These famous celebs once lived in poverty and had mundane jobs. It’s inspiring to see how they turned their life around and came out from the mess they were in. Really tells us that no matter what the circumstances are, you can succeed if you set your mind on it.
Madonna was brought up in a religious family and was five when her mother passed away of breast cancer. According to Madonna, she did not have anyone to teach her manners. To add to it, she was just 12 when her father married the housekeeper, which broke her spirit and made her rebellious.
Maybe that was the reason she chose to channel her focus on studies. Madonna excelled at school, being a straight-A student, cheerleader and a disciplined dancer. People who knew her back then, maintained that she had two extremely different personalities at home and outside.
Excellence in her school got Madonna the opportunity of life, when University of Michigan decided to sponsor her 6-week trip to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.
Madonna later described this opportunity as the biggest step of her life, stating, ‘It was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, the first time I’d ever gotten a taxi cab. I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done’.
However, things didn’t hit rock star level instantly. She had to struggle and do several mundane jobs to support herself before she became ‘Madonna’. This phase of life saw Madonna work as waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts, take part in nude art modeling and become a server at ‘The Russian Tea Room’ hotel.
She discovered her true passion when she travelled to France in the 80’s as a showgirl and fell in love with their style of singing and performing. After returning to the States, she found it overly hard to get into the music industry, as it was extremely male dominated during that era.
Hell-bent on not giving up, she decided to hire a manager, who in turn helped her start a band. And when Stephen Bray of her band wrote ‘Everybody’… the No. 1 hit song of 1982 in US, Madonna knew that her time had come.
Joanne Rowling had the passion for writing from an early age. She wrote her first book when she was 6 and when her mother praised her work, she instantly asked her mom to get it published. While that didn’t come to pass, Rowling knew that she had found her passion.
Rowling’s love for story writing grew over time. She grew up in an ideal family environment and wrote numerous stories for her sister during this period. However, things took a turn for the worse when Rowling’s mother started suffering from multiple sclerosis, Rowling was just 15 at that time.
Rowling saw her entire life turned upside down, as she saw her family go through tremendous pressure. Because of this, she developed an extremely complicated relation with her dad, and is still not on talking terms with him.
Her mother’s condition also grew worse with time. Taken aback but not the one to call it quits, Rowling graduated from Exeter at 23 and struggled through various jobs, but never gave up on writing. It was during 1990, on a delayed train journey that the idea of ‘Harry Potter’ just popped into Rowling’s head, which she wrote down on a napkin.
Rowling’s imagination was so vivid that she formed the characters and the backstories of the characters even before the train would reach its destination. Rowling soon started penning down her thoughts but suffered major setback when her mother passed away in December of the same year.
The loss had a moving influence on her life and writing, with Rowling stating her deepest regret was that she never told her mother about ‘Harry Potter’. Things again went sour for Rowling as a series of unfortunate events followed… including failed marriage, becoming a single mom and going bankrupt.
Because of the circumstances, Rowling was forced to live in a cramped room with her daughter and relied on food stamps to get through this period. She became depressed and even considered suicide, going to the extent of describing her life then as a failure in a Harvard commencement speech.
However, her love for writing and ‘Harry Potter’ was still alive. And she would keep on writing notes about the boy wizard in cafes, while carrying her daughter in one arm. Her troubles still mounted when twelve publication companies turned down the book before Bloomsbury picked it up.
They advised her to add ‘K’ to her name, as they were afraid that young boys might not like a female writer, leading to the stage name ‘J.K. Rowling’. The book went on to change the way publications were handled and made Rowling figure on one of the wealthiest person across the globe.
‘Marilyn Monroe’ was born as Norma Jeane Mortensen. She grew up without knowing her father, and her mother suffered from psychiatric problems and was later admitted to a mental hospital.
Without family support or money, Mortensen was forced to to live in foster homes or orphanages. She was sexually assaulted in foster cares, and even states that she was raped at a tender age of 11. In order to escape the continuous sexual assaults, she married her neighbor at the young age of 16.
Unknowing to her at that time, it was this decision and a little stroke of luck which eventually catapulted her to stardom. Soon after the marriage, her husband was sent on marine duty, leaving Mortensen to defend for herself. With little to no money in the house, Mortensen was forced to work in a factory.
