Child stars who were born filthy rich
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Plenty of celebrities have rags-to-riches stories, but when it comes to becoming rich and famous, not all of our favorite stars have struggled with the “rich” part of that equation. Hollywood has quite the group of “legacy” child stars that were born filthy rich or to famous parents who gave them a leg up when it came time to read a script or go after that business deal. Let’s be real, do you think Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, North West, or Blue Ivy are going to struggle with college loan debt? We’ll have to wait and see, but if history repeats itself, these celebrity kids will get a fastpass to easy street.
The real question is: Does growing up with a nice bank account guarantee professional and personal success, or do child stars struggle just like everyone else to earn fame based on their own merits? We’ll let you decide as we take a closer look at some stars who found success at a young age in movies, TV, music, or modeling, but may have had a little help from that proverbial silver spoon.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Twilight star Kristen Stewart grew up in Los Angeles, the daughter of TV producer John Stewart and script supervisor and film director Jules Mann-Stewart. The pair raised Kristen and her two siblings in an Alice in Wonderland-themed mansion, which they later listed for sale at $1.75 million. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Well, if you ask Kristen about it, like Elle did in 2012, she would tell you that fairy tale life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“You can learn so much from bad things. I feel boring,” she said of her “sheltered upbringing,” adding, “I feel like, Why is everything so easy for me? I can’t wait for something crazy to f**king happen to me. Just life. I want someone to f**k me over! Do you know what I mean?” (Sorry, we can’t exactly relate.) Anyway, Kristen’s mediocre childhood included plenty of acting gigs, including her critically-acclaimed work in 2002’s Panic Room, in which Kristen plays the role of actress Jodi Foster’s 11-year-old daughter in the film.
Gregg Deguire/Getty Images
Rumer Willis attained instant celebrity status when she was born to one of Hollywood’s former power couples — actor Bruce Willis and actress Demi Moore. According to the Inquisitr, Rumer debuted in the 1995 film Now and Then when she was just a kid, and went on to land roles with her parents in 1996’s Striptease (where she plays Demi’s on-screen daughter); 2000’s The Whole Nine Yards (snagging an uncredited part with her pops); 2005’s Hostage (where she plays Bruce’s on-screen child); and 2018’s Airstrike (though Bruce and Rumer reportedly didn’t even know they’d both auditioned for that flick.)
Though Rumer has pursued a career in the spotlight, she told People magazine that her parents never pushed her to follow in their footsteps. “I have been very, very blessed with not having stage parents,” she said. In fact, she certainly didn’t get every role she wanted. The musician and Dancing with the Stars Season 20 winner competed for the role of Serena Van Der Woodsen on the CW’s hit show Gossip Girl but told People she bombed. “I felt like I did an awful audition back then. I was so young, and it was, like, one of the first things I’d ever auditioned for,” Rumer said. Blake Lively landed the part instead.
While “xoxo” Gossip Girl didn’t work out for Rumer, she did find fame starring in the hit Fox show Empire and headlining as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway.
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Emma Roberts is another well-connected Hollywood kid who went from rich to richer. According to Women’s Health, the daughter of Oscar-nominated actor Eric Roberts and niece of Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts landed a part as a child extra in the 2001 romantic comedy America’s Sweetheart, thanks to Aunt Julia, but you’re more likely to remember her as the child star of Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous.She also appeared in Blow, We’re the Millers, Scream, and the FX series American Horror Story. While Emma is clearly making it in Hollywood, she says her acting career almost didn’t happen. After not getting the part of Wendy in the Peter Pan movie, Emma told Allure that her mom tried to convince her to “focus on being a kid” and take a break from the acting stuff. “And I said, No! I want a shot at glory!”
Emma knew her way around the industry at a young age. “My mom and I would stay with my Aunt Julia when I was really young, so I grew up on sets,” she told Glamour. “I just found this old Polaroid of me on the set of Erin Brockovich in one of my Aunt Julia’s super-padded dresses from the movie, with the biggest smile on my face.” With that in mind, we’d argue that it should have been easy to predict that Emma would at least get a shot at that glory she wanted to badly, particularly if she dropped her aunt’s name in an audition.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
It’s no secret the youngest Kardashian-Jenner kids, Kendall and Kylie, grew up financially comfortable. The famous daughters of Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and reality matriarch Kris Jenner were catapulted into fame with the success of the family’s reality show, Keeping up with the Kardashians. The girls grew up in front of television cameras and have both found success in their own lanes. Adidas Ambassador and model Kendall actually predicted her own future fame. Reading a letter she wrote to herself as a kid in a clip from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Kendall said, “My goal in life is to become a big time model.” And that she did.
