As celebrities drive around in expensive sports cars and wear the finest jewelry that costs the same amount as some of our homes, it can be surprising to think that not all of these entertainers had a fairy tale upbringing. In fact, for half of our list, they have opened up about the struggles they faced growing up. One actress had to use the money she made from TV commercials when she was a child to help her mother pay bills. Another had no choice but to use low-income programs in high school to eat lunch every day.
That being said, Hollywood can also be a place where knowing the right people, as Blake Lively found out, can go a long way. I also included an actress with a father that is a CEO of a successful communications company and one that recently bought two mansions on the same piece of land in the Hollywood Hills to turn into a compound.
While some of these are the biggest stars in Hollywood like Scarlett Johansson or Ariel Winter, you may be surprised at their life experiences.
20. Rich – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Ray’s stepfather is a business copywriter, and her mother used to be a Grey Advertising account executive. Lana’s biological father is an investment banker for Peabody & Co. and a venture capitalist in addition to being the Vice President of two other U.S. organizations.
The beautiful Lana Del Rey lived in Lake Placid, and it wasn’t always easy as a wealthy teenager because she had issues with alcohol abuse. During this troubling time, she attended a boarding school for three years.
When she attended the State University of New York, she lived in the fancy city of Long Island with her extended family. Despite being born into wealth, she volunteered at homeless centers and helped build houses located on Indian reservations.
19. Poor – Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez is most men’s crush, and young women around the world wish they had her lifestyle. Her mother was only sixteen years old when Selena was born. Her parents struggled financially to put food on the table. According to a Hollywood Life article, she revealed, “I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time, and we’d sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas.”
When some of us were eating high nutritional meals when we were children, Selena Gomez had to eat spaghetti from the dollar store. When her parents got divorced, her mother had to three jobs and the whole situation was understandably tough for Gomez. That being said, we are sure this had a positive impact on Selena’s work ethic that we see today.
18. Rich – Mila Kunis
We remember her from That ‘70s Show as the damsel in distress actress that seemed a bit clueless, but all the guys on the show were attracted to her.
The exotic actress Mila Kunis was one of the lucky ones that grew up in the Ukraine with a mother that used to own a pharmacy and a father that is a mechanical engineer. Despite her happy childhood, her parents took a risk by leaving their nice lifestyle in Europe to move to Los Angeles to help Mila start her acting career.
Mila Kunis admitted to The Daily Telegraph UK, “My parents had given up good jobs and degrees, which were not transferable. We arrived in New York on a Wednesday, and by Friday morning my brother and I were at school in LA.”
Although she is off the market guys thanks to Ashton Kutcher, she is still one of the most desired actresses in Hollywood.
17. Poor – Olga Kurylenko
Olga Kurylenko‘s face might not be familiar, but she acted in James Bond’s 22nd film Quantum of Solace, Vampire Academy, Momentum, The Correspondence and is currently working on a movie called The Death of Stalin.
Similar to some of the actresses on this list, Olga’s parents got divorced when she was only three years old while growing up in the Ukraine. She lived in a small apartment that she and her mother shared with a few extended family members.
She told EXPRESS UK, “Suddenly we were poor, and we couldn’t eat. My mom’s salary would run out, and the (wage) envelope would be empty. And it was always an envelope, never a bank. There was no point in a bank.”
16. Rich – Cassie Ventura
Sean Combs might think he is one of the luckiest men in the entertainment industry. After cheating on Cassie Ventura with his ex-wife and the paparazzi catching him in the act, she took him back after a brief breakup.
Cassie lived in New London, a seaport city in Connecticut and according to Wikipedia it is “Well known in Connecticut for its wealth of art and popular music scene.” Unlike other entertainers, she attended a preparatory school in college and started modeling at the age of 14. While some of us had to attend high school, right after she received her degree she began to take modeling classes at the Broadway Dance Center.
In a video published in Spring 2015, Sean Combs filmed a perfume advertisement of the two acting provocatively to boost sales. The YouTube ad shocked viewers and definitely earned the Parental Advisory Warning.
15. Poor – Ariel Winter
Ariel Winter is gorgeous, smart and grew up in front of our eyes as the funny character named Alex Dunphy on the television sitcom Modern Family. Although she started a lucrative career in Hollywood at four years old, she considers her mother to be a “show mom” and was not the nurturing parent she needed while growing up. Ariel Winter claims she was emotionally and physically abused by her mother throughout her entire career and was in court with her for seven years. She is now emancipated from her mother but has kept her lips sealed on what exactly happened between the two.
What is not to like about Ariel Winter? She’s curvy and incredibly talented, but it looks like online haters didn’t get the memo. About two years ago, she got a breast reduction because of excruciating pain that she was experiencing. While it was absolutely the right decision, Winter has admitted that she has her fair share of negative feedback from people online, but that she doesn’t let them get her down.
