May 20, 2023 at 3:52 am

Celebrities Who Grew up Wealthy and Others Who Are Completely Self-Made

by Matthew Gilligan

Hollywood is a tough place to succeed no matter how you look at it, but there’s no denying that some celebrities have a bit of an advantage if they grew up with money and connections.

But, just like a movie script, there are also plenty of stories of celebs who are self-made and managed to hit it big in Tinseltown despite their humble beginnings.

Here are some examples of famous folks who grew up wealthy and ones who came from modest origins.

Take a look! You might be surprised!

Hilary Swank

The actress has had a long career in movies and TV and she’s won two Oscars. But Swank came from extremely humble beginnings and she grew up in a trailer park in Washington.

Swank said, “I had a roof over my head and I had food, and so it wasn’t that being poor and having those experiences was a negative. The negative part of it was learning about class at such a young age, not from my friends, but from my friend’s parents, who would say, ‘You aren’t to hang out with her.’ At 6 years old, to have a parent say, ‘You’re not welcome in our home, you need to go.'”


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Nicki Minaj

Minaj was born in Trinidad and her family moved to New York when she was 5-years-old.

The family struggled and Minaj said her mother would sometimes rent out their home to be able to pay the bills and she and her family would live in their basement.

The singer said, “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.”

It looks like those prayers were answered.


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Leighton Meester

Meester shot to fame on the TV series Gossip Girl but her path to stardom wasn’t easy.

The actress was born while her mother was serving a prison sentence for drug trafficking and she lived with her grandmother until her mother was released.

She said that she took acting classes with adults when she was young because she couldn’t relate to people her own age.

Meester said, “‘Jimmy doesn’t like me!’ Who cares? I was worried we didn’t have gas money or food. Those were my concerns.”


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Sarah Jessica Parker

Parker is known for her glamorous role on S** and the City, but her roots are about as far away from that character as a person could get. Parker grew up in a family of eight children and they received welfare.

She said, “I remember being poor. 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.'”


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Selena Gomez

The actress and singer’s mother gave birth to her when she was only 16-years-old and Gomez was raised by her single mother after her parents divorced when she was 5.

Gomez said about growing up, “I remember my mom would run out of gas all of the time, and we’d sit there and have to go through the car and get quarters and help her get gas.”


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Bradley Cooper

Cooper is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood these days and he’s best known for his roles in A Star is Born, American Sniper, and The Hangover.

Cooper’s father was a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch and his mother worked for NBC and he attended Germantown Academy, an elite school near Philadelphia.

Emma Stone

Stone has had a prolific career in Hollywood and she’s been a star since she was a teenager, appearing in such hit films as Superbad, La La Land, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Growing up, her father was the CEO and President of commercial construction companies that brought in hundreds of millions of dollars.


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Jonah Hill

Jonah Hill has carved out quite a career in Hollywood as an actor, writer, and director.

Hill grew up in Los Angeles, where his mother was a costume designer and fashion stylist, and his father was an accountant for the legendary rock band Guns N’ Roses.


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Anderson Cooper

A fixture of nightly cable news for years, Cooper is the son of actress/fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt and Wyatt Emory Cooper, an author and screenwriter.

The Vanderbilt family is an iconic name in American business and Cooper’s great-great-great grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt was one of the richest people in our nation’s history.


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Ariana Grande

The popular singer grew up wealthy in Florida. Her mother was the CEO of a communications company and her father was the founder of a graphic design firm.

Her parents had season tickets to the Florida Panthers hockey team and she sang the national anthem before a Panthers game when she was only 8-years-old.


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Gwyneth Paltrow

Paltrow was born into the world of show business. Her mother is actress Blythe Danner and her father, Bruce Paltrow, was a director and producer in TV and film.

Paltrow attended prestigious private schools in Los Angeles and New York City while growing up.

Oh, and her godfather is none other than Steven Spielberg.


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