8 Celebrities Who Grew Up Poor (And 8 Who Grew Up Rich)

When you think about celebrities, you think of red carpet events, designer clothes, fancy cars and lavish parties. We as “normal” people just assume that these celebrities have always been accustomed to a life of luxury. For some celebrities, that is the case, however, for others, their life was far from luxurious.

For many celebrities, the notion of being rich seemed far fetched for them growing up. From not having indoor plumbing, to living in a car, many celebrities could not even fathom what it would be like to end up where they are now. While others have grown up with the notion that money will always be around.

We thought it would be fun to compare celebrities that grew up poor to celebrities that grew up rich. From CNN journalists to famous rappers, this list is filled with our favorite A-List celebrities.

Regardless of which celebrities came from money and which did not, everyone on this list has worked hard to get where they are today and we admire all of their hard work and dedication to their crafts. Whether they came from humble beginnings or whether they are billionaires daughters, each individual person on this list has done something worth talking about.


16 Oprah Winfrey - Poor

Did you know that Oprah Winfrey is the richest self-made woman in America? Well, she is.

Oprah Winfrey is one of those people that everyone and their mothers adore. Her compassion, energy, caring nature and determination are just a few things that lead her to her success.

Winfrey did not grow up in a situation where she thought living the life she lives now was a possibility. Her mother was a single mom and she eventually left and Oprah was raised for several years by her grandmother. It is rumored that when she was growing up she wore clothes made from potato sacks due to her financial situation. Oprah was also sexually abused as a child, something that has driven her to help other girls that have experienced that kind of violence.

Her advice for everyone is “Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.”

15 Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Super Rich


Julia Louis-Dreyfus became a household name after she played Elaine on the legendary sitcom Seinfeld. Nowadays you can catch her on the hilarious show Veep, where she reminds fans why they became so obsessed with her in the first place. Before Seinfeld, there was Saturday Night Live and what many people do not know is that the star dropped out of college to be on SNL “I dropped out of college my junior year to do Saturday Night Live, and I didn't even consult my parents. They were very supportive because they had no choice.”

Dreyfus is one of those celebrities that oozes class. Her poised nature and charismatic demeanor are just a few things the world has noticed about her. Dreyfus is not only a successful heiress, but she is also from an incredibly wealthy family.

Dreyfus is the daughter of Gerard Louis-Dreyfus who is said to be worth over 3 billion dollars.

14 Sarah Jessica Parker - Poor

Sarah Jessica Parker lives a life that every girl dreams of. Not only did she play Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and The City, but her real life is pretty glamorous.

What many of her fans do not realize is that Parker did not always live a life at such high standards. The Emmy Award winning actress had to deal with poverty at a young age. Although her mother always worked, she was one of eight kids, so you can imagine how tight things were financially speaking.

The actress opened up in an interview and said “We were on welfare. I remember being poor. There was no great way to hide it. We didn’t have electricity sometimes.” Even though they struggled, her mother always pushed her to go after her dreams.

Sarah Jessica Parker is truly one of those celebrities whose work ethic you need to admire. She is a mother, an actress, a wife, a business woman and a producer, who knows how she does it!

13 Brooke Shields - Rich


Brooke Shields has always been considered to be absolutely gorgeous. The actress and model has always been a huge part of the industry and her effortless beauty and talent are explanation enough as to why.

Brooke Shields just has that “rich” look about her and it makes sense that she grew up wealthy. Shields has ancestral links with a few noble families from Italy. Her father worked as an executive at Revlon Cosmetics and her grandparents were a famous tennis player and a princess whose family gained a fortune through the Vatican finances.

Shields has always been one of those intoxicatingly positive people and perhaps her lush life has something to do with that. In a previous interview, she stated “Don't waste a minute not being happy. If one window closes, run to the next window- or break down a door.” Perhaps this is why she looks so damn good for her age.

