As we’ve never been on reality TV ourselves, we can’t really imagine what it must feel like to have cameras following you around 24/7, monitoring your every move. It has to feel invasive. Especially when you’re having a bad skin day, or your hair just won’t cooperate, or when you’re in a really grumpy mood and just want to be left the heck alone. Or, worst of all, when you’re going through puberty.
There aren’t a ton of kids out there who have spent good chunks of their prepubescent lives as reality TV stars. But there are some. And we can almost guarantee that you watched their shows, at least occasionally. Many of these kids made famous on reality TV are all grown up now—here’s what they’re up to today.
Alana Thompson made waves on TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. The super sassy child pageant contestant ate lots of chicken nuggets (for power), drank lots of “special juice” (for energy), and had catchphrases like “a dolla makes me holla!” She quickly developed a fan base, and TLC responded by giving Alana (and family) their own show to star in, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The show ran for four seasons, and gave us a deeper glimpse into the redneck lives of the Thompson family, before being canceled because of the family’s proximity to a sex offender. Today, Alana can still be found starring on WE TV’s Mama June: From Not to Hot, getting ready for 8th grade, and running a blossoming Instagram account (@offical.da.booboo).
Run’s House aired on MTV for six seasons. It featured Joseph Simmons (aka Rev Run from Run-D.M.C.) and his wife Justine, but the show’s main focus quickly became their six children. The eldest son, Diggy Simmons was 10 years old when the show first aired. Back then, he spent a lot of time doing homework, playing video games, and dreaming of the day he’d sign his own record label. Today, he’s stealing hearts as Doug on Grown-ish. He’s also signed to Atlantic Records, working with artists like French Montana, and occasionally working as a model (he walked in Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2018 show during Milan fashion week). Talk about a triple threat!
Avery Singer has always been outspoken and had an impeccable sense of style. She first appeared alongside her mom on The Real Housewives of New York City as a tween in 2008, attending one of NYC’s best private schools and cracking up audiences with her unabashed honesty. Flash-forward a decade later, Avery just graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in finance (mom Ramona boasts that she’s “really good with numbers”). She’s also a frequent traveler, posting snaps of her exotic vacations to places like Greece and Thailand to her Instagram regularly. She also just turned 23, which proves that we’re all, officially, very old.
Cara and Mady Gosselin
Cara Gosselin and her twin sister Mady Gosselin made their reality TV debut at the tender age of five in a one-off special titled Surviving Sextuplets and Twins. Two years after that, in 2007, they found themselves front and center in a reality series spun off from the special: Jon and Kate Plus 8. (The title switched to just Kate Plus 8 in 2009 when Jon and Kate went their separate ways). Back then, the twin girls were just the big sisters to a group of sextuplets. Nowadays, they’re almost 18, finishing up their senior year of high school, and according to mom, Kate, taking in lots of college visits and “last” moments. The girls largely stay out of the public eye these days, but a recent-ish family photo proves they’re still as gorgeous as ever.
Of course, no “reality TV kids” list would be complete without a mention of the Jenner’s. Kylie Jenner, who first appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians as a 10-year-old, is now closing in on 21. She’s a mother herself, to daughter Stormi Webster, who she shares with Travis Scott, owns a makeup brand called Kylie Cosmetics that’s on track to earn a billion dollars within the next few years, and has starred in a spin-off series of her own called Life of Kylie. Kylie’s social media accounts are followed by an insane amount of people (she’s the most viewed on Snapchat, and in the top ten in Instagram), so if you don’t know what she’s been up to lately, you’ve clearly been living under a rock.
And, of course, there’s Kylie’s older sister Kendall Jenner. Kendall was a slightly older 11 when Keeping Up with the Kardashians premiered in 2007. The early days of the family’s reality show saw Kendall working hard at breaking into the modeling industry without using her famous family name. Today, all that hard work has paid off, and she’s currently one of the highest paid models in the world. She’s worked with everyone from Alexander Wang to Versace, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, and more. She’s appeared in spreads for Vogue (where she also had the cover of 2017’s legendary September issue), Harper’s Bazaar and V magazine. Kendall also designs a clothing line with her younger sister, simply called Kendall + Kylie.
Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are definitely BFFs. And while many people assume that it’s because the two girls are both major runway models, their long-term friendship may have deeper ties than that. Gigi first broke into Hollywood by appearing alongside her mother, legendary model Yolanda Hadid, on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. There’s has to be something about growing up on reality TV that bonds you in a deeper way than a work friendship does. Gigi hasn’t appeared on the show in years, choosing instead to focus on her own thriving modeling career and the occasional music video appearance with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Zayn Malik.