But big sister Kim Kardashian told Vogue she thinks being a member of the Kardashian family actually “worked against” Kendall initially. “Coming from a reality show, people look down on that — a lot of people in the fashion industry don’t respect that world,” Kim said. Kendall revealed that she had her own qualms about transitioning from reality television into modeling. “…when I first started this, I thought: This is going to be so embarrassing. No one is going to accept me, and it’s going to be a complete failure,” she told the fashion mag. Luckily for Kendall, designer Marc Jacobs disagreed, casting her in his Fall 2014 fashion show and “thereby giving the rest of the fashion world permission to think of her as cool,” according to Vogue.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
The baby of the Kardashian-Jenner clan went from a quiet little girl fans saw on reality television to the “youngest, self-made billionaire ever” by age 21, according to Forbes. The publication said Kylie Jenner acquired “a ten-figure fortune at a younger age than even [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg (who was 23 when he hit that mark).” According to Forbes, Kylie Cosmetics is worth at least $900 million, and Kylie “owns all of it.”
When Interview referenced her privileged upbringing and asked the mogul if dubbing her “self-made” is 100 percent accurate, Kylie said: “There’s really no other word to use other than self-made, because that is the truth.” She added, “That is the category that I fall under. Although, I am a special case because before I started Kylie Cosmetics, I had a huge platform and lots of fans.” To put a finer point on it: “I did not get money from my parents past the age of 15. I used 100% of my own money to start the company, not a dime in my bank account is inherited … and I am very proud of that.”
Willow and Jaden Smith
Jerod Harris/Getty Images
The kids of actor and music star Will Smith and actress Jada Pinkett Smith are no stranger to success. Both have followed in their parents’ footsteps pursuing careers in the spotlight. Willow has dabbled in singing and starred in films such as Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and I am Legend (playing her dad’s on-screen daughter). She also co-hosts the Facebook series Red Table Talk alongside her mom and grandmother. Jaden Smith starred in Pursuit of Happiness (playing — you guessed it — his dad’s on-screen kid) and pursues modeling, singing, and songwriting. Both siblings have also been counted among Time magazine’s most influential teens.
Though these two currently reside squarely in the spotlight, Jaden says he has plans to ghost the public. “You will no longer know where I am, who I spend my time with, the clothes that I wear, if I have kids, if I don’t have kids, you will not know,” he told Time. “By the time I turn 30, I will be completely gone, and it will be a 100 percent mystery of where I am and what I’m doing.”
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Beliebers everywhere shed a few tears when Justin Bieber officially went off the market marrying Hailey Baldwin in a 2018 courthouse ceremony. Calling Hailey “very logical and structured” in their March 2019 Vogue cover story, Bieber says Baldwin is just what he needed when he needed it. Hailey already had a career in the spotlight and was no stranger to fame and fortune, considering she’s the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin and the niece of actor Alec Baldwin. She got a taste of stardom attending movie premieres with her famous dad as a child, and in her teens, she joined the supermodel squad with campaigns for brands such as Ralph Lauren, H&M, Guess, and Adidas. She’s walked runways for Tory Burch and Dolce and Gabbana and graced the magazine covers of Marie Claire and Vogue, among others. While Hailey’s making a name for herself, she’s adamant that she doesn’t want to rely on her privileged upbringing to succeed.
“I want to do everything on my own without my name being a factor…” she told Grazia Magazine. “Kids that already have a famous background are just following in their families’ footsteps. My dad and all of his brothers have done this. This is my family business.” Hailey told Elle UK she wouldn’t be where she is today if people didn’t “see something” in her. “I work my a** off to prove that this is what I want to do.”
