You might be surprised at how many megastars came from humble beginnings! For many celebrities, living in poverty as a child gave them even more drive to succeed in the industry. Follow along for 24 celebrities who were born poor before rising to fame and fortune:


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger grew up extremely poor in post-war Austria. As a young boy, he dreamed of moving to America to pursue a career in acting and he made that dream a reality when he moved at 21-years old. He barely spoke any English and had very little money, but he found success while training for the Mr. Olympia competition.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah has a net worth of over $3 billion, but she definitely did not grow up living this lavishly. She grew up being shuffled between family members and boarding schools but eventually settled in with her father in Tenessee where she excelled as a student. “I know what it means to be poor,” she said in a video clip from the MAKERS documentary. “I know what it feels like to be abandoned. I know what it feels like to not be wanted. I know what it feels like to not be loved … and yet have inside yourself a yearning, a passion, a desire, a hope for something better.”

Demi Moore

Demi Moore has spoken in the past about being a self-proclaimed “trailer park kid” as she moved from place to place with her alcoholic parents. Moore dropped out of high school and moved out at the age of 16 where she began working as a debt collector and model before landing a role in the 1981 film, Choices, which kicked off her successful acting career.


Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez is one of the most successful celebrities in the world, but you may be surprised to learn that she spent part of her teenage years homeless. Lopez chose dancing over college, which wasn’t a choice her mother supported and she ended up homeless at the age of 18. She spent many of her nights sleeping at the dance studio.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise grew up poor in a struggling Catholic family in New York. He’s admitted in the past that he had an abusive father and was bullied in school, which made his childhood even more difficult. Now, he’s one of the most successful actors in the world and has amassed millions to his name.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez’s mother had her when she was only sixteen and worked three jobs trying to support their family. Selena says she remembers her mother struggling to afford gas and often eating cheap and easy meals like Kraft Dinner as a child. She credits her mom for much of her success and for sacrificing so much to raise her.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio may be one of the world’s most famous movie stars, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what it’s like to struggle. He’s been candid about growing up poor in the past and has shared that living in poverty during his childhood keeps him grounded while living in Hollywood.