Harrison Ford was working as a waitor in a restaurant before he was discovered, Barbara Walters produced a 15-minute children’s program before she got her break as the leading lady of news reporting, and Kim Kardashian West was the personal assistant to Paris Hilton, organizing her closet and fetching coffees for the young heiress before Kim ever got a spotlight of her own. Every celebrity has a story from the days before they were famous, here is a peek into the former lives of some of our favorite celebrities.
Rihanna – then
Born in Barbados, you might know recognize Robyn Fenty, who ended up taking her middle name, Rihanna! She had a hard start to life, her father was an alcoholic as well as a user of crack cocaine, and her mother couldn’t help but divorce him when they couldn’t make the marriage work. Despite these hardships, Rihanna saw something bigger and better for herself, and decided to try for a career in the music industry.
Rihanna – now
One of the best selling artists of all time, Rihanna has managed to sell over 230 million records around the globe. Singing since she was seven, she is now a multi-award winning artist, every bit as famous as her ultimate role model and icon, Madonna. She went through an ordeal with her ex boyfriend Chris Brown when he assaulted her, but since then has been linked to both Drake, and Matt Kemp, the famous baseball player.
Hilary Swank – Then
Hilary Swank moved to LA with her mother, and while they hoped that she would make a success of her career, in the meantime they had so little money that the pair needed to sleep and live in their car. Eventually, they were offered some space on the floor in a friends house, where they slept on air mattresses. After getting her first real role in Beverly Hills 90210, she was cut after 16 episodes and remembers thinking “If I’m not good enough for 90210, I’m not good enough for anything.” Little did she know what the future held.
Hilary Swank – Now
Million Dollar Baby is more than just the title of Hilary Swanks famous movie, it is now a reality for the actress, who is now 42, born in Lincoln, Nebraska. She now has more than $40 million to her name, and is a well known actress with no shortage of offers in Hollywood. Her break out role was in Boys Don’t Cry which got her the attention of the press, Hollywood, and also a ton of awards, including the best actress Academy Award.
Hugh Jackman – Then
Hugh Jackman chose to spend his gap year working as a PE teacher in England of all places! He loved acting, but didn’t have the confidence. “when I started at drama school I was like the dunce of the class. It just wasn’t coming right to me. Everyone was cooler, everyone seemed more likely to succeed, everyone seemed more natural at it and in retrospect I think that is good. I think it is good to come from behind as an actor. I think it is good to go into an audition thinking ‘Man I’ve got to be at my best to get this gig”
Hugh Jackman – Now
Hugh Jackman is flying high with the success of his acting career. He was most recently in The Greatest Showman which was a huge box office hit, as well as of course being known for X Men and Wolverine. He was also cast in Les Miserables, which had mixed reviews. Starting out in My Fair Lady, he’s come full circle, and now enjoys both acting and musical roles, of his choosing. He’s come a long long way!
Amy Adams – Then
Amy wanted to be a professional ballerina, so this was the goal for the majority of her young life. It was crushing to her, when at 18, she realized she would never be talented enough, and went to her second choice, musical theater. In order to make enough money to support herself while she worked her way up, she was employed in places like Gap, working as a greeter, and even Hooters, dealing with the inappropriate customers, tight uniforms, and all.
Amy Adams – Now
Nowadays, Amy Adams is known as one of the highest paid and most recognizable actresses in the world. Since her role in the hit movie Enchanted, she is pretty much a household name in Hollywood. She even has plenty of the highest acclaimed awards under her belt, from two Golden Gloves, and nominations for Academy Awards and British Academy Film Awards. She is married to Darren Le Gallo, and they have one daughter.
Angelina Jolie – Then
Despite being the daughter of Jon Voight so having an acting background, Angelina did not always want to be a movie star. In fact, when she was in high school she was teased for her appearance, so became what she calls a “punk outsider”, with aspirations to be a funeral director! She even spent her free time learning important skills, such as embalming! Eventually she returned to acting, but says “I am still at heart—and always will be—just a punk kid with tattoos.”
Angelina Jolie – Now
As well as being one of the most famous actresses in the world, and certainly amongst the highest paid, Jolie is known for her philanthropy and her humanitarian efforts, trying to do a lot of good in the world. She is also widely talked about for her personal life, having been married three times, to Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, and Brad Pitt. With Pitt, she has six children, three biologically and three adopted from abroad.
Lady Gaga – then
Bullying is no joke, and Lady Gaga experienced some of the worst of it, back when she was just Stefani Germanotta. Eventually, she left her own home, and went to start out on her own in New York City, renting the smallest and cheapest place she could find. She did get signed with Def Jam records, but was quickly dropped, and spiralled quickly, taking cocaine and dancing in burlesque shows. To all who saw, it looked like her career was over before it began.
