Politicians, celebrities and business leaders appear to live charmed lives. And, of course, it’s true that many of society’s most visible people were truly born with silver spoons in their mouths (not literally). Not every public figure has a boring riches-to-riches story, though. Some make for downright compelling reading.
- Keanu Reeves, Actor
Whoa. Who knew Keanu Reeves had such a compelling life story?
Reeves, a native Hawaiian, didn’t grow up in abject poverty. But he also wasn’t super comfortable as a child. And unlike most celebrities who overcame early adversity, Reeves’ live actually got worse as he got older. In the early 2000s, Reeves and his then-girlfriend lost their newborn child; after their relationship ended, the girlfriend succumbed to addiction and died in a horrific car accident. Then Reeves’ sister was diagnosed with cancer. Oh, and he hasn’t heard from his dad in years. Say what you will about his acting, but Reeves has a very compelling story.
- Marco Rubio, 2016 Presidential Candidate
Florida Senator Marco Rubio has a real shot at the Republican nomination for President in 2016 — and if the party had any sense, they might just give it to him. That’s because he has an intensely compelling life story: His parents emigrated from Cuba in the late 1950s, landing in Miami, where his dad struggled to make ends meet as a bartender. Thanks to some much-needed scholarship assistance and relentless encouragement from his parents, Marco excelled in school and graduated near the top of his class. Of course, the final chapter of his story remains to be written.
- Ed Jany, 2014 Candidate for FL-13
Ed Jany, another Florida-based public advocate, may have an even more compelling story. The son of Brazilian immigrants who landed in Milwaukee after an arduous journey from Sao Paulo, he’s lived the American dream: serving more than three decades in military and law enforcement, building a successful career as a private security expert, and now embarking on a new journey as a passionate public advocate for his fellow Floridians.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor
Leo is at or near the top of the list of handsome, debonair male movie stars over age 35. (Only George Clooney and Brad Pitt seem to give him a run for his money, and Leo is definitely the baby of the bunch.) Plus, he’s reportedly worth more than $200 million. But Leo wasn’t always rich and famous. Born to a young mother in a rough part of Hollywood, he drifted in and out of homeless shelters for the first decade of his life and often went hungry at the end of the day. Now that he has the means to give back, it’s clear that he hasn’t forgotten his humble roots — he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest humanitarians.
- Oprah Winfrey, Entrepreneur
You probably saw this one coming. Winfrey grew up in rural Mississippi, one of the poorest places in America. Her mother, who raised her largely on her own, struggled mightily to make ends meet, going so far as to clothe Winfrey in potato sacks during one particularly harsh stretch. But these obstacles were no match for the precocious Oprah: She won a scholarship to Tennessee State University as a teen and became Nashville’s first African-American news correspondent at the ripe young age of 19. Soon enough, she moved to Chicago, started her own TV program, and — well, the rest is history.