12 Times Criminal Activity Launched an Entertainment Career

Gotta start somewhere! Why not prison?
12 Times Criminal Activity Launched an Entertainment Career

Inspiration can come from anywhere, and these former criminals or one-time mistake makers are living proof. Whether they needed a little time in the clink to get their literal act together, or they finally realized that we’re all suckers for true crime stories, these baddies spun their illegal doings into legal (and fruitful) careers. 

We do love a touch of the naughty stuff, don’t we? We’re pretty sure the people who’ve had real-life encounters with gang members or the mafia wouldn’t describe them as “cool,” but from the safety of our couch, mob movies and gangster rap are pretty awesome. “Safety” seems to be the stand-out word there. 

As outsiders with no real grasp of the actual dangers involved, that life just seems so enticing. Like, they don’t care about the law?! That’s wild stuff right there. Better yet, these specific career crooks lived to tell the tale. Even better yet, there just so happens to be a huge market for those tales. Here are 12 times criminal activity launched an entertainment career. 

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Sometimes, all it takes is showing up for someone.

CRACKED DANNY TREJO WENT TO SET AS A DRUG COUNSELOR In prison for what he called a gas chamber offense, he was released on a technicality and began drug counseling. Не was on the set of Runaway Train to counsel an addict, and was offered the role that launched his film career.

20th Century Studios

The Guardian

‘The Wire’ needed realism, and got it in droves.

CRACKED BEFORE THE WIRE, FELICIA SNOOP PEARSON PEARSON WAS A REAL-LIFE GANGSTER She was an actual drug dealer who spent years in prison. Michael K. Williams met her at a nightclub, and suggested that she audition. Creators and fans widely consider her one of the most authentic parts of the show.



My dad was a famous mobster! Give me money for it!

CRACKED JOHN GOTTI'S DESCENDANTS CASHED IN ON HIS NAME The 2004 A&E show Growing Up Gotti had three full seasons and a massive following. It featured Gotti's daughter Victoria with her three sons, and Victoria leveraged the show's popularity into appearances on The Apprentice and Mob Wives.

Regan Media

Money Inc

With all that down time, Capone-N-Noreaga got to writin’.

CRACKED RAP DUO CAPONE-N- NOREAGA MET IN PRISON Back in 1992, Victor Noreaga Santiago met Kiam Capone Holley in Greenhaven Prison, serving time for unrelated attempted murder cases. Their first album, 1997's The War Report went Gold, and they're often considered one of the best rap groups of all time.

Warner Bros. Records


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