IMDb Polls

Poll: Overcoming the Odds

Not all movie stars were born or raised with stardom and privileges at their doorstep; some of them had to struggle to achieve the "American Dream".

Which of these movie stars who beat the odds on the rise to fame is the public favorite?

Discuss this poll here

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    Charles Chaplin

    Mostly lived with his mother, who couldn't earn enough money as an entertainer, making Chaplin's life fraught with poverty and hardship. Later had to deal with his mother's mental illness, caused by an infection of syphilis and malnutrition. (This is just a really brief summary of Chaplin's youth)
  2. Vote!

    Oprah Winfrey

    Grew up on a pig farm before moving to Milwaukee with her mother, who didn’t provide much love or support. Throughout her youth, there was always people who made her life difficult, and there was a constant lack of the things she needed, including money, food, and other amenities. Oprah was often dressed in potato sacks as a child. Winfrey has stated she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend, starting when she was nine years old. At 13, Winfrey ran away from home. When she was 14, she became pregnant, but her son was born prematurely and he died shortly after birth.
  3. Vote!

    Leonardo DiCaprio

    In his early years, his environment was packed full of drug addicts and other kind of criminals.
  4. Vote!

    Halle Berry

    Her physically abusive father abandoned her family when she was 5 years old, making it financially hard for her mother to raise her two children in a rough neighborhood. Moved to New York to try her chance as a model or actor, but before succeeding, had to live in homeless shelters.
  5. Vote!

    Sylvester Stallone

    In the beginning of his career, Stallone took a role in a soft-core porn in order to be able to survive, due to the fact that he was homeless for several days. He also took part in an erotic off-Broadway stage play.
  6. Vote!

    Tom Cruise

    Was the son of an abusive father. His family lived in poverty throughout his childhood.
  7. Vote!

    Charlize Theron

    Had an alcoholic father who threatened her and her mother, often physically attacking her mother. Theron's mother then shot and killed him.
  8. Vote!

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Son of an abusive ex-Nazi; grew up poor, making the purchase of a refrigerator a big deal.
  9. Vote!

    Hilary Swank

    Spent her early years growing up in a trailer park; dropped out of high school when her mother lost her job. When she was 15 years old, Hilary and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where they lived out of their car until Swank's mother saved enough money to rent an apartment.
  10. Vote!

    Jim Carrey

    Spent some time living with his family in a van; dropped out of high school at 15 years old to help with the money problems.
  11. Vote!

    Demi Moore

    Grew up in a trailer park, in a home that was filled with tension, disharmony, and abuse. Dropped out of high school to pursue her dream as a model.
  12. Vote!

    Mark Wahlberg

    Dropped out of school at just 14 years old and took to a life of petty crime; served jail time for assault.
  13. Vote!

    Chris Pratt

    Dropped out of community college halfway through the first semester, ending up homeless, living in a van and a tent by the beach.
  14. Vote!

    Joaquin Phoenix

    He was born into the Children of God cult, known for sanctioning sexual abuse of children. After his family left the cult, had to provide food and financial support for the family, performing on the streets and at various talent contests, singing and playing instruments. His four siblings (including River Phoenix) also performed on the streets with him. His older brother River suffered a drug overdose and died on the sidewalk outside the Viper Room. The call Phoenix made to 911 seeking help for his brother was repeatedly played on radio and television.
  15. Vote!

    Mila Kunis

    She and her family moved out from USSR to California with only $250. Having troubles with the language, she described her first year in the US as 'Imagine being blind and deaf at age seven.'.
  16. Vote!

    Scarlett Johansson

    Was raised with three siblings in a low-income household in Manhattan, living on welfare and food stamps.
  17. Vote!

    Sarah Jessica Parker

    One of eight siblings, making it hard for her family to have enough money to live. Spent time without electricity and with bill collectors at the door.
  18. Vote!

    Julie Andrews

    Was very poor and lived in a bad slum area of London; her stepfather was violent and an alcoholic, who, while drunk, tried twice to get into bed with her.
  19. Vote!

    Cary Grant

    Son of an alcoholic father and of a mother who suffered from clinical depression. His father placed his mother in a mental institute, but lied to him, making Cary Grant believe his mother was dead.
  20. Vote!

    Tony Curtis

    Son of a schizophrenic mother, who was very aggressive and antagonistic towards him. Spent one month in an orphanage because his parents couldn't feed him. Joined a neighborhood gang whose main crimes were playing hooky from school and minor pilfering at the local dime store.
  21. Vote!

    Tyler Perry

    Perry was physically abused by his father as a child, and once went as far as to attempt suicide in an effort to escape his father's beatings. When he was 10 years old, Perry was molested by one of his mother's friends; he was also molested by three men prior to this.
  22. Vote!

    Ashley Judd

    In her youth, Judd was a victim of incest, sexual abuse, neglect and exposure to drug use during her mother’s rise to fame as a country super star; she even contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.
  23. Vote!


    Mo'Nique was sexually abused by her brother from ages 7–11.
  24. Vote!

    Kelsey Grammer

    Grammer was "cursed" with family death. After living for some years with his mother and grandparents, his grandfather died when Grammer was 12 years old. Two years later, his father was murdered. A few years later, his sister was abducted, raped and murdered by three men, leading Grammer to a path of alcoholism and drug addiction. His two half-brothers died in a scuba-diving accident.
  25. Vote!

    Woody Harrelson

    Harrelson was son of a convicted contract killer, who received a life sentence in 1979. His family was poor, living only of his mother's secretary wage.
  26. Vote!

    Richard Pryor

    Pryor grew up in the brothel run by his grandmother, where his alcoholic mother was a prostitute. After his mother abandoned him when he was 10 years old, Pryor was raised primarily by his grandmother, a violent woman who would beat him for any of his eccentricities. He was sexually abused at age seven, and expelled from school at the age of fourteen.
  27. Vote!

    Liev Schreiber

    At the beginning of Schreiber's parents' marriage, his mother had a bad experience with LSD; over the next four years, she was repeatedly admitted to hospitals and underwent therapy. After his father threatened to admit her to a mental institution, she left with her son. With his father in pursuit, Schreiber and his mother were trailed by private detectives in various states; when he was three, his father kidnapped him from an upstate New York commune. When Schreiber was five, his parents divorced; his mother won custody, and the two moved to a cold-water flat. Growing up, they frequently had no electricity, hot water, or even beds.
  28. Vote!

    Danny Trejo

    Throughout the 1960s, starting when Trejo was 14 years old, he was in and out of jail and prison (for 11 years), spending many years in San Quentin; his last prison term was five years. He also faced drug addiction and alcoholism.

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