It's no surprise that Hollywood's A-list lives a life of ease and luxury. With celebrities basking in their wealth and notoriety, it's easy to wonder if their lives were always filled with such carefree bliss or if they've had some hidden help along the way.
It turns out, a lot of our favorite celebs have had to climb the fame ladder all on their own, overcoming massive obstacles through persistence, talent, and truly a lot of hard work.
While some stars indeed did create wealth out of nothing, others certainly had some help from their already-famous parents. While talent definitely matters, a position of privilege can also help open doors and aid in shaking the right hands.
Recently, Kylie Jenner earned the title of Forbes's youngest "self-made" billionaire. With fans questioning that title and what it really means, we've decided to do some digging and see which celebs actually have a true rags to riches story—and which ones may have had some help from their already-famous parents.
Read on to see who used their tragic past to help grow their resumes, who had to dig around for money, and which up-and-coming stars have rubbed elbows with Hollywood icons since the very beginning.
20 Leighton Meester's Upbringing Was Nowhere Close To Blair Waldorf's
Leighton Meester definitely didn't have the same childhood as her Gossip Girl character, Blair Waldorf. In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, the actress opened up about her less-than-typical upbringing. Born while her mother was serving time behind bars, Meester knows her family comes from a "crazy history." Explaining that she related more to adults than children her own age, the Gossip Girl star remembers that she had bigger concerns such as gas money or food instead of whether or not a boy in her grade liked her.
According to the Huffington Post, the to-be starlet began modeling at the age of 10, then signed with an agent and moved from Florida to New York City.
19 Lady Gaga Started Off Performing In Burlesque Clubs
It's a crazy thought to think about Lady Gaga in any other light other than her luxurious life of fame. It turns out, The Fame Monster artist had much more humble beginnings. As per Yahoo Entertainment, the pop star was born in Manhattan and immediately took to the piano at the age of four.
Her parents pushed her to train on classical piano, and by 14 her mother was already taking her to play at jazz clubs. As Lady Gaga explained, “They would have open mic nights, so my mother would take me along and say, ‘My daughter’s very young, but she’s very talented.’”
18 Beyonce's Parents Managed Her When She Started Singing, But She Still Reached Success On Her Own
We all know that Beyoncé started off as a founding member of Destiny's Child, selling millions of records before even embarking on her highly successful solo run. As per Business Insider, Beyoncé was an entrepreneur from the start and always working towards making money. From sweeping the floor from her mother's hair salon to charging admission to shows she would put on with her sister, Solange, Queen Bey was always business savvy.
She would enter her first talent show at the young age of seven, and by the early '90s, she formed the girl group Gyrls Tyme with future Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson, and cousin Kelly Rowland.
17 Sarah Jessica Parker Never Had A Carrie Bradshaw-Sized Closet Growing Up
Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker definitely wasn't able to afford what her character, Carrie Bradshaw, could in her youth. Opening up to The New York Times, the actress described her rags to riches story, explaining that she was on welfare as a child. ''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.'"
The A-lister's time came at 14 when she played the lead in the Broadway production of Annie.
16 Leonardo DiCaprio Is Definitely A Self-Made Wolf Of Wall Street
Although he plays a man surrounded by wealth and excess in Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio grew up on the opposite end of the spectrum, in poverty. The actor opened up in an interview with Los Angeles Times where he explained that he spent the first nine years of his life in a gritty Hollywood neighborhood.
Begging his mother to take him to acting auditions as a boy as a means to escape public school, DiCaprio's fantastic work ethic obviously paid off. He thanks his past for shaping who he is, too. Because of being surrounded by such extremes as a child, he says that the dark side of Hollywood has never tempted him.
15 Tom Cruise Was An Orphan At Age Twelve
Unlike some celebrities who have help from their parents, Tom Cruise, unfortunately, had both of his abandon him as a youth. According to The Daily Mail, the actor had dyslexia as a child and dealt with bullying by his peers. His home life wasn't much better, as his dad wasn't a caring parent. Becoming a problem child in his teens, his mother then asked him to leave her house. Shortly after, the Top Gun star would drop his former surname, Mapother, and would pursue his true calling—acting.
With only a guitar and a duffle bag filled with some of his possessions, Cruise then moved into his manager's Manhattan apartment after signing with her.