The factory was soon visited by David Conover of Yank Magazine, who noticed and photographed ‘the charming girl’ and persuaded her to join modeling. Mortensen, in an instant found her passion and soon assumed the stage name of ‘Marilyn Monroe’ which became famous around the world. But not before divorcing her jealous husband who wanted her to quit modeling.
Eminem was born in 1972 and was known as Marshall Mathers before assuming his stage name. He had one of the worst childhoods imaginable. He never knew his father as his dad chose to abandon the family during Eminem’s infant years. His mother could not hold to any job for long, which resulted in them moving from one place to the other.
Because of the constant travel, Eminem had to change schools constantly, making him a favorite for bullies. The bullies would often beat him up in bathrooms, hallways and even shove him into lockers at times. The hellish life turned him into a poor student, leading to him flunking ninth grade.
However, despite not being great at studies, he did have an affinity towards the English language. He would often read the dictionary and would try to remember all the words. It was this distinct hobby of his, which formed an outlet for expressing his anger.
He started rapping and competing at underground rap battles in Detroit to get rid of all the built up feelings. And loved to insult his competitors through rap, making him a respected figure in the underground battles. He achieved the fandom despite being a white male in an area dominated by African-Americans. All the while, doing odd jobs to support him.
The passionate rapper released his first album, which quickly tanked, but the second one got noticed by Dr. Dre. The duo then worked on the next album titled ‘The Slim Shady LP’, which went on to sell 3 million copies and made sure that Eminem voice, pain and lyrics are heard by people all over the world.
Jim Carrey had nothing going for him, except his family. He was born in a small town of Canada and his family struggled everyday to make ends meet.
The family struggled deepened when his father lost the job, and the family was forced to move to a camper van. The worsening financial conditions forced all the members to take odd jobs of janitor or security guard at a nearby factory. Carrey himself worked an eight-hour shift as a janitor after his school hours.
However, unlike other people of this article, Carrey’s talent was discovered by his loving father. Carrey’s father, despite being poor, drove him to Toronto leading to Carrey’s debut as a stand up comedian at 15. Unfortunately, Carrey wasn’t able to impress on his debut and withdrew himself from entertainment business for sometime, owing to self-doubt and financial troubles.
Carrey’s luck turned when he returned to the stage after few months and was discovered by a famous Canadian comedian, Rodney Dangerfield. Dangerfield brought Carrey to Las Vegas where Carrey would open the tour performances.
At 19, Carrey decided to move to Hollywood and pursue his acting career. He soon found out, like many others, that success was elusive. After trying for 4 years, Carrey was once again broke and depressed. One day, sitting on his old and beat-up Toyota and overlooking Los Angeles, he decided to write himself a check for $10 million; he post-dated it by 10 years and kept it in his wallet in an effort to feel better about himself.
Determined to cash the check, he once again pursued movies. And this time, scored movies like ‘Ace Ventura’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber’ to make true of his promise to himself. However, Carrey didn’t cash that check… but instead slipped it in the casket of his father, who passed away in 1994 as a tribute to his support.
Oprah Winfrey was born to a single mother, who didn’t have enough to support her. Owing to the financial crisis and not enough love for her daughter, her mother sent her to live with her grandparents.
Oprah spent first six years of her life at her grandmother’s house. They were so poor that Oprah had to wear potato sacks while other kids made fun of her. While poor, her grandmother still taught her to read and took her to Church, where Oprah was referred to as ‘The Preacher’.
When she moved back in with her mother. She found out that her mother had given birth to her sister but hardly had time for either of the girls. To add to the woes, she was abused on several occasions by her cousins, uncle and her mother’s ‘so called’ friends.
She ran from her home at 13, but returned after a year following her pregnancy. She gave birth to a son at the age of 14, who died soon afterward. Her mother, upset by the Oprah’s attitude and actions, sent her to live with her father.
Her father, though strict, encouraged Oprah to study and instilled a value system that set her on the path to success. Oprah shined through this period, even gaining scholarship for a college. She took her first job at a local grocery store as a teenager and became Miss Black Tennessee at 17.
She then went on to work at a radio station before finding her way to the famous ‘Oprah Winfrey’ show, which has inspired millions and has impacted thousands of lives.