Rags to Riches: Jim Carrey, Celine Dion, Leonardo DiCaprio and 20 Celebrities Who Started With Nothing

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Aug. 21 2023, Published 2:46 p.m. ET

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

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The 'Escape Plan' and 'The Terminator' actor has a net worth of $450 million.

Before The Terminator and his other hit movies put him where he is now, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to live in a home without a proper supply of electricity and running water. According to BBC News, the actor's apartment where his family lived only had a pit toilet.

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Cardi B

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Cardi B boasts a net worth of $80 million.

Cardi B initially worked at a supermarket when she was a teenager. After being fired from the workplace, she started stripping to support herself, especially after her mother kicked her out of their house.

The "Bodak Yellow" hitmaker finally reached the spotlight when she starred in .

Celine Dion

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Forbes estimates that Celine Dion, who is currently battling stiff-person syndrome, has a net worth of $480 million as of 2023.

As one of the most famous musicians of her generation, Celine Dion's fans could never imagine her in a poor state. Her family, which consisted of 14 children, lived inside a house where three to four people had to sleep together on the same bed and their parents earned less than $200 per week.

She soon saved them from financial issues through her music career after landing her first recording contract when she was 12.

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Demi Moore

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As one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses, the 'Indecent Proposal' star's net worth has hit the $200 million mark.

Demi Moore called herself a "trailer park kid" as she often moved from one place to another throughout her childhood because of her alcoholic parents. When she reached 16, she had the courage to drop out of school and move out of the abusive home.

Before starting her career as an actress, she used to work as a debt collector and model. It became her stepping stone until she scored a supporting role in the 1981 flick Choices.

"We weren't dirt poor, but we didn't have a lot of money," she revealed in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. "I entered this career having no background or connection to acting. I had so little, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking the risk."

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Dolly Parton

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The country queen's $650 million net worth shows her power and influence in the music industry.

As one of 12 children, Dolly Parton did not have a comfortable childhood, especially because her parents struggled to provide for their basic needs. Despite growing up poor, Parton's family was so loving that she received all the support when she wanted to become a musician.

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Ed Sheeran

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The 'Photograph' and 'Perfect' singer is among the wealthiest and most successful musicians, having an estimated $200 million.

While he is now one of the best musicians in the industry, Ed Sheeran started at rock bottom as an artist in London. In his book, A Visual Journey, Sheeran recalled sleeping in the London Underground train stations — and it inspired him to write the song "Homeless."

"There was an arch outside Buckingham Palace that has a heating duct and I spent a couple of nights there," he wrote. "That's where I wrote the song 'Homeless' and the lines 'It's not a homeless night for me, I'm just home less than I'd like to be.'"

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With a $250 million net worth, Eminem established himself as one of the wealthiest rappers in the world.

Fans of Eminem have learned his story through the songs over the years, as well as in his movie, 8 Mile.

The rapper, born Marshall Mathers III, moved around St. Joseph, Mo., with his mother after his father left them. He also suffered bullying at school while taking several jobs to support his family.

After quitting his studies, he immediately found his way to the hip-hop industry.

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Halle Berry

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Although she started as a beauty queen and fashion model, Halle Berry's net worth bloomed more when she debuted as an actress.

Halle Berry revealed she used to live in a homeless shelter before she was able to be where she is now.

Berry told People how rough her childhood was, sharing that she initially had some money when she started her modeling career in New York City but eventually learned that she had was insufficient to support herself in the Big Apple. Three months later, she had no money left.

“I called my mother and asked her to send me some money, and she said no, and that subsequently led to a year of not speaking to her because I was so upset that she wouldn’t help me," she continued.

Instead of feeling down over her mother's refusal to help her, she realized why it was the best thing the matriarch did for her as it pushed her to work it out on her own.

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Hilary Swank

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Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank has an estimated net worth of $70 million.

Like Moore, Hilary Swank's life in the beginning was not easy.

She lived in a trailer park after her mother lost her job. She often shares her life story in her interviews and speeches, although it often leads her to suffer criticism for reportedly romanticizing poverty. For instance, her Academy Award acceptance speech in 2001 garnered negative responses from the public.

"I don't know what I did in this life to deserve this," she said at that time. "I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream. I never thought this would ever happen."

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Jay-Z, who has a net worth of $2.5 billion as of 2023, is one of the best-selling music artists in history.

Jay-Z is a billionaire now, but his finances also highlight the simple — but controversial — life he had in the past.

Prior to conquering the music industry, the "Empire State Of Mind" hitmaker sold drugs during his high school years. In a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair, the rapper recalled how his mother cared for them despite their challenging situation.

