Being born into a wealthy or famous family certainly helps when a person has dreams of becoming a star. But it’s definitely not a requirement. Several famous faces today, some of whom are worth over $100 million, were born into extremely rough conditions and had to defy the odds to make it.
As children, these actors and musicians dealt with poverty, estranged family relationships, homelessness, immigration and discrimination, and hunger, among other things. Their stories are proof that anything is possible for anybody, and a good lot in life isn’t a prerequisite to finding success as an adult.
Check out these 15 celebrities who grew up in tough conditions, and 5 who were lucky enough to be born with show biz ties (and a lot of money).
20 Rough Background: Cardi B
There’s nothing in this world that she likes more than money, but Cardi B wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
Born Belcalis Almanzar in New York City, Cardi has opened up about her upbringing in the past, stating that her parents are “good people” with “regular, poor jobs” in the Bronx.
19 Rough Background: Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson rose to fame as the first winner of American Idol and today enjoys a net worth of $28 million, according to Go Banking Rates.
But her song ‘Piece by Piece’ reveals her troubled background. Her father left when she was still a child, which resulted in her and her siblings being split apart.
18 Rough Background: Mariah Carey
It’s hard to imagine a time when Mariah Carey wasn’t surrounded by glitter and all things glamorous. Before the fame, she lived on Long Island and didn’t have enough money to afford toys.
She worked more than one job to support herself when she moved to New York, but soon enough, fate intervened and she was discovered at a party.
17 Rough Background: Shania Twain
In a 2011 interview on Nightline, Shania Twain admitted that she grew up in a rough household in rural Canada. Her parents died in a car accident in the late 1980s, leaving her with the responsibility of raising her younger sisters.
According to Go Banking Rates, the country star is now worth $400 million.
16 Rough Background: Nicki Minaj
One of the most successful female rappers of all time, Nicki Minaj didn’t have the easiest start in life. Born in Trinidad, Minaj moved to Queens as a little girl and had a troubled upbringing with a not-so-great dad.
After school, she worked a variety of jobs to support herself, including waitressing and being a hostess.
15 Rough Background: Sean Combs
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has nearly $100 million to his name, and he’s come a long way from where he started. As a boy growing up in Harlem, he often had to go without, as his mom couldn’t afford to buy him sneakers.
He eventually got a paper route to earn pocket change before becoming a magnate of music and fashion.
14 Rough Background: Mila Kunis
Born in Ukraine, Mila Kunis fled to the United States with her family when the Soviet Union collapsed.
Having grown up in an immigrant household, Kunis recalls that food was often scarce, and at times, she had to resort to eating ketchup soup to keep from going hungry. Today she has a net worth of $65 million.
13 Rough Background: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the richest action figures in history with a net worth of $400 million. He was born in war-torn Austria in 1947 and grew up in a house that had no phone and no plumbing.
Riots over hunger and a lack of resources surrounded him until he worked his way out of his conditions.
12 Rough Background: Jennifer Lopez
J.Lo tributes her success to a work ethic instilled in her at a young age. As a child, her dad worked nights to support the family, while her mom held down two jobs.
Feeling like she had to follow in their footsteps of working hard, J.Lo turned herself into a professional dancer, pop star, and actress.
11 Rough Background: Sarah Jessica Parker
Few SATC fans know that Sarah Jessica Parker had to overcome the greatest odds to find success in the industry. She grew up in a household that was on welfare and often received free lunch at school.
In an interview with the Times, SJP admitted that there were times when she didn’t have electricity or a phone.
10 Rough Background: Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey’s life changed forever in 1990 after he landed a role on In Living Color. Before that, though, things were rough. When he was just 12 years old, his father lost his job. Carrey and his family lost their home and had to live out of a van.
Today, the actor and comedian is worth a cool $150 million.
9 Rough Background: Selena Gomez
Born to a teenage mother, Selena Gomez certainly wasn’t spoiled as a child. Her mom had to work several jobs just to provide for her, and dinner often consisted of frozen meals and packaged spaghetti.
Gomez landed her big break when she was still a child, appearing on Barney and Friends.
8 Rough Background: Eminem
You just have to listen to a few of Eminem’s songs to know that the rapper rose out of a rough background. His home life was unstable and affected by poverty, which led to him being targeted by bullies at school.
The pressure caused Eminem to drop out of school in the ninth grade, but he’s gone on to make over $200 million.
7 Rough Background: Halle Berry
Halle Berry had to go through a lot before she finally became the movie star she is today. As a child, she was raised by a single mother in a household struck by poverty.
After moving to New York City, she was forced to seek refuge in a homeless shelter before her big break came.
6 Rough Background: Justin Bieber
Now he’s one of the most famous faces in the world, but there was a time when Justin Bieber had barely enough money to eat.
Raised by a young single mother, Bieber lived in a house infested by rodents and had to sleep on a couch because he didn’t have his own bed.
5 Show Biz Ties: The Kardashians
It should come as no surprise to those who watch KUTWK that the Kardashian family has been famous even before they ended up on reality TV. The late Robert Kardashian was a high-profile lawyer, connecting the family to several big names in L.A.
Kim actually dated Michael Jackson’s nephew and celebrated her birthday at the Neverland Ranch long before she met Ray J.
4 Show Biz Ties: Kristen Stewart
Being cast as Bella in Twilight definitely changed Kristen Stewart’s world, but she had experience with the entertainment industry years before that. Her dad is a stage manager and producer, while her mom is a director and script supervisor.
Stewart grew up in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, though she’s amassed her own fortune from her work as an actress.
3 Show Biz Ties: The Hadids
Gigi, Bella, and Anwar Hadid are three of the biggest names in the fashion world, but they had access to the world of the rich and famous before any of them set foot on a runway.
Their mother, Yolanda Hadid, was a famous model in her day, and their father, Mohamed Hadid, is a real-estate Mogul who is worth around $100 million, according to Wonderwall.
2 Show Biz Ties: Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’s life in the public eye preceded her days as Hannah Montana. The recently married star is the daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus and grew up on a lavish farm in Franklin, Tennessee.
Following her time as a Disney star, Cyrus forged her own lane in the music industry.
1 Show Biz Ties: Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie was always destined for greatness. Her father Jon Voight and late mother Marcheline Bertrand were actors, passing on their talent and connections to their daughter.
During his time in the spotlight, Voight has earned a fortune of approximately $55 million, but Jolie is said to be worth more than double that at $160 million.
Sources: Wonderwall, Narcity, Go Banking Funds, Forbes