When we think of celebrities, money, and lots of it, comes to mind. But not all stars started out with a silver spoon in their mouth. Sure, these 15 celebs below are rolling in dough now, but before they made it big in their careers, they could barely make ends meet. Down in the dumps is an understatement.
Whether they were from humble beginnings, down on their luck, bankrupt, or out of work, these 15 stars were once far from the millionaires they are today. They worked hard and used their talents and drive to go from the “poorhouse” to the “penthouse,” so to speak.
From scraping coins together to pay the rent and buy food to owning designer clothing, mansions, and luxury cars, these 15 stars are living proof that people do have the chance to turn their life around with the right mix of luck, timing, motivation, and a never-give-up attitude.
Of course, not everyone is cut out to be a celeb, but these 15 men and women saw their dreams come true by becoming famous entertainers. Who knows how their lives would have turned out if they had not made it in the biz. All we know is that we are glad they dug themselves out of the darkness and were able to live out their goals and aspirations of becoming more successful than they could have ever imagined.
Check out these 15 inspiring and amazing stories of rags to riches from some of your favorite celebrities.
15 Nicki Minaj Is A Self-Made Queen
The 35-year-old Nicki Minaj is one of the hottest stars these days, but there was a time when the singer/rapper was living the hard life. She moved to the United States from Trinidad with her family when she was just 5 years old, and they settled in Queens, NY.
The family was quite poor and struggled throughout Minaj’s childhood.
Once Minaj made her way in the music biz, things took a great change for the better. With major hits like "Bang Bang," "Anaconda," "Super Bass," "Starships," "Feeling Myself," and "Truffle Butter," the star has made millions and is still going strong. She is now able to support her family and do things she only dreamed of as a kid in a poverty-stricken situation. Now the little girl from Queens is one of the queens of the music industry!
14 Leonardo DiCaprio And His Mom Were Partners
Would you believe that The Wolf of Wall Street star was once homeless for a period in his life?
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio grew up living with his single mom and she had to take many jobs in order to support their family.
They lived in some less-than-desirable areas of L.A., but without much money, it was all they could afford. All that changed when DiCaprio landed his first role, and things have only gotten better and better for the star who is estimated to be worth $200 million! With movies like Titanic, The Revenant, Inception, Catch Me if You Can, The Departed, Shutter Island, and The Great Gatsby under his belt, fans can attest to the fact that this celeb is a true Hollywood star. He is still one of the hottest actors in the biz and his A-list status will surely last a lifetime.
13 Jay-Z Wasn't So Innocent Back In The Day
Rapper Jay-Z is one of the most successful rappers of our time, but there was a period in his life when he was poor and living a life of crime. Jay-Z grew up in the projects in Brooklyn and used to sell substances. The rapper has come a long way since those dark days now that he is a millionaire, married to the fabulous Beyoncé, and continues to make music that fans can’t get enough of. Some of Jay Z’s greatest hits include “Empire State of Mind,” “Family Feud,” “Young Forever,” “Renegade,” “Holy Grail,” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” to name a few. At 48 years old, this star is in the prime of his life and must feel so blessed that his days of poverty are long gone but never forgotten.
12 Justin Bieber Lived With Rats
Before the 23-year-old singer Justin Bieber made it big in the music biz, he was living a hard life in the poorhouse, sleeping on a pull-out couch in a rat-infested home with his mom.
There were numerous nights where he’d go to bed hungry and things seemed bleak.
But with raw talent like his, Bieber was discovered, and things went from dreary to divine. These days, Bieber is a millionaire thanks to his hit music and tons of fans worldwide. Some of the celeb’s songs include, “Baby,” “Love Yourself,” “Boyfriend,” “Mistletoe,” “Beauty and a Beat,” “One Less Lonely Girl,” and “All That Matters.” He is a teenage girl’s dream boat and his star power isn’t fading. Rags to riches is this fella’s life story. He is still a young man, so there is so much more in store for “The Biebs.”
11 Kelly Clarkson Was Left On The Street
Fans from all over the world think that American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson is one of the best singers and entertainers of our time. But who knew that the powerful performer was once poor, even homeless for a time before she became the superstar she is today?
While she was trying to make her way into the music scene, her apartment burned down, and she had to live in her car and in homeless shelters.
But that was before she won the reality competition show and is now one of the hottest singers in the world worth millions of dollars. Clarkson must pinch herself every now and then when she thinks of how far she has come, with hit songs including, “Stronger,” “Breakaway,” “Piece by Piece,” and “Since U Been Gone.”
10 Oprah Winfrey Worked Her Way To The Top
Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest people in the world, but it was not always that way. Winfrey started from humble beginnings in a small town in Mississippi.
She grew up on a farm and lived with her grandmother. She had a very tough life and lived through some tumultuous times as a child and teen.
But now, after decades of major and unmatched success, Winfrey is a powerhouse and her star power is as strong as can be. She is beloved by fans far and wide and she is always moving forward with new ideas and innovative projects. She is worth an estimated $2.7 billion and is still making money year after year. Winfrey is a living icon with a super-special touch that turns everything into solid gold.
9 Sarah Jessica Parker Wasn't As Glamorous As We Might Think
Everyone’s favorite Sex and the City star, Sarah Jessica Parker, is a very rich woman now, but it was not always that way.
Her parents struggled to make ends meet when she was a young child and she and her many siblings lived in humble conditions.