12 Hilary Swank - Poor

Hilary Swank is a two time Academy Award winner, which speaks volumes of her talent. Not only is her talent undeniable, but so is her beauty, determination and positive energy. Swank is one of those artists that other artists look up to.

Swank was not always living the life of luxury as she is now. Growing up she lived in a trailer park and when she was 16 her mother and she moved to Los Angeles where they lived in a car. Something you wouldn't have expected seeing the life she currently leads.

Swank's humble beginnings made her the fierce woman she is today. The actress once stated “One thing I've learned: You never know where life is taking you, but it's taking you.” This attitude is exactly why we not only love her but also respect her tremendously.

11 Ariana Grande - Rich


Ariana Grande is currently one of the biggest superstars in the world. The singer has performed for crazy large audiences and has developed devoted fans all across the globe.

Although Grande has found success on her own terms, money was never really tight for her growing up. Grande's father is CEO of the design firm Ibi Designs, Inc. Grande, whose brother is also in the industry lived a fairly plush life and has only gained more financial stability with her career.

Grande works hard so she can spend hard. The singer loves to shop and claims to spend most of her money doing her favorite activity “I just love to shop. If I could, I would shop every single day in every single store and spend all of my money which, you know, I do anyway.”

10 Leonardo DiCaprio - Poor

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Not only is he known as one of the best actors of our generation he is also known as one of the sexiest men on the planet. The Academy Award winner has had a crazy career that has brought in a lot of cash, something he never had growing up.

DiCaprio was raised in Los Angeles by his mother who usually had to work two jobs to support herself and her son. Although his mom tried his best, she was unable to provide him with the life she so desperately him to have. When asked about his childhood, the actor stated “There was a major prostitution ring on my street corner, crime and violence everywhere. It really was like Taxi Driver in a lot of ways.”

DiCaprio has obviously moved up the financial ladder since and he has taken his mother along with him for the ride. We just love a good mama's boy!


9 Taylor Swift - Rich


Taylor Swift is one of the most listened to artists of our generation. Her catchy lyrics in combination with her even catchier beats are reasons why her songs are constantly playing on the radio.

Swift has made a fortune on her own, however, she and her family never really had a problem with money. Her father is a financial adviser and her mother is a former marketing executive, which means that her parents were making quite a bit of cash when she was growing up.

Regardless of how much money she has, Swift has always been down to earth. Not only is she kind to her fans, but she also always seems happy.

Swift is an undeniably hard worker and has been determined to break into the music industry since she was a child. In a previous interview, the superstar singer stated that “A lot of people ask me, 'How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13 and jump right into the music industry?' It's because I knew I could never feel the kind of rejection that I felt in middle school. Because in the music industry, if they're gonna say no to you, at least they're gonna be polite about it.”

8 Leighton Meester - Poor

Leighton Meester is best known for her role as Blair on the hit television show Gossip Girl. The world associates this actress with an incredibly lavish lifestyle as her character on the show is very wealthy. The reality, however, is that this actress grew up very differently from her character on Gossip Girl.

What many people do not know about Meester is that while her mother was pregnant with her she was actually serving time. Meester was born in a hospital and was nursed in a halfway house and then her mother returned to prison.

Meester is one of those extremely positive people who radiates beauty both on the inside and the outside. The actress has said in a previous interview “You can take what is handed to you and use it as an excuse to mess up. But I've always handled what was given to me by life. I consider myself lucky. I was never lied to. And I was loved.”

7 Adam Levine - Rich


It does not surprise us very much that the Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine always had a little money in the bank.

Levine is a super sexy, super charismatic and super talented singer who is also one of the judges on the hit television series The Voice. Before this artist found success in the industry, he was living a fairly comfortable life. His father, Fred Levine, founded a retail clothing chain called M. Frederic, which also explains Levine's killer style.

Although Levine seems to be oozing out the seams with confidence, he has gone on record saying “I've always felt a little misrepresented in the world.” Regardless of how he feels, the world loves Adam Levine and it is pretty obvious as to why. The father is one of the cutest men in the business and we can't wait to see what he will be up to next.

