10 Celebrities Who Didn’t Let Life Circumstances Stop Them on Their Way to Fame

There are a lot of reasons why people decide to follow celebrities, and having them be your role model is one of them. Not all famous people reached stardom immediately — a lot of them had to struggle and be persistent, and their efforts paid off. We compiled a list full of different celebrities’ life stories.

1. Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson’s famous character, Mr. Bean, made a lot of viewers laugh without saying a single word. Mr. Bean was co-created by the actor himself, who has a speaking disorder. His life was full of things that were hard to endure — his peers bullied him for his stutter, and a teacher said that there was “nothing outstanding” about Atkinson. However, he proved people wrong by getting admitted to Oxford University.

His struggles didn’t end here. In fact, Atkinson went to Oxford for engineering, not acting, and he fell in love with the craft of performing. He had to go endure a lot of rejection due to his disorder. That’s how Mr. Bean came to life. He does not talk at all yet many people adore this character and the show. Rowan Atkinson became world-famous against all odds and starred in other successful projects, like Johnny English.

2. Kerry Washington

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Before Kerry Washington starred on the show, Scandal, which premiered in 2012, there had been no drama series with an African American female lead for nearly 40 years. She felt a lot of responsibility because of it and thought if Scandal didn’t work out, then “it might be another 40 years” before we get another show with a black woman as the main character. Yet she felt like she couldn’t do anything about this burden since she could not turn people’s televisions on for them.

However, her worries did not come true. Scandal became a huge hit, with over 12 million people tuning in to watch the premiere of season 4. The term, the “Kerry Washington Effect” was also created as more and more shows started casting African American women as leads, like, for example, in How to Get Away with Murder (2014-2020) and Empire (2015-2020).

3. Marilyn Monroe

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The world remembers Marilyn Monroe as one of the main sex symbols of the twentieth century, but the actress struggled a lot growing up. She never knew her father, and her mother suffered from a severe mental illness. Monroe’s siblings had been taken away by her mother’s ex-husband before her birth, and Monroe herself spent her childhood between foster homes. For a brief period of time, it was decided that her mother was well enough to look after her, but after finding out that her son had died, the mother’s mental issues came back again.

Monroe married her neighbor at a young age because the home she had could not take care of her anymore. Later on, she became a model for a popular photographer and signed a contract with a film studio, 20th Century Fox. She became a timeless icon and her impact is still strong to this day.

4. Jim Carrey


Jim Carrey is known for making people laugh due to his involvement in numerous comedies, but his childhood was not much to smile about. Carrey recalled that he grew up in complete poverty in Canada after his father lost his job. His family had to live in a van, and they all worked as security guards and janitors. He is also a high school dropout.

Getting into comedy was not easy for him either. It took him a decade to get noticed, as he was doing his stand-up comedy shows. During one of the shows, when he was just 15 years old, he got booed off the stage. His breakout year was 1994 when he starred in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. He remains one of the most popular actors in the world.

5. Vera Wang


Famous fashion designer Vera Wang did not find her true calling until she was almost 40 years old. She was supposed to be a figure skater, but she failed to qualify for the Olympics. This made her quit the sport with a heavy heart. Hard decisions in her life did not end here, as later on, she had to resign from Vogue after 17 years of work because she felt like her career was going nowhere.

Wang decided to get married for the first time when she was just shy of 40, but she could not find a wedding dress she liked. So she designed one herself. And that’s how her career as a designer began. Now, Vera Wang is one of the biggest fashion designers in the world, with her specialty being wedding dresses.

6. Amy Adams

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Amy Adams has an impressive career — she has appeared in over 60 projects as an actress, including Oscar-winning movies, like Vice and The Fighter. But the actress thought of quitting acting for good at one point.

There were multiple reasons for this: she couldn’t find a proper life balance, so she did not enjoy the process of her work and had no social life all at the same time. The other reason was that, at times, she could not find any work to do, and she was “flat out broke.”

7. Jennifer Aniston

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Jennifer Aniston was born into a family of actors, but her parents were not fans of the idea of her becoming an actress too. In fact, when she was young, she was not even allowed to watch TV unless she was sick. Her father, the star of the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, John Aniston, wanted his daughter to become a lawyer, as the acting industry is full of rejection, and he feared his daughter wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Before she hit it big on Friends, the actress had to work odd jobs to earn extra money, like being a bike messenger. The beginning of her acting career did not start off too well either — she starred in 6 television shows, all of which were total failures.

8. Salma Hayek

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The actress’s parents had planned a different future for their daughter. Salma had been studying political science and international relations at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City for two years when she decided to drop out of college and start her acting career. Her father was against that decision, but Salma didn’t listen to him.

When Salma Hayek arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico at age 25, she could barely read a street sign. She spoke almost no English, and having struggled with dyslexia her whole life, she knew that learning a new language would be a challenge. Moreover, the actress was typecast in the early stages of her career. Hayek wanted to do comedy, but she was not allowed to be funny. Luckily, she overcame all these issues and managed to build a successful and stunning career.

9. Charlize Theron

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Charlize Theron did not always want to become an actress. Since she was 4 years old, she wanted to be a ballerina, but her dreams were crushed when she sustained a knee injury. Her mother told her to not give up on everything and try to pursue a career as an actress, so Theron moved to Los Angeles. Success did not come here immediately either: she recalled that before her first break, she lived in a flea-pit motel with little money and had to live off bread from restaurants in order to survive.

She is now one of the most successful actresses in the world and a winner of multiple Oscars.

10. LaKeith Stanfield

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The actor had a rough childhood, as he grew up in poverty with a dysfunctional family. He decided that he wanted to become an actor as early as age 14, but he had to wait for his big break for nearly a decade when he started gaining recognition through films like Selma and Straight Outta Compton. The actor says that a lot of agencies he auditioned for turned out to be a scam. He noted that he doesn’t believe that any person is a “lost cause” and “any little thing you do” can help somebody go a long way.

These days, Stanfield’s career is prospering, as he appeared in the Oscar-nominated movie, Knives Out, and was even nominated for an Oscar for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah.

What motivates you to keep pursuing your dream? Did you have any failures before success that you can share?

Preview photo credit Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images, Jordan Strauss/Invision/East News
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