But things surely changed in a significant way when Parker was bitten by the acting bug and landed a Broadway gig and a role on a television show. From there, she found fame on the small and big screen and is estimated to be worth $90 million. She is happily married to actor Matthew Broderick and has three young children. Things went from broke to “bling” for “Carrie Bradshaw!” She now stars on the HBO show, Divorce, so she is still making plenty of coin in the acting world.
8 Mark Wahlberg Did Time
The 46-year-old actor Mark Wahlberg is one of the hottest A-listers of the moment and has been in the biz for a number of years. He is plenty rich thanks to his successful acting career. Wahlberg has starred in films including The Fighter, Lone Survivor, Boogie Nights, Ted, Shooter, Daddy’s Home, The Departed, and Deepwater Horizon, to name a few of his blockbuster successes.
But before Wahlberg found such fame, he grew up in poor conditions and he dropped out of high school at age 14.
He got involved in crime and served time in jail. After he changed his ways, he landed a recording contract and made his way to the big screen. Now he is a millionaire, proving that poverty can lead to a better future.
7 Mariah Carey Didn't Give Up On Her Career
Singer Mariah Carey is one of the most popular stars of our time. She has been at it for decades, recording hit after hit with her impressive multi-octave vocals. But before this “diva” made her multi-millions, she was a poor child, teen, and young adult with the hopes of fame in her future.
She grew up in New York and had to work extra hard to make ends meet. She became a backup singer and was finally discovered at a Columbia Records party.
From there, she became a singing sensation, selling out crowds and millions of albums. Her popular songs include “We Belong Together,” “Without You,” “Always Be My Baby,” “One Sweet Day,” and “Love Takes Time.” She may have a reputation for acting like a spoiled princess, but when you’ve come so far, wearing the crown feels like the right thing to do.
6 Halle Berry Had Her Own Battles
The 51-year-old actress Halle Berry is a true beauty with talent coming out of every pretty pore. She has been beloved by thousands of fans from all over the world ever since she burst onto the entertainment scene in hit films like Catwoman, Monster’s Ball, Perfect Stranger, X-Men, Swordfish, The Call, Gothika, and Cloud Atlas. But before she reached monumental levels of fame and fortune, the foxy stunner was far from rich.
She was even homeless for a time at the start of her career and had some hard battles to beat before becoming the woman she is today.
With so much star power, it's hard to imagine Berry in a dark place, but she is a true talent who has made the most of her gift to become the millionaire she is today.
5 Celine Dion Came From A Very Poor Family
The Canadian-born singer Celine Dion is a true hit-maker who is reportedly worth an astounding $400 million. But Dion wasn’t always so fortunate.
She came from humble beginnings as the youngest of 14 children. Her dad only made $160 per week to support the entire family. Now Dion can support her big family and then some.
Her impressive voice and stellar stage presence is appreciated and admired by her many fans who love to watch her perform her many hits from the past decades. Some of her most popular songs include, “My Heart Will Go On,” “The Power of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” “A New Day Has Come,” and “I Surrender.” Her amazing and angelic voice has moved people to tears, and her long career proves she has that superstar quality that never fades.
4 Leighton Meester Had A Rough Start
The 31-year-old Leighton Meester is best known for her role as Blair Waldorf on the hit television show Gossip Girl. She played a posh teen on screen, but in real life, her world was not nearly as fab from the start.
Believe it or not, but Meester was born in prison because her mother served time in the slammer while she was pregnant. Meester lived with her grandma until her mom finished serving her time.
Things turned out much better for Meester who went on to have a successful career in showbiz. She is now worth an estimated $5 million. That’s a far better way to make a living than following her mom's footsteps. Hopefully, her mom turned her life around and is proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.
3 Demi Moore Has Mom Issues
Actress Demi Moore has been in the entertainment business for decades, and her many fans have been smitten with her for a long time. Some of Moore’s best-known movies include Striptease, Ghost, Indecent Proposal, A Few Good Men, St. Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night, The Scarlet Letter, and The Juror, to name some of her big-screen successes. Moore is super rich and famous now, but she was not always as fortunate.
She was born in New Mexico and was raised in a trailer park.
Her mom was allegedly an alcoholic and there was supposedly violence in the home. But Moore had big plans and moved out as a teen and was signed as a model. She went on to become the A-list actress we know and love today, and she still brings in the big bucks.
2 Steve Harvey Had A Rough Patch
Television personality and host Steve Harvey is 61 years old and in the prime of his celebrity life. Fans from all over love his amazing sense of humor and wit, and his TV shows are major hits. Fans love to tune in to the game show Family Feud, as well as his talk show, The Steve Harvey Show. Harvey is super rich and wildly successful now, but he wasn’t always rolling in dough.
In the 1980s, he was divorced and homeless, living in his car and sleeping in hotels.
But Harvey was able to dust himself off and go for his dreams and goals. As we all know, he succeeded and is one of the most famous fellas on TV, making millions of dollars every year. Nothing is stopping him now!
1 Jim Carrey Stepped Up For His Family
Funnyman Jim Carrey is one of the most successful actors of all time. His sense of humor and raw talent has made him the great success he is today. Some of the 56-year-old’s most popular movies include The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Truman Show, Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, The Cable Guy, Man on the Moon, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Fun with Dick and Jane. But things were not always fun and games for Carrey.
The Canadian-born Carrey had to drop out of high school when his dad lost his job. The family lost their home and resorted to living in a van.
Things got better when Carrey moved to the United States and started his comedy career, eventually landing a role on the hilarious hit In Living Color. The rest is history, and now the man’s a multi-millionaire.