22 Celebs Who’ve Talked About Growing Up Poor

    Not every celebrity is a nepo baby. Some have had to work hard to get to where they're at.

    If you ask some people, they'll tell you a lot of Hollywood's biggest talent haven't earned their esteemed places in the industry.

    Some people certainly work harder than others, though not everyone is open with that experience.

    These celebrities have opened up about the experience of growing up poor and becoming a star.

    1. Sean "Diddy" Combs has always been boastful about his success, but that's because it came after years of hard work.

    Sean Combs and Pierre Thomas, also know as Pee Thomas, attend Black Tie Affair for Quality Control's CEO Pierre Thomas in June 2021

    Diddy shared a life-changing moment with CNN in 2016. "One day, I asked my mother for a pair of sneakers, and she almost started to cry," he said. "My hustle was born. I never wanted to see her face like that again."

    Sean Combs and Janice Combs attend VH1's 3rd Annual "Dear Mama: A Love Letter To Moms" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on May 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California

    2. Oprah Winfrey was shuffled between family members in rural Mississippi, where they sometimes wore potato sacks because they couldn't afford clothes.

    American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey arrives at the GRAMMY Foundation's A Starry Night Benefit held on July 22, 2006

    "I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good," Oprah once said of her early life. "I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good."

    Oprah Winfrey during Global Citizen Prize Awards Special Honoring Changemakers In 2020

    3. Jim Carrey revealed that his family lived in poverty when he was growing up after his dad lost his job. At times, his whole family worked together as janitors or security guards while living in a van. He used visualization to help get him through it.

    Jim Carrey attends the 'Sonic The Hedgehog' Family Day Event at the Paramount Theatre on January 25, 2020

    "I would visualize things coming to me that I wanted. And I had nothing at that time, but it just made me feel better. At that time, all it really was, was kind of just, making me feel better. I would drive home and think, ‘Well, I do have these things, and they’re out there. I just don’t have a hold of them yet, but they’re out there.'"

    Jim Carrey attends the LA Special Screening Of Paramount's "Sonic The Hedgehog" held at Regency Village Theatre on February 12, 2020 in Westwood, California

    4. Camila Alves grew up in a family of farmers in Brazil. When she moved to LA at 15, she had to learn English and save up to move to New York.

    Camila Alves attends the premiere of Illumination's "Sing 2" on December 12, 2021

    "I didn’t have the luxury to call my parents to pay my bills, so I cleaned houses and worked in restaurants as I learned English and saved to go to New York to look for an agency to represent me," she told ATX Woman.

    Camila Alves McConaughey arrives for the Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Gala at the Fairmont Century Plaza, in Los Angeles, California, December 8, 2021

    5. Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted about growing up without running water, which is a far cry from where he is today.

    My brother and I would schlep the water from the well to the house, and then we would all clean ourselves - first my mother, then my father, then my brother, then me. The water was dirty by the time it was our turn but my brother and I weren’t going to schlep back to the well.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger/Twitter / Via Twitter: @Schwarzenegger

    6. Hilary Swank grew up in a trailer park in Washington State before her mom drove to Los Angeles so she could pursue acting. She saw the ugly side of life as a child, and it stayed with her.

    Hilary Swank attends the Leopard Club Award Conversation during the 72nd Locarno Film Festival on August 10, 2019

    "I grew up feeling like an outsider because we had no money, so I understood 'classism' at a young age," she once shared. "A lot of parents didn't want their kids playing with me, even though the kids didn't care."

    Hilary Swank Kicks Off The 2007 Blue Planet Run at The United Nations, New York City

    7. Leonardo DiCaprio grew up in a once-rough area of Hollywood where he said "there used to be a major prostitution ring on my street corner, crime and violence everywhere," according to the Los Angeles Times.

    Leonardo DiCaprio attends Netflix's "Don't Look Up" World Premiere on December 05, 2021

    "It goes back to that neighborhood. It came from the fact that I grew up very poor, and I got to see the other side of the spectrum."

    Actor Leonardo DiCaprio arrives for the "Benny & Joon" Los Angeles Premiere on March 25, 1993

    8. Nicki Minaj has talked about how her family struggled when they first immigrated from Trinidad to the United States.

    Nicki Minaj attends a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers on February 3, 2022

    "When I first came to America, I would go in my room and kneel down at the foot of my bed and pray that God would make me rich so that I could take care of my mother."

    Carol Minaj and Nicki Minaj posing together at the 2015 BET Awards

    9. Justin Bieber struggled growing up being raised by a single mom with not a lot of resources.

    Justin Bieber attends Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022

    "I remember being poor and being teased by other kids," he told Clique TV. "I remember sitting in restaurants with my mother, and she'd make me order water instead of soda. 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."

    Justin Bieber and Pattie Mallette at premiere in 2020

    10. Mark Wahlberg grew up sharing a room with his five brothers in a working-class family in Boston and ended up in a gang and in serious trouble before straightening out.

    Mark Wahlberg speaks during the private screening of "Father Stu" at the Damen Cinema on March 3, 2022

    "Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally, I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I'd always wanted to be like. Now I'd earned my stripes, and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn't what I wanted at all," he told The Daily Mail. "I'd ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine, and I never wanted to go back."

    Actor Mark Wahlberg visits the SiriusXM Studios on February 17, 2022 in New York City

    11. Mariah Carey grew up in a financially difficult situation to a broken family and dealt with drug use and abuse up close until she worked her way out of it.

