Remember your entertainment idols from the 2000s? Some of them remain prominent throughout the years and to this day, while others have gradually faded from the spotlight; there’s no denying, however, that each of them changed the entertainment landscape of the 2000s.
Check out these 25 women who cemented themselves as musical icons, acting superstars, and all-around powerhouses of talent and fame.
1. Britney Spears
Throughout her career, it’s fair to say Britney Spears has remained a pop-music icon. Her career in the early 2000s was about as mainstream and successful as a career can be. Spears was catapulted to stardom with the release of debut album …Baby One More Time in 2000, and continued to produce record-breaking singles though 2005.
In 2007, Spears’ personal struggles came to a head. While her music career was still going strong, her personal life suffered. Spears underwent a high-profile divorce, and custody battle for her two children. Through the turmoil, Spears managed to continue producing music (Blackout, Circus, Femme Fatale), while simultaneously raising her two sons.
In 2013, Spears announced her concert residency in Las Vegas, with a show titled Britney: Piece of Me. She also began work on her eighth studio album, Britney Jean. Spears followed up in 2016 with her ninth and most recent studio album, Glory, and is now turning her residency show into a world tour. Now that’s what we call a comeback!
2. Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson’s music career took off in the early 2000s. During the recording of her second studio album, Irresistible, she adopted a more mature public image, which took her to the forefront of the teen-pop scene. Simpson and her former husband Nick Lachey starred on MTV reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica in 2003, the same year she played Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazard movie.
In 2014, Simpson got re-married Eric Johnson; the couple has two children. She has also announced an eighth studio album!
3. Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler reached international fame in 2001, while playing Arwen Undómiel in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Following that major success, she went on to star in Jersey Girl, The Hulk (2008), and home invasion horror film The Strangers.
More recently, Tyler’s acting career continues in roles such as BBC’s Gunpowderminiseries, and Hulu’s period drama Harlots. She is now a mother of three, and has actively supported UNICEF and other charitable organizations throughout her career.
4. Ashlee Simpson
Ashlee Simpson followed in her big sister’s pop-star footsteps about five years after; in 2004, Ashlee released her first album, Autobiography. Simpson followed the massively successful release with I Am Me in 2005 and Bittersweet World in 2008.
More recently, Simpson decided to suspend on her music career indefinitely and focus on her family; she has two children.
5. Mandy Moore
Mandy Moore began her career with the release of her debut single “Candy” in 1999, following up with acting roles in The Princess Diaries and starring in A Walk to Remember.
In more recent years, Moore voiced Rapunzel in Disney’s 2010 animated movie Tangled, and starred on Grey’s Anatomy the same year. Currently, she’s starring on NBC’s comedy-drama This is Us, and has announced a return to music in the near future.
Rapper, songwriter and actress Eve made her musical breakthrough in the late nineties and early 2000s. With hits like “Who’s That Girl?” “Let Me Blow Your Mind,” and “Gangsta Lovin,” she became internationally famous and began taking on film roles as well. Her very own television series, Eve, ran from 2003 to 2006. After the release of her third album Eve-Olution, however, there was a ten-year gap between albums. What happened there?
As of 2013, Eve returned to the music scene with Lip Lock, her fourth album. She has since toured with Gwen Stefani and replaced Aisha Tyler as a co-host of The Talk.
7. Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton was the it-girl when she starred on The O.C. as Marissa Cooper,deemed the “Next Big Thing” by Glamour Magazine. When her character was killed off the show, Barton’s career hit a stand-still.
By the mid-2000s, Barton was dealing with multiple rough patches. She appeared in a number of unsuccessful films, and ran into trouble with the law. After an arrest for possession of marijuana in 2007, she was held in a psychiatric facility for two weeks in 2009.
Later, in 2013, Barton told People magazine that her breakdown was the result of her struggles with anxiety and media scrutiny. She went on to compete in Dancing with the Stars in 2016, where she finished in 11th place. Most recently, she received crucial acclaim for her work in Deserted, and is currently working on several film projects. All in all, a stellar recovery!
Mya self-titled first album gained her immediate attention in 1998, and her 2000 follow-up album, Fear of Flying, brought her into the fold of superstardom. If you’ve seen Moulin Rouge!, you’ll probably remember the worldwide hit Lady Marmalade, which featured a collaborated between Lil’ Kim, P!nk, Christina Aguilera, and Mya. The quartet won a Grammy for the project.
Mya has continued to make music, even creating an independent record label: Planet 9. Mya is currently in the process of making a new studio album, and starring on AMC’s 5th Ward series.
9. Christina Aguilera
In 2002, Christina Aguilera began moving in a new musical direction with her Stripped album, and generated a new image for herself. Her music, which effectively shed the teen-pop image to address sexuality and expression, raised several eyebrows. “”I’m in the power position, in complete command of everything and everybody around me. To be totally balls-out like that is, for me, the measure of a true artist,” Aguilera explained to Blender magazine at the time.
More recently, Aguilera has taken on a number of acting roles in addition to continuing her music career. She has been acknowledged as one of the most successful artists of the 2000s!
Rihanna first arrived on the pop scene in 2005 with Music of the Sun and her hit single Pon de Replay. She adopted a sex symbol image with Good Girl Gone Bad in 2007, and became an icon of R&B and pop music.
Since the 2000s, Rihanna has become one of the best-selling artists of all time, included in 2012’s Time 100 list of the most influential people, and named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Harvard Foundation in 2017. The eight-time Grammy-winner is currently working on her ninth studio album. This is one 2000s female icon who won’t rest on her laurels!
