Kat Von D
photo: Splash

When we think about our favorite celebrities, it's easy to get caught up in all their financial achievements and forget many of them started out with nothing but a dream. 

For these 10 celebrities, fame and fortune were far out of their reach before they made their own way. With perseverance and a little bit of luck, they've managed to escape their impoverished pasts. 


Nicki Minaj moved to Queens from Trinidad when she was five and grew up in Southside Jamaica Queens, NY.

She didn't come from much and once told Rolling Stone she used to "go in my room and 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."


Now he's an Oscar-winning, in-demand actor, but when he was a kid, Leonardo DiCaprio lived in some pretty rough conditions.

I grew up very poor," DiCaprio revealed to Metro. Adding that there was "crime and violence everywhere" and even "a major prostitution ring on my street corner."


Selena Gomez's parents divorced when she was just five years old. Her mother took on three different jobs to support her daughter, but still faced many hurdles.

“I can remember about seven times when our car got stuck on the highway because we’d run out of gas money,” she told Elle in 2012. Still her mother worked hard to make sure her daughter had great experiences. “She saved up to take me to concerts. She took me to museums, aquariums, to teach me about the world, about what’s real."


Viola Davis had a childhood where she constantly in danger of going without food.

"Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where their next meal was coming from," Davis shared at Variety's 2014 Power of Women gala

"And I did everything to get food. I've stolen for food. I jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food," she continued. "I had befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame."


Jennifer Lopez had incredibly humble beginnings growing up in the South Bronx, New York.

Both her parents worked hard to provide for their family, still she grew up in extremely modest conditions and used to share a bed with her two other sisters until she was 16. There was a moment in Lopez's life where, at 18, she found herself homeless. However, her stint of homelessness had nothing to do with money, and was caused by a riff between her and her mother over Lopez choosing to not go to college. 


Sarah Jessica Parker came from a poor, large family that was always scrambling to get by.

''We were on welfare," she told The New York Times. "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.' And we were all old enough to either get the calls, or watch my mother's reactions or watch my parents shuffling the money around.''


When Bella Thorne was just nine years old, her father died in a motorcycle accident, leaving her mom and three siblings in a rough spot, emotionally and financially.

During that time her family survived on food stamps. "I don't think anybody really knew — it wasn't a very obvious thing," she told Seventeen. "I've never really talked about it. I wasn't hiding it, and it wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm embarrassed because we don't have money.' It was, 'Oh, we don't have money, so we're going to work that much harder.' It was scary, though, because you really want those jobs. It's a different hunger when you want your family to eat."


Eva Longoria grew up with her parents trying to make the most of their less than luxurious lifestyle.

Longoria grew up with three sisters and revealed on the Oprah Winfrey Show that her parents made a lot of sacrifices to always provide for their daughters. Their efforts paid off. "I never knew we were that poor," Longoria recalled. "Because [we] grew up with a lot of love and my family's really close."


Rosario Dawson experienced hardships that many of us can't relate to.

She was born to a single teenage mother and "grew up in poverty. We moved to Manhattan when I was 5, but we lived in a slumlord apartment, so we moved to a squat in the Lower East Side," she detailed to The Columbus Dispatch.

“We had cast-iron stoves, plastic for windows and plywood for a door. You had to bring buckets upstairs to shower. It was quite an experience being so poor. But it was also a powerful experience."


Growing up in Mexico, Kat Von D, had anything but a luxurious life.

Her father was a missionary doctor and life was rather basic in their small Mexican pueblo. "We didn't have electricity or running water for a long time," she told Popsugar. And, in fact, one of my favorite photos from our family album is one of me taking a bath in a plastic bucket! Let's put it this way, in this town, you were more likely to see a horse than you would a car."