When you think of celebrities who grew up rich there are some obvious people who come to mind, for starters, Paris Hilton, who has made no secret of the fact that she had a privileged upbringing, and together with her former BFF Nicole Richie even made a reality show about it called The Simple Life. But there are many other celebs who have taken a different approach than these two and have decided not to flaunt the fact that they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, and fans may never have realized they grew up wealthy.
On the other side of the coin, there are celebrities like Jennifer Lopez who have used their less luxurious past as material for their art (“Jenny from the Block” ring a bell?), and then there are those who have given interviews about their childhood, which was not always idyllic. Shania Twain admits she went to school hungry, but then Shia LaBeouf is proud of the experiences that his childhood gave him and how is he is richer for it. Below are ten actors and actresses who grew up humble, and ten who grew up with the all the opportunities that money allowed them.
20 Silver Spoon: Jordin Sparks Is Many Things, And Also The Daughter Of An NFL Player
Many people who audition on American Idol have a bit of a rags to riches tale to tell, but that can’t be said for Jordin Sparks. Sparks entered the reality TV competition when she was just 17, and went on to win Season 6, making her the youngest ever winner. But despite having a serious set of pipes on her, Sparks also has an interesting family life because she is actually the daughter of NFL athlete Phillippi Sparks.
Phillippi played cornerback for the New York Giants from 1992 to 1998, and later played for the Dallas Cowboys for a year in 2000, before he retired, Refinery29 reports. Although his exact net worth appears to be unknown, if you make it into the NFL then the chances are you are going to earn a decent sum of cash.
19 Silver Spoon: Emma Stone Has Her Dad To Thank For Her Opportunities
Emma Stone was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, and she was able to enjoy life’s privileges thanks to her father Jeff’s success. Her father founded a general contracting company, and Stone has praised him for giving her every opportunity. Daily Mail quotes her as saying, “It [money] doesn’t buy you love or happiness – my parents taught me that. My father worked so hard for so long to get me where I am…”
Now she is one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, and according to Forbes, in 2017, she made $26 million pretax in a 12 month period, making her that year’s highest earning star.
18 Humble: Scarlett Johansson Lived In A Lower-Middle Income Housing Development
Scarlett Johansson is one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood, and her fortune is estimated at $80 million, but she has not always been wealthy. Her father was an architect, but according to Daily Mail, her parents struggled to pay rent in Manhattan. Johansson addressed this, saying, “My father barely made enough to get by. We moved house every year and finally, we settled in a housing development for lower-middle-income families. We went to state school and depended on programmes for school lunches and transport.”
And because she didn’t grow with money she likes to be generous with what she has now. She told Daily Mail, “It’s nice to have money. I didn’t grow up with it so it’s nice to have it. I’m not at all frugal and I don’t save – to my business manager’s dismay. I like to be generous. I can’t stand people who are tight with their money, it drives me crazy. It’s different if you’re scrimping and saving because you need to, to save up for something. But I cannot stand cheapness.”
17 Humble: Shania Twain Went To School Hungry
Shania Twain may have sold more than 100 million records in her career, but she had a hard childhood. Her mother was not treated right by her stepfather Jerry Twain (he legally adopted her when she was four), and according to ABC News, she described this treatment of her mother as “overwhelming for any child.” But it was not just growing up with a hot-tempered man that Shania had to contend with, but also that her family was very poor, and she claimed that many of her parents' arguments stemmed from financial problems.
There was often not enough money for food, and Shania had to go to school hungry. She revealed that this made it incredibly hard to concentrate and that she was too afraid to ask her schoolmates for food. She said, "I would certainly never have humiliated myself enough to reach out and ask for help and say, ‘You know, I'm hungry. Can I have that apple that you're not going to eat?’ I didn't have the courage to do that."
16 Silver Spoon: Edward Norton’s Grandfather May Have Developed Your Fav Shopping Mall
Edward Norton owes his privileged upbringing to his grandfather, James Rouse, who started The Rouse Company which developed many shopping malls across the United States, Smosh reports. But his grandparents also did a lot of good for communities when they started the affordable-housing organization, Enterprise Community Partners, and according to FastCompany, one of Edward Norton’s first jobs was at Enterprise where he worked as an analyst. The publication also notes that he sits on the board and has donated $1 million, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, then it is reported that the actor has also encouraged the organization to adopt a green approach to building.
15 Silver Spoon: Armie Hammer Says There’s A Misconception About Growing Up Rich
Armie Hammer is making a name for himself in Hollywood and his star is on the rise, but something you may not have known about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. actor is that he comes from a very wealthy family, and according to Time, his great-grandfather made his fortune in oil.
