Most of the stars that we admire today seem to have it all. They’re famous and they get to travel a lot and meet interesting people at the same time. Most importantly, they seem to have a lot of money. Most stars are rich or at least that’s what we believe. While many stars do really have a lot of money, some of them did not start out that way. Some of them were very poor and they have to work their way up.

The stories of stars that came from poor families are very impressive considering how much they had to overcome in order to succeed. Maybe their stories can inspire others not to give up when things are looking bleak and to pursue their dreams no matter what. Here are some of the best
examples of stars who rose from rags to riches .

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker grew up in a struggling family with eight children. Her mother and stepfather who worked as a truck driver struggled to make ends meet for her and her siblings. She was able to get her first big break when she landed the lead role in Annie on a Broadway production. She was 11 then and she never looked back. The highlight of her career came when she was given a role of Carrie Bradshaw for the hit TV series Sex and the City which turned her into a fashion icon in her own right.

Oprah Winfrey

If proof is needed that hard work can payoff in Hollywood, then Oprah Winfrey’s career could be the best proof there is. She is known as the richest African-American in history and also one of the most influential persons in the world. But looking at where Oprah came from there is little indication of the success that she is now reaping. Born in 1954, Oprah’s mother was teenage single parent. She was raised in the city of Milwaukee. Oprah experienced a lot of hardships at a very early age. She related that she was raped when she was 9 and she became pregnant when she was 14.

She was able to land a job co-anchoring a local radio program and that was where her media career got its start. Her emotional approach and delivery made her a perfect match for the tabloid talk show format. She soon founded her own production company which is the secret to her fortune. Oprah is said to be worth $2.7 billion now. As proof of how influential she is, it is believed that her support of President Obama was decisive in the Democratic primary race in2008.

Hillary Swank

Hilary Ann Swank has won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice. The first time that she won it was for Boys Don’t Cry in 1999 and the second was for Million Dollar Baby in 2004. Swank was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1974. Swank started appearing in local productions at a very young age. When her parents separated, Swank and her mother, who was supportive of her career as an actress, moved out to Los Angeles with the hope that she would be able jumpstart her career. They experienced great hardships initially. They were forced to live out of their vehicle until there was enough money to rent an apartment. She was also alienated from the high school and was soon forced to drop out. She started out acting for small roles and in direct to video movies. Her break came when she got the role for Boys Don’t Cry. Though the pay that she got for the role was a measly $75 per day, it did get her an Oscar nomination. She won the Oscar for Best Actress for the role which placed her among the list of top actresses in Hollywood. In 2004 she made history when she won her second Oscar for her work in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. She has joined the ranks of legendary film actresses who have won the coveted award twice.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is one of the biggest names in Hollywood today. He has starred in so many hit movies and he reportedly earns $20 million with each film role that he takes on. But life wasn’t always so rosy for Carrey. There was a time when he has to struggle too.

Jim Carrey was born in Ontario, Canada in 1962. His father was a musician and an accountant. After his father lost his job, Carrey had to work in order to help the family. He worked as a janitor and security guard while dropping off from school. Carrey’s family eventually lost their home and they were forced to live off their van. Even while they were struggling, Carrey tried his hand at comedy but his performance was affected by the unstable home situation. It was only after their finances improved that Carrey was really able to have a shot at comedy and entertainment. Carrey did stand-up comedy for several years and eventually moved to the States. He eventually landed a role on television and then movies.


Jay-Z is now one of the biggest moguls in the music industry. He is the most successful hip-hop artists in history and built a business empire based on his initial success as a rapper and producer. Jay-Z came from Brooklyn in New York City. He and his siblings were raised by their mother after their father left the family. As a youth, Jay-Z was involved in crimes and he says that he sold crack. Jay-Z also claims that he has been shot at least thrice in his life.

He started out his career in the late 80s and early 90s with the help of more established rappers. Jay-Z started selling his own CDs and together with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs they came up with Roc-A-Fella Records. He has won critical acclaim and mainstream success since then and is now one of the biggest names not just in the hip-hop scene but in the whole of the music industry.

Shania Twain

Shania Twain is one of the biggest stars of country music today. Her album Come On Over is a bestselling album. She has sold millions of copies of her albums worldwide. But Twain’s life didn’t start out so good. Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario. Her parents divorced when she was only two. Twain stayed with her mother who later remarried. The family struggled and often there was not enough food to eat. Twain was forced to sing at local bars when she was a child in order to help the meagre income of her parents.

Twain played with bands at the start of her career. It was Toronto DJ Stan Campbell who first noticed her talent and wrote about her. But it was not until 1995 when her The Woman in Me album that she reached full commercial success. That album placed in the top ranks of music artists. It allowed her to reach markets in other countries, which further solidified her career.

These are just some of the starts who went from rags to riches . They all showed determination and tenacity in order succeed in their chosen careers.