Fans grew to love Channing Tatum thanks to his work in movies like Dear John (2010), The Vow (2012), Magic Mike (2012), and 21 Jump Street (2012). But compared to many actors of the same caliber, Channing actually got a pretty late start in show business. The celebrity made his first film debut in 2005’s Coach Carter, when he was already 25 years old, despite having no acting credits to his name. The following year, he starred in Step Up, where he met his future wife. That same year, he became a full-blown celebrity thanks to his role in She’s The Man.
For most of his early years, it doesn’t sound like Channing thought he would get into acting. The celebrity was heavily involved in sports while in high school and even got a scholarship to play football in college. But it didn’t take Channing long to realize what he really wanted. He eventually left school to pursue work in show business. He first took on jobs as a model before making it onto the big screen. And the rest is history!
Nowadays, Channing is one of the most in-demand actors. Continue reading to see photos of the star before he made it big in Hollywood.
20 He Was Born In Alabama (But Didn’t Stay)
Although he may call Los Angeles home now, Channing was actually got his start in Alabama. The celebrity was born on April 26, 1980, in Cullman, Alabama. His mother was an airline worker, while his dad worked in construction. Channing has one sister, named Paige.
However, his family didn’t stay in Alabama for long. They ended up moving to Mississippi when he was only 6-years old. Channing eventually finished high school in Tampa, Florida. I school, he played football, soccer, track, baseball, and even did martial arts.
Since his parents were so focused on his schooling, they forced him to choose between a private or military school, Biography.com reports. He chose the private option and graduated from Tampa Catholic High School.
19 He Didn’t Perform Well In School
There’s no doubt in any fan’s mind that Channing is definitely talented- just watch one of his movies if you’re not convinced! But one thing the celebrity was never good at was academics. He’s been open about just how much he struggled in his classes during school.
“I have never considered myself a very smart person, for a lot of reasons,” Channing once explained, Us Weekly reports. “You get lumped in classes with kids with autism and Down syndrome, and you look around and say, ‘Okay, so this is where I’m at.’ Or you get put in the typical classes and you say, ‘All right, I’m obviously not like these kids either.’
The dad-of-one continued, “So you’re kind of nowhere. You’re just different. The system is broken. If we can streamline a multibillion-dollar company, we should be able to help kids who struggle the way I did.”
18 He Was Diagnosed With ADHD And Dyslexia
Given his difficulties in keeping up with his academics, Channing ended up being tested in high school. He soon diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, which understandably made it difficult for the future celebrity to perform at the same rates as his peers.
“Everyone’s on a spectrum. Some people really need [medications] to help them, and others could maybe go on a different route. So, it’s really tough. Whatever you do, hopefully you can use it to your benefit,” Channing as said of his ADHD, People reports. He went on to explain that his school wasn’t able to properly meet his needs, which is why he had such a poor experience with his classes in high school.
17 He Was A Football Player In High School
Judging by Channing’s physique, it’s pretty clear this guy has always loved to be active. Back in high school, the actor used to play on the football team. He once admitted that he got his passion for all things athletic from his father.
“I’ve always negotiated the world very physically, from football to tussling at the playground to taking my clothes off,” Channing once shared, Us Weekly reports. “My dad’s a physical guy. I think that’s how I wanted to see myself as a kid, how I won approval, and it’s no secret that that’s how I got into this business.
It took the celebrity a while before he found his passion in acting: “But over time I’ve been able to develop other aspects of myself, sort of on-the-job training.”
16 He Was Even Offered A Football Scholarship
Acting isn’t the only thing Channing has a knack for. Since he was so good on the field, the celebrity was actually offered an athletic scholarship. According to Biography.com, Channing was offered a football scholarship from Glenville State College, located in West Virginia.
Though he attended the school for a brief amount of time, he eventually dropped out in order to pursue other opportunities. "I just got tired of playing. I was only playing to keep that scholarship. I was interested in other things and missing home," he has explained, ESPN confirms. "It just seems that I have won the lottery now."
15 He Used To Work As An Exotic Dancer
Channing turned heads in Magic Mike, but what a lot of fans don’t know is that the comedy is based on the actor’s youth. Before he made it big in Hollywood, Channing supported himself by being an exotic dancer. Nowadays, he looks back fondly on his dancing days.
