Where the Oscar Nominees for 2023 First Found Success, from Soap Operas to Disney Channel Programmes

The roads taken by each of the 20 actors and actresses competing for Academy Awards in the lead and supporting acting categories have all been distinctive.

Check out some of the candidates’ major breaks, like Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh’s appearance in a watch ad and Austin Butler’s Disney Channel beginnings!

Austin Butler

The Oscars 2023 Nominees' First Big Breaks

Butler began his career as a kid actor on programs including Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (2005–2007), Hannah Montana (2006–2007), iCarly (2007), and Zoey 101 before embarking on what would become an Oscar-nominated portrayal as Elvis Presley (2007-2008).

Paul Mescal

Mescal initially gained attention with his swoon-worthy performance in the 2020 Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People. Mescal is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in Aftersun.

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Michelle Yeoh

The Oscars 2023 Nominees' First Big Breaks

Yeoh is undoubtedly a superstar in her own realm, but she did not arrive there on a straight path. After appearing in more than 40 movies, many of which were action movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, she was nominated for an Oscar for the first time in 2023 for her lead role in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Yeoh relocated from her home in Malaysia to London at the age of 15 in order to pursue ballet at the Royal Academy of Dancing before she gained fame on the big screen. She went home and later won the Miss Malaysia pageant after a spinal injury ended her dancing career. Following that, she was cast in her first Hong Kong film, The Owl vs. Bumbo, before appearing in a watch ad with Jackie Chan (seen above).
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Ana de Armas

De Armas began her career in 2007 on the Spanish drama series El Internado, which led to appearances in movies including War Dogs and Blade Runner 2049.

According to de Armas, who is up for Best Actress this year for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, “we couldn’t even go down the street when the series initially became famous,” Vogue Spain said in 2020.
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“Elena [Furiase, her co-star], who has lived a life of a celebrity, grasped my hand and understood how to avoid an awkward question or a camera following me,” she said.

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Ke Huy Quan

The Oscars 2023 Nominees' First Big Breaks

Quan’s professional path is one that will go down in history. He made the decision to accompany his elder brother to an open audition for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when he was 12 years old, not long after the family had relocated from Vietnam to Los Angeles.

He then went on to perform in another audience favorite, Goonies, a year later, but soon after that, he took the “extremely tough choice” to stop acting. Twenty years later, he made a significant comeback to the cinema, landing the part he had initially auditioned for in Everything Everywhere All at Once. The actor received great compliments for his portrayal of Waymond Wang, and he was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Angela Bassett

Before transitioning to the cinema with parts in Boyz n the Hood and Malcolm X, Bassett began her career in theatre and on television. Nevertheless, it was her Oscar-nominated performance in 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do With It, based on the life of Tina Turner, that marked a major turning point for her career.

Her portrayal in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has earned her a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role 29 years later.

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Jamie Lee Curtis

The Oscars 2023 Nominees' First Big Breaks

Curtis received her SAG card for her work in Operation Petticoat, a program that was based on the film that her father, Tony Curtis, had featured in. She made this observation in her funny “I Am an Actor” address at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Although barely spending a year in the program, she eventually landed the renowned part of Laurie in Halloween, continuing the Scream Queen legacy of her mother Janet Leigh.

Andrea Riseborough

Riseborough’s first recurring role on television was in the brief-lived British television series Party Animals in 2007, following a tiny part in the 2006 movie Venus. She has now gained greater notoriety by playing more important parts in movies including Happy-Go-Lucky, Never Let Me Go, W.E., Birdman, and Netflix’s Waco miniseries.
The actress received her first Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination for her work in 2022’s To Leslie, a nomination that surprised Riseborough and caused controversy owing to the star-studded promotion of the movie that took place prior to voting.

Stephanie Hsu

The Oscars 2023 Nominees' First Big Breaks

Hsu made a big impression on Broadway in 2017 before her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once earned her an Oscar nomination. She created the part of Karen the Computer in Spongebob Squarepants, the Broadway Musical (pictured above.) Hsu also played regular parts on The Path (Hulu, 2016–2018) and, more recently, The Marvelous Mrs.


Barry Keoghan

After answering an open casting call he noticed on a window advertising, the Dublin-born actor got his start and finally landed the part in an Irish crime thriller that was published in 2011. Before getting his big break in 2017’s Dunkirk, Keoghan first secured parts in a number of Irish independent films.

He even had an appearance in a few episodes of the Irish TV serial opera Fair City (pictured above).

Together with Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Kerry Condon, he is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role this year for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin.