It's not exactly easy to cash in as a breakout reality star.
We're not talking about shows based around their stars from the get-go. Those can be great platforms for brand extension, sure, but those celebs have name recognition from the start. But to go from being a (seemingly) replaceable cast member on a series to a household name (with a bank account to match)? That's no small feat when you consider how many cycles of different shows we've been through over the years.
The ladies of The Hills deserve major accolades when it comes to being breakout stars with entrepreneurial vision. These days Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari and Whitney Port each have thriving industries in the lifestyle sphere. Way back in 2008, Forbes estimated Lauren's net worth at 1.5 million, and she's launched two clothing lines and authored countless books since then.
Kristin has also been successful in the fashion industry, designing a shoe line for Chinese Laundry, and Whitney has a clothing line sold through QVC. Whitney released her memoir, True Whit, in 2011, and Kristin just recently released her personal tell-all, Balancing in Heels.
Another MTV franchise, Jersey Shore, spawned some breakout stars of its own. DJ Pauly D found much more success as a DJ and with a line of tanning products. Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi launched her own line of beauty and apparel products, and much like the women of The Hills, she's written both fiction and nonfiction books.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Leather & Laces
Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett and Holly Madison of The Girls Next Door took the literary route, too, and went from being Hugh Hefner's girlfriends to best-selling authors themselves. The ladies have vastly different memories of their time at the famed Playboy Mansion, but they've both succeeded in building big careers for themselves outside of the bunny brand.
When it comes to building a brand, though, Bethenny Frankel wins the prize. From her Real Housewives of New York fame, she launched her Skinnygirl empire which includes multiple lines of alcohol, cookbooks and even a bestselling memoir, to boot.
Another Bravo star to make a name for herself is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Lisa Vanderpump Her L.A. restaurant has its own spinoff series called Vanderpump Rules, and the show helps make it the place to eat even for stars likeJennifer Lawrence. Lisa's dog Giggy is also an entrepreneur with his own line of pet apparel and accessories.
We can't forget about the fellas, though! Dr. Travis Stork of The Bachelor used his reality TV fame as a foray to hosting a medical talk show, The Doctors, while Ben Flajnik used his time looking for love on-air as an opportunity to also advertise his thriving winery in Sonoma. Both men were successful to begin with, but doing the show helped to magnify their careers far beyond the realm of reality TV.
Jack Zeman/Lifetime 2014
Last but certainly not least is America's Next Top Model cycle 3 runner-up Yaya DaCosta. The New York native initially stuck to modeling gigs, but by 2005 she'd caught the acting bug. After landing supporting roles in several independent films, she landed the role of Wilhelmina Slater's daughter on Ugly Betty. In 2010, she had supporting roles in The Kids Are All Right and Tron: Legacy, and later appeared in The Butler. In 2015, she portrayed Whitney Houston in the Lifetime biopic Whitney. Yaya has also had recurring roles in Chicago Fire and Chicago Med.
Way to make Tyra Banks proud!
—Additional reporting by Baker Machado