Being a celebrity seems pretty great. You’re rich and famous. You get whatever you want when you want it. You meet interesting people and attend lavish parties.
But for many celebs who have now risen through the ranks of fame and fortune, it wasn’t always that way. Many of them could never have dreamed that they’d be in the positions they are now.
It’s hard to believe since they seem so glamorous, but there are plenty of famous actors and musicians who once had nothing.
Fame and fortune are powerful motivators and, sometimes, they’re powerful enough to pull you from the depths of poverty. At least that was the case with these 13 big-time celebrities who were once dirt poor. You’ll be amazed how far some of these people have come.
1. Nicki Minaj – Estimated Net Worth: $14 Million
Nicki Minaj moved to the US from Port of Spain in Trinidad when she was 5 years old. She lived in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Queens, New York.
According to Minaj, she used to pray every night before bed to be rich so that she could take care of her mother. I guess her prayers were answered.
2. Celine Dion – Estimated Net Worth: $400 Million
Celine Dion was born to a massive French-Canadian family of 14 children. He parents struggled to provide for her and her siblings when they were growing up.
Dion hasn’t struggled financially in a long time, as she has won five Grammys and routinely plays sold-out shows in Las Vegas.
3. Leighton Meester – Estimated Net Worth: $5 Million
Leighton Meester really had a long climb to the top. She was born in a federal jail in Texas. Her mother was serving time for smuggling drugs into the US.
Yet, somehow, Meester grew up to play the incredibly affluent Blair Waldorf on “Gossip Girl”. Impressive stuff, Meester.
4. Jim Carrey – Estimated Net Worth: $150 Million
When growing up, Jim Carrey lived with his whole family in a VW camper parked next to the tyre rim factory where they worked.
After that, Carrey moved on to a plethora of low-paying jobs; he was a janitor, a construction worker and a picture frame factory worker.
He has also had some stints of homelessness. But it all seemed to work out for Carrey in the end, as he wound up starring in classic comedies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
5. Leonardo DiCaprio – Estimated Net Worth: $200 Million
“The Wolf of Wall Street” star wasn’t always a wealthy actor/playboy/mogul. It turns out that Leo started out in poverty in Hollywood where he was constantly surrounded by criminals and shady characters.
He also battled homelessness for a time before catching his first big break.
6. Mark Wahlberg – Estimated Net Worth: $165 Million
Marky Mark started out as a common street rat. He dropped out of school at just 14 years old and took to a life of petty crime. After serving jail time for assault, he got his life on track and got a record deal.
He then went on to become a big-time actor, starring in many blockbusters including the most recent “Transformers” film, which grossed over $100 million in its opening weekend.
7. JK Rowling – Estimated Net Worth: $1 Billion
JK Rowling may be the best rags to riches story of them all. She started out as a struggling, single mother living off handouts from the government. But, somehow she found the will and the inspiration to turn all that bleakness into magic.
She wrote the “Harry Potter” series, which was turned into eight films and toys and all that stuff that helps people make a ton of money.
She came from nothing and transformed herself into a billionaire. Now, that’s a success story.
8. Mariah Carey – Estimated Net Worth: $500 Million
Mariah Carey grew up with nothing. She moved to New York and had to work multiple jobs at the same time just to survive. But by some miracle, she was discovered at a party by an executive from Columbia records.
And the rest, as they say, is history. She went on to win five Grammys and became one of the highest-selling female artists ever.
9. Justin Bieber – Estimated Net Worth: $65 Million
I know, I know. No one is a fan of the Biebs. But you can’t deny his drive and ambition. Bieber started out living in a rat-infested house.
He slept on a pull-out couch and often went hungry. But today, he drag races in Lambos and gets rebuffed by Leonardo DiCaprio. What a life.
10. Hilary Swank – Estimated Net Worth: $40 Million
Hilary Swank had a rough go of it when she first moved to LA. She arrived in the city of angels with her mother when she was 15 to pursue her acting career.
At first, the mother-daughter duo lived out of a car. Eventually, Swank landed a role in the 1992 film version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the pair was able to move into an apartment. Swank went on to have a financially fruitful and critically acclaimed career.
11. Tom Cruise – Estimated Net Worth: $270 Million
Tom Cruise grew up in Syracuse, New York and was the son of an abusive father. His family lived in poverty throughout his childhood. Luckily for Cruise, he hit it big relatively young with films like “Risky Business” and “Top Gun.” God, I love “Top Gun.”
Say what you will about Cruise, but he’s a consummate professional and he always brings his A-game to every film he’s in. When you grow up poor, you develop a certain work ethic it seems.
12. Demi Moore – Estimate Net Worth: $150 Million
Demi Moore had a real crappy childhood. Her mother was an alcoholic and her father was abusive. They all lived together in a trailer park until she dropped out of school at 16 to move to Hollywood.
That gamble obviously paid off. It should be noted that Moore received around $90 million from her divorce with Bruce Willis. But, hey, when you have that sort of childhood, you’ll take the money any way you can get it.
13. Oprah Winfrey – Estimated Net Worth: $2.7 Billion
Oprah is the ultimate rags to riches story. She came from a small farm in Mississippi. There, she lived with her grandmother while her unwed teenage mother desperately searched for a job to support her family.
Oprah was also raped by a relative when she was only 9 years old. Basically, she had it super tough as a kid. But, she soldiered on to become a media mogul and the first black woman billionaire in the world. She really is an inspiration to us all. Now, give me a car, Oprah.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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