Media royalty. Ryan Seacrest has dominated the entertainment industry for more than two decades — both in front of and behind the camera.
Born in Atlanta in 1974, the Emmy-winning producer began his first radio internship while still in high school. After graduating, he studied journalism at the University of Georgia, but he dropped out before finishing his degree and moved to Los Angeles to start his career in earnest.
The risk paid off, because by 1993 he was already on TV hosting the ESPN series Radical Outdoor Challenge. One year later, he began cohosting the kids’ game show Gladiators 2000, and from then he was rarely without a TV gig.
While Seacrest’s voice was a radio mainstay for much of the late 1990s, his real breakout moment came in 2002 when he became the host of a new reality competition series called American Idol. The show was an instant hit, launching the careers of artists including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.
“The first season stands out to me because we went on the air unknown,” the On Air With Ryan Seacrest host wrote in The Hollywood Reporter in February 2022, reflecting on Idol’s 20th anniversary. “About midway through the season, it started to generate relatively large numbers in primetime. We were taken aback by the machine that it was becoming and the success; it was all so unknown — even to us.”
The New Year’s Eve star added that he wasn’t even sure what to do when it was time to announce the inaugural winner. “I didn’t know how to deliver the news because it was the first time, but then it rained fireworks, and this huge celebration began, and she sang ‘A Moment Like This,’” Seacrest recalled. “I get emotional pretty easily, but I got really emotional in that moment.”
The Punk’d alum continued hosting Idol after its 2018 move from Fox to ABC while also cohosting Live With Kelly and Ryan with Kelly Ripa. He also took over Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve after the late Dick Clark suffered a stroke that affected his speech.
In February 2023, Seacrest shocked fans when he announced that he’s leaving Live With Kelly and Ryan after nearly six years. “Working alongside Kelly over the past six years has been a dream job and one of the highlights of my career,” the Kardashians producer said in a statement at the time. “She has been an amazing partner, friend and confidant, and although we will always be a part of each other’s lives, I will miss our mornings together.”
Seacrest continued: “I also want to thank Michael Gelman and the entire staff and crew — we’ve made memories to last a lifetime, met some of the most incredible people and had the warmest welcome into the homes of so many viewers across America. It’s been a memorable ride and now I’m excited to pass the baton to Kelly’s ‘real’ husband, Mark [Consuelos].”
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Keep scrolling for a look back at Seacrest’s life and career: