10 Celebrities Who Rose To Fame In Spite Of Difficult Childhoods

halle berry smiling as she sits in a chair and mark wahlberg smiling and posing with his son in a kitchen with birthday decorations

When we hear about the accomplishments of popular celebrities, it’s easy to forget that there was a time before they were successful.

What’s even more surprising, though, is how many of them had to overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles to get to where they are today. To get a better idea of what we mean, we’ve put together a list of celebs who, despite all the odds, persevered!

1. Ashley Judd.

Before her mom, Naomi Judd, was a successful country singer, the Judd family struggled financially, often having to go without electricity or indoor plumbing. Then, when her mom’s career took off, new problems arose.

While mom was on tour, Judd was left alone for long periods of time. These struggles led to depression, something this successful actress has been able to work through in therapy.

2. Halle Berry.

The actress’ dad left her family when she was just 4 years old, but, before that happened, she witnessed him abuse her mom regularly.

When he left, the rest of her family moved to an all-white neighborhood where she experienced racial discrimination, especially in school.

After graduating, Berry moved to New York City to pursue acting. She had to stay in a homeless shelter until she could afford housing, but soon after, the start of her successful career began.

3. Jim Carrey.

Growing up, Carrey’s family frequently experienced financial troubles — at 16 years old, he had to drop out of school in order to get a job. But things took an even worse turn when his dad, who was an accountant, lost his job. Suddenly Carrey, his four siblings, and their parents were homeless and living in a van.

Despite the lows in his life, Carrey says those were the moments that helped shape his humor, a quality he was able to turn into quite a successful career.

4. Drew Barrymore.

This beloved actress comes from a long line of actors, but her life growing up was anything but glamorous. Her parents were distant, and when she did see her mom, it was often at the parties she’d take Barrymore to at just 8 years old.

By the time she was 14, Barrymore was admitted into rehab for substance abuse. Once she was released, she began living independently from her parents and has since been able to overcome her addictions.

5. Hilary Swank.

Although Swank went from not being able to hang out with friends because their parents said she was “too poor” to dealing with her brother moving out as a teen, her mom has always had her back. After her parents got a divorce, she even had them move to a trailer park in California so she could pursue her acting career.

Needless to say, it paid off!

6. Mark Wahlbergh.

The youngest of nine siblings, Wahlberg grew up in an unstable home.

After his parents divorced and he dropped out of school at 14 years old, he got caught up in a world of violence, stealing, and substance abuse.

Over time, though, he was able to turn his life around. Now, he’s married with four kids!

7. Christina Aguilera.

Between frequent moves as the daughter of a U.S. Army sergeant and dealing with an aggressive dad, Aguilera didn’t have a safe space to call her home. Thankfully, Aguilera, her sister, and her mom were able to escape when she was just 6 years old. Through all of these hardships, she always relied on music as a way to cope.

8. Oprah.

Before she became a world-wide megastar, Oprah was a poor little girl who wore potato sacks as dresses to school and grew up in a dangerous neighborhood. At just 14 years old, she gave birth to a baby who passed away soon after.

It seemed like her struggles would never end when she had to get a job in high school, but this was just the first step that would lead her to where she is today.

9. Charlize Theron.

Growing up on a farm in South Africa was nice in a lot of ways, but having an alcoholic father with anger issues made Theron’s childhood difficult. At just 15 years old, she witnessed her mom fatally wound her dad, something she was unable to process for years.

But with the help of therapy, Theron was able to process her trauma and turn over a new leaf for herself in both her personal and professional life.

10. Misha Collins.

At one point, Collins would have described his childhood as adventurous. But now that he’s an adult with his own kids, he realizes that, although frequently traveling with his mom and brother was fun sometimes, they were often doing so because they were homeless.

Through it all, his mom did her best to provide them with positive experiences, especially through food. And that’s something he passes on to his own children.

Celebrities might not always be the most relatable people due to their fame and wealth, but at the end of the day, they’re still human just like the rest of us. And the ones who survived traumatic childhoods serve as a great reminder that we’re capable of so much more than we think, no matter where we come from or what we go through.

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