“Personally, I like being pushed into corners,” he explained, Us Weekly reports. “It forces you to be creative. Being a [dancer] exposed me to a lot of people I might never have met, and that has turned out to be a gift. There are lots of characters I feel I can play as a result. So, when people tell me they want to act, I’m like, ‘Okay, if you want to act, go see [the States]. If you can afford gas money, go talk to people and see how they really live.’”
14 He Was Too Poor To Afford Acting Lessons
Many kids discover their love for acting by doing musical theatre or something similar during high school. However, Channing has revealed he never got those opportunities. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he was finally able to afford to pursue his passion.
“Sure, you can go to theater class at a young age. That’s not how I did it,” he once told the New York Times. “I would have loved to learn things earlier than I did, but then maybe I wouldn’t have gone and done the things that gave me insight into what it is to be human — to have fears and wants.”
13 He Lost His Best Friend
Last year, Channing posted this adorable throwback photo to social media to honor the passing of one of his closest childhood friends, Corey Vaughn. The two grew up in school together and even played on the same football team. “Rip Corey I’ll never forget your crazy [self]. I love you with all my heart,” he captioned the photo.
“I’ll never forget his crazy [self] and how he stuck up for and protected me when I first moved to Mississippi. He’d a fought anybody. All the laughs and trouble we go in,” Channing continued. “I’ll never be able to see that smile of his again in this life,” he said. “And it just made me need to remind everybody don’t put off anything. Seeing a friend, or even calling or texting. You never know what’s next.”
12 He Had A Problematic Habit
Channing has always seemed like a pretty straight guy! He’s never made headlines for crazy or controversial behavior. Rather, the actor settled down when he was still relatively new to Hollywood and had a child soon after that. But fans shouldn’t automatically assume the celebrity didn’t have a wild streak.
In fact, in 2014, Channing told the Hollywood Reporter that he used to have a bad habit that almost got out of control. “I wouldn’t say I was losing myself […] because I wasn’t doing anything habitually,” he explained. “Just experimenting, I would say. Never the big ones […]. I never OD’ed or anything. Never.” He did, however, admit to having a problem.
11 He Moved To New York As Soon As He Graduated
It sounds like Channing was determined to get into show business! Fresh out of high school, the future actor moved to New York to pursue his dream. However, Channing has admitted that it took him a lot of handwork and perseverance to make it work.
"I went to New York and did the whole modeling thing, and I just learned everything I could from anybody who knew something I didn't," he told NY Daily News. "I can look at a person and say, 'They've got something that I want up there in their head. I'm going to do my best to get in there and absorb it.' My mom said, 'Be a sponge.'” Channing added, "And so I've learned more from people than I have from school or from books."
10 He Started Off As A Model
Before he made it big on the silver screen, Channing used his good looks to pursue work as a model. Just like in this photo, the 20-something-year-old walked the red carpet for various designers, including Marc Ecko and Sean John, before making the transition to acting.
The actor has revealed he was first picked out by a modeling scout on the street in 2000. "He was creepy," Channing said to Vanity Fair in 2013. "And actually he did end up to be just a complete creep, trying to, like, [get with] me, and I was like, 'All right, man,' but it piqued my interest." Channing said he was working as an exotic dancer in Miami at the time.
9 He’s Always Wanted To Learn How To Sculpt
Channing has become widely successful as an actor, but this isn’t the only industry he wants to dominate. A few years back, the celebrity revealed he’d actually love to learn more art forms. Speaking to NY Daily News, he admitted that he and his then-wife Jenna Dewan were taking sculpting lessons together and it was inspiring him to pursue it further.
"I've never studied the classics, but I'd like to," he told NY Daily News. "My teacher offered to show me how the Greeks were able to sculpt someone perfectly. From there you can go off and experiment - sort of like jazz.” The star added, "Once you learn to play anything, you can break the form and go and do something even bigger."
8 He’s Always Been A Ladies’ Man
Given how good-looking he is, we bet that Channing has women throw themselves at him all the time. And we also bet it was the same for him, even before he became a major celebrity.
According to sources, Channing has always been quite the ladies’ man- but it sounds like it took a toll on his marriage.
“Channing is a total flirt and that was hard for Jenna to deal with. He is funny, smart and really charming on set whether he is talking to his cute co-stars or the production assistants, he is nice to everyone,” one source told Hollywood Life in 2018.
