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Lists: Drake and other teen actors turned musicians

drakeFrom "Degrassi" to Young Money. (Matt Barnes Photography)

By Sarah Godfrey

Drake’s “Thank Me Later” isn’t out until Tuesday, but thanks to widespread leakage, we know that Aubrey Graham is no longer that dude who used to be on television who makes decent mixtapes -- he's now that dude who used to be on television who makes decent albums.

His full-length, major label debut also grants him entry into an exclusive club: child television actors turned musicians. Those familiar with Drake know that before he starting hanging out with Lil Wayne, he was Jimmy Brooks of the Canadian teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” The fact that he’s gone from "Degrassi" to respected MC is beyond impressive. But he’s not the only teen actor to pull off such a tricky switcheroo.

Click Track
runs down some of the most successful* TV-to-CD transitions** in recent memory.

Janet Jackson

Key small screen contributions: “Good Times,” “Diff'rent Strokes,” “Fame”

Given her family background it's not exactly shocking that Jackson turned out to be more of a singer than an actress. But before “Rhythm Nation 1814,” “Control” and even her eponymous 1982 musical debut, she was just Little Penny from “Good Times.”

Rilo Kiley (Jenny Lewis, Blake Sennett)

Key small screen contributions: “Growing Pains,” “Boy Meets World,” among others

Blake Sennett/Soper was on “Boy Meets World” and had brief guest spots on some of the best sitcoms of all time: “Family Ties!” “Wonder Years!” “Highway to Heaven!” Jenny Lewis was the adorable little redheaded child actor best known (at least in my mind) for giving Ben Seaver his first kiss on the seminal “Growing Pains” episode “Ben’s First Kiss.”

30 Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto)

Key small screen contribution: “My So-Called Life”

It doesn’t matter how many angsty songs Leto sings, or how much guyliner he piles on, he will always be Jordan Catalano, the object of Angela Chase's affection.

Wicked Wisdom (Jada Pinkett)

Key small screen contributions: “A Different World,” “Doogie Howser, M.D.”

Back when Jada Pinkett Smith was just Jada Pinkett, she portrayed Lena James, a freshman at Hillman College, the fictional university at the center of "The Cosby Show” spin-off “A Different World.” Pinkett-Smith didn't jump straight from the small screen to the studio, though. She did some film acting and married Will Smith, who, incidentally, went from being a musician to young television star - go figure.

*Successful for our purposes eliminates Lohan, Duff, Love Hewitt, and the like

** "Mickey Mouse Club" alums and Partridge Family members don’t count, simply because it’s not really a tough switch to move from singing on a television show to singing on an album

By Sarah Godfrey  |  June 10, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Lists  | Tags: 30 Seconds to Mars, Blake Sennett, Drake, Jada Pinkett Smith, Janet Jackson, Jared Leto, Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley, Wicked Wisdom  
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