It seems like the road to success is a tough and winding road, but I have never known anyone that hasn’t been there that didn’t end up with the sweet taste of success. For those who have been born with the “silver spoon,” I am not sure their success has the same value. It seems everyone loves the stories of rags to riches and, unfortunately, the riches to rags stories that are out there.
Tyler Perry is one of Hollywood’s most powerful filmmakers, writers, producers and even actors. But, before he was known for his TV shows, movies and plays, Mr. Perry was once homeless, living on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. In a recent interview, Tyler Perry revealed how he ended up on the streets of Atlanta and it’s pretty amazing.
“I had just moved to Atlanta to try to launch this play, so I went to work,” he said during his Tuskegee university commencement address. “I managed to save $12,000 and I put the show up working in used car, as a bill collector (proceeds from a tax return). I thought 1,200 people would show up that weekend but only 30 showed up. My car payment, rent, everything was tied up in it so I ended up homeless with no money and nothing to my name. From 1992, to 93, to 94, I was doing one show a year,” he said. I kept on doing the play. Every year it would fail, until 1998, the seventh year of me trying. I was about to give up and walk away.”
So, what did Tyler Perry do differently? He said he sat down with audience members and listened to how his plays impacted them and his life changed forever. “My life shifted after that,” he said. “My intention became, how do I serve other people? How do I lift other people?”
Since then, Tyler Perry has become a mega-star in Hollywood. In 2011, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment. In fact, he earned $130 million between May 2010 and 2011.
James Cameron – before he sold the rights to his screenplay for the movie The Terminator, James Cameron was in such a tight financial situation that he was forced to live out of his car. However, he was convinced that his screenplay could become a successful movie. He insisted on directing the screenplay himself, despite the fact that the production companies he pitched the movie to thought he did not have the experience to direct it. Cameron continued to search until he found Gale Anne Hurd, who bought the rights to the screenplay for $1 and agreed to let him direct the movie himself. The pre-production and casting of the movie started in 1983. His first choice for the role of The Terminator was Lance Henriksen until Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role.
Halle Berry – she went broke after she arrived in New York in 1987 at the age of 21 in search of work as an actress. She wasn’t bothered at first because she believed her mother would send money. However, Judith refused to send her daughter money, apparently believing she was squandering her money. Halle became homeless and was forced to stay in a homeless shelter. However, she overcame the challenges and went from being penniless and homeless to becoming a successful model and one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She won the Primetime Emmy Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Mini-series or Movie for her role in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge(1999). She also won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball (2001). She was the first black woman to win the award.
Erin Moran – she achieved fame at the age of 14 as Joanie Cunningham on ABC’spopular 1970s sitcom, Happy Days. But despite her early success, she passed away broke and homeless in April 2017. Her life went into a downward spiral after her California home was foreclosed in 2010. She moved into her mother-in-law’s trailer home in Indiana with her husband Steve Fleischmann. However, her mother-in-law kicked her out of her trailer in October 2012 after she got tired of her riotous lifestyle. Moran remained broke and homeless despite a $65,000 settlement she received after she and her Happy Days former castmates reached an out-of-court deal with CBS in July 2012 over unpaid royalties. She was found dead in April 2017. She reportedly died from complications due to stage IV throat cancer at the age of 56.
Steve Harvey – in an interview with People magazine, Steve Harvey, comedian, TV host, actor and producer, shared his early experiences as a struggling comedian in the 1980s. Before his first stand-up comedy act in October 1985 at the Hilarities Comedy Club in Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey had worked as a boxer, an autoworker, an insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner and a mailman. He revealed that he was homeless before he started on Showtime at the Apollo. He lived in his 1976 Ford Tempo for three years because he could not get a job that paid reasonable wages. He would sneak into hotels, gas stations and swimming pool showers to clean up. He described the three years as “rock bottom” and the “darkest days” of his life. Today, he hosts The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Family Feud, and Little Big Shots.
Daniel Craig – the British actor had a rough start as a struggling teenage actor while training at the National Youth Theater in London. For many years, he waited tables and spent the night on park benches. He made his debut in The Power of One in 1992 after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1991. He secured roles in films, such as Disney’s A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (1995). Later in 2001, he played supporting roles in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Road to Perdition(2002). He came to prominence when he was named the next James Bond actor in 2005 after actors such as Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. His first Bond movie, Casino Royale (2006), earned a BAFTA award. He played 007 in other movies, such as Quantum Solace (2008) and Spectre (2015).