Shakira made her American debut in 2001 with the release of Laundry Service. 2005’s Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 features the single that, even if you don’t know Shakira, you’ve definitely heard: Hips Don’t Lie.
The Colombian singer has continued to reinforce her superstardom over the years; she’s got awards, renown, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has been listed among the world’s top 100 most powerful women by Forbes. Talk about a powerhouse!
12. Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt was declared “the most popular actress on television” for her Q-rating in 2000, the same year she starred in The Audrey Hepburn Story. She went on to play in several film roles over the years, before moving to television with Ghost Whisperer from 2005-10.
From there, she went on to star in The Client List in 2010, earning a Golden Globe nomination. It was there she met her husband, Brian Hallisay, with whom she had two children.
13. Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff became a household name in the 2000s for both her music and acting careers. The famous Disney channel show Lizzie McGuire premiered in January of 2001, quickly becoming a hit and earning Duff ‘teen idol’ status. She continued acting on the show and appearing in films, most notably Cheaper by the Dozen and A Cinderella Story, while working on her music career at the same time.
In 2007, alongside the release of her fourth studio album Dignity, Duff began to cultivate a more mature image. She appeared in numerous film and television roles and released a Greatest Hits album.
Duff and now ex-husband Mike Comrie welcomed a son, Luca, in 2012. Duff and Comic divorced amicably in 2016, and she released her fifth album Breathe in. Breathe Out. the same year. Currently, Duff stars on the TV show Younger, and has returned to designing apparel.
14. Rachel Bilson
Rachel Bilson’s acting career hit it off in 2003, with her debut as Summer Roberts on The O.C. While her character was only supposed to appear in a few episodes of the show, the character’s run was so successful that she was promoted to series regular. In 2005, she was ranked sixth of Maxim’s “Hot 100 List,” and her first film role followed the next year when she appeared in The Last Kiss.
Bilson starred in the CW series Hart of Dixie, which ran from 2011 to 2015. She welcomed a daughter in 2014 with partner Hayden Christensen, though the pair have since separated.
Most recently, Bilson joined the cast of upcoming ABC drama Take Two.
Jessica Alba’s big break came in 2000, when she starred in Fox’s sci-fi series Dark Angel (for which she also earned a Golden Globe nomination). Over the next several years she starred in a wide range of films, including Honey, Sin City, Fantastic Four, and The Eye.
Alba’s acting career has slowed in recent years, as she has taken on new projects outside of the industry. She is currently the co-founder of The Honest Company, and has since released a book about her experiences creating a natural, non-toxic environment for her family (also the focus of the company). She is a mother of three children.
Angelina became a leading lady in Hollywood with her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider’s 2001 film adaptation. Jolie continued to star in hit action movies Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, and Salt.
Jolie remains in the midst of a prolific and highly public career that has expanded into humanitarian efforts. She’s a mother of six, a Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—oh yeah, she’s been cited more than once as the world’s most beautiful woman.
17. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys’ debut album, Sons In A Minor, quickly sent international fame her way. Over the course of the 2000s’, she became one of the biggest R&B stars in the world, collecting awards and commercial success as she went.
Not that she’s stopped, by any means. Continuing to release music, as well as joining the ranks of The Voice’s team coaches, Keys is keeping busy while working on her seventh studio album.
18. Monica Bellucci
Italian actress and model Monica Bellucci became one of America’s faves after appearing in 2003’s Matrix Reloaded, though she’s been acting since the early 90s.
Declared one of the sexiest women alive, Bellucci continues to appear in acting roles—including 2015’s James Bond film Spectre.
19. Megan Fox
Megan Fox’s breakout role came in 2007 with Transformers, though she’s been acting since the early 2000s.
More recently, you may have seen Fox in the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films, or even in a turn on New Girl. The actress has been recognized as one of the modern female sex symbols of the 21st century.
20. Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson made the transition into more adult film roles in 2003. Within the year she was getting Golden Globe nominations for her work in Girl with a Pearl Earring and Lost in Translation.
Now among the world’s highest-paid (and regarded) actresses, Johansson is an established public figure. She’s a cinematic superhero, actress and philanthropist.
21. Mila Kunis
After her long-running stint on That ‘70s Show, Mila Kunis got her breakout film role in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
After first reaching fame in the 2000s, Kunis continued starring in numerous films including Ted and Bad Moms. She’s also married to That ‘70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher, and the pair have two kids.
22. Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu cemented her sex symbol and all-around powerhouse status when she burst onto the big screen with Charlie’s Angels in 2000.
Since then, Liu has steadily furthered her acting career and currently plays Joan Watson on Elementary.
23. Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley’s big break came with Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003, after which she became an international star. She went on to show off her dramatic acting chops in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, which earned her critical acclaim.
Both actress and philanthropist, Knightley has continued acting in film and theater, even returning to Pirates of the Caribbean for Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017.
24. Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel’s prominent film career kicked off with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003. In the following years, her acting career exponentially boomed and she was widely recognized as a Hollywood sex symbol in 2006 and 07.
Biel has steered her career into more independent features and producing nowadays, so that she can make “interesting roles” happen, rather than waiting for them to come. She’s also married to Justin Timberlake, and the two have a son.
25. Rachel McAdams
It’s impossible to forget Rachel McAdams’ rise to fame with the hilarious Mean Girlsand romantic drama The Notebook (both in 2004), after which she was known as the new “it girl” of Hollywood.
McAdams continues to tear up the big screen, most recently in Doctor Strange, Game Night, and Disobedience. Her highest-profile role in recent years was in Academy Award-winning film Spotlight.