10 Celebrities Who Went From Rags To Riches

Category: Financial News

It is no secret that many people live in extreme poverty and most of them may see their lives wither away in such a state of nothingness. But poverty did not stop many individuals to try harder at life, make their dreams a reality and turn goals into facts.

Poverty is a deep quagmire loaded with difficulties and obstacles. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be overcome.  These 10 celebrities have found fame and fortune in their respective careers yet they have experienced the pangs of poverty way before their popularity and market value soared dramatically. May their stories inspire you to want more in life and make your dreams come true.

#10 Leighton Meester – $5 million


Leighton Meester may portray the rich spoiled brat Blair Waldorf without any difficulty, but Waldorf’s fictional life is nothing compared to Meester’s actual upbringing. Meester’s mother gave birth to her while serving time in prison and was raised by her grandmother for most of her childhood in Mango Island, Florida. When Meester mother got out, the two went to live in New York, where Leighton started a career as a model. In 2007, they relocated again, this time to Los Angeles, where she eventually managed to get a break in the show business. She is slated to star in three films, set for release this year.

#9 Hilary Swank – $40 million


Long before she became the Million Dollar Baby, Hilary Swank had to endure the hardships of poverty. Growing up, Swank lived in a trailer park back in Washington with only her mother to care for her and her two siblings. Swank’s father left the family when she was young. When her mother lost her job, the family decided to take a chance at life and moved to California. Living in their car, Swank and her family worked on several jobs before they could afford an apartment. Swank’s break came when she got a lead role in Boys Don’t Cry. The award-winning actress now lives well and beyond her former state, with $40 million stashed in the bank.

#8 Sarah Jessica Parker – $90 million


The 49-year old actress may be an old timer in the movie industry but long before she found stardom inthe TV series Sex and The City, Sarah Jessica Parker and her family lived on welfare for many years. Growing up in Nelsonville, Ohio, Parker said in an interview that her family seldom celebrated Christmas, birthdays, and other family occasions. She vividly remembers living with no electricity and their phone lines cut because they couldn’t pay the bill. Today, Parker’s net worth has risen to $90 million.

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#7 Jim Carrey – $150 million


Funny man Jim Carrey’s current financial status is a far cry from his life as a teenager. Carrey and his family belonged to the middle class back in Canada and life was okay until his dad lost his job. The Carreys were forced to live in their van. Jim even had to quit school and work as a security guard and a janitor at age 15. He entered the comedy circuit and soon offers came rolling in. Carrey starred in comedy hits such as The Mask, Cable Guy,  and Dumb and Dumber. His present net worth is now at $150 million.

#6 Demi Moore – $150 million


One of Hollywoods hottest cougars. Demi Moore still has it despite being a veteran in the showbiz. But she had a troubled and impoverished past. She had to endure two alcoholic stepfathers and lived in trailer parks. At 16, she decided she had enough and soon hauled herself out of their house to pursue a career in modelling. By 17, she enrolled in drama classes to build her acting skills. She entered the entertainment industry in 1984 but found her break in 1986 when she starred in About Last Night. Moore is now $150 million richer than before.

#5 Leonardo Dicaprio – $200 million


With strings of big Hollywood hits under his belt like Titanic and The Gangs of New York, it is not hard to imagine Leonardo Dicaprio not basking in his millions – $200 million to be exact. But most people are not aware of Dicaprio’s life as a poor youngster eager to get out of the mean streets of Los Angeles. Dicaprio saw violence, prostitution, and drugs at a very young age and their impact on people. He never wanted to end up like most people around him and worked his way up the ladder.

#4 Shania Twain – $350 million


The country music siren has amassed a fortune worth $350 million. But when she was young, Shania had a rough childhood back in Timmins, Ontario. Her mother and stepfather were in an abusive relationship. At some point, Shania’s mother placed her and her siblings in a foster home because there was not enough food for the family. To cope up with the hard times, Shania learned to hunt and survive in the cold Canadian weather. When she was 21, both her mother and stepfather died in an accident, leaving Shania to take care of her siblings. Once they were old enough to fend for themselves, Shania went to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a singing career. And the rest, they say, is history.

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#3 Tom Cruise – $500 million


A Hollywood A-lister who commands respect and a hefty talent fee in the entertainment industry. It is hard to imagine Tom Cruise living the poor life. Although his father was an electrical engineer and his mother a special education teacher, professions with substantial pay rates, Cruise’s mother left the family when he was 11 and his father died shortly after. Orphaned and impoverished, Cruise managed to make a name for himself by starting at the bottom of the showbiz barrel. Today, he is one of Hollywood’s sought after leading men and currently flaunts a net worth of $500 million.

#2 J.K. Rowling – $1 billion


Joanne Rowling has hit the jackpot when she penned the popular Harry Potter series. But long before she delved into wizards, witches, and magic, Rowling had to endure poverty. Being a single mother who could barely feed herself, Rowling wrote manuscripts by hand in cafes with her baby by her side. Rowling had to live on welfare to survive. Her agent once told her she would never make money writing children’s books. I guess her agent never saw the wide success Rowling’s works will generate. The popular author’s net worth now amounts to $1 billion.

#1 Oprah Winfrey – $2.9 billion


Oprah Winfrey topping this list comes with no surprise. Her life as a poor child from a poor family is no secret. She lived with her grandmother, moved in with her unsupportive mother, and finally with her father who instilled in her a strict business sense. Listing Oprah’s highlights from poor to becoming one of the richest African-Americans in the USA is a herculean task. But needless to say, her story is a very inspiring one. Oprah now owns a media empire and is valued at $2.5 billion.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

brenfigg says:

How true is it that Rowling's manuscript on Harry Potter was thrown in the can by the busy editor, only to be retrieved later by a nosy cleaner, who read it and talked about it with the editor, who realized he just threw away an excellent material? Just a fantasy maybe.

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cristy says:

If I go back in time and tell that security guard named Jim Carey he'll be world famous, he might laugh so hard at me while giving me that insane twisting facial muscles.

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