The Top 10 Big-Brained Beauties

April 10, 2009

Hollywood is full of beautiful women who are ridiculously hot but thick as two bricks. These types of celebrity women trade on their looks, rather than their intellect. But what about those Hollywood women who are a package deal - those who are both beautiful and brainy?

10. Alicia Keys


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Alicia Keys is a talented woman who began writing songs at age 14. She is classically trained, having mastered classical music by great composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. She graduated valedictorian from the prestigious Professional Performing Arts School of Manhattan at age 16. She was offered a scholarship to Columbia University, but dropped out after four weeks to pursue her music career.

9. Claire Danes


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Claire Danes put her acting career on hold to study psychology at Yale University. Prior to attending Yale she finished high school at the Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles, a bilingual school that teaches in French and English. The Romeo + Juliet star, who describes her background as “WASPy as you can get” comes from a long line of Yale alums. Her grandfather was the dean of the School of Art and Architecture and her father also graduated from the Ivy League school. Danes had her letter of recommendation written by director Oliver Stone. However, like Stone, Danes has yet to complete her degree.

8. Danica McKellar


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Danica McKellar is best known for her role as Winnie Cooper on the television show The Wonder Years. After leaving the show, Danica studied mathematics at UCLA, graduating summa cum laude. While an undergraduate she co-authored a scientific paper with a fellow student and a professor. Their results are termed the "Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem."

Since finishing college, Danica has authored two books on mathematics, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail and Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. The books aim to encourage young girls to enjoy math by showing “girls that math is accessible and relevant, and even a little glamorous” and to counteract “damaging social messages telling young girls that math and science aren't for them.” Danica’s books have been praised for inspiring young women to delve into the world of mathematics.

7. Jennifer Connelly


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Jennifer Connelly has been in the entertainment business for a long time. Her career started at the age of 10 when she appeared in print and television commercials. By age 11 she had made her feature film debut. In the midst of a promising career, Jennifer headed to college. She studied English literature at Yale and took her studies very seriously. She told Interview magazine in 2002, "I pulled a lot of all-nighters in the library right off the bat, and I didn't have a really strong social life." After two years, Jennifer transferred to Stanford University and completed her bachelor degree. She is also fluent in French and Italian.

6. Asia Carrera



Asia Carrera is a former adult entertainment star who has a really big brain. Born Jessica Steinhauser, the half-German, half-Japanese beauty had performed classical piano twice at Carnegie Hall before the age of 15. By 16, she was teaching English at a Japanese college. She was awarded a full academic scholarship to Rutgers University and is reportedly a member of the high IQ society Mensa. At age 17, she ran away from home and fell into the adult entertainment business. Asia was one of the first women in pornography to have her own website. She literally wrote the website’s code herself. Asia retired from the adult entertainment business in 2003.

5. Famke Janssen


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Famke is an actress best known for playing sexy super-heroine Dr. Jean Grey in the X-Men films. She was born in the Netherlands and moved to the United States at age 20 to pursue a modeling career. She speaks her native Dutch, as well as English, German, and French. While living in New York City, she studied writing and literature at Columbia University. She later attended the University of Amsterdam to study Economics.  In early 2008, she was appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Integrity at the Second Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, held in Bali. This woman really can save the world with her mind.

4. Cindy Crawford


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Cindy Crawford has adorned more magazine covers than any model in history. She was one of the most in demand models of the 1980s and 1990s. Even since her retirement from modeling she is still in the public eye, endorsing products and launching her own furniture line. Cindy could have taken another route in life and become a scientist. The sexy supermodel graduated valedictorian from high school with a 4.0 GPA. She accepted a scholarship to study Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University. After one quarter she decided to leave college to focus on modeling full time.

3. Rashida Jones


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Rashida Jones is both gorgeous and intelligent. The star of I Love You Man and series regular on The Office is the daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones. She attended a private school in Los Angeles, where she made the National Honor Society and was voted "Most Likely To Succeed" by her classmates. She later attended Harvard University, where she studied philosophy and religion.

2. Kate Beckinsale


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Kate Beckinsale is a British brunette with a beautiful brain. The actress is fluent in German, Russian, French, and English. While in high school, she won the W.H. Smith Young Writer’s competition twice. She won the first time for a collection of three short stories and won the second time for three poems. After high school the Underworld star studied French and Russian literature at New College, which is part of the famed University of Oxford.

1. Natalie Portman


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Natalie Portman once stated she’d “rather be smart than be a movie star.” Well, she is both. Natalie first found fame at age 13, staring in Luc Besson’s Leon. Even as a child star she managed to juggle acting roles with her school commitments. She skipped the premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1 so she could study for her high school finals. She graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA and was accepted to Harvard. While at Harvard she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Later, she pursued graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is fluent in Hebrew and can speak French, Japanese, German, and Arabic.  Portman is also a published author. As a student she co-authored two research papers that were published in scientific journals. She also appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia University.

Who's your favorite brainy actress?  Leave your response in the comments!