A change in career can be daunting, especially when you are further along in your chosen industry, but it can also be invigorating. The stats prove it. In 2022, the number of people switching jobs on average each month was at its highest. When it comes to career pivots, women not only pivot differently than men, but are also more likely to do so. Studies show that since 1986 women switched jobs at a higher rate than men. This might be out of necessity, as women, specifically Black women, often have less access to mentorship and experience inequitable pay and lower promotion rates. 

Changing careers is an opportunity to tap into other talents, get back up after setbacks, own your own business and create a new legacy. Here are five celebrity career pivots that proved major change is possible.

Karyn Parsons

Photo credit: Barry King/WireImage

After the heyday of 90s family TV and her success as Hilary Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” actress Karyn Parsons made a celebrity career pivot. In the early 2000s she transitioned from acting to writing. Today, she is the founder of Sweet Blackberry. The nonprofit focuses on sharing the stories of unsung heroes in Black history to children everywhere. She is also the author of several children’s books. “How High the Moon” is loosely inspired by stories of her mother’s childhood in the Jim Crow South. More recently Parsons wrote “Clouds Over California” in 2023. It is about the Black Panthers and women’s liberation movement in 1970s Los Angeles.


In 1999, Eve burst on the music scene with her solo debut album. “Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady” reached number one on the Billboard 200. Eve is the third female rapper to ever hold that position. At the height of her rap career with three chart-topping albums, she launched her own women’s clothing line, Fetish. She pivoted to TV with her own UPN sitcom “Eve.” The show lasted three seasons. Eve later went on to co-host the Emmy-award winning CBS daytime talk show, “The Talk.” 

After making waves in fashion and TV and film, she left the talk show to pursue motherhood. She and her husband, Maximillion Cooper’s, son Wilde Wolf turned two in February.


In 2020, after selling her L.A. mansion worth $1.8 million, singer and songwriter Kelis moved to Temecula, CA. She now owns a sprawling farm there. In exchange for a life of luxury in L.A., Kelis spends her days tending to livestock, harvesting produce, cultivating the property and building an outdoor kitchen. Her career pivot was inspired by a desire to live a more sustainable life. She also wanted to control the quality of food she and her family eat. Her love of whole foods is also what inspired her to attend culinary school in 2008 at Le Cordon Bleu. Following her time there, she wrote her own cookbook, “My Life on a Plate.”

Ava DuVernay

Award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter and producer, Ava Duvernay got her start as a film publicist representing filmmakers. She pivoted in her early 30s to pursue a career as a filmmaker with her own production company, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM). In a conversation with Interview, she shared that it was intimidating getting into film so late in life. She explained that her leap of faith was inspired by an eye opening realization.

“[Filmmakers] are just regular people, like me, with ideas. I’ve got ideas,” the filmmaker told the publication.


From pre-med to comedian, Retta is best known for her roles as Donna Meagle on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Ruby Hill on NBC’s “Good Girls. Retta was pre-med in college, and instead of going to medical school, she got a job doing chemistry. Her love for television inspired her celebrity career pivot. She got a start in an acting class at the Raleigh Little Theatre and later won a Comedy Central stand-up competition.