14. Rich – Emily Ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski is currently experiencing a nude photo scandal after 200 of her personal photos hacked from the iCloud. What is even worse is she was the victim of this same issue in 2014. We’ve seen her in the R&B hit music video “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, and she was Ben Affleck’s mistress in the movie Gone Girl.
Emily and her family lived in a house close to the ocean in West Kensington in the United Kingdom. As a family, they traveled around Europe when she was a little girl because her father was a painter. One of the beautiful places she lived in was Majorca which is an exotic island in the Mediterranean Sea near Spain. Her parents didn’t like the idea of television as entertainment in the house, and it forced her to stay active as a fashion model and ballet dancer.
13. Poor – Meagan Good
Meagan Good is the woman of many men’s dreams because she is known as the ‘Girl Next Door.’ She went from being a sweet child actress to partying every night in Los Angeles nightclubs and dated a few athletes in relationships that didn’t work out. In 2013, Meagan Good was in big trouble with Christian religious followers for wearing a blue cleavage hugging tight dress to the BET Awards while she was presenting an award for the Best Gospel Artist.
When she was four years old, her parents separated, and she was confused because she and her sister had no idea that her parents were having problems. Around the same time, she started booking TV commercials for McDonald’s, Barbie, and AT&T.
Her mother adopted a little girl and had to work four jobs to keep the family afloat. Luckily, Meagan and her biological sister used their money from acting to help their mother pay the bills. She is best known for her starring role in the TV show Minority Report.
12. Rich – Blake Lively
Blake Lively was recently in trouble with the African American community for saying she had an “L.A. face with an Oakland booty” at the Cannes Film Festival red carpet event last year. People were speculating that she wore butt pads for the event although she looked amazing in her gold dress.
Blake’s father is Ernie Lively, an actor who played in American Pie 2 and The X-Files. Her mother is a successful talent agent. Not to mention; her entire immediate family works in the entertainment industry either behind the screen or in front.
While most child actresses jumped through hoops to get into show business, Blake Lively’s parents used their influence to give her an opportunity to attend auditions while she was a student in high school.
To avoid leaving her with a babysitter, her parents brought her with them when they attended acting classes, which is when she fell in love with the idea of being a Hollywood actress.
11. Poor – Cheryl Cole
Cheryl Cole not only worked as a judge for The X Factor UK but she was the face of L’Oréal cosmetics in 2009. While it sounds like a lifestyle fit for an A-list TV personality, it wasn’t always easy for her as a child.
Cheryl Cole lived in a housing project in the United Kingdom and had four brothers and sisters. She told RSVP magazine, “It’s easy to see why so many people I knew didn’t do well at school and ended up mixing with the wrong crowd and heading down the wrong path to a life of unemployment and sometimes even drugs. It’s scary to see that this is still happening.”
Cheryl didn’t let her past ruin her future; she ended up in an all female group called Girls Aloud and had a successful single called “Fight for This Love.” To follow her real passion in life, she left The X Factor UK to make an album and is dating the ex-member of One Direction, Liam Payne.
10. Rich – Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande was born and raised in Boca Raton, and the city is considered one of the wealthiest communities in South Florida. Her father is the CEO of Hose-McCann Communications, and his family invented the first means of communication systems for the U.S. Marines. He also owns a firm that specializes in graphic design.
Ariana Grande was called Princess Oriana when she was a little girl and lived in an elegant house with her family. At the young age of 8 years old, she would sing karaoke at a lounge on a cruise ship.
It helps that her father owns a successful communications company because she managed to get a job with Nickelodeon as a new actress in the entertainment industry. It sounds like she got almost everything she wanted when she was growing up, and it could be the reason why some have labeled her as being a diva.
9. Poor – Leonardo DiCaprio
If most men could live the lifestyle of one of Hollywood’s most famous actors, it would be to walk in the shoes of Leonardo DiCaprio. He is single, always has a gorgeous woman on his arm and is worth $245 million. Although we can admit this man has lived a great life, let’s take a look at how he grew up.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s parents separated at the age of one, and he lived in the Echo Park and Los Feliz communities which are opposite to the Hollywood Hills in California. To put food on the table, his mother worked more than one job. With no father figure in the house, Leonardo dropped out of high school but eventually got a GED diploma.
Despite being linked to beautiful entertainers like Gisele Bundchen and Rihanna, he was spotted by the paparazzi with Danish model Nina Agdal for his birthday. The two celebrated in the French Polynesian island named Teti’aroa at the luxury resort called The Brando.
8. Rich – Jordin Sparks
If you haven’t seen Jordin Sparks’ in the movie Sparkle as a curvy R&B soul singer, then let me introduce her. She is an R&B singer and actress and (allegedly) when she was dating LA rapper Sage the Gemini last year, she may have given him $70,000 for a down payment to buy a new house. For most of her career, Jordin Sparks has been considered the ‘good girl.’ A few years ago she decided to give herself an edgier makeover and occasionally wears a nose ring. Before dating Sage the Gemini, she was in a relationship with pop singer Jason Derulo for a few years.
