The early 2000s were a different time. There were boy bands and girl bands, chick flicks that seemed to be released every month and the rise of the competitive singing show thanks to megahit “American Idol.” But when it comes to who really ruled the decade, these powerful women take the cake.
From pop divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to new solo acts like Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani, the early 2000s were filled with hit after hit. And then there are the movies. Who didn’t love Renée Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” or Halle Berry in the X-Men movies? Interestingly, many of the women who defined the early 2000s are still ruling the world today.
Britney Spears (Then)
Coming into the 2000s, Britney Spears hit it big again with her hit “Oops!…I Did It Again,” which came out in March of 2000. An album of the same name came out in May of that year and led to even more hits, including “Stronger” and “Lucky.” She quickly followed up her success with a third studio album, “Britney,” which had six singles — including “I’m a Slave 4 U” — on it. She eventually teamed up with Madonna on “Me Against the Music,” a song from her fourth album, “In the Zone.”
Britney Spears (Now)
After a not-so-great end of the 2000s for Spears (who can forget that breakdown in 2007?), Spears has bounced back and is hotter than ever. After performing on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2018, the star is returning to Las Vegas for her second residency, titled “Domination.”
The proud mom also frequently shares photos of her two sons, Jayden and Sean, on social media and is dating personal-trainer-turned model, Sam Asghari.
Julia Roberts (Then)
For “Pretty Woman” actress Julia Roberts, the 2000s started off on a strong note, with an Academy Award win for playing the titular character in “Erin Brockovich.” Shortly afterward, she appeared in 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” and “The Mexican” (both with Brad Pitt), 2003’s “Mona Lisa Smile,” 2004’s “Closer” and many others.
Julia Roberts (Now)
Since her Oscar-winning role, Roberts has continued to act in movies such as “Eat Pray Love” (2010), a megahit based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir. Most recently, she appeared in 2016’s “Mother’s Day” and 2017’s “Wonder,” and is currently starring in Amazon’s “Homecoming.”
Roberts married photographer husband Danny Moder in 2002 and the two recently celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary. They also have three children together, twins Hazel and Finn and son Henry.
Beyoncé was at the top of the music charts in the early 2000s thanks to her work with group Destiny’s Child, which released the hits “Bootylicious,” “Independent Women” and “Survivor” (and an album by the same name) in 2001. However, the songstress really went big when she went solo and released her first album, “Dangerously in Love,” in 2003. The album featured the hit song “Baby Boy,” featuring Sean Paul, and “Crazy in Love” with then-boyfriend Jay-Z.
Beyoncé’s solo career has made the singer into one of the most famous women on the planet. Since the early 2000s, she has released multiple award-winning albums, performed during the Super Bowl halftime show (twice!) and, this year alone, turned Coachella into Beychella and went on a second tour with her now-husband, Jay-Z.
Earlier this year, the two also celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with daughter Blue Ivy and twins Sir and Rumi.
Serena Williams (Then)
The early 2000s is when this tennis great, arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, reached No. 1. 2002 was a particularly good year for Williams since she won all of the majors she played that year, including the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Serena Williams (Now)
Since her major wins in 2002, the elite athlete’s career has only reached new heights. In fact, 2018 might become her most impactful year as the tennis star has returned from maternity leave and dominated her sport once more. Not only that but the 23-time Grand Slam champion launched her clothing line earlier this year and most recently became GQ magazine’s Woman of the Year.
Mariah Carey (Then)
Mariah Carey had been a big star for a decade by the time the 2000s hit, but this decade was still a big one for the diva. In 2001, her much-hyped-about movie “Glitter” premiered and became a quick disappointment. However, she had a few hits in the early 2000s, including “Loverboy” from 2001 and “Thank God I Found You” in 2000. Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” also had a major resurgence in 2003 with the release of the film “Love Actually.”
Mariah Carey (Now)
Despite her movie fail in 2001, Carey bounced back with performances in “Precious” and “The Butler.” She also had several hit records, including “The Emancipation of Mimi” in 2005 and “E=MC²” in 2008. More recently, fans shocked the world by sending the “Glitter” soundtrack record into the Top 10 charts 17 years after its release. She is also currently working on her 15th studio album.
Since the early 00s, Carey also married and divorced Nick Cannon, with whom she had twins Moroccan and Monroe.
Tina Fey (Then)
Tina Fey was one of the funniest people on “Saturday Night Live” during the early 2000s. After joining the show in 1997, she was responsible for many of its funniest sketches until her departure in 2006. But what really made her rule the early 2000s was “Mean Girls,” the 2004 teen comedy she wrote and acted in.
Tina Fey (Now)
Since leaving SNL in the mid-2000s, Fey wrote and starred in “30 Rock” from 2006 to 2013. She has been in several movies, including 2015’s “Sisters” with fellow “SNL” alum Amy Poehler and 2010’s “Date Night.” Most recently, though, she rewrote her 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls” into a Broadway musical. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2018.
