Where the Oscars 2023 Nominees Got Their First Big Breaks, from Soap Operas to Disney Channel Shows

Of the 20 actors and actresses up for the Academy Award in both the lead and supporting acting categories, their respective paths to movie's biggest night have all been unique.

From Austin Butler's Disney Channel roots to Michelle Yeoh starring alongside Jackie Chan in a watch commercial, here's a look at some of the nominees' big breaks — roles that inevitably got them where they are today!

Austin Butler

Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide (2004); LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 26: Austin Butler attends the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on February 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/WireImage)

Nickelodeon; Amy Sussman/WireImage

Before Butler set out to take on what would become an Oscar-nominated performance as Elvis Presley, the actor got his start as a child actor working on shows like Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide (2005-2007), Hannah Montana (2006-2007), iCarly (2007) and Zoey 101 (2007-2008).

Paul Mescal

Normal People -- Episode 8 - Episode 108 -- It’s the summer holidays and Connell (Paul Mescal) and Niall (Desmond Eastwood) arrive at Marianne’s (Daisy Edgar-Jones) family house in Italy. The obvious chemistry between Connell and Marianne causes friction with Jamie (Fionn O’Shea), despite Connell’s evident happiness with his girlfriend Helen (Aoife Hinds), who he clearly misses. Peggy (India Mullen) cooks the group a lavish meal but tensions run high. During dinner, Jamie drinks too much and picks a fight with Marianne. Connell breaks it up and attempts to soothe Marianne. Marianne stays in Connell’s room that night to get away from Jamie. They talk and almost kiss, but Marianne puts a stop to it before it goes any further. , shown. (Photo by Enda Bowe/Hulu); LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 06: Paul Mescal attends the 2021 LACMA Art + Film Gala presented by Gucci at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on November 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Enda Bowe/Hulu; Taylor Hill/WireImage

Mescal, who is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Aftersun, first broke onto the scene with his swoonworthy performance in the 2020 Hulu adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel, Normal People.

Michelle Yeoh

#GuyLaroche 1984 commercial ⌚ Jackie Chan & Michelle Yeoh �� BEST QUALITY; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 14: Michelle Yeoh attends The BAFTA Tea Party presented by Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

Guy Laroche; Monica Schipper/Getty

While Yeoh is clearly a superstar in her own stratosphere, her journey to this point was not linear. After more than 40 films (many in the action genre, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), in 2023 she became a first time Oscar nominee for her Lead Role in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Before her big screen accolades, Yeoh moved to London at 15 from her native Malaysia to study ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance. After a spinal injury derailed her future in dance, she returned home and would later win the Miss Malaysia pageant. From there, she landed a watch commercial with Jackie Chan, pictured above, before being cast in her first movie in Hong Kong: The Owl vs. Bumbo.

Ana de Armas

The Boarding School (2007) 71 of 107 Ana de Armas, Carlota García, and Elena Furiase in The Boarding School (2007); Ana de Armas at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at the Fairmont Century Plaza on February 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images)

Globomedia; Gilbert Flores/Variety/Getty

Before landing roles on the big screen in films like War Dogs and Blade Runner 2049, de Armas got her start on the Spanish drama series El Internado in 2007.

"When the series first became successful, we couldn't even walk down the street," de Armas, who is nominated for Best Actress this year for her performance as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde, told Vogue Spain in 2020. "Elena [Furiase, her costar], who has been used to fame all her life, took my hand and knew how to get around an uncomfortable question or a photographer following me."

RELATED: See the Full List of Oscars 2023 Nominations

Ke Huy Quan

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock (5886187ce) Ke Huy Quan Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom - 1984 Director: Steven Spielberg Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount USA Film Portrait Action/Adventure Indiana Jones et le temple maudit; SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 04: Ke Huy Quan attends the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 04, 2023 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Lucasfilm Ltd/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Quan's career trajectory is one for the history books. At 12 years old, shortly after moving to Los Angeles from Vietnam with his family, he decided to tag along with his older brother to an open audition for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

A year later, he went on to appear in another fan favorite, Goonies, but shortly after he made the "very difficult decision" to step away from acting. Two decades later, he returned to the screen in a major way — booking the first role he auditioned for, in Everything Everywhere All at Once. His performance as Waymond Wang has earned the actor numerous accolades, including the nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Angela Bassett

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock (5877049h) Angela Bassett Tina - What's Love Got To Do With It - 1993 Director: Brian Gibson Touchstone USA Film Portrait Biopic Tina; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 08: Angela Bassett attends TIME Women of the Year at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on March 08, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TIME)

Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock; Stefanie Keenan/Getty

Bassett began her career in theater and on television before moving into film with roles in Boyz n the Hood and Malcom X — but it was her Oscar-nominated role in 1993's What's Love Got to Do With It, based on the life of Tina Turner, that was a true turning point for her.

