According to DoSomething.org every year over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States. That’s a student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. Statistically, a high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime, and commit about 75% of crimes, however, these Hollywood moms defied the odds and turned their lives into a success story.
1. Drew Barrymore – At just 3 years old, Drew Barrymore was already a successful actress, and by the age of 7, she was cast as Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Unfortunately, due to a series of drug and alcohol problems she had to check into rehab at the age of 13. She became emancipated from her parents at age 14, and then decided to drop out of school.
2. Whoopi Goldberg – “What I remember about being a kid was that I felt pretty protected, I wasn’t afraid, and I had a mother who understood, after a while, that there was something different about the way I learned.” Caryn Elaine Johnson, famously known as Whoopi Goldberg, shared her childhood dyslexia struggles in front of an audience for Child Mind Institute in 2016. The multi-award winner didn’t get diagnosed until adulthood, so school got harder and she continued falling behind until she eventually dropped out of high school.
Related: Celebs Who’ve Had Kids as Teenagers
3. Demi Moore – Demi Moore had a difficult childhood. Her parents split up before she was born, and she was raised by her mother and stepfather, both of whom drank heavily. While living in LA she eventually dropped out of Fairfax High School at 16. She went on to work as a debt collector and took up acting after reading scripts with a young German neighbor and aspiring actress named Nastassja Kinski.
4. Rene Russo – To help support her single mother, Rene Russo dropped out of high school in the tenth grade and took several part-time jobs including a cashier position at a movie theater and a line inspector gig at an eyeglass factory.
5. Christina Applegate – Christina Applegate’s mother was an actress, and her father was a record producer, so Applegate pursued acting at a young age. She appeared in several movies while still in elementary. The star attended Excelsior High School in Hollywood, but dropped out during her junior year, at the age of 15, after landing the role of Kelly Bundy on Married with Children.
6. Fantasia Barrino – American Idol alum Fantasia Barrino attended Andrews High School in High Point, North Carolina, and was raped by a classmate in the auditorium. Feeling embarrassed and harassed she dropped out of school. Barrino later became pregnant at the age of 16.
Related: Famous Moms Who’ve Survived Raped
7. Catherine Zeta-Jones – Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones attended Dumbarton House School in the UK. By the time she was 15, Zeta-Jones had dropped out of high school to join a touring production of the musical The Pajama Game. She soon moved on to London’s West End, where she appeared in a production of 42nd Street at the age of 17.
8. Gisele Bündchen – At the age of 13, Brazilian supermodel, Gisele Bündchen was discovered by an Elite modeling agent at a shopping mall in São Paulo while on a school excursion. At the time she was eating a burger at a shopping mall. The rising model found success at an early age and eventually dropped out of high school at age 14 to pursue her career full time.
9. Jessica Simpson – Jessica Simpson was born and raised in Dallas, TX, where she began her performing career as a member of her church choir. When Simpson was 16, Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola heard Jessica, Simpson’s debut album, and was so impressed that she was immediately signed to his label. She later dropped out of high school to pursue her music.
10. Kate Winslet – Kate Winslet once said she was shy and vulnerable while in school and was bullied and teased about her weight, admitting that the other kids called her “blubber.” By 16, the actress had dropped out of high school and was working in a deli when she landed her first film role: the lead in the 1994 Peter Jackson-directed film Heavenly Creatures.
11. Hilary Swank – In 2007, when Hilary Swank was promoting her film Freedom Writers, a true story based on at-risk high school kids, the actress was asked to address her own school background. “I’m not proud to say I’m a high-school dropout… I’m not proud that that’s something that happened, but it happened. I think school is really, really important and we have an education problem in this country and it’s a shame. It’s a shame for any kid to feel hopeless about their future,” the actress told TODAY.
12. Cameron Diaz – Cameron Diaz purportedly dropped out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School, at the age of 16, after signing a coveted modeling contract with Elite Model Management.
13. Jessica Chastain – Jessica Chastain admitted to a secret nobody knew about her. She told Entertainment Weekly, “I dropped out of high school. I was not a hard worker. I was a terrible student. Eventually I got my adult diploma, but I did not graduate. And it wasn’t that I just dropped out and never went back—at the end of the year I had too many absences to graduate.”
14. Katy Perry – Katy Perry dropped out of high school during her freshman year. Perry’s pastor parents were planting new churches and always traveling, and the hitmaker told Yahoo, “I was being pulled out of school even in the middle of school and sometimes being home-schooled. Sometimes we were sent to these really half-Christian, half-education, I-don’t-know-what-they-were schools.”