14 Jennifer Lopez Really Was Jenny From The Block
Bronx-native Jennifer Lopez really was Jenny from the Block growing up. According to Daily News, her dad worked nights while her mom also worked at her school. Lopez butted heads with her mother since she didn't want to go to college. Instead, she wanted to dance full time. Moving out of her parents' home at 18, the future Idol judge was homeless, spending her nights sleeping in her dance studio.
Thankfully, only within a year, the now-triple-threat landed a spot as a Fly Girl on In Living Color. Now, she's added being a singer, actress, and fashion entrepreneur all on her constantly-growing resume.
13 J.K. Rowling's Hard Past Helped Shape 'Harry Potter'
It turns out, the magical and elaborate world of Harry Potter came from a rags-to-riches story. Since she was a child, Joanne Rowling—now better known by her pen name, J.K. Rowling—always knew she'd be a writer. According to Business Insider, her family life was difficult, with everyone dealing with her mother's 10-year battle with multiple sclerosis.
Six months after she began writing the first Harry Potter book in 1991, her mother passed away. Rowling cites this time as the most traumatic in her life, with her mom never knowing she was writing the book. This tragedy eventually led her to make Harry Potter suffer the loss of his parents.
12 Halle Berry's Parents Refused To Help Her When She Ran Out Of Money
Now a sought-after actress in Hollywood, the road to fame wasn't always so easy for Halle Berry. According to Hello, the actress spoke to People magazine about her move to New York City when she first started acting at 21, which resulted in living in a homeless shelter. "I took my modeling money, and I thought, 'Oh, I've got some cash!' When you get to New York…three months later I was out of my cash and I called my mother and I asked her to send me some money and she said no."
She then goes on to explain that it was one of the best things that could have happened to her since it taught her to figure things out on her own.
11 Justin Bieber Was Discovered Thanks To YouTube
Before he became the A-list troublemaker-meets-hitmaker, Justin Bieber definitely came from humble beginnings and an entrepreneurial spirit. According to TechCrunch, Bieber grew up in a single parent home with his mother in Stratford, Ontario, being drawn to music at a young age.
Beginning to post videos of himself singing on YouTube, the Sorry crooner was eventually discovered by talent manager Scooter Braun, who paid to have him fly out to Atlanta to have a meeting with Usher. With Usher deciding to back him from the start, Bieber got his start. The Biebs has viewed Usher as a personal mentor ever since.
10 Jim Carrey's Family Lived In A Van
Although Jim Carrey enjoyed a small-town life in Newmarket, Ontario with his family during his adolescence, they were hit with tragedy when he was just 13 years old. His father lost his accounting job, and with that, the family lost their home. According to Poplyft, the whole family moved into a Volkswagen camper van, with Carrey turning to comedy as a means to escape and generate income for his home.
At 15, he tried his first stand-up set, wearing a yellow suit made by his mother. Although the routine wasn't received well, Carrey was persistent, determined to sharpen his wit and try again. Remarkably, only a year later, Carrey quit school and began supporting his entire family with comedy.
9 Joaquin Phoenix's Family Left A Cult To Start A New Life
Joaquin Phoenix definitely had much more of an alternative childhood than most with his siblings—the late River Phoenix, Rain, Liberty, and Summer. According to Us Weekly, he opened up and shared his experience. "My parents had a religious experience and felt strongly about it. Cults rarely advertise themselves as such. It’s usually someone saying, 'We’re like-minded people. This is a community,' but I think the moment my parents realized there was something more to it, they got out."
Escaping the bizarre lifestyle that surrounded the first half of his life, the family moved to California and changed the family's last name from Bottom to Phoenix. At age six, Phoenix was signed to a talent agency, and so began his life in showbiz.
8 Selena Gomez Had To Scavenge For Gas Money To Help Her Mom
Pop sensation Selena Gomez didn't have a childhood of glamour as some of her former fellow Disney starlets. As per Hollywood Life, the singer dished about her childhood in her own E! Entertainment Special, which was far from glitzy.
Growing up in Grand Prairie, Texas, she explained, “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." Somehow, her mother would always make sure she had enough food, and truly taught her the value of money from an early age.
