14 celebrities who grew up poor, 14 who grew up rich



Grew up poor: Viola Davis

During a Variety’s Power of Women speech in 2014, the actor said, “While my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million children in this country who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.”

“And I did everything to get food. I stole for food. I jumped in huge garbage cans with maggots for food. I had befriended people in the neighborhood which I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for sustenance, and I sacrificed a childhood for sustenance and grew up in immense shame.”


Born Rich: Lana Del Rey

The singer’s father is the millionaire founder of Web Media Properties, a media and publishing company that operates 8,000 specialty sites. He is also CEO and President of a real estate investment and brokerage firm.


Grew up poor: Jennifer Lopez

In 2014, the singer said she grew up sharing a bed with her two sisters in the Bronx.

Jennifer told W Magazine that she learned about hard work from her parents growing up. “My dad worked night shifts and I was aware of everything he did for us. My mom was a Tupperware lady and also worked at school. I always thought I couldn’t let them down.”


Born rich: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

His great-great-grandfather founded the Louis-Dreyfus Group, a multi-billion dollar French conglomerate involved in agriculture, agribusiness, international shipping and finance.


Grew Up Poor: Selena Gomez

The singer’s mother had her when she was 16. Selena’s parents divorced five years later and she was raised by her mother in Texas. In a 2011 E! special, the actor said, “I remember my mom running out of gas all the time, and we would sit there and have to walk through the car and take quarters and help her get gas.”


Born Rich: Anderson Cooper

The broadcast journalist is the great-great-great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made his fortune in shipping and railroads and was one of the richest Americans in history. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was a fashion designer, actress, and writer.


Grew Up Poor: Shania Twain

One of five children, the singer often went to school hungry. “It’s very hard to concentrate when your stomach is rumbling,” she told ABC News. She remembers becoming jealous of other children’s lunches. “I certainly would never have humbled myself enough to reach out and ask for help and say, ‘You know, I’m hungry. Can I have that apple that you’re not going to eat?’ I didn’t have the courage to do that.”


Born Rich: Adam Levine

The Maroon 5 singer’s father was the founder of the Mr. Fredric chain of stores. Adam attended Brentwood School, which is very selective and extremely expensive.

In rural Mississippi, the talk show host grew up in abject poverty. Her home had no running water and she sometimes wore overalls made from potato sacks.


Born Rich: Gwyneth Paltrow

The actor’s father was a television and film director and producer, and his mother is actor Blythe Danner. Growing up, Gwyneth attended Crossroads School in Santa Monica — known for its famous alumni — and Spence School, a private all-girls school in Manhattan. His godfather is director Steven Spielberg.


Grew up poor: Leonardo DiCaprio

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2014, the actor spoke of “crime and violence everywhere” in his LA neighborhood. He said: “I grew up very poor and was able to see the other side of the spectrum.” After being beaten at school, he told his mother, “‘I want to be an actor. Please take me to the auditions.’ Because I had to get out of this public school system.”


Born rich: Paul Giamatti

The actor’s father was the president of Yale University – where Paul went to college – and the seventh commissioner of Major League Baseball.


Grew Up Poor: Leighton Meester

The actor was born while his mother was serving a federal sentence for drug trafficking and lived with his grandmother until his mother was released. When Leighton started taking acting classes as a teenager, she preferred those with adults because she couldn’t relate to her peers. “‘Jimmy doesn’t like me!’ Who cares? I was worried that we wouldn’t have money for gas or food. Those were my concerns,” she told Marie Claire in an interview.


Born Rich: Rashida Jones

The actor’s father, Quincy Jones, is a music producer and composer. He received 80 Grammy nominations and has been called one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century. His mother was actress Peggy Lipton.


Grew Up Poor: Hilary Swank

The actor grew up in a trailer park in Washington state. She told Together magazine: “I had a roof over my head and I had food, and so it wasn’t that being poor and having those experiences was negative. The negative part was d ‘learning the class at such a young age, not from my friends, but from my friend’s parents, who would say, ‘You mustn’t hang around with her.’ At 6, being told by a parent, ‘You’re not welcome here, you have to go.'”


Born rich: Cara Delevingne

The English model’s family is full of titles, powerful connections and even royal ties. On her mother’s side, her grandmother was a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret and her grandfather was a knighted publishing magnate. On his father’s side, his grandmother was an aristocrat and his grandfather was a stockbroker and friend of the Prince of Wales at the time. Her father was a property developer and her godmother is English actress Dame Joan Collins.


Grew up poor: Cardi B

“I have very good parents, they are poor,” she told Global Grind in 2016. “They have regular and mediocre jobs and so on. They are very good people and so on, I was just brought up in a bad society.”


Born Rich: Michelle Williams

The actor’s father has written many books on stocks and commodity trading. He created market indicators and won the 1987 World Cup World Trading Championship for turning $10,000 into over $1.1 million over 12 months. Twice he was a Republican candidate for senator from Montana, but he lost both times.


Grew Up Poor: Kelly Clarkson

“We lived prepaid check for prepaid check,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “I was like, whatever I do, I don’t want to have to worry [like] this. I’ve always hated when people said, “Money doesn’t buy everything,” when you’re small and poor. The rich say that, not the poor. I don’t know a single poor person who says, “Money doesn’t buy happiness. It pays to get out eviction notices.”


Born Rich: Jaden and Willow Smith

The father, Will Smith, is one of the highest paid actors in the entertainment industry. Their mother is an actress and Red table discussion host Jada Pinkett Smith.


Grew Up Poor: Demi Moore

The self-proclaimed “trailer park kid” moved 30 times during his childhood. At 16, she dropped out of school and moved away from her alcoholic parents to escape an abusive home. “You could either be trapped by what’s going on around you or find a way out,” she told the Guardian. “I think everything, no matter how scary or good, comes into our lives to help us uplift and grow as human beings.”


Born Rich: Kate and Rooney Mara

The sisters come from a multi-billionaire football family. Their mother’s side founded the Pittsburgh Steelers while their father’s side founded the New York Giants.


Grew Up Poor: Tyler Perry

In New Orleans, the actor grew up in a poor and violent household. He poured all the money he made into his first play and lived in his car for months while he worked on the production.


Born rich: Ariana Grande

The “Thank U, Next” singer’s mother was the CEO of a communications company and her father founded a graphic design company. His parents’ wealth gave him early exposure; she sang the national anthem at a Florida Panthers home game where her parents were said to be season ticket holders.


Grew Up Poor: Jim Carrey

On The Howard Stern Show, the actor recalled how his father lost his job. The family ended up living in a car and then in tents at campgrounds in Ontario. At 15, Jim worked as a janitor and security guard to help support his family.

After Howard asked if Jim was mad at his dad, the actor replied, “I guess I had been for a while, but my dad was cool, man. That’s the only thing about therapy, they kind of focus you on what your parents did, what didn’t they do. Yeah sure, in some ways they made me grow up fast. But the list of what they did for me was so huge.


Born Rich: Nick Kroll

The comedian’s father founded an investigation and risk management consultancy company that offered services such as employee background checks and fraud investigations. In 2004, it was sold for $1.9 billion.


Raised Poor: Mary J. Blige

After the singer’s father abandoned the family when she was 4, she grew up in the housing estates of New York. During an interview with Oprah, she said, “Life was all about surviving – making money any way you could.”


Born Rich: Edward Norton

The actor’s grandfather was real estate developer James Rouse. He co-founded The Rouse Company, which invented indoor shopping malls.

Can you think of any other celebrities who were born poor or born rich? Sound off in the comments below!


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