Here’s a collection of celebrity inspirational stories that has a power to uplift your mind and soul. From struggling to make ends meet to having successful careers, these stories can be something to draw actual inspiration from. They will fill your heart with hope & optimism despite the suffering you’re going through now.
9 True Inspirational Stories That Make Sacrifices Worth It
1. Emilia Clarke: 3 Surgeries, The Pain and Me
Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke had to film the second season but brain surgery was not part of the plan. The actress was exercising when she felt like an elastic band was squeezing her brain. She entered the bathroom and sank to her knees in front of the toilet. She was trying to remember her lines from Game of Thrones when a woman found her lying on the floor.
Everything became, at once, noisy and blurry. I remember the sound to a siren, an ambulance: I heard new voices, some saying that my pulse was weak. I was throwing up bile.
The actress had suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm. A condition that caused real pain and the recovery was worse. After three-hour brain surgery, the results were mind shattering – she might not make it through the two weeks. A nurse asked her for her name, but the actress wasn’t able to answer.
I wanted to pull the plug. I asked the medical staff to let me die. My job-my entire dream of what my life would be centered on language, on communication without that, I was lost.
Fortunately, the memory loss was temporary. But her recovery was slow and the fear only grew. A month later, she was back on set remembering her lines, interacting with dragons and delivering powerful speeches, all the while hiding the truth.
I told my bosses at “thrones about my condition, but I didn’t want it to be a subject of public discussion and direction. The show must go on!
The actress took morphine between press interviews and hid behind makeup to hide her fatigue. Her willfulness to work made her complain less, even when the pain was so strong she couldn’t drown it with drugs.
On set, I didn’t miss a beat, but I struggled. Season 2 would be my worst. I didn’t know what Daenerys was doing. If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die….I was raised never to say, “It’s not fair”; I was taught to remember that there is always someone who is worse off than you.
In 2013, a routine brain scan told Emilia needed a second surgery. The actress needed to undergo one more surgery to fully recover from the pain and was promised a simple procedure. However, the actress woke up screaming in pain, the surgery had failed, and she had massive internal bleeding.
Now she needed a third operation immediately. The doctors immediately drilled through her skull to save her life. A few weeks later, hiding scars with her hair, Emilia Clarke faced thousands of enthusiastic fans at a hot, stuffy, crowded Comic-Con when she was hit by an excruciating headache!
Back came that sickeningly familiar sense of fear. I thought this is it. My time is up; I’ve cheated death twice and now he’s coming to claim me.
As she stepped off stage, an MTV reporter was waiting for her.
I figured if I’m going to go, it might as well be on live television.
Fate didn’t allow this – she came back to play Khaleesi for the third season, and the fourth, and the fifth. As her character grew stronger and fiercer, Emilia Clarke learned to surrender to the unknown. She faced her fear head on instead of avoiding it. And when the eighth and final season came around, she was still alive.
But there was one last thing Emilia Clarke needed to do to truly recover. After hiding the truth for nearly a decade, she opened up about her experience for the first time.
A healing experience, the actress now throws herself into charity work with the same dedication that turned her into a fan-favorite. Emilia Clarke helps people who can’t afford the treatments she was lucky to receive.
2. Chris Gardner: The Pursuit of Happiness
The movie Pursuit of Happiness was based on a boy with a troubled childhood – growing up without any parental support, he, along with his siblings, had to stay in a foster home at the age of 8.
This boy was Chris Gardner whose mother was divorced and falsely convicted twice because of his stepfather’s allegations. This stepfather was physically abusive to his mother and siblings.
As Chris Gardner got older, his first marriage failed partly due to his choice of opting out of a medical career and because he cheated on his wife. Although he was extremely intelligent, he failed miserably at his job as a medical equipment salesman, but his girlfriend also deserted him due to his deteriorating financial conditions. Along with his first child, he was now homeless and staying with his son at motels, parks, airports and once even in a public toilet. Even more sad, Chris Gardner toiled incessantly at a brokerage firm during the daytime, stood in long queues so as to sleep under a roof at night.
Everything turned around for the man after passing the licensing exam in 1982.
Chris became a full-time employee of Dean Witter, established his own brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co. in 1987, and went on to own 75% of the stock. He sold a small stake in Gardner Rich in 2006 in a multi-million dollar deal.
Yes, the famous movie and one of the harshest yet inspirational stories belongs to Chris Gardner – C.E.O and founder of Christopher Gardner International Holdings – with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. Then the Hollywood film – The Pursuit of Happiness – went on to be a blockbuster, but was also loved by audiences worldwide.
3. Hugh Herr: The Climb
A prodigy in rock climbing, Hugh Herr by age eight he had scaled the face of the 11,627-foot Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies, and by 17 he was considered to be one of the best climbers in the United States.
