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Charlize Theron witnessed her mother shooting her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Image Credit: AFP

Whether author or Hollywood actress, many of the world’s most famous people haven’t enjoyed a smooth-sailing road to success. Some have been through the grinder, coming out more resilient and stronger than ever before.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how today’s stars once had to fight every step of the way on the road to ‘success’.

Here are a few origin stories worth knowing:

1. Vincent Van Gogh

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Self-Portrait, by Vincent Van Gogh Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Although the Dutch painter is now considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time, Van Gogh only managed to sell one of his paintings in his entire lifetime. The artwork, titled The Vigne Rouge, now resides in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia. Despite the lack of interest from the public, Van Gogh persevered with his passion for art, and went on to create over 900 independent artworks.

2. Charlize Theron

When she was only 15, South African actress Charlize Theron witnessed her mother shooting her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma upend her life, Theron channelled her energy into making a name for herself in Hollywood. She became the first South African actress to win an Academy Award in 2004, for the film ‘Monster’.

3. Steven Spielberg

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Steven Spielberg Image Credit: AP

He’s one of the most prolific filmmakers in Hollywood, and is responsible for entertaining classics, like ‘E.T.’, ‘Jaws’ and ‘Minority Report’. But when he was a young man, he was unable to get into the film school of his choice. The University of Southern California (USC) rejected him twice. Still, it didn’t stop Spielberg from pursuing his passion for filmmaking. In 1994, he received an honorary degree from USC, and two years later, became a trustee of the university.

4. Jay-Z

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Jay-Z Image Credit: AFP

The American rapper rose to fame from a rough Brooklyn neighbourhood in New York, US. But he didn’t have an easy time rising to the top. Not a single record label would agree to sign with him. So, Jay-Z started his own company. His label, Roc-A-Fella Records, would turn into an incredibly lucrative company and propel Jay-Z into the list of the most powerful people in the music industry. US-based magazine Forbes’ estimated his net worth at $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) and TIME magazine ranked him as one of the most influential people in the world in 2013. On top of everything else, he’s married to American music royalty, Beyonce.

5. Jim Carrey

Actor Jim Carrey. Image Credit: AFP

American comedic actor Jim Carrey had to drop out of school to support his family when he was just 15 years old. His father was an unemployed musician, and as the family struggled to make ends meet, they eventually had to move out of their rented home and start living in a van. Carrey didn’t let poverty stop him from dreaming big. He would have his dad drive him to comedy clubs in Toronto, and later starred in mega-blockbuster productions in Hollywood. He is still known as one of the best comedic actors of his generation.

What do you think of these success stories? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at