But Hammer wanted everyone to know that it’s inaccurate that his life was idyllic just because of his family’s wealth, and he told Mr. Porter (via Just Jared), “There is that misconception that, ‘Oh, you grew up in a wealthy family so you must have got it easier.’ I probably had opportunities that other people didn’t have. But I guarantee that other people didn’t have [parents] beating into their skull that they were the ‘representation of the family’. That was not the easiest pill to swallow. People might look at me and think my life is so perfect, but everybody wrestles with the same demons.”
14 Humble: Nicki Minaj Is Driven To Succeed Because Of Her Past
Nicki Minaj knows what it’s like to struggle financially, and her childhood was definitely not idyllic, something which she has regularly shared in interviews. But because she has experienced what life is like without the silver spoon, now that she has made a success of herself she never wants to go back to what it was like before.
According to NME, Contactmusic quoted Minaj as saying, “I never want to go back to being poor. Once you have a taste of that you will always be driven. I know what that felt like and I don’t want to feel it ever again. So yeah, I mean my childhood was crazy, but it got me to the point where I had so much faith in whatever I was doing. I just always feel where there’s a will there’s a way and I live my entire life that way now.”
13 Humble: Shia LaBeouf Is Thankful For His Childhood Experiences
In a sharp contrast to many of the earlier celebrities on this list, Shia LaBeouf didn’t grow up living in mansions or attending fancy schools. But it doesn’t seem he would want to change his childhood, because in an interview with Parade he spoke about how he is richer for his experiences, and he is also grateful. He said, “My dad and my mom were both artists who never found an audience for their artwork. And so I lived in poverty. Now that I’m not poor, I know that is what it was. Like Hemingway said, you can’t write anything if you’ve never been shot at or been gorged by a bull, you know? So I look back at that stuff and I’m grateful. It’s like scars. You become proud of them.”
12 Silver Spoon: Lana Del Rey’s Dad May Be Loaded But He Didn’t Fund Her Career
There is no denying that Lana Del Rey is an extremely talented singer and when people learn that she comes from a wealthy family they may think that her rise to fame was a little easier than others, but that’s not true. There was a lot of speculation that her career had been funded by her millionaire parents, and in 2012, Points Records owner David Nichtern, who had signed her in 2007, spoke to MTV News (via Digital Spy) about the claims that had been made in the media. He said, …"her father never had anything to do financially with supporting her creativity. I don't know if he was lending her money to live off of, but at least when she was with us, not a penny.”
11 Silver Spoon: Tori Spelling Has Her Dad To Thank For Her Most Famous Role
Although Tori Spelling has documented her own money woes on reality TV, her father, Aaron Spelling, definitely didn’t have a shortage of cash and she grew up as a rich girl. And we’re talking very rich here, because according to News.com.au, Tori grew up in the biggest mansion in Los Angeles, a massive 123 room home that spanned 56,000 square feet.
She also has her father to thank for her breakout role as Donna Martin in Beverly Hills, 90210, because her father was the executive producer of the hit series, and Tori even acknowledged that her father had a hand in her getting the part. She told Entertainment Weekly (via News.com.au), “I really wanted to play Andrea. I went in under a different name, then I got the part of Donna — which I’m sure had something to do with my dad.”
10 Humble: Mike Tyson Has Struggled Financially, Even After Making It Big
Mike Tyson is a boxing legend but his start in life was particularly difficult. The Famous People reports that Tyson was born to Jimmy Kirkpatrick and Lorna Smith Tyson in Brooklyn, New York, and that his father abandoned the family not long after his birth, forcing them to relocate to Bedford-Stuyvesant to Brownsville.
Then later in his life, Tyson also struggled with financial problems and when he made it big he started spending too much. According to CNN Money, he admitted he “went crazy with it [money]" spending it on things that he didn’t need like mansions, cars, and jewelry, which resulted in him filing for bankruptcy in 2003.
9 Humble: Oprah Winfrey Experienced Extreme Poverty
Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women (actually, one of the most successful people) in the world, and Forbes has calculated her net worth to be a staggering $3 billion. She was born to a teenage mother, who struggled to find work and left her daughter to live with her grandmother on a rural Mississippi farm, Business Insider reports. Then when Winfrey was aged six, her mother fell ill and she had to move to live with her mother in a Milwaukee boarding house. While there she endured things that no child should ever have to endure and also lived in extreme poverty.
But things improved for Winfrey when she was aged 14, and went to live with her father and stepmother in Nashville, and this move, according to The Guardian, provided stability for the teenage Winfrey and proved to be the beginning of her success.
8 Silver Spoon: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Comes From Old Money
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the daughter of Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, and out of all the celebs featured on this list, her family's wealth may be largest because they are worth billions. And their money is old money because according to Business Insider Australia, the actress’ great-great-grandfather founded the Louis Dreyfus Group, a French commodities trading company.
Her late father’s business is valued at billions, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus does not like to speak about whether or not she’s heir to a billion-dollar fortune. She also claims there is a misunderstanding over how much money her family has and reporters have apparently confused his personal wealth with the fact that the business is worth billions, Rolling Stone reports.