Lady Gaga – now
Lady Gaga is now one of the most successful artists of all time, with songs like Bad Romance lifting her to super stardom. She is known for her crazy image styles and fashion choices, working hard to reinvent herself multiple times for different stages. She has won so many awards, we can’t keep track, from Grammy and Brit awards, to Guiness World Records! As a bisexual woman, she works hard for LGBT advocacy and gay rights.
JK Rowling- Then
The story is well known. JK Rowling wrote the first draft of Harry Potter on a napkin, when she was so broke she couldn’t even afford a cup of coffee. She was suffering from the loss of her mother, she had just been through a tough divorce, and she was living in a tiny apartment as a single mom. Little did she know that in her mind was the key to the most successful book franchise of all time, which would change her life forever.
JK Rowling – Now
Believe it or not, JK Rowling would have even more money than the $1 billion fortune she holds, but she insists on giving it all away! She believes that no one needs that much money, so she is widely philanthropic, giving away as much as she can to needy causes. The Harry Potter books and movies have made her more famous than any other author of this generation, and she helped to work on the theater productions as well.
Oprah Winfrey – Then
Oprah has one of the most difficult upbringings of any celebrity on our list, or otherwise. She was so poor as a young girl that she once wore potato sacks instead of clothes. She also survived much abuse, from sexual, to mental and physical. She now uses these experiences to help others, and is a true inspiration to anyone who ever thought they couldn’t change their situation, or that their life had no future.
Oprah Winfrey – Now
Things changed for Oprah once she moved from her childhood home to her fathers house, and realised that there was more out there, in the form of the media! She started out looking for a career as a newscaster, moving into daytime television, before becoming the Oprah we all know and love, a self-made billionaire, and a role model for people all around the world. At 63, she is worth an estimated $3 billion- wow!
Jim Carrey – Then
Jim Carrey had a tough beginning, his family moving around a lot, and hardly any money to go around. He even worked as a cleaner for a time, when his dreams of being a comedian looked like they were going nowhere. He has struggled with depression in the past, and taken drugs to help with that, although nowadays he takes nothing to help his mood, not even coffee! He is now worth more than $150 million, so he’s come a long way!
Jim Carrey – Now
Hollywood style success. Since then, he has been known for parts in movies like Liar Liar, and the Grinch, and is the go-to guy for impressions, weird faces and all things a bit out of the box! His movie, Dumb and Dumber grossed more than $270 million around the world. Carrey has been married twice, and with his former wife Jenny McCarthy he launched an anti-vaccine initiative, believing wrongly that the MMR vaccine causes Autism.
Patrick Dempsey – Then
You might think you know Patrick Dempsey, or even know a lot about his youth, as he was in plenty of movies at a young age, before coming back into the spotlight as an adult. But did you know that in 1981, he was probably one of the best jugglers in the world? He came second in the International Jugglers’ Association Championship, right behind the best technical juggler of all time, Anthony Gatto. Dyslexic from a young age, it taught him to never stop working hard.
Patrick Dempsey – Now
Of course, when he gave up on the juggling ‘dream’, along came TV superstardom to keep him warm. He is best known for playing Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy for more than a decade, and then for his Hollywood movies, including Enchanted, Bridget Jones, and Sweet Home Alabama. He is also a huge fan of motor racing, owning cars, racing them, and basically treating them like surrogate children, which is rumored to have cost him his part as Doctor McDreamy.
Halle Berry – Then
Halle Berry did not have the easiest start to life, struggling with her biracial background in Cleveland Ohio, as her mother was white, and her black father abandoned them both when she was young. She was educated in a white school, but knew that she was seen as black, so decided to embrace that. She was driven to work even harder to succeed, and is now worth more than $70 million, and is an Oscar winning actress to boot.
Halle Berry – Now
For her part in Monsters Ball, Halle Berry is still the only woman of color to ever win the Academy Award for Best Actress. She is widely known as a brilliant actress, working on both TV and movies, and even finding time to be a spokeswoman for Revlon! She has been married three times, and has both a son and a daughter, but is currently single as far as we know. She is a role model and an icon for women everywhere.
Tom Cruise – Then
Born into a family with an abusive father, Cruise looks back on that time with sadness. My father “was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life—how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang! For me, it was like, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy. Don’t trust him. Be careful around him.'” He also struggled with Dyslexia, and had to work hard on the audition circuit to get noticed.