Meanwhile, Fey has been married to husband Jeff Richmond since 2001, and they have two daughters together, Alice and Penelope.
Jennifer Lopez (Then)
A few years after her starring role in the “Selena” biopic (1997) and her debut album “On the 6,” the singer now known as J.Lo released her 2001 album, “J.Lo,” which was produced by then-boyfriend Sean Combs. It featured hit songs such as “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Ain’t It Funny” and “I’m Real,” which was then remixed into a single featuring Ja Rule.
She was on fire in the early 2000s and not just in her singing career. In 2001, she starred in “The Wedding Planner” with Matthew McConaughey and a year later in “Maid in Manhattan” with Ralph Fiennes. Though we probably shouldn’t talk about her 2003 flop “Gigli” or her tumultuous romance with co-star Ben Affleck.
Jennifer Lopez (Now)
These days, the megastar is more popular than ever. She’s busy at work on a new Spanish-language album, brought down the house at this year’s American Music Awards when she performed her new single “Limitless” and is still making time for movies. In December, she will star in “Second Act” with Milo Ventimiglia.
After her romance with Affleck ended, Lopez reconnected with and married (then-divorced) Marc Anthony. The two have twins, Max and Emme, and currently are happily co-parenting with Lopez’s boyfriend, former New York Yankee baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
Jennifer Aniston (Then)
In the early 2000s, Aniston was still in the midst of the “Friends” frenzy (the show ended in 2004). Aniston also began showcasing her acting chops in full-length features during this time. In particular, she received praise for her serious turn in 2002’s “The Good Girl” with Jake Gyllenhaal. Her personal life was also the stuff of headlines during this time. She married Brad Pitt in July 2000, though the two split in January 2005.
Jennifer Aniston (Now)
Aniston’s career has slowed down a bit since her “Friends” days but she’s still making plenty of movies, from 2010’s “The Switch” to 2011’s “Horrible Bosses” to 2014’s “Cake” (another movie for which she received praise) and many others.
Her love life is still constantly in the headlines, with 2018 bringing news of her split with husband Justin Theroux.
Janet Jackson (Then)
The early 2000s brought much success for Janet Jackson. In 2000, her song “Doesn’t Really Matter” (which she recorded for the “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” film soundtrack) hit it big, and Jackson had a role in the film as Eddie Murphy’s love interest. A year later, she dropped her latest studio album, “All for You.” The album featured a hit song by the same name, as well as the singles “Someone to Call My Lover” and “Son of a Gun.”
Janet Jackson (Now)
Jackson has been fairly quiet in the past decade. After the death of her brother Michael Jackson in 2009, she has only released one more studio album, “Unbreakable,” in 2015. She starred in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?” in 2007 and the sequel, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” in 2010. In 2010, she also appeared in “For Colored Girls.”
She stunned the world when she welcomed her first child, a baby boy named Eissa, at 50 years old with then-husband Wissam Al Mana.
Uma Thurman (Then)
Uma Thurman’s acting career reached new heights in the early 2000s thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” series. She starred as fierce character The Bride in “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003) and “Kill Bill: Volume 2” (2004), proving herself to be a formidable action star.
Uma Thurman (Now)
Since the early 2000s, Thurman has continued to make movies but didn’t take her action star status further. Most recently, she admitted to being dehumanized “to the point of death” during the filming of the “Kill Bill” movies but said she would still work with director Tarantino. She also starred in the indie comedy “The Con is On” in early 2018.
After divorcing Ethan Hawke in 2005, Thurman is dating, working and taking care of her three kids.
Gwen Stefani (Then)
After many years as the lead singer (and only female member of) No Doubt, Gwen Stefani decided to go solo. Her hit singles “Rich Girl” and “Hollaback Girl” in 2004 meant big success as her first solo studio album, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.,” topped the charts. She also made her film debut in 2004 when she played platinum blonde Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese’s biopic “The Aviator” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Gwen Stefani (Now)
Since going solo, Stefani has garnered much success in her career. She continues to make hit records and was a fan-favorite judge on music competition show “The Voice.” Currently, she’s working on new music after having released 2016’s “This Is What the Truth Feels Like ” and 2017’s “You Make It Feel Like Christmas.”
After marrying fellow musician Gavin Rossdale in 2002 and divorcing in 2016, Stefani has found love once more. This time it’s with another fellow musician and fellow “The Voice” judge, Blake Shelton. He’s been a doting boyfriend and is even adorable with her three sons, Kingston, Zuma and Apollo.