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Fifty Shades of Grey actress Dakota Johnson didn’t exactly grow up poor. That’s right, the real-life Anastasia Steele had no need for a real-life Christian Gray. Dakota is third-generation Hollywood royalty. She’s the daughter of Hollywood stars Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and the granddaughter of Tippi Hedren — who was Alfred Hitchcock’s muse and the star of his thriller The Birds. “I just assumed that what I would be doing is making films, because I grew up around people making films, making art, making music,” Dakota told Vogue. She added, “Being on a film set is the most comforting thing in the world to me. Seeing a catering truck feels like home.”
Dakota’s pedigree probably played a role in her being named Miss Golden Globe in 2006 and, oh yah, her cinematic debut occurred when she was just a kid acting alongside her mom in 1998’s Crazy in Alabama. But even with her Hollywood background, snagging that huge role in the Fifty Shades franchise was a game-changer for Dakota. “They said, ‘You got the offer!’ and I couldn’t speak,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I was just so relieved. I was crying and crying. Water was literally squirting out of my eyes because I had been so stressed out…”
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
Speaking of Miss Golden Globe, the 2014 title was awarded to Sosie Bacon, daughter of actor Kevin Bacon and actress Kyra Sedgwick. That’s fitting, considering mom and dad have both won Golden Globes. As Sosie told The Hollywood Reporter, “you have to be born with two parents that are actors” to be selected. It seems you also probably have to be born filthy rich to hand awards to other rich people, but Miss Golden Globe wasn’t the first glimpse of life in the spotlight for Sosie. According to The Wrap, the Tinseltown tyke “made her acting debut” playing the child version of her mother’s character in the 2005 film Lover Boy. Her dad sat in the director’s chair. She also starred with her mom in the TNT series The Closer. Papa Bacon directed that one too.
When Sosie and her brother, Travis Bacon, were kids, Kevin said they didn’t realize their parents were famous. “We didn’t talk to our kids about our work. And they never watched our movies,” he told Us Weekly. In fact, Kevin believes he and Kyra subconsciously tried to dissuade their kids from pursuing careers in showbiz, thinking: “There’s going to be too much rejection. There’s going to be too much judgment … You don’t want your kids to have a hard time.” He has since changed his tune, reminding his daughter that in “any kind of career and in life, her process is going to be a very different process from my process.”
Gigi and Bella Hadid
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Chanel, Balmain, Versace … sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid have racked up a long list of high fashion and beauty campaigns between them — and their fame began to skyrocket when they were just teens. While the two grew up filthy rich, they say their parents had to work from the bottom up for everything they have — and that’s not lost on these superstar siblings. In an interview with Vogue, Gigi said their mom, Yolanda Hadid — who once starred on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — “was a farm girl from Holland who started modelling and sending money back from New York.” Bella told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia that their dad, real estate tycoon Mohamed Hadid, came to the United States as a “refugee” from Palestine. “They built what we were given in our childhood from nothing, so we work hard and be kind to honour our parents,” Gigi told Vogue. “I hope that others can see that we’re good people and can’t just judge because [we] come from privilege.
When Gigi was dismissed by some modeling heavyweights in 2016 as being nothing more than a social media star and one of the “b*tches of the moment,” Bella came to her defense. “You just have to let your success speak for itself … because at the end of the day, we’re making our money,” she told Glamour magazine. “If you’re a powerful woman and you’re confident in yourself, you want other people to succeed.”
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Miley Cyrus is the daughter of country music superstar Billy Ray Cyrus, the man behind the fun-to-sing-at-karaoke tune “Achy Breaky Heart.” To her credit, Miley has worked hard all her life and has since amassed a fortune of her own. Between her days on Hannah Montana and her subsequent career as a hugely successful singer, her net worth today is estimated at $160 million, but this child star wasn’t exactly slumming it when Disney came calling.
In a 2015 interview with Elle, Miley revealed that she was still living in her childhood home, which was described as a Tuscan-style “sprawling villa” with “cavernous rooms,” a “grand piano,” and a “filigree iron staircase.” But Miley wants to be crystal clear about this whole filthy rich label: “I did not grow up spoiled in any way,” she told Elle in 2016. “I just wanted to be on TV. I mean, at one point — they’ll probably kill me for saying it — I was probably the least paid person on my [Hannah Montana] cast because I didn’t know any better.” She credits her mom for realizing “how many people take advantage of a child” and hiring “smart people to protect me.”