I've ever met." – Coltrane Curtis, founder and managing partner, Team Epiphany

"I'm a big fan of Kanye West, because he isn't afraid to experiment and push the boundary of musical experience. He defies convention — basically does whatever he wants — and is completely, authentically himself." – Taylor Smith, CEO and co-founder, Blueboard

"Ashton Kutcher [inspires me.] He treats people well, has worked really hard and built an empire in acting and is currently building a business empire as well. He's funny and laid back, but also passionate and motivated." – Ben Weissenstein, founder and CEO, Grand Slam Garage Sales

"I really admire Lady Gaga as a celebrity, artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Her creativity and charity work is very inspiring to me. Having founded the Born This Way Foundation in 2011 with her mom, she's always been an advocate for empowering youth, and is also a great example of how you're never too big to enlist the help of family and friends." – Sean Scott, founder and CEO, Levitation Activewear

"Will Smith is incredibly inspiring because he never settles and never stops pushing in his career, while also prioritizing his family and maintaining a reputation for being an all-around good guy. There is something really impressive about a celebrity that can cut across a variety of skill sets, from a rapper and musician, to a comedic television star, to being able to carry blockbusters and dramatic roles." –Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder, HighGround

"Brooke Shields is the celebrity that completely inspires me. I met Brooke several years ago through a mutual friend. Her daughters attend the same school as many of my good friends and since that time I have had the pleasure of seeing her at family and holiday parties. She is as down-to-earth as the average Joe at parties, approachable to all. [She's] always a picture of beauty, and full of humor. She is a hands-on mom, who doesn't fall for working mom guilt — an inspiration to me since I'm a busy working mother myself." – Eleni Gianopulos, CEO, Eleni's New York

"Michael's work ethic and competitive spirit are second to none. He would never accept being second best. When Michael was playing, his ability to concentrate and lock in was almost superhuman. Just like you have to do in business, he had the ability to forget what happened two seconds ago and move forward. He was in the moment, not worried about anything else, and willing to stop at nothing to be a champion." – Ryan Harwood, CEO and founder, PureWow

"I love Cicely Tyson because she always carries herself with elegance and grace. She speaks eloquently. She is passionate about her career and the choices she makes and doesn’t apologize for her choices. She created her own path even when job opportunities were not readily available. She was a trailblazer and an activist. She doesn't believe in retirement, she continues to work well past the average retirement age of 65 and shows no signs of slowing down. She uses her platform to bring awareness to issues that are of importance to her." – Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner, H.E. Freeman Enterprises

Brittney Helmrich
Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.