4 Gloomy Celebrity Beginnings To Stardom

March 24th, 2013 2:00pm EDT

Sarah Jessica Parker Long ago, Brad Pitt dressed in a chicken suit and handed out restaurant fliers at an L.A. parking lot. Absolutely bizarre, but you better believe it! Some of the most famous celebrities today had the saddest, weirdest, and downright shocking starts. That’s right- many of the actors you watch on the silver screen were picked off from the street while tons of the musicians you love listening to began their careers in grimy bars. Yet, these humble beginnings are some of the more “normal” starts for the stars. Did you know that the legendary John Wayne began working in the props department at Fox Studios? Even crazier, Sharron Stone, Jason Lee and Madonna all slaved away at popular fast food joints. If you’re stunned now, your jaw just may drop with a deeper look at some more pre Hollywood stories.

Sarah Jessica Parker
Parker wasn’t always the face of the female phenomenon, “Sex in the City.” This blonde, blue-eyed beauty was daughter to a hard-working school teacher mother and a truck-driving, father. One of 8 children (including four half siblings), her parents went on welfare several times to make ends meet. You may remember this starlet as a young girl in the 80’s teen hit, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” but before that, she was your favorite red, curly-haired orphan, “Annie” on Broadway. Her role as “Annie” came after a part in an insignificant production of “The Sound of Music” in St. Louis, Missouri. Though Parker became successful at a very young age, she also had to grow up fast. Prior to her Broadway beginnings, she landed roles in minor dance productions and brought home small paychecks that she’d turn over to her parents for bills. Contributing to your family’s finances at the age of 10...well that is simply remarkable.

The Jay-Z many people know and love today is very different than who he once was. The now business guru and master of Hip Hop was a drug dealer in his early days. Growing up as Shawn Corey Carter, he lived in the drug-infested projects of Brooklyn, New York with a single mother who struggled to put dinner on the table. In addition to drug dealing, Jay-Z also shot his own brother in the shoulder after accusing him of stealing. Some light began to shine on his rough life when he started using his talent in rapping as an escape from the bad influences which surrounded him. Ever wondered how he got his stage name? Well, with the childhood nickname, “Jazzy” Shawn rapped wherever he could get a small crowd until he joined rapper, “Jaz-O” who also served as a mentor. Together, the two recorded a song called “The Originators” which later granted them an appearance on an episode of “Yo! MTV Raps.” Still anonymous and unable to get picked up by a single record company, he was forced to start his own Indie label. Roc-a-fella Records was his first business venture and has now made him millions upon millions. Near criminal turned producer and music/fashion business mogul-now that is a success story.

J.K. Rowling
The world’s most popular contemporary author was clinically depressed and stuck on a delayed train when she brainstormed every child’s favorite wizard. After teaching English in Portugal where she gave birth to her daughter Jessica, Rowling went through an awful divorce and moved to Scotland. Battling poverty and depression, she put all her energy into a now famous children’s book that would take her creativity, many paper napkins, and her tired typewriter 6 years to complete. With numerous rejections that could have likely discouraged her publishing dream, she spotted an agent’s name, Christopher Little and at random contacted him. Captivated, Little signed her on in three days. While waiting for a publisher to pick up the manuscript, she went back to work as a teacher. Then, in 1996 "Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone was purchased by Bloomsbury. However, Joanne Rowling was presented with one simple request- they wanted her to use initials rather than her first name, because boys would be biased against a book written by a woman. With no middle name, she took "K." from her favorite grandmother, Kathleen.

Jim Carrey
Funny man, Jim Carrey once called his parent’s car “home.” So poor his family couldn’t afford a roof over their heads, Carrey was forced to get a job as a janitor at Titan Wheels Factory in Canada. While sweeping and mopping the floors of a local factory, 15-year-old Carrey began attending open-mic nights at a nearby Toronto comedy club called “Yuk Yuks.” A self-proclaimed “loner” with no friends, Carrey used humor to shield his issues with anger. After acquiring quite the Toronto fan base, he started making a living off his comedy acts and soon moved to L.A. in hopes of stardom. Performing stand-up night after night in the L.A. club circuit, his unique humor caught the ears of successful comic, Rodney Dangerfield. Going on tour with Dangerfield was still not the answer to his success. After doing impressions in a comedy store and scoring unimportant roles in Clint Eastwood films, Carrey finally got his big break when he landed a role on the sketch comedy show “In Living Color,” where he was the sole white guy on screen. Then, in 1994, Carrey became the wacky character he is known for today, starring in “Ace Ventura Pet Detective” and “The Mask.”

Joining the Tinseltown club is as difficult now as ever. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to make it big. These stars didn’t let their difficult lives get in the way of their dreams. They powered through the tough stuff and redirected their energy (often negative) to make things happen. Singing on New York City streets, taking small roles in barely known plays, singing for guests aboard the best Bermuda cruises, and even entering writing contests to construct a few lines for silly online commercials-these all seem like pretty sad beginnings but everyone has to start somewhere.

Related: J.K. Rowling, Jay-Z, Jim Carrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Starpulse Exclusives, Celebrity, Weird

Photo Credits: PR Photos

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