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Celebrity Rags to Riches  was originally published on

1. Viola Davis

Viola Davis

Davis said she grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, in poverty and the family struggled to find enough food to eat.

2. Tasha Smith

Tasha Smith

Smith grew up in a poor area, dropped out of high school, turned to drugs but coped by having a sense of humor and a dream.

3. Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

Perry grew up in poverty in NOLA & struck it rich with his straight-talking, advice-pushing, but funny character Madea.

4. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Island and in near poverty but sang herself to riches.

5. Celine Dion

Celine Dion

She was the youngest of 14 children. She was raised a Roman Catholic in a poverty-stricken, but, by her own account, happy home in Charlemagne. She is now worth around 400 million.

6. Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

Snoop grew up in squalor in the LBC, sold drugs, spent a few short stints in jail before he turned his life around.

7. Jay-Z


Jay- Z, grew up deliriously poor in the Marcy Projects and dabbled in drugs & guns, discovered rap and the rest is history.

8. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Before Oprah found stability with her dad, she lived with her poverty-stricken grandma on a rural farm in Mississippi.

9. Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

SJP wasn’t always fabulous! She was one of 8 kids growing up poor in Ohio. She sang and danced to help support her family.

10. Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner

The Pursuit of Happyness author Chris Gardner at one time lived in a bathroom in the train station in Oakland, CA.

11. Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige

Mary J. grew up poor in the projects and dropped out of high school but found solace singing in her church choir.

12. Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent

Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent

50 Cent was orphaned at age 8 and went to live with his grands. His early life was drugs and guns. Now he’s a cash king.

13. Colin Powell

Colin Powell

Colin Powell grew up poor in South Bronx. He joined the ROTC and then the Army and became the U.S. Secretary of State.

14. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey was a high school dropout, lived in a van & worked various jobs. Thanks to In Living Color, life is good.

15. T.I.


T.I. grew up poor in the South and began selling crack to supplement his income. Now he is also a cash king.

16. Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

Cosby grew up poor in Philly. The son of a maid and an absentee father. Talent & humor paved and paid his way out of poverty.

17. J.K. Rowlings

J.K. Rowlings

Author J.K. Rowling was on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book in longhand. She is now worth millions.

18. Hillary Swank

Hillary Swank

Hilary Swank grew up in a trailer park and dropped out of high school. She came to Hollywood and now has two Oscars.