Celebs Who Started in Soap Operas

A roundup of stars who made their mark in daytime dramas.


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They Were on a Soap Opera? - The genre began in radio but today soap operas are still going strong. In March, Young and the Restless celebrated its 40th birthday. Iconic daytime drama General Hospital is commemorating 50 years on television in April. To get in on all the sudsy fun, check out BET.com’s look at the long list of actors who once made their mark as soap opera stars. (Photos from left: Jason Merritt/Getty Images,Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


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Halle Berry on Knots Landing (1991) - Some may not remember that Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry has soap roots. After the films Jungle Fever and Strictly Business and before Boomerang, Berry did a stint on the nighttime soap Knots Landing as the character Debbie Porter.  (Photo: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)


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Darnell Williams and Debbi Morgan on All My Children (1982-present day) - Daytime drama’s first African-American supercouple Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams have been playing alter egos  Angie and Jesse Hubbard on and off for over 30 years. The Emmy Award-winning duo have survived fictional births, death and even 41-year old All My Children’s cancellation in 2011. But the saga of Jesse and Angie will continue when the daytime series moves online April 29.  (Photo: David Becker/Getty Images)

Tichina Arnold - Tichinia Arnold at 106 & Park, November 26, 2012. (Photo: John Ricard / BET)

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Tichina Arnold on Ryan's Hope (1987-1989), All My Children (1989-1991) - Before she became known for her roles on Martin, as Chris Rock’s fictional mom on Everybody Hates Chris or on Happily Divorced, Tichina Arnold began her TV career on the soap opera Ryan's Hope. There, she portrayed young singing hopeful Zena Brown. Later, she appeared on All My Children as Sharla Valentine. (Photo: John Ricard / BET)

Cicely Tyson: December 19 - The celebrated actress, who makes her return to Broadway this spring, turns 79.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Cicely Tyson on Guiding Light (1966) - Veteran iconic actress Cicely Tyson originated the role of Martha Frazier on Guiding Light. Her soap debut happened years before Tyson would become famous for such films as Sounder, the TV movie King or The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


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Ruby Dee on Guiding Light (1967) - Iconic and legendary actress Ruby Dee was already a working actress for over 20 years and had appeared in films A Raisin in the Sun and The Jackie Robinson Story before she made a small screen stop on Guiding Light. Dee played Martha Frazier, a role she took over from another acting giant, Cicely Tyson.  (Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Lifetime)

Nia Long - Nia Long?s stylishly short hair, welcoming smile and around-the-way vibe have made her a favorite rapper fantasy ever since she co-starred in Friday opposite Ice Cube, with notable shout-outs in songs by Juicy J ("Bandz a Make Her Dance"), Ghostface Killah ("The Hilton") and more.    (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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Nia Long on Guiding Light (1991-1993) - Shortly after starring in Boyz n the Hood, Nia Long was cast as Katherine Speakes on Guiding Light. A recurring appearance on Fresh Prince of Bel Air and starring roles in the movies Love Jones and Soul Food soon followed. (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Sharon Leal: October 17 - The gorgeous actress from Dreamgirls and Soul Men turns 41. (Photo :Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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Sharon Leal on Guiding Light (1996-1999) - Guiding Light was responsible for discovering impressive Black talent for older and newer generations. The soap opera provided Sharon Leal with one of her first acting breaks when she starred as Dahila Crede. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Perfect - Actress Tatyana Ali at a live taping of BET's 106 & Park at The Conga Room at L.A. Live on January 14, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for BET)

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Tatyana Ali on Young and the Restless (2007-2012) - Long after she appeared on the TV sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Tatyana Ali also put in time on the small screen as Roxanne on The Young and the Restless. Ali appeared in the recurring role even while starring in her own series, Love That Girl!(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for BET)


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Taye Diggs on Guiding Light (1997) - Today, Taye Diggs is best known for The Best Man, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and TV’s Private Practice. But back in the day, his role as Adrian "Sugar" Hill on Guiding Light helped to ignite his acting career.  (Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