7 Cardi B Didn't Have Much Growing Up And Danced To Make Her Way
Cardi B has always been candid about her start as a dancer as a means to get by. According to Money, Cardi grew up in Highbridge, a neighborhood of South Bronx, with her parents splitting while she was a preteen. At 19, she started dancing after getting fired from her cashier job, working her way up from clubs in the Bronx to more high-paying spots in Manhattan.
At the same time, her hilarious Vine and IG videos made her an internet celebrity, boosting her status as an influencer. From then on, she had a brief stint with reality TV on VH1’s hit, Love & Hip Hop: New York before finally transitioning into music.
6 Shia LaBeouf's Parents Were Both Artists That Never Found Their Voices
It's no wonder Shia LaBeouf is as creative as he is—he grew up in a family of artists. According to Parade, the actor admitted to growing up in a family of starving artists. “My dad and my mom were both artists who never found an audience for their artwork. And so I lived in poverty. I look back at that stuff and I’m grateful. It’s like scars. You become proud of them.”
With his family separating when he was young, he took to do doing stand-up at the age of ten as a means to make money to support his parents.
5 Kylie Jenner May Be A Self-Made Billionaire But Definitely Had Help From Her Parents
Recently named "The Youngest Self-Made Billionaire Ever" by Forbes magazine, Kylie Jenner's fans have been shaking their heads wondering if the above statement is actually true. Coming from a family that catapulted her to fame, Jenner grew up in the spotlight, having a regular role amongst her Kardashian-Jenner clan on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
While she certainly did work for her success and showcased a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial skill with her cosmetics empire, it's tough to consider it "self-made," when Jenner did, in fact, have the support of her family's name to back her—not to mention her reserves of cash from the reality show.
4 Angelina Jolie Grew Up In The Movie Industry Because Of Her Famous Father
While she's known as one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood, Angelina Jolie's success amongst the A-list definitely had some help since she grew up in the film industry. Her father is Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, known for his roles in Anaconda and Midnight Cowboy. Just like her father, Jolie has also won an Oscar, but it's her titular role in Lara Croft that catapulted her into the fame she has today.
Since honing her acting skills, the Maleficent star has turned to direct, as well, with 2011's In the Land of Blood and Honey, simply adding more and more skills to her ever-growing resume.
3 Miley Cyrus Certainly Had A Helping Hand From Billy Ray
While some of her former Disney costars truly did come from rags-to-riches, Miley Cyrus had a little bit of help getting there with her singer-songwriter father, Billy Ray Cyrus. According to Hollywood Reporter, Cyrus first auditioned for her role in Hannah Montana at the young age of 11. With her father acting in the show as well, the teen was suddenly catapulted into success, mirroring her title character in real life.
While navigating the waters of fame has gotten Cyrus in a lot of trouble over the years, her dad has always stood by her, to this day. According to The New Yorker, the former crooner gushed about his daughter, “Miley is always speaking her truth and being herself."
2 When Liv Tyler Found Out Steven Tyler Was Her Dad, Her Work Took Off
Actress Liv Tyler positively had help from her rock legend father, Steven Tyler, but not right away. As per Hello, the star found out the Aerosmith frontman was her dad when she was around eight years old. Tyler calls the moment she found out very emotional. "My mother was very young when she had me and there was a little bit of confusion about where I came from but I was very loved and very well taken care of by all my family, which was wonderful."
Shortly after finding out about her celebrity father, Tyler got her start as a model before transitioning into her now-thriving acting profession.
1 Jaden And Willow Smith Definitely Had It Easier Thanks To The Fresh Prince
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alumn Will Smith and actress Jada Pinkett Smith are parents to Jaden and Willow Smith, using their star power to help their children into the limelight, too. Jaden, the older of the two, made his on-screen debut starring alongside his dad in The Pursuit of Happyness at age six, while Willow became a singing sensation at nine with her hit "Whip My Hair" in 2010.
Clearly, getting help from their celebrity parents has helped the children, as Jaden has now added rapper, songwriter, and dancer to his roster of talents, while Willow has also turned to acting, as well.
Sources: Marie Claire, Huffington Post, Yahoo Entertainment, Business Insider, The New York Times, The Daily Mail, Us Weekly