Black Celebrities Who Had Outstanding Academic Performance As Students

by Duke Magazine

There is this myth-conception that quite a handful of the superstar celebrities making millions of dollars from their talents have poor educational backgrounds. 

The widely held notion is that if they did not drop out of school or were troublemakers, who were constantly reprimanded, they always finished at the bottom of their classes.

This general fallacy is however not entirely true. Inasmuch as there are inspirational “from nothing stories”, which includes some of our favorite celebrities having to part ways with school, either willingly or due to circumstances beyond their control to pursue their dreams, there are also others who made it a point to remain in school up to a certain level.

Be it high school or college, these celebrities did not just add up to the numbers. They were intelligent straight-A students who were either among the best or were the overall alphas.

2 Chainz

2 Chainz

Born Tauheed Epps, the “Feds Watching” rapper was a basketball prospect before taking up rap. While at North Clayton High School in Georgia, the rapper, who admitted he was stubborn revealed he graduated second in class despite his shenanigans and extracurricular activities.

A promising athlete, he gained a scholarship to Alabama State University where he played for their basketball team.

“Truth be told, I was a felon before I was old enough to drive, vote, do a bunch of that sh*t,” he told the Daily Beast.

“But that don’t define who I am now, because I’m a success story. Me getting a scholarship and going to college, that had a lot to do with me being smart. In Georgia, they had a thing called the HOPE Scholarship where, back then, all you needed was a 3.2 grade point average. I could’ve stayed in Georgia, sold dope, and went to school, but I decided to sell dope and go to school somewhere else.”

He, however, transferred to Virginia State after his first year where he eventually graduated.

John Legend

John Legend

The Grammy award-winning singer was an outstanding student and would most likely have job offers tabled up for him if he decides to ditch music for corporate world. 

After high school, the “All of Me” crooner received scholarship offers to study at Harvard, Morehouse College, and Georgetown. He, however, opted to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he took up courses in African-American literature and English.

He also worked worked at Boston Consulting Group prior to delving into music.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys

The 38-year-old Grammy award-winning singer graduated from the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan as valedictorian.

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones

Quincy Jones’ daughter was a brilliant student at Harvard. She initially wanted to become a lawyer but delved into acting, writing and producing.

She co-wrote “Top Story 4.”



Stormzy has made a name for himself as the biggest Grime artiste in the United Kingdom and is deservedly riding off the wave of his second album, “Heavy is the Head,” which was released in December 2019.

Widely known for his lyrical prowess, the British-Ghanaian rapper was also an outstanding student before he ventured into music.

A former student of Harris Academy South Norwood, the “Vossi Bop” rapper, during a Q&A session with students at the Oxford Guild revealed he got 6 A’s at GCSE.

“I was a very naughty child, on the verge of getting expelled, but I wasn’t a bad child; everything I did was for my own entertainment. But when I went into an exam I did really well,” he said, according to NME.

He also opened up about how getting ABCDE at A-Level humbled him and gave him a new perspective on life.

“For someone who would cuss in class and was on the verge of being expelled, it was A-Levels that showed me that in life you need work ethic.”

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