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->''"Everyone said I was an overnight success, but it was ten years leading up to that."''
-->-- '''Creator/NaomiWatts''', in relation to her success with ''Film/MulhollandDrive''

Every A-List star starts somewhere. They do bit parts and [[SpearCarrier walk-on roles]]. They may be a lesser part of an EnsembleCast who becomes an EnsembleDarkhorse. They may even wind up doing [[OldShame something they may not be proud of later]]. Either way, when their memoirs are written or they sit down with [[Series/InsideTheActorsStudio James Lipton]], ''this'' is the role they point to and say "that's where it ''really'' started for me" -- the rise from obscurity to main player. The role may have been written for the specific purpose of making this specific person a star by showcasing their talents. More often than not, it's a case of taking the right part and running with it. This is the role they earn their name with.

This isn't always a star's first role. It's not even their first film or series to be a major success. It might even become completely overshadowed by the parts it helped give them in bigger-budget productions.

Sometimes an actor can have a star making role in one country (usually their homeland) and a different star making role on a more global basis. For example, Creator/ChristophWaltz was known for years in Germany and Austria before ''Film/IngloriousBasterds'' made him a household name to international audiences. And Creator/MarionCotillard became a star with ''Film/AVeryLongEngagement'' in France before ''Film/LaVieEnRose'' and her Oscar win made her a star abroad.

See also RetroactiveRecognition for reactions to roles the actor or actress had before their SMR (Creator/HarrisonFord as a bellhop in ''Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round'', [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrlULhMtmMQ here]]). Contrast StarDerailingRole for when the star goes in the opposite direction. Compare CareerResurrection for when they were once a star, faded, and became big again. Compare BreakthroughHit (equivalent for creators).

!Pages with their own sets of examples:
* StarMakingRole/AnimeAndManga
* StarMakingRole/AnimatedFilm
* StarMakingRole/{{Film}}
* StarMakingRole/LiveActionTV
* StarMakingRole/ProfessionalWrestling
* StarMakingRole/{{Theatre}}
* StarMakingRole/VideoGames (voice acting)
* StarMakingRole/WesternAnimation (excluding animated films)
!Other examples:
!!Web Original
* Lindsay Jones, Barbara Dunkelman (as an actress), Kara Eberle, Arryn Zech, Creator/MichaelJones (as an actor) and Creator/JessicaNigri (as a voice actress) in ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}''.
* Emily Ratajkowski in the music video for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines".
* Creator/LiaMarieJohnson in ''WebVideo/{{React}}''.
* Creator/AshleyClements, Creator/MaryKateWiles, Creator/LauraSpencer, Creator/JuliaCho, Creator/JessicaJadeAndres, Creator/ChristopherSean, Creator/AllisonPaige, Creator/BrianaCuoco, and Creator/DanielVincentGordh in ''WebVideo/TheLizzieBennetDiaries''.
* Creator/FeliciaDay and Creator/AmyOkuda in ''WebVideo/TheGuild''.
* Creator/JessicaRose in ''WebVideo/{{Lonelygirl 15}}''.
* ''Magazine/{{Playboy}}'' Magazine has a habit of turning its centerfolds into stars (albeit usually as [[MsFanservice sex symbols]] who have difficulty being taken seriously as actresses). Several of them have gone on to bigger and better things after posing nude for the infamous men's magazine; some become so famous that it's easy to forget they got their start as one of Hef's girls.
** Creator/JayneMansfield
** Creator/BettiePage
** Shannon Tweed
** Creator/PamelaAnderson
** Anna Nicole Smith
** Kelly Monaco
** Kendra Wilkinson
** Creator/JennyMcCarthy
** Brande Roderick
** Donna D’Errico
** Sara Jean Underwood
** Dorothy Stratten
** Carmen Electra
** Erika Eleniak
* Japanese voice actress Creator/SakiFujita has had plenty of roles in popular anime, including ''Anime/YuruYuri'' and ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', but what won her worldwide fame was lending her voice to the creation of the second Character Vocal Series software program - for some character called [[Music/{{Vocaloid}} Miku Hatsune]].