Like the Jenners, Gigi didn’t do the reality TV thing on her own. Her younger sister, Bella Hadid also appeared on RHBOH from 2012-2016. Today, Bella is signed to IMG Models and has walked in shows for literally every company in the industry. That professional involvement in the fashion world has definitely had an impact on personal fashion as well—she’s featured on Vogue’s website almost daily, and is commonly referred to as the best-dressed model in the industry. She has good taste in other areas as well — Bella dated The Weeknd for a couple of years.
19 Kids and Counting was TLC’s most popular program until its cancellation in 2015. It featured the impressively large Duggar family, detailing their devout Christian faith and highlighting the various things they did to make their 21-person household run smoothly. When news broke that the eldest brother had been involved in a molestation scandal, the family’s show was swiftly removed from the air, Counting On became the replacement show. Jessa Duggar was one of the main focuses of the new show. Today, she’s married to Ben Seewald and is a mother to two sons, Spurgeon and Henry. She also runs a blog detailing her family’s life and major milestones.
Another 19 Kids and Counting turned Counting On star, Jill Duggar is Jessa’s older sister. Today, Jill is married to Derick Dillard and is also a mother to two sons, Israel and Samuel. Things haven’t been quite as smooth sailing for the older Duggar—in late 2017 her husband was involved in a scandal after expressing some transphobic beliefs on Twitter. TLC responded by “firing” Derick from the show (he hasn’t appeared in any recent episodes), and in early 2018, Jill announced she’d be stepping away from the show as well. Fans can still find her on Instagram, where they can frequently catch glimpses of her growing brood.
Ming Lee and Aoki Simmons
You’d have to be a real reality TV fan to remember Kimora Lee: Life in the Fab Lane. The show aired for four seasons on the Style Network, and it followed Kimora, her three children, her then-boyfriend Dijmon Hounsou and her ex-husband Russell Simmons. Back then Ming Lee Simmons and her younger sister Aoki Simmons were 7 and 5, respectively. Today, Ming Lee is a budding model and a high-school graduate (no word yet on whether she’s heading off to college in the fall or not). While Aoki, an accomplished volleyball player, is closing in on her sweet sixteen.
Jack and Kelly Osbourne
Talk about a throwback! The Osbournes premiered on MTV in 2002, when Kelly Osbourne and younger brother Jack Osbourne were just teens. Today, they’re all grown up. Kelly had a long stint as a commentator on The Fashion Police before leaving to be a judge on Australia’s Got Talent and Project Runway Junior. Meanwhile, Jack, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, is filming season three of Ozzy & Jack’s World Tour and is the proud father of three beautiful daughters.
Another obscure but good reality TV show, Duck Dynasty ran on A&E; for six seasons. It followed the lives of the Robertson family, who live in Louisiana, as they ran their family-owned business, Duck Commander. While the show mainly revolved around the adult members of the family, one of the younger members, Sadie Robertson, quickly gained a lot of popularity for her good looks and quick wit. Today, Sadie has tried her hand at acting (in God’s Not Dead and I’m Not Ashamed), launched a successful speaking tour called “Live Original Tour,” and written a NYT Bestseller about her faith and Christian values titled Live Original.
The youngest reality TV kid on our list, Sophia Abraham isn’t “all grown up” just yet, but she’s getting there quickly. Sophia was literally born on TV– her mom is Farrah Abraham from MTV’s Teen Mom— but the now-9-year-old has blossomed into a bona fide girl boss. The grade schooler has her own YouTube channel, which boasts an impressive amount of followers and features plenty of sponsored content, and spends lots of time traveling around the world with her mom, attending events and making appearances. We’re not sure how the busy bee finds any time to actually attend school!
In 2008, 11-year-old Brielle Biermann burst on to the reality TV scene alongside her mom Kim Zolciak Biermann on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Back then, she was a gangly, awkward pre-teen. Today, she’s a stunning replica of her mom, with an Instagram following of 1.2 million. She frequently hawks products on her social media, posts scantily clad bikini pictures and admits to getting frequent lip injections from Kylie Jenner’s plastic surgeon. She also just signed the lease on her own apartment in downtown Atlanta — which is maybe a sign of independence and growth after splitting from her long-time MLB boyfriend, Michael Kopech.
Maddie Ziegler first appeared on Lifetime’s Dance Moms where she trained in ballet, tap, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, acro and ariel dance under Abby Lee Miller. She spent six seasons on the show, winning accolades like the ‘Dancers Choice Award for Favorite Dancer 17 & Under.’ After leaving, she danced in a slew of music videos, most notably in Sia’ “Chandelier” video. She’s had a handful of guest appearances on TV (including a stint on Pretty Little Liars) and was recently named a face of Tiffany & Co. Even more impressive, she’s currently writing a trio of novels for middle-grade readers (the second installment The Callback is expected out in October 2018), and she continues to dance and lead workshops all around the world. If that wasn’t enough, her social media presence is huge, with her Instagram closing in on 12 million followers. Talk about knowing how to hustle!