Lady Gaga Through the Years: From Avant-Garde Pop Star to Oscar Winner

Since hitting the scene, Lady Gaga has become one of the most famous faces in pop music history.

The New York City native released her debut single, “Just Dance,” in April 2008. As she continued to drop one chart-topping hit after another, from “Bad Romance” to “Born This Way” to “Million Reasons,” she quickly became a household name across the world, thanks in part to her innovative, avant-garde costumes.

Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) has since released five albums, in addition to the soundtrack for A Star Is Born, in which she starred alongside Bradley Cooper. “Shallow,” a duet from the film, earned the nine-time Grammy winner an Oscar, bringing her halfway to EGOT status just over a decade into her career.

“I’ve worked hard for a long time, and it’s not about … winning. What it’s about is not giving up,” she declared while accepting her Academy Award in February 2019. “If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

When Gaga is not busy performing or acting, she uses her platform to be a vocal champion for mental health, LGBT rights, body positivity and female empowerment. The “Rain on Me” singer has spoken candidly about her own struggles, discussing the battle between her onstage persona and her everyday self.

“My biggest enemy is Lady Gaga, that’s what I was thinking. My biggest enemy is her,” she said on CBS This Morning in September 2020, detailing a particularly dark period of her career. “You can’t go to the grocery store now. If you go to dinner with your family [and] somebody comes to the table, you can’t have dinner with your family without it being about you, it’s always about you. All the time it’s about you. … I hated being famous, I hated being a star, I felt exhausted and used up.”

However, things started to change following the release of her sixth album, Chromatica, in May 2020. “I don’t hate Lady Gaga anymore,” she told CBS. “Now I look at this piano and I go, ‘Ugh, my God, my piano, my piano that I love so much. My piano, that lets me speak, my piano that lets me make poetry. My piano that’s mine.’”

The ever-evolving entertainer has credited her success to her hardworking family. Dad Joe Germanotta owns Joanne Trattoria, a homestyle Italian restaurant on NYC’s Upper West Side; mom Cynthia Germanotta cofounded the Born This Way Foundation with Gaga; and sister Natali Germanotta has designed many of the performer’s outfits. Gaga has also said that she is inspired by her late aunt Joanne Germanotta, who died in 1974 from lupus at the age of 19.

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