15 Celebrities Who Went From Rags to Riches

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From athletics and entertainment to movies and music, the celebrity world is filled with rags-to-riches stories. Although many superstars are born into wealth and luxury, some celebrities who grew up poor went on to achieve more than others in the industry. Click through, and get inspired by these celebrity success stories.

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Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis has publicly vowed she and her husband, fellow actor and A-lister Ashton Kutcher, will not raise entitled children. That's because she grew up poor.

An immigrant born in Ukraine, Kunis' family fled to America as the Soviet Union collapsed. In a 2016 interview with the Daily Mail, Kunis recalled eating "ketchup soup" as a kid when food was scarce.

And in a 2012 interview with Metro UK, Kunis insisted she "acted her way out of poverty," starting with a starring role on "That 70s Show" — alongside Kutcher — when she was just 14 years old. She now has a net worth of $45 million, making her one of the richest celebrity immigrants.

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Dolly Parton

Arguably one of the biggest names in country music, Dolly Parton has a net worth of $500 million — but it wasn't always that way. Parton grew up in poverty. In fact, one of her best-known songs is "Coat of Many Colors," which chronicles her early life as one of 12 siblings in the rural mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Appalachian poverty forced Parton to grow up in a house without running water, gas or electricity. She and her siblings slept on beds made of straw.

But by age 12, Parton appeared on local television and the rest is history. Parton’s achievements include eight Grammy awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Country Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award and more.

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J.K. Rowling

Born in Gloucestershire, England, J.K. Rowling was raising a daughter with the help of public assistance when she wrote "Harry Potter" in 1994. Reflecting on life before literary super-stardom, Rowling said in a 2013 interview with Daily Mail that she was "as poor as it's possible to be."

In 2017, Rowling earned about $95 million, which gave her the title of world's highest-paid author and third highest-paid celebrity across all categories in the entire world, according to Forbes. That's actually a step down from 2008 when she shocked the world by pulling in $300 million in one year. Today, she has a net worth of $1 billion thanks to the $25 billion "Harry Potter" franchise.

Learn More: How J.K. Rowling Rose to Fame and Fortune

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Ralph Lauren

Fashion icon Ralph Lauren has a net worth of $5.5 billion (according to Forbes) and retains control over the Ralph Lauren brand, worth $7.4 billion. And, his car collection is believed to be the most expensive in the world.

Lauren was born Ralph Lipschitz, the Bronx-born son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He changed his name because of the relentless bullying he believed the name attracted. He traces his creativity to his early fascination with movies, which served as the only escape from his family's poverty.

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Eminem's nearly 20-year career has stoked controversy, endeared legions of fans, outraged an equal number of critics, bridged racial divides and earned the rapper a net worth of $190 million. With more than 14.43 million units sold, The Marshall Mathers LP 1 & 2 is history's best-selling rap album collection, with the first album alone selling more units than the next nine best-selling collections.

Eminem is a self-made man. Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, he was raised in the poor and racially charged area along 8 Mile Road, Detroit's symbolic poverty dividing line.

"I would change schools two, three times a year," the rapper told Anderson Cooper in a 2011 interview while reflecting on how his unstable home life affected his education. "I got beat up in the bathroom, beat up in the hallways, shoved into lockers; for the most part, just for being the new kid." Eminem dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed a poor vagabond in "Titanic" and a master of the financial universe in "The Wolf of Wall Street." In real life, he's lived both sides of the coin. The highest-paid male Oscar nominee in 2016, DiCaprio has a net worth of $245 million.

In 2014, DiCaprio reminisced to the Los Angeles Times about growing up in a seedy L.A. neighborhood that was home to open-air drug and prostitution markets. He traces his love of acting to surviving a beating on his first day of public school after winning a scholarship to a private elementary school.

Of his success, he told the Times, "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."

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Jay Z

On the list of top-earning hip-hop stars in 2017, Jay Z came in second behind Diddy. With a net worth of $810 million, Shawn "Jay Z" Carter is creeping toward a spot in the billionaire's club. His empire includes not just music, but clothing, sports gear, spirits and several startups, including a music platform recently valued at 10 times what he paid for it just two years before. That financial success pushed Jay Z past even Dr. Dre in the world of rap's wealthiest players.

Jay Z’s rhymes, which often depict life on the mean streets of the inner city, are frequently autobiographical. Raised in a Brooklyn public housing project, Jay Z admitted in a 2013 Vanity Fair interview he sold crack to escape the trap of poverty. He admitted to feeling guilty later. However, at the time, it was just about getting by.

"I was thinking about surviving," he said. "I was thinking about improving my situation. I was thinking about buying clothes."

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Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker once described her childhood as Dickensian. She recalled in a 2000 interview with the New York Times what life was like growing up on welfare and suffering the daily humiliation and stigma associated with receiving free lunch at school and basic utilities being turned off in her family's home.

Proof Celebrities Are Just Like Us: 22 Rich People Who Live Like the Average Joe

"I remember being poor," Parker told the 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 said, 'We're shutting your phones off.'"

A star of both the big and small screens, the "Sex and the City" celebrity managed to escape her past. Parker now has a net worth of $90 million.