Despite her (alleged) poor dating skills, her father is ex-NFL football player Phillippi Sparks who played for the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. Jordin grew up in New Jersey in a city called Ridgewood, and according to Money magazine, it was one of the “Best Places to Live” in America, 2011.”
7. Poor – Eminem
As Eminem was growing up, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as his lifestyle as a rapper. His parents were in a group called Daddy Warbucks that played at Ramada Inn hotels around the Dakotas-Montana area. After his parents had separated, he moved around with his mother from Missouri to Michigan. With no stability, they stayed in multiple homes with extended family.
Eminem tried to keep in touch with his father by mailing him letters, but they all came back as return to sender. He and his mother finally settled in a lower-class neighborhood in Detroit, and the rest is history.
If you’re itching to catch Eminem live, he was recently announced to be headlining the Reading and Leeds festival that runs from August 25th to the 27th.
6. Rich – Bryce Dallas Howard
If you remember watching Jurassic World, then you have seen Bryce Dallas Howard’s face. Her mother is a writer named Cheryl Howard Crew, and her father is a director and actor named Ron Howard. Her celebrity family ties don’t end there. Bryce’s grandparents are Jean Speegle Howard and Rance Howard. Her godfather was an actor in Happy Days named Henry Winkler, and she was raised in a show business environment.
Despite her family being in the entertainment business, television was not allowed in the home because her parents wanted her to participate in outdoor activities.
Can you imagine having a babysitter like Tom Cruise when you were a child? It was a reality for Bryce. Also, her parents could afford to send her to Amsterdam to attend the International Theatre Workshop.
5. Poor – Jennifer Lopez
With all the clothing lines, perfumes and movies Jennifer Lopez have played in, it doesn’t cross most people’s minds that she could have grown up in poverty. She left home to get out of her low-income community on her own before she became famous and was a Fly Girl dancer on the comedy show In Living Color, a role she got because a dancer left the show.
As most of us know “Jenny from the Block” grew up in the Bronx at a time when wealthy people were afraid to walk down the streets of this area. She lived in a small apartment, and her mother was a stay at home mom. Jennifer Lopez worked for a legal firm while she attended Baruch College in Manhattan. The one thing that her parents taught her was the importance of hard work and determination.
4. Rich – Priyanka Chopra
No one can deny that Priyanka Chopra has the best of both worlds. She can act in Bollywood movies back home in India or show off her curves at red carpet events in Hollywood. Plus, she owns a Rolls Royce in India for when she wants to drive off into the sunset.
Her mother and father are physician’s that used to work in the Indian Army. In a country where poverty and malnutrition exist, Priyanka lived quite a dainty lifestyle. Priyanka Chopra moved to multiple cities in India because of her parent’s profession. Although she had a good upbringing compared to others in her country, when she moved by herself to New York City, she was discriminated against in high school because of her nationality.
Her parent’s ambition must have influenced her to be a go-getter because she won the Miss World Pageant in 2000 and is the very first South Asian actress to land a network series in the United States called Quantico.
3. Poor – Zendaya
Zendaya is a style icon, gorgeous actress, pop singer and isn’t afraid to speak up on controversial topics. Last year her fans were shocked when she walked the red carpet of the Grammy’s with NFL football player Odell Beckham Jr. because of his history of dating Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend Amber Rose and reality TV star Khloe Kardashian.
Despite her squeaky clean reputation compared to some female Disney stars, she was born and raised in the tough city of Oakland, California. Her parents were both teachers working in the inner city and Zendaya admits that their salaries were low. Her father quit his job to move with her to Los Angeles for a better way of life for the family and to help her fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an actress.
2. Rich – Emma Stone
If you guessed that Emma Stone looks like she was born into wealth, you guessed right. She was born and raised in the affluent community of Scottsdale, Arizona. Her father founded a general contracting company and is the CEO. Her mother was lucky enough to maintain a lifestyle of a stay at home mom. Also, Emma Stone grew up for three years during her teens at the Camelback Inn resort which looks like a fancy hotel with mountains in the background.
Although Emma grew up wealthy, she suffered panic attacks when she was younger and it didn’t help her with making new friends. Stay tuned to Netflix because she will be starring in an upcoming comedy called Maniac.
1. Poor – Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson has it all; natural curves, a nice personality and an extensive list of Hollywood acting roles on her resume. However, when she was growing up in Manhattan, her family lived a low-income lifestyle. About two years ago, she told The Daily Mail UK “My father barely made enough. We moved houses every year, and finally, we settled in a housing development for lower-middle-income families.”
Although her father was an architect, it wasn’t enough to live comfortably in Manhattan. Johansson also had to settle for lunch and transportation programs when she was in high school.
A low-income lifestyle is no longer a problem for Scarlett Johansson today now that she has a net worth of $80 million. Also, in 2015 she was paid $3 million to appear in a Super Bowl commercial for SodaStream which is a beverage company in the Middle East. Marvel Comic fans love watching her as Black Widow in the Captain America and Iron Man saga movies.