7 Silver Spoon: Gigi Hadid’s Dad Developed A Popular Hotel Chain
Gigi Hadid is one of the models of the moment, but maybe even if she didn’t make it big in the fashion world she would have been financially taken care of because not only is she the daughter of well-known model and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality TV personality Yolanda Hadid, but she is also the daughter of real-estate developer Mohamed Hadid.
Mohamed Hadid is responsible for developing Ritz Carlton hotels, as well as various other luxury properties, and according to Celebrity Networth, Mohamed is estimated to be worth around $400 million, while his ex-wife Yolanda Hadid is worth $45 million.
As for Gigi, according to TheRichest’s estimates, she’s worth an impressive $13 million.
6 Humble: Leonardo DiCaprio Compared His Childhood To ‘Taxi Driver’
Leonardo DiCaprio described his parents as "Bohemians in every sense of the word,” ABC News reports. His parents divorced not long after he was born, but the publication notes that they both played a role in his life and at the time of the interview he commented on how his parents are “the people I trust the most in the world.”
DiCaprio seems to have had parents who he is close to, but he also grew up in a rough part of Los Angeles. He revealed information about his childhood in an interview with The Los Angeles Times (via Daily Mail), commenting on how as a child he witnessed people using narcotics, and there was a lot of crime in his neighborhood. He also admitted: “It really was like Taxi Driver in a lot of ways…I grew up very poor and I got to see the other side of the spectrum.”
5 Humble: Billy Bob Thornton Lived In The Woods
Billy Bob Thornton was born to a psychic mother and a high school teacher/basketball coach father, The Famous People reports, and although he did not have it as hard as some celebs on this list, he definitely was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. In an interview with ABC News, he spoke about his childhood revealing that he came from a big family and that they would gather at his grandmother’s house in the woods, “where I lived the first 6 or 7 years of my life.”
He continued, "I mean, we had what we had and we didn’t know any different. So it was pretty happy around the holidays. We would all get our stick and our rock in the stocking. It was amazing. I remember in high school, we would always order Christmas stuff out of the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog or whatever, you’d pick your stuff out. And I’ll never forget having a $15 limit, my brothers and I."
4 Silver Spoon: Bradley Cooper May Be Living The Dream His Father Wanted
Bradley Cooper has made it big in Hollywood and he is a household name, but he may be living the dream his father always wanted because according to Daily Mail, Charles Cooper dreamed of being an actor, and supported his son in his endeavors.
Cooper’s father was not an actor, he was a stockbroker for brokerage firm Merrill Lynch and he must have done pretty well for himself because according to E! News, Bradley attended the Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, a place that was founded in 1759. The school describes itself on the website as being a “non-sectarian, independent, coeducational college preparatory school.”
3 Silver Spoon: Lady Gaga’s Dad Made Enough To Send Her To Private School
Lady Gaga is incredibly close to her father, Joseph Germanotta, and it seems he worked hard to give the family the best life possible. According to Daily Mail, he made his money in hotel Wifi and made enough money to have a house on New York's Upper West Side and allow his daughters to attend the private all-girls Catholic school, Convent of the Sacred Heart, located on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Gaga may not have enjoyed her private school experience, with a friend telling New York Post that when she returned years later for her sister Natali’s graduation that she did so in an outfit that dissed her school, but she was able to attend this elite school because of her father’s success.
2 Humble: Jim Carrey Lived In A Van When He Was A Teen
There was a point when Jim Carrey was a teen where he was homeless, and according to Business Insider, he and his family lived out of a VW camper van which they parked in various spots across Canada, before living in a tent on his older sister’s lawn.
Time reports that the family lived in the van when Jim Carrey was aged 12, and this is because his father had lost his job. The actor recalled this time in his life years later in an interview with James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio, recalling that it was “a traumatic kick in the guts.”
1 Humble: Viola Davis Dug In Garbage Bins For A Meal
Viola Davis revealed her heartbreaking, poverty-stricken childhood at Variety Power Of Women when accepting the honoree title that she was given for her work with the charity Hunger Is. According to Daily Mail, she said, “Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from. And I did everything to get food.”
She continued to reveal how there were times when she dug in garbage bins for food, and recalled how she befriended those in her neighborhood who she knew had mothers who cooked them three meals a day.
References: Refinery29, Daily Mail, Forbes, Smosh, FastCompany, Time, JustJared, Digital Spy, News.com.au, Business Insider Australia, Rolling Stone, Celebrity Networth, Celebrity Networth, TheRichest, Daily Mail, E! News, Germantown Academy, Daily Mail, New York Post, TheRichest, Daily Mail, ABC News, Washington Post, NME, Parade, CNN Money, TheFamousPeople, Forbes, The Guardian, ABC News, Daily Mail, TheFamousPeople, ABC News, Business Insider, Time, Daily Mail