Cameron Diaz Didn’t Want to Be an Actor

Cameron Diaz has been entertaining audiences on screen for nearly three decades, including in some beloved movies and starring alongside many well-known Hollywood actors. But believe it or not, acting wasn’t always Diaz’s calling, and she had no desire to go into it herself.

Cameron Diaz attends a photocall for "Sex Tape" at Corinthia Hotel London
Cameron Diaz | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Cameron Diaz was a model before she was an actor

Before being an actor was even a distant idea in Diaz’s head, she was already doing plenty of work in front of a camera. She worked as a commercial model and even lived in Paris at one point.

Diaz discussed her modeling days with supermodel Naomi Campbell on her web series No Filter with Naomi. “I started modeling when I was 16 and really what it was was just to get the hell out of Long Beach, California, because I didn’t have any way else out,” she laughed.

“I think a lot of girls take that opportunity,” she continued. “You get to travel, you make money, you get to do things you never thought you could ever do, go places you never thought you would be able to go, and I really took advantage of that and embraced it.”

Diaz conceded that she was never a major model that ever came close to Campbell’s status. “I was never like a huge model,” she admitted. “I was modeling in your guys’ heyday — the supermodels’ heyday.

Cameron Diaz smiling in front of a white, red, and black background
Cameron Diaz | David M. Benett/Getty Images

Cameron Diaz didn’t want to get into acting

Diaz enjoyed a somewhat successful modeling career, though she recalled that she was struggling for work when she was living in Paris. She got a call from her agent that would end up altering the trajectory of her career forever.

“‘They’re casting this movie, they want a model type, they want sexy, go do this call,’” Diaz recalled her agent telling her. “I was like, ‘I don’t act. That’s not my thing. I don’t do that.’” She also wasn’t in the best mood that day because she had just started her period and she didn’t feel like looking or acting sexy at all.

The movie that she went to audition for was 1994’s The Mask, which became Diaz’s breakout role. The studio wanted to bring in Anna Nicole Smith for the role, but director Chuck Russell advocated for Diaz and kept bringing her in for auditions because he knew

“It also was really amazing that they invested that much time into me,” Diaz reflected. “I didn’t know at the time what kind of chance I was taking.”

Cameron Diaz in 'Being John Malkovich'
Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich | Getty Images

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Cameron Diaz’s acting career quickly took off

After The Mask came out, Diaz’s acting career took off and her modeling days were behind her. Her next big appearance came in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding where she starred alongside Julia Roberts. She earned her first Golden Globe nomination for There’s Something About Mary the following year.

Diaz also flexed her chops as a serious actor in her roles in Any Given Sunday and Being John Malkovich, the latter for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination. Charlie’s Angels and Shrek came next, and Diaz practically never stopped working until her retirement in 2017.