    Mariah Carey arrives at the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) at the Shrine Exposition Center

    "When I was 12 years old, my sister drugged me with Valium, offered me a pinky nail full of cocaine, inflicted me with third-degree burns, and tried to sell me out to a pimp," Mariah recalled in her book.

    Mariah Carey leaves her hotel on November 13, 2009 in London, England

    12. Selena Gomez's family struggled throughout her childhood, but always did what they could to help others.

    Selena Gomez seen at a Murder in the Building film set in Manhattan on February 25, 2022

    "I remember always being reminded that people had less than we did, and we didn’t have much," she told Vogue. "But I felt like we did because my mom was always doing a hundred million things just to make me happy, and we volunteered at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving; we went through my closet for Goodwill."

    Selena Gomez and mother (left) arrives at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California

    13. Cardi B grew up in a struggling family and fell in with a bad crowd, splitting her time between the South Bronx and Washington Heights.

    Cardi B smiling in a pink dress at an event in December 2021

    "I have real good parents, they poor. They have regular, poor jobs and whatnot," she said in a Global Grind interview in 2016. "They real good people and whatnot; I was just raised in a bad society."

    Offset and Cardi B seen attending Maxim Issue Release Party at Hyde Beach at SLS South Beach

    14. Sarah Jessica Parker was the youngest of four until her mom remarried and had three more kids. The family of 10 struggled heavily, with her recalling her childhood as "Dickensian."

    "We were on welfare ... I remember being poor," she told The New York Times. "There was no great way to hide it. We didn't have electricity sometimes. We didn't have Christmases sometimes, or we didn't have birthdays sometimes, or the bill collectors came, or the phone company would call and say, 'We're shutting your phones off.'"

    Sarah Jessica Parker attends HBO Max's premiere of "And Just Like That" at Museum of Modern Art

    15. Chris Pratt grew up in a family that sometimes struggled and would rely on food stamps. Early in his career, he lived out of a van on a beach in Hawaii.

    Chris Pratt attends the premiere of Amazon's "The Tomorrow War" at Banc of California Stadium

    "I grew up in a small town, we had 7,000 people in our town, and we had some economic hard times, and we had a food bank nearby, and I’m not ashamed to say that there were moments when my family would need to eat from a food bank," Chris shared during an Instagram Live interview. "There’s no shame in it — especially right now with what we are going through. There is help out there, and you can find that help and get that help, and there’s nothing wrong with needing that help."

    Chris Pratt laughing at an event in 2011

    16. Shania Twain and her siblings grew up missing meals. From those times, she recalls how impossible asking for help felt.

    Shania Twain at the Zurich Film Festival 2021

    17. "It's very hard to concentrate when you're stomach's rumbling," she told ABC News. "I would certainly never have humiliated 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."

    Shania Twain performs at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 18, 1998 in Mountain View, California

    18. Leighton Meester was born while both her parents were serving time in prison. They split up after getting out, and both sides of her family struggled financially as she was growing up. Leighton didn't even consider going to prom because of her financial status.

    Leighton Meester on location for 'Gossip Girl' on July 5, 2010 in Paris

    "I couldn't relate to kid stuff. 'Jimmy doesn't like me!' Who cares? I was worried we didn't have gas money or food. Those were my concerns," she told Marie Claire. "It was a lot of money for a ticket. And I just didn't care that much."

    Leighton Meester as Angie on "Single Parents"

    19. Kelly Clarkson has worked through a lot of her feelings about growing up poor and in a difficult family through her music.

    Kelly Clarkson attends the premiere of NBC's "American Song Contest" at The Lot at Universal Studios

    "We lived pre-pay check to pre-pay check. So I definitely had this whole mentality, I was like, whatever I'm gonna do, I just don't wanna have to worry about that," she told The Dallas Morning News. "I always used to hate when people would be like, 'Money doesn't buy everything,' when you are little and poor. Rich people say that. Not poor people, I don't know one poor person that's going, money doesn't buy happiness. It pays you to get out of eviction notices."

    Kelly Clarkson sitting and talking on the set of her talk show

    20. Mila Kunis emigrated to the United States from Ukraine as a child, where they faced poverty and antisemitism. Ashton Kutcher also grew up poor, getting caught breaking into his school to steal money. As a result, the two want to make sure their kids don't grow up entitled.

    Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher attend the Grand Opening of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute

    "It’s so important because we both came from pretty solid poverty backgrounds and grew up very poor and are very much self-made and are very aware of what a dollar is worth,” she adds. “Nothing’s been handed to us."

    21. Dolly Parton grew up in a one-room shack in rural Tennessee with up to 14 people at different points in her life.

    Dolly Parton at SXSW 2022

    "We bathed once a week whether we needed it or not, as the saying goes. When I was in high school, it was a big deal. I had to take a bath every night because I wanted to be clean," Dolly recalled of her childhood. "The kids peed on me every night. We slept three and four in the bed. I would wash every night. And as soon as I go to bed, the kids would wet on me, and I'd have to get up in the morning and do the same thing."

    Dolly Parton attends the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards on March 07, 2022

    22. Celine Dion was the youngest of 13 siblings, so money was often tight. Still, she never felt like she was lacking in her childhood.

    Celine Dion performs at Arco Arena on October 14, 2008 in Sacramento, California

    "We were safe and warm and taken care of. Three or four of us in the same bed was normal to us. We weren’t poor, but we never had money. I don’t know if that makes sense," she shared. "We were given love and affection and support. What else did we need?"

    What celebrities do you admire for working their way to success from a difficult place? Share in the comments.