In January 1982, after having ascended the technically challenging ice route in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Herr and a fellow climber Jeff Batzer were swooped up by a blizzard and became disoriented. The pair ultimately descended into the Great Gulf where they were lost for three nights in −29 °C degree temperatures.
Most extreme sports athletes, despite their knowledge of the nature of the sport and surroundings, die in such extreme conditions due to frostbite. The same thing happened to these two climbers- both of Herr’s legs had to be amputated below the knees; while his companion majorly lost his lower left leg, the toes on his right foot, and the fingers on his right hand.
Joining as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT in biomedical devices, Hugh Herr started a career on advanced leg prostheses and orthoses, devices that emulate the functionality of the human leg.
Using specialized prostheses that he designed, the ambitious rock climber created prosthetic feet with high toe stiffness that made it possible to stand on small rock edges the width of a coin, and titanium-spiked feet that assisted him in ascending steep ice walls. The visionary engineer used these prostheses to alter his height to avoid awkward body positions and to grab the hand and foot holds previously out of reach. The man’s height could range between five to eight feet.
Booming with his new found career in prostheses, Herr climbed at a more advanced level than he had before the accident! This achievement made him the first person with a major amputation to perform in a sport on par with elite-level, able-bodied persons.
4. Walt Disney: A Transformative Voyage Of Inspirational Stories
There must not be a single person who does not know Disney, or hasn’t heard the name “Disney”. But before Walt Disney became the legend that he is today, this man was struggling to make ends meet.
One of the most inspirational stories in the world today began in 1919, while working for a newspaper, Walt Disney was fired by the newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Just a year later by January 1920, he formed a short-lived company with another cartoonist. However, following a rough start, he left temporarily to earn money at the Kansas City Film Ad Company.
Walt Disney was soon joined by Iwerks, who were not able to run their business alone. Eventually, though he acquired his own studio which was successful, studio profits were not enough to cover the high salaries paid to employees. The studio became burdened with debt and wound up bankrupt.
After facing these tragedies, he decided to set up a studio in the movie industry’s capital city, Hollywood, California. Disney soon drew up plans for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which was one of his first huge successes in the cartooning business. During that time, he was only receiving a 20 percent cut on his films and was ready to negotiate for higher since he was putting in the work for barely any money.
Walt soon faced another setback when his producer stole the character, and also stole his animation crew by re-negotiating better contracts with them. His producer thought he would cave and work with the mere 20% he was paid. So here’s what Walt Disney did: the man went on to create his most successful cartoon character EVER – Mickey Mouse. There was no turning back, no producer or no crew not! Thus, he went on to become the world famous entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer
Interestingly, during that tumultuous time, Walt was told that Mickey Mouse would not work since a huge mouse on the screen would terrify women. Well, it seems that women were not scared, for this mouse has continued to help their children relax in front of the TV while they enjoyed a quick well deserving nap! After all, why else would Mickey Mouse have been shared on screens all over the world, even today? The newspaper editor who fired him for “lack of imagination and no good ideas” was probably his biggest motivation!
5. Shakira: Her Story Doesn’t Lie
Known for the hits ‘Whenever, Wherever‘, ‘Hips Don’t Lie.’ and ‘Waka Waka‘, the pop singer and dancer Shakira won multiple Grammy, Latin Grammy, and American Music Awards. Infact, she won a total of 342 awards with estimates of more than 70 million albums sold worldwide. More recently, she was a judge on the popular singing-competition show The Voice.
The Colombian singer, songwriter, dancer, businesswoman was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. But her journey to fame was tough. When she was young, Shakira lost her older brother in a motorcycle accident when she was just 2 years old. In order to hide his grief, her father started wearing sunglasses and then his business got bankrupt.
Shakira once told in an interview that her family sold off their possessions but she still idolized her hardworking father and asked for a typewriter as a Christmas gift. She got it at the age of seven and started writing poems which later evolved into songs. Her 1st song was known by the name “Your Dark Glasses”/ “Tus gafas oscuras” was dedicated to her father and sang about her father’s attempt to shield her from his sorrow.
Although her family struggled financially, to make her always feel grateful for all she had, her father introduced her to children who were worse off kids who could not even afford shoes to cover their feet. Realizing the harsh reality of life. Shakira vowed that someday she would be able to help them.
“I feel a true sense of duty to use the voice and the platform I’ve been afforded by my fame to speak out for those whose voices do not get a chance to be heard.”-Shakira
Even in terms of joining a musical career, Shakira has to fight. She was rejected from the school choir. because her vibrato was too strong and her music teacher told her that she sounded “like a goat.”
“I never made it to the school choir because the music teacher didn’t like my voice. I was pretty sad. But he was mostly right; I did have a voice a bit like a goat, but my dad told me to never give up and to keep going, and it’s paid off.”-Shakira
Her father once took her to a restaurant where she saw a belly dancer moving to the beat of a drum. She started copying the steps right there on the table, and the experience made her realize that she wanted to be a performer. Shakira decided then and there that music was her true passion.