Tom Cruise – Now
Nowadays, no one has trouble recognizing Tom Cruise, and he is responsible for one of the most famous movie franchises of all time, Mission Impossible. He is also known for roles in movies such as Vanilla Sky, Jerry Maguire and Minority Report. He is one of the highest paid actors of all time, and is also famous for his affiliation to the religion, Scientology, like friend and actor John Travolta. He says Scientology helped him with his Dyslexia, but the world has remained sceptical.
Jay Z – Then
Born Shawn Carter, it was probably a far off dream that he could ever make it out of his neighbourhood as a kid, growing up with a single mom, and once shooting his own brother in the shoulder. He admits that he even spent time dealing crack, and even says it helped him make a career for himself. “I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up.”
Jay Z – Now
Jay Z is not just the second highest earning hip hop artist in the U.S, but he also has a clothing line, is a sports agent, and has numerous other business holdings. He is married to Beyonce, and together they are a billionaire couple, with three children. He was ranked by MTV as the Greatest MC of all time, and has sold more than 100 million records. He is also critically acclaimed, with 21 Grammy awards, a huge number.
Victoria Beckham – Then
It’s hard to imagine Posh Spice as anything other than rich and put together, but there was a time before the Spice Girls! Although her family always had money (Victoria would beg her father not to drop her at school in the Rolls Royce for fear of embarrassment), she still had to pay her dues in the entertainment industry. She even had a role in the BBC Education show, Body Matters, as a sperm on roller skates!
Victoria Beckham – Now
Who knows what life would have been like for VB if she hadn’t met and married David Beckham. The couple have four kids together, and Victoria is now a fashion brand in herself, with clothes, perfumes, make up and more, as well as being a media personality, and of course, a wife and a mother. They have a huge celebrity following, as well as an enormous wealth that puts them not far off being billionaires!
Johnny Depp – Then
It might seem surprising now, but Johnny Depp was dead set on becoming a musician, from the age of 12 when he got his first guitar. He even dropped out of high school to work on his band, which was called The Kids. When he got married to Lori Anne Allison, she introduced him to Nicolas Cage, who suggested he give up his odd-job life which included being a pen salesman over the phone, and give acting a try. Thanks Nicolas, from all of us.
Johnny Depp – Now
Of course, everyone knows how life turned out for Johnny Depp, as he is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. His films include Edward Scissorhands, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Alice in Wonderland. He has grossed more than $3.2 billion at the US box office, making him one of the most successful actors of all time. He is known for playing weird and unusual roles, and stealing the show.
Kanye West – Then
Kanye’s parents wanted a college education for him, and as he was a straight A and B student, this was well within his reach. Unfortunately, Kanye had other plans, focusing on his music was more important. His mom later changed her mind, saying “It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life… but some career goals don’t require college. For Kanye to make an album called College Dropout it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you.”
Kanye West – Now
Kanye West was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world two decades running, and as one of the most famous rappers of our generation, it’s not surprising. He has sold over 32 million albums as well as managing more than 100 million digital downloads. He also has an incredible 21 Grammy awards to his name. In his personal life, married to Kim Kardashian he is also often in the spotlight.
Nikki Minaj – Then
Nikki Minaj had a rough start to life, born as Onika Minaj, living in Trinidad and Tobago, and then moving to Queens. Her father was a drug addict, once even trying to burn down the family home with her mother inside. Yikes. Minaj had hoped to be an actress, but she couldn’t make it work, so took on job after job which was going nowhere, feeling lost and like she was never going to make anything of her life.
Nikki Minaj – Now
Worth an astonishing $70 million, Nikki Minaj is now a hip-hop star that the whole world knows of, light years away from the upbringing she had to face. She is also known for judging on the hit reality TV show, The X Factor, and her celebrity feuds with other artists such as Iggy Azalea! She has come under fire for her dramatic changes to her body with cosmetic surgery, such as lightening her skin drastically. She is also a fan of new looks with her hair and style.
Dwayne Johnson – Then
If you knew Dwayne Johnson back in the day, you would be forgiven for thinking he would never make anything of his life. He moved around a lot as a kid, between New Zealand and the US, and his family were eventually evicted from their home. Johnson made money by thieving from local stores and even tourists. Even his football career was cut short, and if it wasn’t for his success in wrestling, who knows what would have happened.
Dwayne Johnson – Now
Going under the name ‘The Rock’, Dwayne Johnson is one of the most famous wrestlers in the world, and he leveraged this to make a career in the movies too! An actor and a wrestler, he has a crazy fortune of $65 million, and is married to the beautiful Lauren Hashian, with whom he has two kids. It must seem like a distant memory when he thinks about his early years in Hayward California, and his pre-wresting struggles.