"We weren't starving—we were eating, we were okay," he said. "But it was things like you didn't want to be embarrassed when you went to school; you didn't want to have dirty sneakers or wear the same clothes over again. And crack was everywhere — it was inescapable."

Celine Dion
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Jennifer Lopez

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Ben Affleck's wife has a net worth of $400 million, thanks to her deals as an actress and singer.

Although she nears half a billion in net worth, Jennifer Lopez's flight to fame was not always as high as it is now.

The actress-singer used to walk around The Bronx with holes in her shoes and became homeless when she dropped out of college to pursue a career in the music industry. Lopez also told Extra that she used to sleep on the couches of dance studios to survive.

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Jim Carrey

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The 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events' star started his career in 1983, and he now has a $180 million net worth.

humble beginning is one of the most inspiring stories in Hollywood.

Before becoming an actor, he initially worked as a stand-up comedian at a Toronto comedy club when he was only 15. He soon took a job as a janitor to support his family and earned a gig as an opening act for Rodney Dangerfield and Buddy Hackett.

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Justin Bieber

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Justin Bieber expanded his empire and now enjoys a $300 million net worth.

Justin Bieber reached the peak of success from a young age after he was discovered on YouTube, but he came from humble beginnings as well.

"I remember sitting in restaurants with my mother and she'd make me order water instead of soda," the "Ghost" singer told Clique TV of the hardships he and his mother went through prior to his fame. "I remember so badly wanting to order a soda. And I also remember that when I got my first big paycheck, I was so glad to be able to use that money to take care of my mother."

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Leonardo DiCaprio

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Following a series of successful films, Leonardo DiCaprio earned a $300 million net worth that strengthened his finances.

Leonardo DiCaprio came to Hollywood after enduring a rough life while growing up. In 2016, he told The Telegraph that he always thought of money when he was still a child while his mother worked as a secretary and his father sold comics.

While the family tried to make ends meet, he realized that acting might help him to get out of the mess — and it did.

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Mariah Carey

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Like her husband, Mariah Carey also has a staggering net worth of $340 million.

Mariah Carey had nothing when she started her career.

In her show Mariah's World, the "Without You" artist recalled moving to Manhattan as a teenage girl and living on a mattress on the floor. As she worked toward her dreams, her fairytale life soon became one of Hollywood's success stories.

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Mark Wahlberg

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Mark Wahlberg, as an all-rounder In Hollywood, has a $400 million net worth as of 2023.

Mark Wahlberg came from a broken home before getting cast in Hollywood's award-winning films. As a teenager, he tried to survive by dealing drugs and getting addicted to cocaine. He was even jailed for attempted murder.

"I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I'd always wanted to be like," he told The Daily Mail. "Now I'd earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn't what I wanted at all. I'd ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back.

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Nicki Minaj

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The award-winning rapper and singer-songwriter is the richest female rapper in the world, with a whopping $150 million net worth.

Nicki Minaj suffered trauma as a child as she grew up in an abusive household. Her father, who she's stated was a violent drug addict, once attempted to burn their residence down to kill the rapper's mother.

Her life in poverty and violence soon helped her persevere until she scored an exclusive deal with Dirty Money Records.

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Oprah Winfrey

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The famed talk show host has a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Born into a low-income family in Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey got the life story everyone felt inspired by in the past years. She went through abuse and molestation in her own family before deciding to run away when she was 13. She immediately suffered heartbreak when she gave birth at 14, losing her child shortly after delivering her.

Winfrey's humble beginnings pushed her to set records in the industry, including being the first woman in history to have her own show and produce it.

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Sarah Jessica Parker

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The 'Sex in the City' star — who works as a model, singer and producer — has $200 million as of 2023.

Prior to having her whopping net worth, Sarah Jessica Parker and her family had humble beginnings that led her to the spotlight.

Although she could have some of the things she needed when she was a child, the model-turned-actress revealed that they often lost power at home because of unpaid bills.

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Zayn Malik

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Zayn Malik's net worth as of 2023 is $75 million, making him the second richest One Direction member.

Zayn Malik, who was from a working-class family, debuted as a member of One Direction after joining The X Factor in 2011.

His childhood experience led him to urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to "give all children living in poverty" a free school meal as he backed Food Foundation's Feed The Future campaign.

"My hope is that in writing this letter we can all ensure that no child ever has to experience this hunger and stigma again as my experience is not unique; it is a struggle that many children in England are sadly going through right now," he said.


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