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Mike Tyson

In 1986, boxing history was made and a legend was born when the man who would go on to become the world's most feared fighter was crowned the youngest heavyweight champion in sport's history. Although Mike Tyson’s life unraveled after losing the belt four years later, he rebounded and is now worth $3 million.

Tyson not only fought his way to super-stardom, but also his way out of crushing poverty. Like so many poor kids before him, Tyson turned to boxing as an escape from the crime, violence and dysfunction that surrounded his life in Brownsville, Brooklyn, until he was discovered and adopted by legendary trainer Cus D'Amato.

In a 2015 interview with the Hudson Union Society, Tyson reflected on the realities of his poverty-stricken neighborhood. "Nobody was above killing anyone there," he said in the interview. "It was poverty-stricken, drug-infested, gang-infested ... I got involved with the negative entities there ... I'd been arrested almost 40 times by the time I was 12 years old."

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Celine Dion

Canadian singer Celine Dion remains relevant, with a career that has lasted decades. She earned $42 million in 2017, mostly from a Las Vegas artist residency that has netted her $350 million since it debuted in 2003. The global superstar's net worth is estimated at $800 million.

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One of 14 children in a poor Quebec family, Dion started out singing in her parents' bar. While still a minor, she was discovered by a famed French-speaking singer.

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Shia LaBeouf

In a 2009 interview with Parade, Shia LaBeouf openly discussed growing up with his "starving artist" parents who were too poor to pull the family out of poverty. LaBeouf sought escape and money by starting a stand-up comedy career at 10 years old, which put him on the path to show business stardom.

“My dad and my mom were both artists who never found an audience for their artwork," he said in the interview. "And so I lived in poverty. Now that I’m not poor, I know that is what it was. Like Hemingway said, you can’t write anything if you’ve never been shot at or been gored by a bull, you know? So I look back at that stuff and I’m grateful. It’s like scars. You become proud of them.”

To date, LaBeouf’s movies have earned more than $5.02 billion worldwide, garnering him a net worth of $25 million.

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Hilary Swank

Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank has won Academy Awards for her roles in "Million Dollar Baby" and "Boys Don't Cry." Her career, which dates back to television appearances in the early 1990s, has earned her a net worth of $40 million.

Swank grew up, however, in a trailer park in Washington state, where her family suffered from poverty and financial insecurity. Her experiences have shaped her career, which has included portrayals of women struggling through poverty and stigmatization.

In a 2011 interview with Daily Mail, Swank explained that poverty can breed resourcefulness. "Growing up in a lower-income family, you don’t have the resources to make ends meet and you have to find creative ways to get by," she said. "That infuses your character with a lot of drive and determination."

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Jennifer Lopez

"I used to have a little, now I have a lot" is one of Jennifer Lopez's most famous lyrics, and the line from "Jenny From the Block" encapsulates J.Lo's life. A dancer, pop star, actress and model, Lopez was born to struggling Puerto Rican parents in the tough Castle Hill section of the Bronx. According to a 2013 interview with Daily Mail, watching her parents struggle instilled in Lopez the value of hard work.

"I watched my parents," she said. "My dad worked nights, and I was aware of how much he was doing for us. My mom was a Tupperware lady and also worked at the school. I always felt that I couldn’t let them down. And I had a natural discipline from early on. I was always training for something."

After studying dance at an early age, she got her big break as a Fly Girl dancer on the Fox hit "In Living Color." Her net worth currently stands at $360 million.

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Miranda Lambert

Country superstar Miranda Lambert earned $18 million in 2016 alone, which is $10 million less than she earned the year before. Lambert's notoriously frenzied touring schedule has earned her a net worth of $45 million.

Lambert, however, comes from humble roots. Her parents' business was a casualty of the 1980s Texas oil bust, and Lambert was briefly homeless during her childhood until she moved in with her uncle. Nonetheless, the experience taught Lambert self-reliance.

"I learned how to do chores because you have to carry your weight," Lambert told Country Fancast.

More on Miranda: See Miranda Lambert's Rise to Riches

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Tom Cruise

Few actors have ascended higher on Hollywood's A-list than Tom Cruise, whose movies have earned nearly $9.2 billion worldwide. From "Rain Man" and "Top Gun" to "Risky Business" and the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, Cruise's blockbuster career has earned him a net worth of $550 million.

Although Cruise enjoyed financial success in his adult years, he grew up in a poor, dysfunctional household where he has described being tormented by a violent, abusive father. His mother left with nothing to get away from his father when Cruise was only 12 years old.

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Oprah Winfrey

It's impossible to have a discussion about rags-to-riches stories without mentioning Oprah Winfrey. Arguably the most recognizable woman in the world, Oprah boasts a net worth of $3.1 billion and the status of an entrepreneur who changed daytime television forever. She has launched countless careers and endeared herself to millions of adoring fans.

Despite such achievement, Oprah grew up in severe poverty in rural Mississippi. Raised without indoor plumbing, she suffered physical and sexual violence until she began working for a local radio station after high school, a job that launched her passion for media.

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Net worth figures are according to CelebrityNetWorth.com unless otherwise noted.