She says she had also been referred to as “the belly dancer girl”, as she would demonstrate every Friday at school a number she had learned.
“That’s how I discovered my passion for live performance,” she says.
“I continuously had the intuition, even as a little child, that I was called for a big project.” –Shakira
She would perform at any venue that would have her. To build confidence in yourself is one of the toughest things. Finally, she convinced a label executive to listen to her audition. While standing in a hotel lobby, backed up by a boombox. The executive took a chance on her.
“You feel that there is an avalanche coming at you, when you meet the right person.”- Shakira
Soon signed three albums, but her first two albums were utter failures and Shakira knew she only had one chance left to turn it all around. She knew the world needed to hear her voice. So, she wrote and produced every last song on the record.
“You can not achieve anything in life without a small amount of sacrifice.”-Shakira
The album was a hit and enabled her to start the Barefoot Foundation which now has 5 schools across Colombia.
“In the full light of day, I do not want to think about the sunset.”-Shakira
Barefoot Foundation provides meals for thousands of children. Her music teacher may have hated her singing voice, but her unique sound has earned her no shortage of fans. Shakira never lost sight of her dream to help others and managed to maintain confidence in herself, despite all those who thought she would never make it.
You need to know this, to earn your place you have to fight for it. Make yourself heard.
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “I was told, I had no chance”
Arnold’s father was an abusive alcoholic Nazi cop who used to beat Arnold with belts as if he was a criminal. As an escape, Arnold watched action movies and inevitably developed a love for American movies.
Arnold felt his real future awaited him there, but his father ridiculed his dreams – his dad wanted him to be a cop like him. Soon he turned to bodybuilding, and did everything he could to train for competitions like escaping basic army training to compete and spent a week in a military prison as punishment.
Better late than ever with $20 in his pocket, Arnold left for America. He arrived in California when he was 21 years old. During the day, he worked as a bricklayer and at night, he would focus on his dream of making it in America. Many of his friends helped him out, giving him dishes and pillows because he was so broke. He started selling gym equipment, He then took any leftover money and made small investments in real estate.
“If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dream”
This is why he said to never stop believing in your dream: In Hollywood, he was told his body was too big and weird, he had a funny accent, his name was too long – Schwarzenegger.
But Arnold stayed true to himself and his dream, and quickly made a name for himself as an actor. He got small role after small role, even won a Golden Globe for New Star of the year in 1976.With the money he made from his side hustle, Arnold decided to focus on acting full-time.
It was a fateful decision, as he got a big role, even though it was in a low budget movie. A role turned down by Mel Gibson, Tom Selleck, Chevy Chase, and almost given to Oj Simpson. But in 1984, “the Terminator” launched Arnold to stardom, and he became an action hero icon,
The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer. With a bag full of blockbusters, Arnold reinvented himself yet again in 2003, when he left the world of entertainment to devote himself fully to public service, eventually being elected Governor of California.
Arnold is involved with the Special Olympics, and found programs that educate youth about health, Befitting this real-life action hero, he once saved a drowning man off the coast of Maui.
His movies have made billions but more importantly, he is the embodiment of the American Dream and a reminder that no matter where we come from, We are the masters of our own destiny.
“Your struggles develop your strengths, when you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
7. Peter Dinklage: “The world’s not going to change, Carve out your little corner, Make an impression”
As a child Peter Dinklage underwent painful bone-shaving operations, to combat the side effects of his dwarfism. In his childhood, he realized that he looked very different from the other children. While watching a recording of his class play, Peter began to feel self-conscious about his appearance and spent many years feeling angry and bitter because of his condition.
Wondering what he did to deserve his fate, Peter admits he put up walls around his emotions, in order to protect himself from being made fun of. In addition to his stature, his dark clothing sullen disposition, and constant cigarette smoking isolated him from his peers. But he realized that through acting, he could control how people saw him.
“Don’t be too careful, because that shuts you off from people.” – Peter Dinklage
When he was acting and on stage, he realized that through the thunderous applause of an audience, people were recognizing his talent, and not just reacting to his appearance. Dinklage then moved toNew York City to pursue an acting career and found himself in a rundown apartment infested with rats, without a working oven or heating system. During an interview, the actor also spoke about going to the bathroom and seeing mushrooms growing everywhere.
Was this going to break down his dreams? No.
Was he going to get typecast as an elf or a leprechaun to pay the bills? No.
Peter refused the shortcut and was tirelessly waiting for a big break, giving him panic attacks, but he felt too much shame to seek help. He wanted the world to see him as more than just a person with dwarfism, so he held out until the independent film ” Living in Oblivion.”
