Roofing’s a tough business. It can take a lot out of you, but it can also be rewarding and teach some good lessons along the way. In fact, we’ve found five famous celebrities who used to be roofers. Who knows, maybe it was roofing that taught them some of the life lessons that propelled them on to other things!
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1. Anthony Mackie Grew Up in the Family Business

Anthony Mackie is an actor who starred in movies like The Hurt Locker, but before that, he worked in his father’s roofing business. Willie Mackie, Sr., owns Mackie Roofing in New Orleans.

Incidentally, Mackie also owns his own bar and built a significant part of it with his own carpentry and handyman skills. If you want to be even more impressed, this interview takes you through the details, including this statement from Mackie:

“My dad was a carpenter and a roofer, and every summer he would make his sons work with him — I did it for three years. I have lots of carpenters and contractors in my family so that’s how I got the bug. There’s just something remarkable about taking a piece of wood and making it into something. It’s gratifying, really fulfilling. Anybody can buy a $2,500 designer table but not everybody can make one.”

2. Blake Shelton Wasn’t Always a Guitar-pickin’ Comedian

Before his country music celebrity and his longstanding presence on The Voice, Blake Shelton worked for his stepdad’s roofing business.

That’s saying something, too, because Blake Shelton wasn’t very old when his music career began picking up speed. By just 16, Shelton was winning awards throughout his home state of Oklahoma. Then, within weeks of graduating high school, Shelton took off for Nashville, and the rest is history.

Roofing had to have been some formative part of his musical success, right?!

3. Sixto Rodriguez Didn’t Know He Was Famous in South Africa, But He Knew Roofing

Sixto Rodriguez enjoyed popularity and sales rumored to rival Elvis Presley or the Beatles–except, he didn’t know about it! While Rodriguez was living in Detroit, his albums went platinum in South Africa. He’d given up on the music business, and meanwhile Rodriguez’ South African fans thought the singer had died. Crazy, right?

When his daughter found a fan site and shared what was happening, Rodriquez went to South Africa on tour, eventually inspiring the documentary Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998. His popularity in South Africa revived his career, and he went on to tour with bands like the Mark Gillespie Band and Midnight Oil.

So why is he on this list? Before he learned of his popularity, Rodriguez lived in simple or even rustic conditions for more than 40 years. He worked as a day laborer, and his gigs included roofing, demolition, and other construction work.

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4. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu Were “European Bricklayers”

These two weren’t exactly roofers, but they worked in a related trade and I’m giving you two bodybuilders for one with this list item, so hopefully it all works out . . .

Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was a businessman and millionaire before his acting career even began. With his fellow bodybuilding buddy Franco Columbu, he created a bricklaying business for chimneys and fireplaces–again, not exactly roofing but closely associated. Schwarzenegger then went on to create a mail-order service and invest in real estate before acting.

Here’s a great rooftop pic with fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu, as found on

The really interesting thing for me was how they marketed this service: by staffing the team with ripped bodybuilders and calling themselves specialty European bricklayers.

Podcaster and author Tim Ferriss interviewed Schwarzenegger and touched on this, which you can find at 26:05 of the video below (I have it cued up, or feel free to start from the beginning to enjoy the whole thing).

5. Billy Currington Attributes His Work Ethic to Roofing and Other Contracting Jobs

Country singer Billy Currington has commented in several interviews on how roofing is demanding work, between the labor, the weather exposure, and so on.

As Currington told CMT:

“I started working, like, at [age] 12, landscaping. This was summer, every summer. And roofing. I started when I was about 16, roofing houses, and that was probably one of my toughest jobs because down there in south Georgia, it gets hot. … The concrete job was my least favorite of all — six years of that — and I couldn’t take it no more. After that job, that was my turning point. Either I’m going to do something else for a living (laughs) or quit and try to really focus on music and get this record deal.”

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Just another celebrity whose past roofing ad construction experience helped him become famous.


That means, all you roofers, we’ll be waiting for your notification of upcoming celebrity so we can add you to the list!

Do you know any other famous roofers? Feel free to leave those in the comments below.


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