Being a kid with famous or wealthy parents must come with a lot of privileges. But these 12 actors born to ordinary parents used their talent and skill to make it to the very top in Hollywood. They show us that with talent and hard work you can achieve your dream career, no matter what background you come from.
We at Bright Side have compiled this list of actors who made it on their own to inspire you to dream big and never give up — nothing is stopping you from achieving your goals.
1. Mila Kunis
Mila Kunis’ parents worked far from the acting industry. Her mother was a physics teacher and her father an engineer. When they arrived in the US when Mila was seven, she didn’t even speak any English. Her dad enrolled her in acting class aged nine and she started working three years later. Her dad still drives a cab in LA and her mum runs a pharmacy.
2. Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum’s mom worked for an airline and his dad worked in construction. They started off on a farm in Alabama, but soon moved to Florida where Channing grew up. He wasn’t ever planning on being an actor — he even got a football scholarship to college, but dropped out and moved to Miami. It was there that he was discovered on the street by a model scout, and his acting career came from there.
3. Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain’s mother is a vegan chef and her father works as a fireman. Growing up in Sacramento, California, she was always interested in acting and performed in school plays. When she auditioned for Juilliard, she was offered a scholarship to their acting program. Soon after graduating, she started booking small roles on TV. Her drive has always been exploring the human soul rather than fame or money, and though it has been a long road she has found success.
4. Dev Patel
Dev Patel’s parents are an IT consultant and a healthcare worker. He was a hyperactive child, so his parents put him in martial arts classes to channel all his energy. But he had more to give. When his mother saw a casting for the TV show Skins, she encouraged him to apply, and the teenage Dev was cast as Anwar. With the long and successful career he has had, it is clear that his talent has always shone through.
Comedian and actor Awkwafina has had quite the journey to her current success. Born in Queens, New York, to a Chinese American father and South Korean immigrant mother, she studied journalism and women’s studies and then went to China to study Mandarin. She found her career in an unexpected way. On her 24th birthday, she uploaded a comedy rap to YouTube. The video became a viral hit and threw her into a life of comedy and rap music.
6. Adam Driver
Adam Driver grew up in Indiana. His mom was a paralegal, and he wasn’t sure what to do for a job, but acting seemed more appealing than other options so he moved to LA. Sadly it didn’t work out immediately and he was broke. He joined the US Marine Corps, and after he was discharged he went back to Indiana to university. But he couldn’t stop thinking of acting. So he auditioned for Juilliard and he got in, and the rest is history.
7. Simu Liu
Acting was never on the cards for Simu Liu. Raised in Canada after moving from China aged 5 with his parents, he studied accounting at university. He was working in finance but his heart wasn’t in it. When he was laid off from his job, he decided to take the leap and try acting. His gamble paid off, as he soon started working in film and television.
8. Taron Egerton
Taron Egerton’s father ran a bed-and-breakfast near Liverpool, and his mother was a social worker. When they divorced, he moved to Wales with his mother. With no prior connections to the industry, Taron auditioned for London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts singing Elton John’s “Your Song.” His audition song was pretty serendipitous, as he later played Elton John himself in the biopic Rocketman!
9. Anna Kendrick
Anna Kendrick grew up in Maine and her father was a history teacher, before joining her mother in working in finance. They promoted the arts to their kids, and a career in finance like her parents just didn’t seem on the cards for Anna. Instead, she started her career on Broadway, landing her first role in High Society aged just 12, and her career blossomed from there.
10. Jodie Comer
Jodie grew up in Liverpool with her parents and her brother. Her dad was a masseur at the local football club. Despite this, Jodie dreamt of being an actor ever since she was a small child. She was quiet but determined, and soon earned small roles on TV in England, before her star turn as Villainelle in Killing Eve. But despite her fame, her roots are still firmly back in Liverpool, and between filming she even lives with her parents and can’t imagine it any other way.
11. Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan’s parents had a home-catering business, and he worked there as soon as he was tall enough to see over the counter. He was doing some modeling as a child, but wasn’t initially interested in acting. When his manager asked if he wanted to try something new, he said “why not” and went on some auditions. When he didn’t immediately book a job, he thought he might not be cut out for it, but his luck soon changed and he booked his first role. This just shows that perseverance really pays off.
12. Richard Madden
Richard Madden grew up in a small town in Scotland. His parents were a far cry from Hollywood — his father was a firefighter and his mother stayed at home until Richard was 11, when she got a job as a schoolteacher. Richard discovered acting aged 11 when he joined a class to help him overcome his shyness. He got TV jobs immediately, but it attracted bullies at school so he took a break. He missed it at age 16 and went back to acting, and his Hollywood career soon followed.
Who is your favorite actor in this list? What was your dream job as a child?