10 Celebrities Who Grew Up Very Poor, and Are Now Committed to Helping Others

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Growing up with very little money certainly shapes our future and the way we view things. And it might create a stronger motivation to succeed in life and reinforce our determination and focus to achieve bigger goals. And when we look at people who came from nothing and made it big, we notice that most of them never forgot their past and are always ready to support others. Because no one knows the way to fight poverty better than someone who has experienced it firsthand.

Bright Side admires people who use their complicated past as fuel to reach their dreams. Here are 10 celebrities who came from very little and were able to become major stars thanks to their talent and hard work.

Cameron Diaz

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The 49-year-old actress revealed that she had ’’amazing parents’’ and a happy childhood, despite growing up with little money. She explained, “We weren’t privileged — very much the opposite. My family would collect (soda) cans to turn in for extra money.”

Diaz added that the way she grew up still affects her lifestyle to this day. She said, “I come from a frugal upbringing, so I’m not just going to throw my money away.” However, when it comes to those in need, Cameron is ready to help. She has participated in multiple charitable events and has even started her own foundation called Begin Today for Tomorrow, in 2001, which supports various causes.

Tom Cruise


He is indeed one of Hollywood’s most hard-working and successful actors of his time. And working was something that Cruise had to get familiar with at a very early age. The star explained, ’’I’ve always had a work ethic.’’ He added, ’’I’ve had paying jobs since I was about 8 years old — cutting grass, raking leaves, paper routes, selling Easter cards and Christmas cards.’’

After reaching success, the 60-year-old has certainly been paying it forward with charity work. This includes donating to a neglected rural community in Africa and raising money for a children’s charity.

Mila Kunis

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The 38-year-old actress emigrated with her family to the United States as a child. She revealed that they’d often have ’’ketchup soup for dinner.’’ Kunis is married to actor Ashton Kutcher who also comes from a non-privileged background. She explained that they make sure to not splurge just because they now have the means to, adding, ’’we both are very much self-made and are very aware of what a dollar is worth.’’

After making it big in Hollywood, the actress uses her power to support causes and people in need. For example, she became the Global Brand Ambassador for a company involving ethical mining in Africa.

Jennifer Lopez

She is one of the biggest stars of our time, but J. Lo had to struggle before reaching her star status. Instead of going to college, she left home to pursue dance full-time, and has revealed having been ’’homeless’’ and sleeping ’’on the sofa inside her dance studio’’ in the beginning.

Now that she’s successful, the 53-year-old hasn’t forgotten her complicated past and makes sure to support people in need. She even created her non-profit organization called Lopez Family Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and children.

Camila Alves

The 40-year-old model and designer left her home in Brazil and moved to Los Angeles at 15. She had a tough time there, given that she didn’t know English and couldn’t even afford to speak to her family. Alves explained, ’’I didn’t have the luxury to call my parents to pay my bills, so I cleaned houses and worked in restaurants as I learned English and saved to go to New York.’’

Years later, Camila is big on helping others and she and her husband, actor Matthew McConaughey, have started a foundation called Just Keep Livin. She described the work at the foundation as ’’the science of happiness.’’

Jim Carrey

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He is one of Hollywood’s most influential comedians, but Jim Carrey had to face a tough childhood. His family lost their home and had to live in a van. Young Jim had to quit school at 15 in order to help support his family.

And even though he is mostly private about his charity work, Carrey nevertheless is known for having supported a list of foundations. And in 2005, he set up one of his own, called “Better U Foundation.”

Leighton Meester

When the actress was born in 1986, both her parents were serving time in prison. They then split up and both sides of the family struggled financially. In fact, Leighton couldn’t even think about going to her prom because of her financial situation.

She once noted, “I couldn’t relate to kid stuff. [...] I was worried we didn’t have gas money or food. Those were my concerns.” Having known hunger, Leighton is determined to fight it and supports the Feeding America organization.

Chris Pratt

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The actor’s family struggled with money at times, and he had to rely on food stamps at the start of his career. Talking about his childhood, Pratt explained, ’’We had some economic hard times, and I’m not ashamed to say that there were moments when my family would need to eat from a food bank." He added, ’’There’s nothing wrong with needing that help."

Now the actor is determined to pay it forward and combat hunger. In 2021, he donated $10K grant to a Food Bank.

Demi Moore

The actress had a complicated childhood and her mother struggled to make ends meet. She explained, “We weren’t dirt poor, but we didn’t have a lot of money.” She noted, “I entered this career having no background or connection to acting. I had so little, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Demi is devoted to her charity work and has been honored for her dedicated work in fighting human trafficking with her non-profit organization.

Justin Bieber

The singer, who was raised by a single mother, has opened up about his complicated childhood, explaining, ’’I remember being poor and being teased by other kids." He added, "I remember sitting in restaurants with my mother, and she’d make me order water instead of soda.’’

Today, the 28-year-old star supports and donates to various charities and is an advocate for causes including mental health awareness.

Do you think that growing up in poverty makes a person more generous and inclined to help those in need?

Preview photo credit JMHAEDRICH/JPPARIENTE/SIPA/SIPA/East News, Invision/Invision/East News


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