Celebrity Accountants: From Jackson to Williams

Published on Friday February 12, 2021

From rock and pop icons to global sports stars, a surprising number of today’s best-known celebrities almost became accountants! The world might have been a different place if they had followed their initial calling, rather than changing their career plans.

Janet Jackson

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Read on to find out about some famous celebrities that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with being accountants in their younger days…

1. Janet Jackson

The famous youngest Jackson sister aspired to be an accountant before becoming a singer. As a child, she attended regular school in Encino, California, where she was a bright student.

However, her plans to follow an academic career and act in her spare time changed, on her father’s advice. She was sent to Hollywood’s Valley Professional High School, for children in the entertainment industry, after her father, Joseph Jackson, advised she would make more money as a singer.

In an interview with Giant magazine in 2006, she admitted she “never really wanted to sing”. She wanted to go to college to study business law and pay for her academic course through an acting career as a side-line.

Graduating from high school in 1984, she still aspired to go to college, but she joined the family entertainment business instead. Now aged 54, she is worth an estimated $190 million, so her father was probably right.

2. Venus Williams

Professional tennis player and former world number one women’s singles champion Venus Williams studied business administration at Indiana University. Born in June 1980, she attended school in Compton, California, but was already showing promise as a tennis player by the time she was seven.

At the age of ten, Venus and her family moved to Palm Beach, in Florida, so she and her sister Serena could attend a tennis academy. Venus’s success began on the US Tennis Association junior tour when she was ranked number one among South California’s Under-12s.

Venus completed an associate degree in fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007.Following that, she achieved her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at Indiana University East. However, she later said in an interview, “I have to say, accounting almost killed me!”

Today, the tennis superstar has an estimated net worth of $41.9 million and is CEO of her own interior design firm, V Starr Interiors, of Florida, so perhaps her accountancy training is being put to good use after all.

3. Mick Jagger

Legendary Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger studied accounting and finance before hitting the big time as a rock star.

Born into a middle-class family in Dartford, in July 1943, both his parents were teachers. He was an intelligent child, attending Wentworth Primary School, before passing his 11-plus exam and attending Dartford Grammar School. He left school at 18 in 1961, with seven O-levels and two A-levels, before winning a scholarship to London School of Economics, where he commenced training to be an accountant.

He moved into a flat with his old primary school friend, Keith Richards, in Chelsea. Richards and his friend, fellow guitarist Brian Jones, were planning on starting a band, so Jones moved into the flat too. While he and Richards played rhythm and blues, Jagger continued to study accounting.

Receiving a government grant as an undergraduate student, he had also considered becoming a journalist or a politician. However, after jamming with Richards and Jones, Jagger’s accountancy course paled into insignificance and the trio became the nucleus of the Rolling Stones. After just under a year, he dropped out of university and became a musician full-time.

The Rolling Stones have been playing since 1962. Tragically, Jones died in a swimming pool accident in 1969. Jagger and Richards carried on with the band and are still going strong today, after almost 60 years. Jagger’s net worth has been estimated at $360 million.

4. John Grisham

Bestselling author John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1977. He went on to enrol at the University of Mississippi School of Law, initially to become a tax lawyer, but later specialising in general civil litigation, graduating in 1981 with a Juris Doctor degree.

Grisham, born in Arkansas in 1955, had no desire to go to college after leaving school. Neither of his parents had a great deal of formal education, but nonetheless, they encouraged him.

However, he left school and took a series of menial jobs at 16, including working on a highways asphalt crew. When a gunfight broke out among his fellow workers, Grisham left the job immediately and decided to further his education. He later opted to pursue writing, rather than accountancy, although he practised law for around ten years.

He wrote his first book, A Time to Kill, loosely based on a court case he had followed in 1984. It was published in 1989 – he never looked back. Today, his estimated net worth is $350 million.

5. Chuck Liddell

Best known for his karate and kickboxing skills, martial arts expert Chuck Liddell is also a trained accountant. The 51-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion attended California Polytechnic University and graduated with a BA in Business and Accounting in 1995.

However, he never used his accountancy skills in the course of his career, as he had also excelled at wrestling in his teens and became more interested in martial arts. He studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was credited with bringing mixed martial arts into the mainstream media, rather than the fringe sport it used to be.

As a child, Liddell was taught boxing by his grandfather and his interest in learning fighting techniques began then. Although a bright student, he was more interested in furthering his UFC career.

He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009. As of 2021, he is one of the world’s richest MMA fighters, with an estimated net worth of around $14 million.

Today, it’s hard to imagine any of these famous five celebrity accountants doing any other job than the one they are known for, whether it’s as a show business or sporting icon!

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