Even though this may not be at the forefront of your mind, homelessness is a very real problem in America. According to the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, more than 3.5 million people in the U.S. become homeless every year. That’s a whole lot of people, and many of them are children. Some people who have been homeless are now huge celebrities who have worked hard to overcome financial hardship.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why a person or family can become homeless. Some people fall behind on their rent or mortgages due to job loss or reduced hours. Others are not able to find jobs due to limited skill sets or a struggling economy. There are also instances in which families have to pay out large sums of money for medical bills or caring for a loved one, which can have dire financial consequences. In most cases, a combination of situations can lead to homelessness, and it is devastating for everyone involved.
There are some instances in which teenagers and young people become homeless as well. Some run away from home in order to live life on their own terms, and others feel that living on their own will provide personal and emotional safety. Here are 10 well-known celebrities who were homeless at one point.
10. Hilary Swank
Hilary Swank, who is known for her work in films like Million Dollar Baby, started acting when she was nine years old. Her first role was as Mowgli in a stage adaptation of The Jungle Book. She was also a talented swimmer, and even competed in the Junior Olympics and the Washington State Championships. When Hilary was 13, her parents got divorced. She still had dreams of acting, so she and her mother moved to Los Angeles. The two lived out of her mother’s car and Swank’s mother booked auditions for her over pay phones. This continued until Hilary and her mom put enough money together to get an apartment.
9. Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey got his start as a cast member on the comedy show In Living Color. He then went on to star in several comedy movies including Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty and the first and second installments of Dumb and Dumber. Carrey is also well-known for giving some entertaining and hilarious interviews. However, even though he is known for making people laugh with his wacky variety of physical comedy, Jim Carrey went through a lot of hardship when he was younger. Carrey’s mother suffered from mental illness, and he dropped out of school when he was 16 to take care of her. His mother’s illness took a financial toll on the family, and they eventually had to live out of their van for a time.
8. Sylvester Stallone
The man known as the Italian Stallion is best known for his main role in the Rocky movies. You may also recognize Stallone as the rogue military hero Rambo. However, there was a time when Sylvester Stallone wasn’t so lucky. The actor was homeless briefly, and had to sleep in the Port Authority bus station in New York City. Shortly after making the bus station his home, he saw a casting notice for the soft-core adult film The Party at Kitty and Stud’s. He got the job in the film and was paid $200, which helped him get back on his feet.
7. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson holds the distinction of being the first winner of American Idol. Before she achieved success on the singing competition show, however, she had a brief stint of homelessness. Clarkson moved to Los Angeles to make it big as a singer, and when her apartment burned down, she had no choice but to live in her car for a while. Going through difficulty like this is probably why Clarkson doesn’t care too much about the criticism she’s been getting about her weight since she had her daughter. The powerhouse singer, who is married to Reba McEntire’s stepson, has just released a new album, and states that she is as happy as ever.
6. William Shatner
William Shatner is a veteran actor who is particularly skilled at playing both serious and comedic roles. You may also remember him as the host of Rescue 911. Shatner rose to fame for his role in Star Trek. When the series ended, the talented actor had to live in his pickup truck and had to get work in the summer stock theater. The Canadian actor, who is also a singer and comedian, got back on his feet by working as a musician and landing more acting roles. He also played an attorney on the shows The Practice and Boston Legal, for which he won a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards.
5. Halle Berry
The stunning actress got her start in the late 1980s and 1990s, when she was cast in projects such as Living Dolls, Jungle Fever and Boomerang. Before she started acting, Halle Berry was the winner of the Miss Teen All-American Pageant, where she represented her home state of Ohio. When she decided that she wanted to pursue acting, she lived in several homeless shelters until she was able to afford an apartment. Her mother, of course, disapproved of this choice, but it’s pretty safe to say that Berry’s mom is glad the actress continued to pursue her dreams. Halle Berry can now be seen in the TV sci-fi drama Extant.
4. Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez is known for her acting, singing and dancing skills, and of course, her great body. However, the world may not have had such an entertainment treasure if Lopez would have listened to her parents. Both her mother and father disapproved of Jennifer’s desire to make a name for herself in Hollywood. So, when she was 18, she lived with various friends and didn’t have a home of her own while she was trying to make it big. Now, the American Idol judge has several album tours under her belt, her own production company, a line of fragrances and a string of romantic comedies to be proud of.
3. Sam Worthington
The English-born actor who lived in Australia for most of his life is perhaps best known for his role in Avatar. He auditioned for the role when he was living out of his car. He purchased the vehicle for $2,000, and sold all his possessions in order to get the money. Sam Worthington had worked in Australian movies and on stage before landing his role in Avatar. He starred in the 2000’s Bootmen and earned a role in the movie A Matter of Life, a year later. In 2003, Sam Worthington was cast as the main character in the movie Gettin’ Square, even though the movie’s executives were originally looking for a lead who was about eight years older than Worthington, who was 27 at the time. After his Avatar success, Sam Worthington went on to star in films such as Clash of the Titans and Man On a Ledge.
2. Dr. Phil
Phil McGraw, who most of the world knows as Dr. Phil, has been giving the world practical advice about relationships for years. He also covers astonishing news stories on his talk show. During an interview with Parade, McGraw shared that he and his father once lived out of a car in Kansas City, while his father interned in psychology. Dr. Phil was 12 years old at the time. He states that he and his father eventually moved to a room at the YMCA, where the charge was $5 a week to stay. This experience likely has a lot to do with Dr. Phil’s strong work ethic today.
Talented singer Jewel spent quite a bit of time living out of her van and traveling the country. She sang and played her guitar wherever she could in order to make money before she achieved success in the music industry. Both of Jewel’s parents were also singers and songwriters, and she began performing with them when she was just six years old. Her 1995 album Pieces of You went multi-platinum. This was also the album that contained the hit single Who Will Save Your Souls, so it’s safe to say that all her hard work paid off. Jewel also released a country album entitled Perfectly Clear in 2008, which reached number one on the Billboard Country Album Chart.