The Fight to Fame: 14 Stars Who Struggled Before They Made it Big
RYAN SEACREST SHARED A ONE-BEDROOM
Before he hit the big leagues on American Idol, Ryan Seacrest was just like the rest of us: paying rent and living with a roommate. But the situation was especially tight for the TV host: Said apartment was a one bedroom, and he shared it with "another dude." We can imagine his digs today are a bit more spacious.
KESHA LIVED IN HER CAR
Making it in the music industry isn't easy – something Kesha has known from the start. In her early days in Hollywood, she slept in her late grandfather's car. "I drove out to Hollywood in my dead grandpa’s Lincoln town car, and just lived in my car for a little bit …" she said. "Well, just, like, here and there.”
MADONNA GOT FIRED FROM DUNKIN' DONUTS
It's hard to imagine Madonna as anything but the icon she is today – but at one point she was just another girl trying to make it big. To make ends meet, she took a job at a Dunkin' Donuts in Times Square – but didn't last through the first shift. She was first on day one after she accidentally squirted jelly filling on a customer.
LADY GAGA WAS DROPPED BY HER FIRST RECORD LABEL AFTER THREE MONTHS
Getting signed by a record label is the ultimate goal for many aspiring musicians. But for Lady Gaga, the dream only lasted for three months the first time around. After being signed to Def Jam Records at age 19, she was dropped by the label after only three months. "It just wasn't for them," she told The Sunday Times. Of course, that setback didn't hold her down for long.
JIM CARREY LIVED IN A TENT ON HIS SISTER'S LAWN
As a teen, Jim Carrey and his family lived in a Volkswagen van for eight whole months before he and his siblings pitched a tent in his older sister's backyard, according to the book Jim Carrey: Fun and Funnier. Today, it's safe to assume he saves the tents for camping trips.
HALLE BERRY STAYED IN A HOMELESS SHELTER
Today, she's an Oscar winner, but Berry struggled to get to that point, even sleeping in a homeless shelter for a period of time in her early 20's. Perseverance got her through it: "A girl had to do what a girl had to do," she told Reader's Digest. "You can do that when you’re 21 and ambitious, and your eyes are this big and you don’t want to go home.”
DANIEL CRAIG USED TO SLEEP ON LONDON PARK BENCHES
Long before he was 007, Craig couldn't make enough money to afford rent – and ended up sleeping on park benches as a result.
JENNIFER LOPEZ LEFT HOME AND MOVED INTO HER DANCE STUDIO
It wasn't always easy for Jenny from the block to make it big. Disagreeing with her mother over her future – college or pursuing dance – led to her being homeless before gaining fame. “My mom and I butted heads,” Lopez told W magazine. “I didn’t want to go to college – I wanted to try dance full-time. So she and I had a break. I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do.’"
STEVE HARVEY LIVED IN HIS CAR FOR THREE YEARS
Divorced from his first wife, Marcia, and sending most of his pay home to his two kids, one lost gig meant Harvey was without a home he told PEOPLE. In and out of hotels thanks to his comedy gigs, when he was on the road he lived in his 1976 Ford Tempo, a period his life that lasted for three years. "It was so disheartening," Harvey said. "A week is really the maximum you can do. This was three years! It was rock bottom. But even in my darkest days I had faith it would turn around."
NICKI MINAJ GOT FIRED FROM RED LOBSTER
Like another famous woman in music before her, Nicki Minaj wasn't cut out for the service industry. She was fired from Red Lobster after flipping off a couple of customers who stole one of her pens. "I like dealing with people, but I don't really like a lot of bullsh**, so maybe customer service wasn't the best job for me," she told GQ.
NAYA RIVERA USED TO WORK AT HOOTERS
Before she landed her breakout role on Glee, Rivera was a server at Hooters – a job she now calls a "nightmare." She told Allure, "I have nightmares about that job, period. When I was working there, I was really skinny—a lot skinnier than I am now. But I was always self-conscious. It's so funny now to feel completely different."
HILARY SWANK MADE JUST $75 A DAY ON BOYS DON'T CRY
Back in 1999, Swank took the lead role in the film Boys Don't Cry – and was paid just $75 a day (total $3,000) for her work on the film. However, I think Swank would agree that the end result – her first Academy Award – was worth the lousy paycheck.
KRISTEN WIIG SOLD HOT DOGS AT THE MALL
Before there was SNL and Bridesmaids, there were hot dogs. Lots of hot dogs. Wiig sold the snack at a mall to make ends meet when she was in her 20s.
JON HAMM WAS A WAITER FOR A LONG TIME
He got his big break in Mad Men, but Hamm hasn't always been a huge Hollywood success. He told Vanity Fair it took a lot of years of waiting tables to get there. "I mean, I've probably been a waiter longer than I've really been anything else. Or I'm probably coming up on even. But barely."