How ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ Channing Tatum Became a Hollywood Hunk — His Rise to Stardom Explained in 9 Clicks (PHOTOS)

Channing's Sexy Career
Relieve the actor's hottest roles on the big screen.
Finally, 2012 has been the year of Channing Tatum.

After years steadily ascending to big-screen fame through a diverse range of films, PEOPLE’s newly-crowned Sexiest Man Alive has hit a career crescendo. In 2012, Tatum tore at audience’s heartstrings in The Vow, made them laugh out loud in 21 Jump Street, and set their pulses racing in Magic Mike.

So how did Tatum become a certified Hollywood hunk? Well, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

After dropping out of college, Tatum famously got his start as a stripper in 1999, shedding his clothes for cash at Male Encounter in Tampa, Fla. But soon, he managed to parlay that seedy gig into some more legitimate work.

In 2000, Tatum was cast in Ricky Martin’s music video for “She Bangs,” a chart-blazing single that year. “I actually went with a buddy. We were living in Tampa and we were both sort of dancers and they were talking auditions,” Tatum said on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in July. “I got the thing.”

The extra role did not earn him much of a pay day, though. “I had no idea that they make no money, video dancers, at all,” he said with a laugh, admitting that he pocketed a measly “$400 for five days of work.”

But Tatum’s chiseled good looks launched his modeling career. After posing for Abercrombie & Fitch and Armani, the then-unknown actor popped up on the small screen in commercial for Pepsi and Mountain Dew. Soon, his face began to grace the pages of fashion campaigns, including Nautica, America Eagle Outfitters and even Dolce & Gabbana.

Following years of paying his dues, Tatum landed a role on the big screen in 2005’s Coach Carter. After getting his toes wet, Tatum reeled in a string of small film parts, including in Supercross, Havoc and She’s the Man. But it was 2006’s Step Up — in which romanced future wife Jenna Dewan — that introduced him to Hollywood consciousness. And from there, it has been a steady rise for Tatum, who has gone on to show his range in action-adventures, romantic dramas and comedies.

Relieve Tatum’s rise to fame in just nine clicks through the gallery, above.

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