12 Celebrities Who Experienced a Difficult Childhood But Managed to Succeed Against All Odds
We often tend to think that celebrities are born under a lucky star and their lives are free of struggles that ordinary people face. However, in many cases, that is far from true. There are quite a few superstars out there whose childhoods resemble the scenes of horror movies. Luckily, all of them were strong and fortunate enough to overcome the challenges they were exposed to at such a young age.
We at Bright Side are always inspired by people who push forward no matter the circumstances and whose determination can make anyone feel more optimistic.
1. Hilary Swank
When talking about her childhood, the Oscar-winning actress said that she grew up poor, and because of that, the parents of her peers wouldn’t let their children play with her. Hilary’s older brother left the family home early in his teens, and the actress’s parents separated when she was 16. Her mother was supportive of her acting career, so the 2 of them moved to California, but couldn’t afford an apartment.
Hilary ended up living in a trailer park while she attended acting lessons. Remembering her high school years, Hilary says: "I felt like such an outsider. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t belong in any way. I didn’t even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn’t seen or understood.’’
2. Ashley Judd
The gorgeous actress described the hardships she went through as a child in the book All That Is Bitter and Sweet. When Ashley was a child, her mother financially struggled to raise her and her sister before she started a career as a singer.
Financial troubles forced the family to occasionally live without electricity or indoor plumbing. When her mother would go on a tour, Ashely was left alone for long periods. The actress’s childhood traumas led her to develop depression later in life. However, Judd has been able to overcome challenges by undergoing therapy.
3. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey’s mother was only 18 when she had her. The famous talk show host grew up in such poverty that she was often forced to wear a potato sack as a dress when she was a child. Living in an extremely dangerous and poor neighborhood, she was forced to grow up much earlier than her peers.
Oprah gave birth to a son when she was just 14 years old, but the baby died soon afterward. She was forced to look for a job while she was still in high school, which led her to the position of a radio show host and from there, her career took off.
4. Jim Carrey
The legendary comedian grew up in a crowded household with 4 other siblings and a lot of financial difficulties. His family was so poor at one point that young Jim had to drop out of school. When his father, who worked as an accountant, lost his job, the family was homeless for a while and was forced to live in a van. The actor once said that it was during those difficult times that he developed a sense of humor and decided to turn it into a career.
5. Halle Berry
This successful actress revealed that she grew up in a troubled household: ’’I wasn’t married to a man that beat me up, but my mother was.’’ Young Halle was forced to witness beatings “day after day after day.” Her father left the family when Halle was only 4 years old and they’ve remained estranged all her life.
She moved with her mother and sister to an all-white neighborhood where she was exposed to racial discrimination while attending school. Halle admits that these struggles motivated her to succeed. Later in the ’90s, when she moved to New York to pursue her acting career, she was forced to stay in a homeless shelter for a while because she couldn’t afford accommodations.
6. Charlize Theron
Theron spent her early childhood years living with her parents on an idyllic farm in South Africa, but her home life was troubled due to her father’s short temper and alcoholism. When she was 15, the famous actress witnessed a traumatic incident in which her mother fatally wounded her father.
Young Charlize struggled for many years to come to terms with it and for a long time she “pretended that it didn’t happen.” Fortunately, she was able to recover from her trauma by going into therapy.
7. Mark Wahlberg
Wahlberg grew up in a working-class family as the youngest of 9 children. His parents divorced when he was a child and, at the age of 14, he dropped out of high school. Before becoming famous, Wahlberg led a troubled life, engaging in violence, stealing, and substance abuse. Luckily, he was able to get back on track and he is now happily married and has 4 children. Aside from acting, he devotes his time to charity work.
8. Naomi Watts
Watts is the daughter of an actress and a road manager for the British rock band Pink Floyd. Her parents divorced when she was 4 years old, and her father tragically died when she was 7, just before her parents wanted to give her a second chance to their marriage.
“When he died, my dad hadn’t saved money, and I guess my mom didn’t have any. So they, the band, gave my mom a few thousand dollars to help get things underway,” Watts remembers. After that, her family led a nomadic life in England, forcing Naomi to change schools 9 different times. This lifestyle lasted several years before the family moved to Australia when Naomi was 14 years old.
9. Christina Aguilera
Aguilera’s early childhood was troubled. Her father, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, was often aggressive, especially with her mother. Due to her father’s job, the family had to relocate frequently. It wasn’t until the famous singer turned 6 that her mother managed to escape and move with her 2 daughters, Christina and her younger sister, Rachel, and build a new life in a different city. Christina claims that she used music as a form of escape from her troubled home life.
10. Dylan McDermott
American actor Dylan McDermott and his younger sister were raised by teenage parents, Diane and Richard. His mother was 15 and his father was 17 when McDermott was born. A couple of years later, after his parents divorced, Diane and her 2 kids moved back in with Diane’s mother.
But soon afterward, things took an unfortunate turn. Dylan was 5 and his sister was only 7 months old when their mother tragically died in a shooting, and the circumstances surrounding this incident would remain a mystery for decades.
11. Drew Barrymore
Despite being the daughter of famous parents and growing up in the spotlight, Drew Barrymore’s childhood was not as happy as we might imagine. As a child star, she was exposed to the public’s attention, but was lacking closeness with her parents: “I didn’t really have parents, you know?” she said.
From the age of 8, she called herself a “party girl,” partying with her mother and her friends almost every day. When she was only 14 years old, she was sent to a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse and started living independently of her parents.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka Eminem, had a rough childhood, marked by poverty and aggression. The famous rapper claims his father abandoned him when he was only 6 months old. At the age of 14, he began rapping in clubs in Detroit, Michigan. He was bullied in school and, when unexcused absences held him back in the ninth grade for the third year, he quit school, determined to make it in the music industry.
To what extent do you think our childhood determines what we become when we grow up? Let’s talk about it in the comments.