#MondayMotivation: 5 Celebrity Rags To Riches Stories To Get You Inspired

By Duchess Magazine

Viola Davis Leighton Meester, Nicki Minaj

So we all know Oprah Winfrey’s classic grass to grace rise – a little flashback: born to a teenager in rural Mississippi but raised by her grandmother, Oprah grew up in abject poverty and had to pass through been homeless, raped and a losing child, all at a young age. Once, a desperate Winfrey rushed up to soul singing legend Aretha Franklin as she got out of a limousine and told her she had been abandoned. Franklin gave Oprah $100 – she used it to get a hotel for the night. Need we mention, it all changed, Oprah Winfrey stands proudly as the first black female millionaire with a net worth of 2.6 billion USD.

Now about getting updated on other celebrities you won’t believe grew up with absolutely NOTHING:


Academy award winning, Emmy winning actress and one of the 100 most influential people in the world, How to Get Away With Murder actress, Viola Davis success tale is far from pretty.

Born to a father who was a horse trainer, and her mother who was a maid, factory worker and homemaker, the second youngest of six children, Davis grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, in poverty relying on hand-me-downs, living in “rat-infested and condemned” apartments and was forced to resort to stealing and crawling through maggot-filled garbage bins for food.

Many thanks to her 2008 breakout role in the 1960s housemaid in the comedy-drama The Help which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress,
Viola Davis got her #happilyeverafter. With several more hit films a staggering net worth of $15 million, Davis is no doubt one of the richest African American actresses in Hollywood.


Rich. Spoilt. Brat. Now that was Blair Waldorf,
Leighton’s role in hit series Gossip Girl, rewind to her way…humble beginnings, truth be told, even fairygod mother would have to roll some sleeves.

Born in a federal jail in Texas to mum, Constance Meester who was serving a ten year sentence for her involvement in a drug ring that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the USA – reportedly Meester’s dad, grandfather and aunt were also involved and busted, talk about zero stability. Tough huh?

However Meester’s mother was allowed to spend 12 weeks in a halfway house with newborn Leighton but was soon sent back to jail, and released months later. Meester in the meantime lived with her grandmother in Florida.

Meester, now a movie star and superstar singer as at April 2020, has an estimated net worth of $6.5 million, many thanks to her television career as well as her several brand endorsements

Sadly her relationship with her mum has been one bitter tale involving court battles.


Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty known professionally as Nicki Minaj might look like she had it real smooth, but that’s far from the brutal reality.

Her childhood was rough, she didn’t have the luxury of the best Christmas gifts, worked real hard to make ends meet as a waiter and aspiring rapper.

Hard work, determination and talent paid BIG, the then budding star got signed to hitmaking record label Young Money and just like they say, the rest is history:

“I never want to go back to being poor. Once you have a taste of that, you will always be driven. I know what that felt like, and I don’t want to feel it ever again. So yeah, I mean, my childhood was crazy, but it got me to the point where I had so much faith in whatever I was doing. I just always feel where there’s a will there’s a way and I live my entire life that way now.”

Nicki Minaj is no doubt one of the most prominent female rappers in the world with a whopping estimated at $85 million net worth.


Homeless, lived in a homeless shelter, worked as a waiter and a bartender, this pretty faced diva sure went through some tough moments.

Oscar winning actress Halle Berry way back aged 21 when she was just starting out in the entertainmrnt industry in New York wanted success so bad, she struggled to book roles that ultimately left her without money. So she decided to ask her mom for financial help but got turned down.

Homeless and out of cash, she resorted to seeking refuge from a homeless shelter for a while.

Speaking in an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Halle said: ‘That was rough. I called my mother and asked her to send me some money, and she said no, and that led to a year of not speaking, but that’s probably one of the best things she did for me.’

“If you want to be there, then you work it out”. Giving up was never an option. 

‘Shelter life was part of figuring it out for a minute until I could get a waitressing job. Then I got a bartending job, and until I could figure that out, that’s what I did.’

Halle Berry is a multiple award winning actress and has starred in box office hits such as: Cat Woman and Monster’s Ball. She landed an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama film Monster’s Ball – the only woman of African American descent to have won the award.


Sex And The City Star Sarah Jessica Parker might have rubbed shoulders with the elite, living the FAB life but this diva in real life had it tough before fame came calling.

Born in Nelsonville, Ohio, the youngest of four children, her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother remarried a struggling truck driver – they would eventually have four more children on a barely existing income. Needless to say, life was extremely difficult. She took on dancing and singing gigs to contribute her quota to family income.

Parker recalling those moments said her teacher would call out the names of the “free lunch” children, and they would have to line up at the front of the classroom before lunch. “It was a stigma thing… you are aware you are different,” Parker stated.

Light shone: she landed her first Broadway role in ‘The Innocents’ and got her big break in 1998, when she started playing the lead role of Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV series ‘Sex and the City’. The show landed her four Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and three Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Emmy Awards. Parker boasts of a net worth of roughly $150 million.

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