6 Jewel - Poor

Jewel is one of the most talented and successful singers in the industry. Her grace, her songs, and her adorably charming good looks are just a few reasons why she has had such an incredible career.

Jewel has always managed to “keep her cool” when it comes to being famous and it is probably because she started from such a humble place. Many people do not realize how much Jewel's family struggled financially.

The singer grew up with her father in a small town in Alaska and did not even have indoor plumbing. Jewel grew up using an outhouse, something not many may know about her.

Jewel eventually went on to create an empire for herself, however, she never forgot about where she came from. This is something that we admire a lot about her. She is down to earth and has a lot of wisdom, she has even gone on record saying “Love bravely, live bravely, be courageous, there's really nothing to lose. There's no wrong you can't make right again, so be kinder to yourself, you know, have fun, take chances. There's no bounds.”

5 Anderson Cooper - Rich


Anderson Cooper is one of those men that is so good looking you can't help but stare. The journalist and author is more than just a man with good looks, he is also highly intelligent, a quality we love.

Cooper is one of those celebrities that was born into money. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was the only child of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, a railroad heir.

Cooper's father, on the other hand, grew up very poor and seeing both sides of life is what made him such a well-rounded individual. He stated in a previous interview “My dad grew up really poor in Mississippi. I paid attention to that because I thought that's a healthier thing to pay attention to than, like, some statue of a great-great-great-grandfather who has no connection to my life.”

4 Jay-Z - Poor

Jay-Z is without a doubt one of the most influential people in the music industry. Not only are he and his wife Beyonce hip hop royalty, they are also two of the most successful recording artists of our generation.

Jay-Z is no stranger to nice cars, fancy restaurants, and lavish vacations, however, there was a time when all of that seemed very far away. The rapper grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, New York, before Brooklyn was “trendy”.

“My life after childhood has two main stories: the story of the hustler and the story of the rapper, and the two overlap as much as they diverge. I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen years old…The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand. It was life during wartime”, this quote is taken from his book Decoded which gave his fans a glimpse into his life before he became the King of New York.

3 Jordin Sparks - Rich


Jordin Sparks is one of the most adorable ladies in the music industry. Not only is she a good role model for young women, but she is also very talented.

Sparks, who made a name for herself when she went on and won the television show American Idol has found a crazy amount of success in the industry.

What many people do not know is that Sparks is the daughter of Phillippi Sparks who was a former Dallas Cowboy and New York Giant.

Sparks is very down to earth and has even said: “My heroes are just everyday people who work hard, are honest and have integrity.”

Jordin Sparks is a class act and we are looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for her.

2 Eminem - Poor

Anyone who has listened to Eminem's music should know that his life was far from sheltered growing up. The iconic rapper had to put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get to where he is now.

Eminem was raised by a single mom and spent most of his life in Detroit. Although he always had a roof over his head, money was always tight for him and his mother growing up. His mother, who had other issues on her own, could have never given Eminem the life he was able to give his daughter.

Eminem has stated “Why is it so hard for people to believe that white people are poor?! I wouldn't say I lived in a ghetto; I'd say I lived in the 'hood'. The same friends I had back then are the same people on tour with me now.” We have the utmost respect for Eminem and we love how he went from rags to riches!

1 Rooney Mara - Rich


Rooney Mara is one of those actresses you can't help but be impressed with. Appearing in countless incredible projects such as The Social Network, Pan, Carol and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Mara has proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with within the industry.

Mara is used to living a luxurious life because she grew up in a very wealthy family. Mara's father's family founded the New York Giants and her mother's family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers, talk about an impressive family!

Although Mara has always been fortunate, she seems to be humble and when asked about her family she stated the following “If there is one thing about my family that I do identify with, it is that everyone is extremely hardworking. Also, the people whom I grew up with all did things they really loved. And I think that's an important lesson.”

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