Renée Zellweger (Then)
Renée Zellweger was one of our favorite It Girls during the early 2000s thanks to a few back-to-back hit movies. First, she was in 2000’s “Me, Myself & Irene” with Jim Carrey. Then she followed that up with a starring role in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” in 2001, based on the popular novel, and the 2004 sequel, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.” In 2003, she was in “Cold Mountain” and “Down With Love” and the year before, in 2002, she co-starred in “Chicago” with Catherine Zeta-Jones. She received Oscar nominations for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Chicago” and won for her Best Supporting Actress role in “Cold Mountain.”
Renée Zellweger (Now)
After a brief hiatus from Hollywood in the early 2010s, Zellweger was back at it as Bridget Jones in “Bridget Jones’s Baby” in 2016. And she has once again transformed herself for the upcoming biopic “Judy,” based on the later life of Judy Garland.
After being briefly married to Kenny Chesney in 2005, Zellweger is currently dating musician Doyle Bramhall.
Kelly Clarkson (Then)
We didn’t know Kelly Clarkson’s name when the 2000s began but, by 2002, the whole world was paying attention. After her incredible “American Idol” audition belting out Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” the singer went on to win the first season of the music competition show with her powerful rendition of “A Moment Like This.” The next year, she released her debut album, “Thankful,” featuring hits like “Miss Independent,” “Low” and “The Trouble with Love Is.”
Kelly Clarkson (Now)
These days, the pop-country star is more popular than ever. She’s released several albums, including 2017’s “Meaning of Life,” is a recent coach on “The Voice” and hosted the Billboard Music Awards earlier this year.
The singer is also married to Brandon Blackstock and is a mom of four, daughter River Rose and son Remington Alexander, as well as step-daughter Savannah and step-son Seth.
Kirsten Dunst (Then)
The early 2000s were a great time for Kirsten Dunst. Although she has been acting since she was a child, first appearing in Woody Allen’s “New York Stories,” the actress hit her stride during this decade. In 2000, she starred in “Bring It On,” which was eventually made into a musical with music by “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda. She also starred in the popular “Spider-Man” movies as Tobey McGuire’s love interest, Mary Jane Watson.
Kirsten Dunst (Now)
After 2006’s “Marie Antoinette” and 2007’s “Spider-Man 3,” Dunst has continued to appear in movies, but none quite as big. Her recent turn in the second season of FX’s “Fargo” as Peggy Blumquist and 2016’s “Hidden Figures” as Vivian Mitchell are particularly of note.
Speaking of her role in “Fargo,” Dunst hit it off with co-star Jesse Plemons and the two are now engaged. Earlier this year, they welcomed their first child together, son Ennis Howard.
Alicia Keys (Then)
Alicia Keys came onto the scene in the early 2000s and our lives have never been the same. In 2001, the singer released her first album, “Songs in A Minor,” which featured the hit “Fallin’.” Two years later, she followed that up with “The Diary of Alicia Keys” and then “As I Am” in 2007.
Alicia Keys (Now)
Since hitting stardom as a singer and composer, Keys has had various hits, including “No One” (2007), “Girl on Fire” (2012), “My Boo” (2004) with Usher and “Empire State of Mind” (2009) with Jay-Z. Recently, the renowned singer-songwriter and on-again, off-again “Voice” coach gave up wearing makeup and is working on She Is the Music, a music-industry group for female advancement.
She has been married to Swizz Beatz since 2010 and they have three sons, Egypt and Genesis and Kasseem Jr., who is Swizz Beatz’s son from a previous marriage.
Halle Berry (Then)
The early 2000s were really great for Halle Berry, who started the decade by starring as Storm in “X-Men” (2000). She followed that with an Academy Award-winning role in “Monster’s Ball,” then became a Bond Girl in 2002’s “Die Another Day.” Following that, she continued as the superhero Storm in “X2” but failed to carry her own in the notorious 2004 flop “Catwoman.”
Halle Berry (Now)
Since the early 2000s, Berry has continued to make movies and even appeared in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Earlier this year, she appeared alongside Daniel Craig in the L.A.-set drama “Kings.”
Most recently, Berry opened up about her three divorces (most recently from husband Olivier Martinez in 2016). She is a mom of two, daughter Nahla Ariela and son Maceo-Robert.
Christina Aguilera (Then)
After releasing her first album, “Christina Aguilera,” in 1999, Aguilera scored quite a few hits from the record in the early 2000s. She also had a hit with 2001’s “Lady Marmalade,” which also featured Pink, Mýa and Lil’ Kim. In 2002, she released her second album, “Stripped.” She took on a gutsier sound and look with hits such as “Dirrrty” and “Fighter,” plus the ballad “Beautiful.”
Christina Aguilera (Now)
Following that decade, Aguilera released several more albums and appeared as one of the first judges on the inaugural season of “The Voice.” In 2018, she released her first album in six years, “Liberation,” and even made headlines for her appearance on “Carpool Karaoke.”
Aguilera was married to Jordan Bratman from 2005 until 2011 and has been dating (and is now engaged to) Matthew Rutler since 2010. She has two kids, son Max and daughter Summer.