What a difference a decade makes! These stars grew before our eyes and crafted their careers on their own terms. As we head into 2010, here's a look back at how far some of our favorite celebs have come over the last 10 years.
Shani Saxon-Parrish and Mariela Rosario
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Mexican actress Salma Hayek spent the better part of this decade taking control of her career and creating her own opportunities in Hollywood. After starting a film production company called Ventanarosa, she co-produced Frida, which established Hayek, 43, as way more than a pretty face. Her role as legendary painter Frida Kahlo earned Hayek an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and plenty of critical acclaim. She went on to produce Ugly Betty, one of the most important and groundbreaking Latino TV shows to air on network television. She also became mother to the impossibly adorable Valentina Paloma Pinault, 2, and married French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault—not a bad way to close out the decade.
After being cast by filmmaker Larry Clark in 1995’s controversial film KIDS, Rosario Dawson's career took off. Since then she's appeared in over 30 films, including Spike Lee’s 25th Hour and Oliver Stone’s Alexander. After cofounding Voto Latino in 2004 to help enfranchise our community, Dawson gained notoriety for her turn as Mimi in the 2005 film adaptation of Rent. This multi-faceted talent has also written her own comic comic book miniseries, Occult Crimes Taskforce, and produced (as well as starred in) a horror film, Descent. Seem like there's nothing this Boricua/Cubana chica can't do!
Back in 2000, we already had an idea that a mega-superstar was in our midst. La Lopez's multi-tasking skills were in full effect—following the release of On the 6 in 1999, the in-demand actress released two more number one albums, one in 2001 ( J.Lo) and the other in 2002 (the unfortunately titled J to tha L-O!: The Remixes). Lopez also established herself as a rom-com queen with a string of successful films: The Wedding Planner (2001), Maid in Manhattan (2002), Shall We Dance (2004) and Monster-in-Law (2005). While the media focused on her romantic relationships, Lopez steadily built her empire, opening a restaurant (Madre's) in 2002, and launching clothing lines (JLO by Jennifer Lopez in 2003 and Sweetface in 2005) and numerous perfume lines starting in 2002.
After marrying third husband Marc Anthony in June 2004, Lopez took some time off to be with their twins, Max and Emme, born Feb. 22, 2008. Her career is right back on track, though, with an album (Love?) and a movie (The Back-Up Plan) due from Lopez early next year. Other than world domination, we can't imagine what she'll seek to achieve over the next ten years.
After Penélope Cruz's turn as an unchaste nun in Pedro Almodovar's acclaimed 1999 film All About My Mother, critics on both sides of the Atlantic began to pay attention to the Spanish actress. She started off the decade with a bang starring in the big screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses alongside rumored beau (at the time) Matt Damon. But her Hollywood crossover wasn't all easy, from 2000-2005 she starred in a string of mediocre movies which garnered little critical acclaim and box office success. It was her return to Spanish cinema (and Almodovar) in 2006 with Volver that breathed life back into her career. Her decade was capped off nicely with an Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for her starring turn as María Elena, Javier Bardem's passionate (if emotionally disturbed) ex-wife in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. You can catch Cruz right now in Nine, in which she stars opposite Daniel Day Lewis as a filmmaker's mistress in a role that has already garnered her a slew of nominations.
Although Jessica Alba's been in the business since she was a 13, it was her turn as Max Guevara on James Cameron's Dark Angel from 2000-2002 that really grabbed the public's attention. After the Mexicana is named Maxim's Hottest Girl in 2002 and one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2005, Alba admits that her incredible looks have helped her in her career, "I have to go to certain lengths to use sexuality to my advantage, while guiding people to thinking the way I want them to." Ms. Alba sure has done a lot of growing up since then, now she's a devoted mother to baby daughter Honor Marie Warren with hubby Cash. Alba can be seen next starring alongside Kate Hudson and Casey Affleck in The Killer Inside Me and in Gary Marshall's ensemble comedy Valentine's Day.
Vélez was already a rising star in 2000, after receiving critical acclaim for her role in 1995’s I Like it Like That and starring in the TV series NY Undercover. The actress, 45, has spent the last 10 years making her presence felt with gritty and sometimes uncomfortable roles, like the conflicted Dr. Gloria Nathan in HBO’s jail series Oz (1997-2003). And now Vélez, who grew up with her twin sister in Queens, NY, stars as a police officer on Showtime’s creepy hit show Dexter. Her talent has proven to be lasting and impactful.
Mariah Carey has really matured over the last 10 years, even if we can't say the same about her wardrobe. The decade started out a bit bumpy with the release of Carey's widely maglined film Glitter in 2001, and the singer's loopy emotional breakdown, which landed her in the hospital that same year. On top of that, she went through a very public breakup with singer Luis Miguel. But those little setbacks simply set the stage for an even bigger comeback for Carey. The Emancipation of Mimi, arguably the best album of Mariah's career, was released in 2005. It became the biggest album of the year in the US, and earned the singer three Grammy awards. It's all been uphill from there. After several more chart-toppers, Carey found true love and married actor/musician Nick Cannon in April 2008. She has also received praise for her acting performance in this year's critical darling, Precious.
Nicole Richie, born Nicole Camille Escovedo, burst onto the scene in 2003 with the reality show The Simple Life, which she starred in alongside her (then) BFF Paris Hilton. The television program launched Richie from obscurity into stardom and introduced her to all the privileges and draw backs to fame. On Dec. 11, 2006, the adopted daughter of Lionel Richie was arrested for driving under the influence. She admitted to being under the influence of Vicodin and marijuana and served a total of 82 minutes in jail. While completing a 18-month anti-drinking driver education program, Richie's life began to turn around. She started dating Joel Madden in 2007 and never looked back. With two two beautiful babies (Sparrow and Harlow), a clothing and jewelry line and a new television sitcom in the works, it's hard to remember her bad girl, wild child ways!