Jim Carey – the Canadian-American actor was in eighth grade when his father lost his job as an accountant. This forced Jim and his siblings to find jobs to supplement the family’s income. The family eventually became homeless, living in a VW camper van, driving around the city during the day, searching for jobs and spending nights parked at random locations in Scarborough, Ontario. They finally set up camp permanently on the front lawn of the family’s eldest daughter. Jim tried to start a career as a stand-up comedian in 1977 when he was 15. His first stand-up act at Toronto’s Yuk-Yuk club failed, but he persisted and eventually dropped out of school to focus on his chosen career. He moved to L.A. in 1979 where he caught the attention of Rodney Dangerfield. He got his first major role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994).
David Letterman – he began his career as a radio talk show host. He later worked as an anchor and weatherman with an Indianapolis TV station before relocating to Los Angeles. When he first arrived in L.A. in the 1970s, hoping to become a comedy writer, he could not afford to pay any rent. He lived in his old 1973 Chevy pick-up truck with his wife, Michelle, for several months until he was hired by Jimmie Walker to write jokes with others, such as Jay Leno and Paul Mooney. He caught the attention of Jimmie Walker while performing at The Comedian Store. He finally got his own show, The David Letterman Show on NBC, on June 23rd, 1980. Today, he is one of the most successful TV hosts ever, making millions of dollars a year from his late-night TV talk show, and has his own Netflix show
Sylvester Stallone – in the 1970s, before he became a Hollywood superstar, Sylvester Stallone was evicted from his apartment after he went broke and could not pay his rent. He became homeless and spent weeks sleeping outside at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. There he spotted a casting notice for a more ‘mature’ movie called Party at Kitty and Stud’s (1970) and ended up starring in it. After landing minor roles in a number of movies, he got the idea for Rocky(1976), and wrote the screenplay in three days. Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff offered him $350,000 for it. Stallone insisted he would accept the offer only if they allowed him to play Rocky. Rocky cost $1.1 million to produce, but earned $225 million. The movie, which established his acting career, was nominated for ten Academy Awards and went on to win the Academy Awards for the Best Picture.
William Shatner – he was first cast as the captain of the USS Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk, in the Star Trek franchise in 1966. However, the show was canceled after three seasons. After the show was cancelled in 1969, Shatner encountered difficulty finding new roles because he had become widely known as Captain Kirk. He became homeless and was forced to live out of a truck while struggling to pay child support and alimony. His situation improved after he returned in 1973 as the voice of Captain Kirk in the animated Star Trek series and secured a number of other important roles in movies such as Big Bad Mama (1974) and The Devil’s Rain (1975). The entire cast soon returned to their roles for Paramount’s production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). He became a cultural icon portraying Captain Kirk and later published books in which he detailed his experiences.
John Drew Barrymore – he came from a family of actors, so he might have taken his future success as an actor for granted while growing up as the son of the famous actor John Barrymore. He tried to make a name for himself in the profession but eventually dropped out. Barrymore might have succeeded as an actor, but his career was obstructed by his chronic substance abuse issues.
He appeared in several episodes of the popular 1960s Western TV series Gunsmoke. He also appeared as a guest star in other Westerns, such as Rawhide and Wagon Train. He got a role in a Star Trek episode, but failed to show up. His acting career ended in the mid-1970s after his substance problems worsened. He ended up a homeless man and was arrested and thrown into jail on multiple occasions. He eventually passed away in 2004 from cancer.
Jennifer Lopez – before she came into prominence as a dancer, singer, actress, and fashion designer, she had to make hard choices. Her mother, Guadalupe Rodriguez, wanted her daughter to go to college, so she opposed Lopez’s decision to become a dancer. Lopez insisted on her career choice and was forced to leave home to avoid the incessant clashes with her mother. She became homeless for several months, sleeping on a sofa at the studio where she worked.
She became a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color in 1991 before she moved from dancing to acting in 1993. Her first major role was in the 1997 biographical movie Selena. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the movie. She appeared in several other major movies, including Anaconda (1997) and Out of Sight (1998).