7 He Was Voted Most Athletic In High School
Given how involved Channing was with sports back in the day, we bet his peers thought he would become a professional athlete before he ever became an actor.
The star was so involved in sports in high school, he was even voted the most athletic in his graduating class. “He was voted most athletic at Tampa Catholic High School, playing football and track, among other sports,” ESPN explains.
Channing is still in excellent shape nowadays, so he could probably still pursue sports if he really wanted to. But given how well his acting career is going, we doubt he’ll be branching into a new industry anytime soon.
6 Amanda Bynes Got Him One Of His First Roles
Many fans were first introduced to Channing during his role in She’s The Man, in which he played Amanda Bynes’ love interest. Since he was such a pro in the movie, not many people realize it was one of his first roles. However, it’s since been revealed that Amanda had to put in a good word for him to get cast in the movie.
“I totally fought for Channing [to get cast in] that movie because he wasn’t famous yet,” Amanda once said, Daily Mail reports. “He’d just done a Mountain Dew commercial and I was like ‘This guy’s a star - every girl will love him!’ But then the producers were like ‘He’s so much older than all of you,’ And I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter! Trust me!”
5 He Can’t Stand Standardized Tests
Given how much Channing struggled with his academics in high school, it’s not surprising to hear the actor can’t stand exams. Hey, there’s a reason most people despite exams! The actor has spoken often about how he believes the educational system does a disservice to most kids.
“I read so slow. If I have a script, I'm going to read it five times slower than any other actor, but I'll be able to tell you everything in it. It kills me that there are standardized tests geared towards just one kind of child,” the star once explained, Brainy Quote confirms.
4 He Got Into A Serious Altercation At 14 Years Old
Channing is such a lovable guy that it’s hard to imagine him getting into any sort of confrontation. However, it sounds like the actor had quite the streak when he was younger. In fact, there’s a pretty good story about why he’ll never be caught in sandals again.
“I know I will never wear sandals now anywhere. I got in a fight in the back of a grocery store when I was really young, like 14 or something,” Channing once shared, Brainy Quote reports. “And I remember my feet were so torn up afterwards because I lost my sandals in the middle of the fight. My toenail was missing. It just sucked.” The actor is lucky that the only thing that got harmed was his toenail since it could’ve been a lot worse!
3 He Got Divorced After Almost A Decade
By now, most fans know that Channing and Jenna Dewan have split up. The long-time couple announced their sad news last year after almost a decade of marriage. The couple, who share a daughter, met when they were young and filming Step-Up together in 2006.
“We have lovingly chosen to separate as a couple. We fell deeply in love so many years ago and have had a magical journey together,” they said in a statement posted to social media. “Absolutely nothing has changed about how much we love one another, but love is a beautiful adventure that is taking us on different paths for now.”
It continued: “There are no secrets nor salacious events at the root of our decision — just two best-friends realizing it’s time to take some space and help each other life the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible.”
2 His Ex-Wife May Have Been Jealous Of His Work
Many fans have tried to theorize what exactly happened between Channing and his ex-wife Jenna, as their divorce took most fans by surprise. Given how much Channing’s acting has taken off in recent years, whereas his wife took a step back from the spotlight after welcoming their daughter, some fans assume jealousy may have been a factor.
“Jenna is getting tired of playing the supportive housewife,” a source told Radar Online last year. “Her role these days is essentially looking after their daughter, Everly, and she’s really starting to panic over here languishing [job] while she watched Channing churn out critically acclaimed performances.” Yikes!
1 He Doesn’t Feel Very Good-Looking
Most men and women alike will tell you that Channing Tatum is one of the best looking actors in Hollywood. There is a reason he started off as a model, after all. However, it turns out the celebrity hasn’t always been very confident in his looks.
“I'm not pretty. The truth is I didn't think I could be a model at all. I was looking at some of the guys on the walls at Irene Marie and I thought to myself 'Jesus Christ. I can't do this. I don't look anything like these guys,’” Channing explained of when he first got into modeling.
However, given how successful his movies have been in recent years, hopefully, the celebrity now realizes just how blessed he is in the genetic department.
Sources: The New York Times, Us Weekly, ESPN, NY Daily News, Biography.com, Radar Online, Hollywood Life.