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Vivica A. Fox on Days Of Our Lives (1988), Generations (1989-1990) and Young and the Restless (1995) - She has memorable movie credits like Independence Day, but Vivica A. Fox was also one of the hardest working women in soaps. Fox appeared on three daytime dramas in her career — on Days of Our Lives as Carmen Silva, on Generations as Maya Reubens and on The Young and the Restless as Stephanie Simmons. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


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Shemar Moore on Young and the Restless (1995-2005) - Before Shemar Moore decided to heat up primetime screens on the drama Criminal Minds, he got his start in daytime. Moore portrayed Malcolm Winters in the long  running soap The Young and the Restless.  (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for PCA)

Victoria Rowell: May 10 - The star of The Young and the Restless looks ageless at 54. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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Victoria Rowell on As the World Turns (1988) and Young and the Restless (1990-2007) - Actress Victoria Rowell did a short stint on As the World Turns, which helped to launch her career. But the actress is probably best known as Drucilla Winters on The Young and the Restless. It was a role she played for nearly 20 years. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


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Laurence Fishburne on One Life to Live (1973-1976) - Veteran actor Laurence Fishburne was already a working child actor before he originated the role of Joshua Hall on One Life to Live. In a career that spans over 40 years, he’s best known for films like What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Matrix and many more. (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Ricky Martin - @Ricky_Martin: There is a party in heaven. Angels are celebrating. The one and only #NelsonMandela has arrived. RIP(Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Univision)

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Ricky Martin on General Hospital (1994-1995) - Before he was “Living La Vida Loca” or came out as an openly gay man, Ricky Martin was a very popular Spanish singer looking for his big break in America. The former Menudo singer got that chance by starring as Miguel Morez on the hit, long running daytime drama General Hospital.  (Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Univision)

Mario Van Peebles - Mario Van Peebles will be helping to celebrate soul music. (Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

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Mario Van Peebles on All My Children (2008) - Actor, writer and director Mario Van Peebles had already clocked in over 40 years in the movies and television before he decided to check into daytime TV’s All My Children. The son of Melvin Van Peebles (who also appeared on the series as his dad) starred as Samuel Woods. (Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Vanessa Bell Calloway Came Out As a Breast Cancer Survivor - This past May, actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, from the original Broadway Dreamgirls and Showtime?s Shameless, opened up about being diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. Calloway, 55, was ?diligent? in getting her pap smears and mammograms and admits that she was ?stunned? with her diagnosis. (Photo: Maury Phillips/ Getty Images For A+E Networks)

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Vanessa Bell Calloway on All My Children and Days of our Lives (1985), The Colbys and Falcon Crest (1986) - Vanessa Bell Calloway’s first job in acting ended up being her most memorable role in daytime TV —  as Yvonne Caldwell on All My Children. The actress, best known for What’s Love Got to Do With It, also starred on three other soaps in her career: Days of Our Lives, The Colbys and Falcon Crest.  (Photo: Maury Phillips/Getty Images For A+E Networks)


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Morgan Freeman on Texas and Ryan's Hope (1981), Another World (1982-1984) - Veteran and iconic actor Morgan Freeman appeared on a trio of daytime dramas during his beginning years in acting. They included Texas, Ryan's Hope and Another World. On the latter, the Academy Award-winning actor appeared as Dr. Roy Bingham. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)


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Phylicia Rashad on One Life to Live (1983-1984) and Santa Barbara (1985) - Prior to becoming one of America’s favorite TV moms on The Cosby Show, actress Phylicia Rashad nailed her acting chops by starring on two soap operas. She starred as Courtney Wright on One Life to Live and Felicia Dalton on Santa Barbara.(Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Savannah College of Art and Design)

Tika Sumpter - December 12, 2013 -  Actress Tika Sumpter stopped by to tell us what it's like to be apart of A Madea Christmas.Watch a clip now! (Photo: John Ricard / BET)

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Tika Sumpter on One Life to Live (2005-2011) - Today she’s best known for roles on The Game and Gossip Girl and in the movie Sparkle. However, Tika Sumpter's first regular TV gig came by way of the soap One Life to Live, where she played Layla Williamson. (Photo: John Ricard / BET)