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5 Black Celebrities Who Were Once on Welfare

Actress Viola Davis
Actress Viola Davis once lived in poverty

Most Americans who watch celebrities on television or in movies don't realize that they were not always celebrities. They, too, had to work hard to get where they are. In fact, you would be surprised to learn that many of these celebrities were once on welfare.

These 5 black celebrities were once very poor and know what it's like to live on welfare:

#1 - Oprah Winfrey: award-winning actress and producer, media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey grew up in Mississippi where her mother worked as a maid and often relied on welfare to feed their family. Oprah has also been open about her sexual abuse early in her life.

#2 - Whoopi Goldberg: entertainer, actress and current host of The View, Whoopi was once a welfare mother.

#3 - Iyanla Vanzant: author, lecturer, motivational speaker and host of Fix My Life! on OWN, Iyanla lived in poverty and on welfare as a single mother and also suffered both physical and sexual abuse.

#4 - Taraji P. Henson: this Academy Award-nominated actress, best known for her roles in “Baby Boy” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was on welfare to support herself and her child after her husband was murdered in 1997.

#5 - Viola Davis: Oscar-nominated Viola Davis grew up in poverty in a small town in Rhode Island where her family were the only African Americans.

What is truly amazing about each of these celebrities is their determination to rise out of poverty and make their lives better. They each took advantage of education and career opportunities and never lost sight of their dreams!

For more celebrities who grew up on welfare, visit http://photos.essence.com/galleries/8-celebs-who-were-once-welfare#658221_658681

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