Every time I read stories about celebrities who start with little to nothing and make it big, it gives me a lot of inspiration and motivation. I feel that if they can do it, we can too. At least we should aspire to be as successful as they. Of course, I do not hold the notion that making it to the big screen is the only way to achieve monetary success. There are plenty of ways to go about bringing in the big dollars. From learning new skills to help us achieve our money goals, to taking a leap of faith in a business dream and deciding to incorporate in California or wherever the stars may align, to just simply making the money we do have work smarter for us. A life of luxury is a possibility for anyone, no matter where you come from. Below, are several celebrities who have gone from rags to riches, from WonderWall.
Sarah Jessica Parker
She may have an extensive Jimmy Choo collection and a closet full of couture dresses, but life wasn’t always fabulous for this Ohio native. In fact, SJP’s teacher mom and truck driver dad had to go on welfare at times to feed their six children — then the aspiring star got her big break on Broadway at age 13.
Sure, Tom Cruise’s net worth is somewhere north of $250 million, but did you know that he spent his childhood living in near poverty? The family moved over 15 times — as far as Canada — as his father searched for work. Maybe influenced by childhood memories, Tom takes good care of his sisters, hiring them to work on his team after getting his big break.
A rural Mississippi native, Oprah was raised by her single teenage mom, and later by her dad in Tennessee. She was raped at 9 years old, got pregnant at 14 and her infant son died. But she worked hard and things turned around once she got a gig as an anchor on a Chicago news station. And the rest is history.
As the youngest of 14 kids, Celine didn’t have the easiest upbringing. Even though her musician parents, who owned a nightclub when she was a kid, had limited financial resources, she says her home was nothing but happy. Fast-forward 40 years and Celine is one of the most successful female singers in the world: In 2007, Forbes estimated that she was worth over $250 million.
This country crooner owns the fact that her childhood wasn’t picture perfect. In fact, her childhood home in Alaska didn’t have running water and she and her dad performed in local bars to make ends meet. But hard work paid off for Jewel: After she lived in a van while trying to break into the music biz, her first album, “Pieces of You,” went platinum 15 times. She’s since sold 28 million records, reportedly earning $30 million to give her son, Kase (with musician hubby Ty Murray), a much different upbringing than hers.
Born to immigrant parents in Queens, N.Y., Lucy worked at a pajama factory to help her parents make ends meet when she was only 11 years old. She got her big break with “Ally McBeal” in 1998.
This hip-hop master turned business guru grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn. He got caught up in some illegal activities as a kid — like shooting his brother in the shoulder and dealing drugs. But he found success as a rapper and has since gone on to earn over $450 million. Nowadays, Jay drops millions of dollars on gifts for his wife, Beyonce, and their daughter, Blue Ivy. Lucky ladies.
While J.Lo’s childhood was humble, it wasn’t unbearable by any stretch of the imagination. Her family lived in a small apartment in the Bronx until they could afford to buy a home. Luckily for J.Lo her parents also saved enough to put her in dance and singing lessons, which turned out to be a smart investment. But don’t worry. As you can tell from her Fiat commercials, she’s still the same old Jenny from the block, just a little classier.
Demi’s teenage parents split up before she was born and her stepdad, who raised her, took jobs that required the family to move 30 times before she turned 13. After years of living in a trailer park in New Mexico, Demi and her mom moved to Los Angeles. Demi quit high school and pursued a modeling career, which eventually led to her first acting gig on “General Hospital.” Her unstable childhood probably influenced her decision to raise her daughters in Idaho.
When Jim was a kid, his dad lost his job, and the family was forced to live in their car. To help get the family back on track, Jim got a job as a janitor at Titan Wheels Factory in Canada when he was in ninth grade. That same year, he started performing stand-up comedy in local clubs — which clearly paid off.
Hilary has plenty of life experience to draw on when she’s getting into character. For years her family lived in a trailer park in Washington. Then Hilary dropped out of high school to pursue her acting dreams and moved to L.A. with her mom, where they lived in their car. Then the fairy tale: She booked “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Next Karate Kid.”
Shania is a survivor. She grew up in rural Canada, and her parents sometimes couldn’t afford to feed their kids. But Shania taught herself how to hunt and chop wood and she also performed in bars as a young girl to earn money for her family. After her mom and stepdad were killed in a car accident when she was 22, she moved home to take care of the rest of her siblings for several years before heading to Nashville in 1993 to go for her big break.
In the ’90s, J.K. Rowling was a single mom trying to make ends meet. And then poof, “Harry Potter” became wildly popular and her life was transformed forever. These days, she uses her $800 million fortune for good by donating to organizations that help the poor and kids who come from single-parent households.
Before pursuing acting, Danny worked at his sister’s hair salon in New Jersey. Good thing he found acting, because we have a sneaking suspicion customers would’ve been hesitant to hire this guy as their hairdresser.