29 years later, she's nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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Jamie Lee Curtis

***THIS IMAGE IS NO LONGER SOURCED FROM EVERETT. MUST FIND ANOTHER SOURCE TO REUSE***HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN US 1978 JAMIE LEE CURTIS HALLOWEEN US 1978 JAMIE LEE CURTIS Date 1978. Photo by: Mary Evans/COMPASS INTERNATIONAL PICTURES/FALCON INTERNATIONAL PRODUC/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10318663); BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Jamie Lee Curtis attends the 95th Annual Oscars Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton on February 13, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Monica Schipper/WireImage,)


As she humorously noted in her "I Am an Actor" speech at the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Curtis first got her SAG card for her role in Operation Petticoat — a show based off the movie her father, Tony Curtis, had starred in. Though she only worked on the show for a year, she would soon after land her iconic role as Laurie in Halloween – following in her mom, Janet Leigh's, footsteps as a Scream Queen.

Andrea Riseborough

Andrea Riseborough party animals ; SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 04: Actress Andrea Riseborough attends the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 04, 2023 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

BBC; Amanda Edwards/Getty

After a small role in the 2006 film Venus, Riseborough's first recurring role on television came in the short-lived British television show Party Animals in 2007. In the years since, she has landed more prominent roles in films including Happy-Go-Lucky, Never Let Me Go, W.E., Birdman and Netflix's Waco mini series. Her role in 2022's To Leslie earned the actress her first Oscar nod for Best Actress in a Leading Role — a nomination that came as a surprise to Riseborough herself and raised eyebrows due to star-studded campaigning of the film that took place before voting.

Stephanie Hsu

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: The cast poses onstage during opening night of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical at Palace Theatre on December 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for Nickelodeon); SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 04: Stephanie Hsu poses in the IMDb Portrait Studio at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards on March 04, 2023 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Rowe/Getty Images for IMDb)

Jenny Anderson/Getty; Michael Rowe/Getty

Before Hsu's Oscar-nominated performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once, the actress made a splash on Broadway in 2017 — originating the role of Karen the Computer in Spongebob Squarepants, the Broadway Musical (pictured above.) On the small screen, Hsu also had recurring roles on Hulu's The Path (2016-2018) and more recently on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Brian Tyree Henry

ATLANTA -- \u0022The Streisand Effect\u0022 -- Episode 104 (Airs Tuesday, September 20, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles. CR: Guy D'Alema/FX; PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 05: Brian Tyree Henry poses backstage during the 34th Annual Palm Springs International Film Awards at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 05, 2023 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Society)

Guy D'Alema/FX; Amy Sussman/Getty

Henry's performance as James in Causeway alongside Jennifer Lawrence earned the actor a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. While he has had numerous roles in buzzed-about movies before, including If Beale Street Could Talk, Joker, Eternals and Bullet Train, his first big gig came in season one of Atlanta in 2016 as Alfred — a role he played for the show's four seasons.

Barry Keoghan

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Beretta/Sims/Shutterstock (5799729j) Barry Keoghan 'Dunkirk' on set filming, Swanage, UK - 27 Jul 2016; LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Barry Keoghan attends the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2023 at The Royal Festival Hall on February 19, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Neil Mockford/FilmMagic)

Beretta/Sims/Shutterstock; Neil Mockford/FilmMagic

The Dublin-born actor got his start after responding to an open casting call he saw on a window advertisement and eventually booking the role in an Irish crime drama released in 2011. From there, Keoghan found roles in various Irish independent films — even appearing in a few episodes of Irish TV soap opera Fair City — before landing his big break in 2017's Dunkirk (pictured above).

This year, he is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in The Banshees of Inisherin alongside fellow Oscar nominees Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon.

The Oscars air live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, at 8 p.m. ET.