Living in such a social media driven world, it seems we only see how much others have and not really how they got it.
There are so many successful celebrities who either seem like they were an overnight success or we have no idea what struggles they faced before stardom. Even with humble beginnings, studies show that most millionaires actually made their money on their own. A study done by BMO Private Bank reveal that 67% of high net worth Americans are self-made and only 8% have inherited their wealth. Although the study was conducted with only 482 people, it gives us good indication of what the top 1% in America really looks like.
You don’t have to have rich parents or even come from old money to become rich and successful. Some of our favorite celebrities have come from very humble beginnings before they became who they are today.
Here are five Black women who started with nothing and worked for their fame and fortune:
1. Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey was born in 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi but was sent up north to live with her mother. She was an exceptionally smart child, having skipped the first and second grade and learning how to read at just 2 years old – it was no doubt that she was going to be someone. But living with her mother, she wasn’t well supervised and endured a lot of sexual abuse by family and friends at age nine, before going to live with her father.
2. Viola Davis
Davis was born in South Carolina, but grew up in Rhode Island in poverty. She often didn’t know where her next meal was going to come from and had to rummage through maggot-filled garbage to find food to eat. She was one of six children and found herself befriending kids whose mothers cooked dinner every night. She credits being a geek for getting her into college and starting her acting career.
3. Tasha Smith
Smith was born in 1971 in Camden, New Jersey and lived with her single mom and identical twin sister. Growing up wasn’t easy, and due to bad influences all around her, she ended up not going to school and getting an education but getting hooked on drugs. She was homeless and addicted to drugs with no plan for her life, until her friends and loved ones got her back on track.
4. Mary J. Blige
The queen of hip-hop soul didn’t have it easy either. Blige was born in 1971 in the Bronx, NY as the daughter of a nurse and Vietnam War veteran. Her mother was an alcoholic and her father suffered from PTSD and was constantly abusing her mother. But Blige found an escape in signing at church and in 1992 she was able to get her tape to the CEO of Uptown Records, who signed her and introduced her to Diddy.
5. Nicki Minaj
Born Onika Maraj, the rap star moved to the United States from the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago when she was just five years old. She ended up in a poor neighborhood in Queens, NY where she claims she prayed every night that she’d be able to take care of her mother. Her mother was often the victim of her abusive and drug-addicted father who once tried to burn their house down. After being introduced to Lil’ Wayne which ultimately launched her rapping career, her debut album was released in 2010 and topped the charts.