These Black People Were Once Homeless

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17172871_BG1By April Taylor

The Atlanta Black Star recently highlighted 8 successful stars who were once homeless.  In a society where almost half of the population is just once lost paycheck or financial emergency away from being homeless, their stories make them more human and remind us all of how important it is to always work hard and never give up on your dreams.

Many people know Tyler Perry as the successful producer of the Madea plays and movies, but few are aware what he endured prior to the success.  Perry left an abusive situation to pursue his goal of being a writer by moving from New Orleans to Atlanta.  Without a safety net or support system Perry was forced to live in his car at one point until his first successful play, I Know I’ve Been Changed, earned him enough money to no longer be homeless.

While many know Djimon Hounsou for his roles in such movies as Amistad,  Gladiator, and Soul Food, the critically acclaimed actor once lived on the streets of Paris.  After illegally entering France in an effort to find work at the age of 13, Hounsou and his brother were homeless until he landed a modeling audition through a chance encounter with French fashion designer Thierry Mugler.

Halle Berry is an actress whose beauty is admired and coveted by fans all over the world.  Few know that when Berry moved to Chicago as a young adult to pursue her acting career, she was forced to spend time in a homeless shelter to avoid having to move back home to Ohio and give up on her dream of being a star.

Many people are familiar with the story of Michael Ohler from the 2009 movie, “The Blind Side.”  Ohler beat the odds after being in foster care and also homeless once he began staying with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy.  Ohler now plays offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

Similar to Ohler, Chris Gardner had his life made into a movie.  Gardner’s life story is told in the 2006 movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness.”  Gardner and his two year old son were homeless for a year when they split time living between a church basement and a BART station bathroom.  Gardner completed an unpaid internship at Dean Witter Reynolds during that year and became a multimillionaire and now works as a motivational speaker, philanthropist, and international businessman.

Prior to his big break in 1990 with, “Showtime at the Apollo,” Steve Harvey spent three years struggling to make ends meet after splitting from his wife.  Harvey lived in his car and stayed in hotels whenever he could afford it.  Harvey now serves as a regular host of Family Feud, hosts a morning radio show, and has his own clothing line which is a far cry from being an underpaid comedian.

Eartha Kitt, who is best known for her voice and her role as Catwoman, spent time living on the streets on and off for many years.  Many of the people she stayed with were abusive, but her experiences helped mold her into an empathetic and compassionate person.

Prior to her introduction to Biggie Smalls, Lil’ Kim spent time between homelessness and friends homes after being kicked out of the house by her father as a teenager.  The two dated, and when Biggie’s career in the music industry began to solidify, he was able to help Lil’ Kim launch a career of her own.

5 Comment

  1. Out of the ashes……

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