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Soap operas definitely have a dedicated fanbase, but there are many who look down on them. Some may see them as too over-the-top with their storylines and acting, or just not very good in general. However, there are some really big stars who started out on soap operas and eventually went on to get Oscars and other major awards.

So who are they, and what exactly was their role? We gathered 20 celebrities who started out on soap operas and went on to become big names in the entertainment industry.

1. Sarah Michelle Gellar in All My Children

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kendall Hart in All My Children
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kendall Hart in All My Children | ABC

We all know her as Buffy Summers, but before that iconic role, she was also on a soap opera. She played young Kendall Hart on All My Children from 1993 to 1995. At that time, the actress was just 16 years old. Her character was a complicated girl who was conceived during her mother’s tragic rape.

Apparently, her agent didn’t think she could act outside of soap operas. “You’ll never make it.” her agent said, according to The Independent. “Everyone leaves soaps and comes back.” She switched agents and eventually got her big television show.

Looking back on the soap opera role, the actress still says it was a tough job. “Try being a character on a soap opera who has no friends,” she said. “I was always speaking to myself. Forty pages of monologue every day!” Once she turned 18, she moved to Los Angeles from New York City to further her career.

NextThis Oscar winner was just a high school student on a soap opera back in the day.