10 of Your Favorite HGTV Stars Reveal How They Were Discovered

You might want to check your voicemails after reading this!

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Ever wonder how all those now-famous realtors, designers and renovators found themselves on TV? We asked some of HGTV's biggest stars how they got their start.

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Buff Strickland
Chip and Joanna Gaines

With a hit TV show, a shop that  and , it's hard to imagine a time when Chip and Joanna weren't household names. But Chip actually started flipping houses back in college, and Joanna offered her help on the design side after they began dating. 

, Joanna explained that they were approached by a production company after one of their flips was featured on . "They ed us through our website and the rest is history," she said. In fact, Joanna recently  that they almost didn't call back when the production company first called with the offer, because Chip thought it was a scam!

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Scott McGillivray

The star of Income Property first started investing in real estate while he was still in college. "I bought a rental property with a friend of mine and it was profitable," . "We used our student loans to buy our first property so you could say there was lots of risk being taken there, but it paid off." 

Scott continued buying properties, eventually becoming a licensed contractor when he was 26. "Right after I became a licensed contractor, a very close friend of mine who worked in television called me up and said 'Scott I'm working on a show, we need  someone to help finish this renovation, it's gone off the rails, can you help?"

At first Scott said he didn't become a contractor so he could display his skills on a "silly" TV show, but his friend convinced him to give it a try. "It was fun, I got to know people in production," he said. "Eventually they sent a camera crew to follow me around and they were like, we need to do a show about what you do with these rental properties and bam, here we are after 10 years of doing income property."

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Bethany Byrd
Erin & Ben Napier

For the stars of , which is expected to premiere in 2017, it all started with a new Instagram follower: "In June 2014, we were the featured Southern newlyweds by and the day they posted about it on Instagram, we got lots of new followers," Erin told CountryLiving.com. "One of them was Lindsey, an executive at HGTV. A friend private messaged me to say, 'Holy cow! An HGTV executive just followed you!' I followed Lindsey back, assuming she would be a great connection for our letterpress stationery business and after a few weeks made a comment on a photo [of hers] that prompted a conversation about us meeting up when Ben and I came to NYC a few months later in December. I just knew we were closing in on a big order for some custom personal stationery! Instead, we were shocked to receive an email from her saying she had fallen in love with our town and our love story via Instagram and wondered if we had ever thought about doing TV. We absolutely never had any dreams or plans for that [but a] Skype interview turned into a sizzle [reel] turned into a pilot turned into a series. We're just along for the ride and thankful that we've somehow 'fallen into the pudding,' as my mama says."

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Nicole Curtis

, Nicole explained that she first realized a production assistant for Magnetic Productions was attempting to her while clearing out her voicemail to prepare to make an offer on two Minneapolis houses.

"He said he wanted to line up real estate experts who could go on camera for segments on a TV show," Nicole explained. She would later find out he was booking for Sweat Equity. "The message was two weeks old. Leave it to me not to check my messages. I called the guy back and, to my surprise, he told me to come in the next day."

But the meeting didn't exactly go as planned. Nicole stood out as more than just a realtor: "I told him that my goal was to invest in the houses that no one else wanted, renovate them in a historic manner, and put them back on the market," she writes in her book.

Overall, Nicole says she thinks she was just in the right place at the right time. John Kitchener, the owner of the production company, was just starting out and looking for fresh talent to pitch to bigger networks. "Companies like his succeed only by throwing ideas at the network and seeing what sticks. I was determined to make the idea of Nicole Curtis, historic home renovator, stick," she writes.

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Christina and Tarek El Moussa

While it seems many HGTV stars were discovered by executives, Tarek and Christina approached the network themselves. "We just started flipping houses and we took a long shot and sent a production company an e-mail," . "They liked us and said to send a home video. We did, and they liked it. A year-and-a-half later, HGTV picked us up for a pilot. Midway through season one, the show was almost cancelled because someone high up at HGTV thought it would fail. It didn't.

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David Bromstad

Apparently, the first ever winner of HGTV's Design Star had no idea he signed himself up to be on TV. "I was fabricating kids' rooms and barely making ends meet," David explained . "One of the interior designers I was working for convinced me to enter a contest on HGTV. After I was cast, I found out the contest was actually a reality show."

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Courtesy of Shanty2Chic
Whitney Gainer and Ashley Turner

You may recognize the duo behind  from . Long before their show debuted, these Texas-based sisters were self-made carpenters who create plans for customized furniture. 

"We started building our own homes together about 8 years ago," explained Whitney to CountryLiving.com. "We were both on limited budgets and loved repurposing old pieces and giving them a new life. We started  to help others do the same in their homes.  That led to a love of tools, and furniture design. We began designing our own pieces and sharing the plans with our readers on our blog. It was so amazing to have the ability to fill an entire room with furniture for the same price you would pay for a single piece at a furniture store. One of our now producers was looking to buy a dining table for her family. Her friend suggested she look at our site and build it herself. She discovered us there, and asked if we had ever considered doing a show. That is how it all started."

And so far, the sister say they've most enjoyed the opportunity to help others: "Our favorite part of the journey with HGTV has been being able to transform peoples' lives by helping them create a real home. It was the most rewarding part of every transformation so far."

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Drew & Jonathan Scott

Unlike some of the network's other hosts, the Property Brothers were actually actors before they appeared on HGTV. the twins starred on the Canadian series Breaker High, Drew was on Smallville, and Jonathan was on The X-Files

Eventually, the brothers decided to go into real restate to avoid becoming "starving actors." "During university we did our very first property, ended up flipping it — before flipping was a trend or cool," . "We did ended up making about a $50,000 profit. We thought this was something, while still in college. We went back to school for construction and design, and our company exploded and we were approached to do Property Brothers..."

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Tina and Jessie Rodriguez

You may recognize even if you've never seen their show. That's because the Rodriguezes are actually friends of Christina and Tarek El Moussa and appeared on Flip or Flop before getting their own spin-off show. These couples  a craftsman home in Santa Ana, California, during season 3.

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Emily Henderson

The host of Secrets From a Stylist actually got her own show by winning HGTV's Design Star. Emily first started off as an assistant working with different stylists in New York City and never imagined she'd be on TV.

When Emily spotted a Craigslist ad for Design Star auditions, it was her husband who convinced her to try out. "The whole thing was totally nuts," .  "It was a 6-week adrenaline rush. Five a.m. to 12 a.m. every day, quarantined from all with friends and family, competing every day for your dream job. All said and done I do think that I was the right person for the job (although my friends Dan and Casey could have taken it at any point), but man I still can't believe I won. I was pretty terrified and had wildly less confidence than I do now. It was an incredible experience that I'm obviously extremely glad I did. It totally changed my life, propelled me toward success, and gave me the validation to really make things happen."

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