10 Celebrities You Never Knew Were Once Homeless
Not all celebrities were born into fame and fortune — many of them have even been homeless in the past. These stars have since shared their stories of struggling to make their dreams come true.
Read on to find out more about these celebrities’ difficult pasts, including one very familiar face from talent shows.
10 Celebrities Who Were Homeless
“I had nothing to my name,” Kelly has said of her situation when she auditioned for American Idol. “Literally, I had to make that top to go to this audition. I had like no clothes, no nothing.”
Kelly had moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, and worked several jobs to make ends meet. When her apartment burned down, she slept in her car until she earned enough money to drive to her home state of Texas, where she auditioned for Idol.
“I didn’t have anywhere to live for much of 2008 and the whole of 2009 and 2010, but somehow I made it work,” Ed wrote in his book A Visual Journey. He later clarified that he didn’t consider himself “homeless,” although he “went without a bed some nights.”
On those nights, Ed would sleep on the Central Line or outside Buckingham Palace. This experience apparently inspired his song “Homeless.” He also stayed at friends’ houses during this time, and said he “had a lot of fun,” even though there were times he “wanted to give up.”
When she was younger, Jennifer and her mother had a disagreement over her choice not to attend college. “I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, ‘This is what I have to do,'” she said. “A few months later, I landed a job dancing in Europe. When I got back, I booked In Living Color. I became a Fly Girl and moved to L.A. It all happened in a year.”
When he was 19, Chris Pratt lived with his friend in a van in Maui for a year. During an appearance on Ellen, he shared a photo of the van, which had Scooby Doo on the side of it. In the photo, he’s holding the script for the movie that gave him his big break, although it only paid him $700.
While pursuing acting in New York, Halle ran out of money and her mother didn’t help her. She ended up living in a homeless shelter, and eventually got jobs waiting tables and bartending. “Giving up was never an option,” Halle said.
When he was a kid, Jim’s father lost his job, and they ended up being homeless for a time. The family lived in a van, and Jim called it “a traumatic kick in the guts.” He later joked about the experience in his stand-up comedy routine, saying, “I grew up in Canada, so I thought we had just gone camping.”
Shania Twain had a difficult childhood as she witnessed her stepfather abuse her mother. She often went to school hungry, and for a time she, her mother, and her siblings lived in a homeless shelter. When he parents were later killed in a car accident, Shania was left to care for her siblings.
While pursuing comedy and being separated from his first wife, Steve Harvey lived out of his car and made as little as $50 per week. “That was an ugly period, just very painful,” he said.
“I sat down and started crying, but a voice said, ‘If you keep going, I’m going to take you places you’ve never been,’” Steve said. “It was like God said, ‘Don’t quit, you’re almost there.’” He said he’s still “running from homelessness” to this day by keeping himself working.
As a kid in Alaska, Jewel was homeless and resorted to shoplifting. Her father was an abusive alcoholic. “People treated me like I was contagious. They thought the homelessness might spread to them,” she said.
The singer has also shared that early in her career, she ended up on the streets after her boss fired her for refusing to have sex with him. She lived out of her car until it was stolen.
Before he became a Hollywood star, Tyler Perry put all his money into a play that didn’t end up being successful. He was evicted from his Atlanta home and lived out of his car for months. Near where he used to live, a highway sign now reads “Tyler Perry Studios.”