Thanks to his integrity and acting ability, people were finally beginning to take him seriously as a performer, and Peter felt the walls he had spent years building start to fall. The Game Of Thrones actor had always respected and admired theater, and he fell head over heels for theater director Erica Schmidt. After 3 years of dating, the two eloped in Las Vegas in 2005.
“Marriage makes you happier. It makes you complete”.
Dinklage used his fame to inspire others to fight against their own limitations. The game of thrones actor was able to find a way to both fit in and stand out, by embracing what made him unique.
“The world’s not going to change. carve out your little corner, make an impression… and be kind.”
8. Tony Robbins: “Through resilience and compassion, we could achieve adversity, and come out much stronger”.
Growing up with an alcoholic, abusive mother, Tony’s mother poured liquid soap down his throat. She had severe addictions to drugs and alcohol and also physically abusive. His mother would beat his head against the wall until it bled.
In addition to being the worst mother of the year, she remarried four times while he was growing up. The eldest of three, Tony Robbins was inevitably in charge of his siblings. On one particular day, on Thanksgiving Tony’s family was hungry and they had nothing to eat, They were so poor.
“My mom was screaming at my father because he couldn’t take care of his family and then a miracle happened. Bang on the door. I’m the oldest one. They’re screaming So I go answer the door and standing there is this giant man, I was this little boy and he’s holding this huge box of food.”
Tony said that this moment deeply impacted Tony where he vowed, one day he was going to help people in the same manner that his family was helped. Soon he became an avid learner. As a teenager, Tony read more than100 books a year, all in the area of psychology, physiology, and philosophy.
“Your past doesn’t equal your future.”
However, his education halted thanks to his abusive mother who would often punish Tony by making him skip school. One Christmas Eve, Tony Robbins’ mother brandished a knife and threatened him with it. She even chased him out of the house and Tony never returned, finding a little flat but continued to support his family. After school, he worked as a janitor, a handyman, and a mover.
One day, he saw an old friend, who used to be poor and was now successful. The friend found success after attending a seminar run by Jim Rohn, a famous motivational speaker. Tony wrote Rohn a letter, asking if he could work for him. Jim Rohn accepted and took Tony under his wing.
Tony developed a more high-energy, personalized version of Rohn’s Seminars. He traveled across the country, leading hundreds of seminars every year. Two years later, the huge success of his first book “Unlimited Power” launched Tony into the mainstream.
Tony is now the world’s most famous and respected performance coach, He regularly sells out stadiums with his famous life coaching seminars. The motivational personality now owns 33 companies, consults over 2,00,000 people a year, and is worth over $500 million dollars.
Robbins made Oprah walk on fire and coached some of the world’s most high-profile people, including Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Leanardo DiCaprio, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, and Mother Teresa And just like he promised his younger self his charity work has fed more than 50 million people in 56 countries around the world.
” Every problem is a gift. Without problems, we would not grow.”
9. Maya Angelou: Stopped Talking For 5 Years
The famous activist grew up with her parents who divorced when she was 3 years old. So, for the next 4 years, she and her siblings lived with their grandma and their parents never visited.
Suddenly on one particular day, Maya and her siblings were forced back to the city to live with their mom. In just months after moving in, 7-year-old Maya Angelou was abused and raped by her mother’s new boyfriend.
After her trauma, Maya confided in her brother, who told the whole family. Although her mother’s boyfriend was found guilty, he was only sentenced to one day in jail. Four days after his release, he was murdered in cold blood. Many suspects that Maya’s uncle had killed him.
Extremely traumatized by what happened, Maya fell mute for the next 5 years and returned to live with her grandma.
“I thought my voice killed him; I killed that man because I told his name… I would never speak again because my voice would kill anyone..”
During this period of trauma, Maya Angelou discovered the wonderful world of literature. For years, she was silent but escaped into the make-believe worlds of Shakespeare and Dickens. Although very bright, Maya attended her classes in complete silence. But with support from her teachers and brother, she eventually found her voice once again, through dance.
Maya Angelou moved to New York City to study African dance. Soon the activist was dancing and singing Calypso music at the hottest nightclubs. She would then go on to tour Europe and released her first music album, Miss Calypso.
When she heard Martin Luther King Jr. speeches, she was inspired to become an activist.
Maya decided to raise funds for civil rights and traveled the world as a writer and radio broadcaster. She organized marches and protests with freedom fighters all over the world.
But after Dr. King’s assassination, Maya was once again elgulfed in depression.
So just like in her childhood, she turned to books to save her, the only difference being that instead of reading, she started writing about her pain and her childhood.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Her first autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings” became a best-seller and launched her career. Maya went on to be a play producer, compose music and write screenplays for TV and film, which made her the first black woman to have a screenplay produced.
Despite never stepping foot at a college, Maya was awarded over 30 honorary degrees. She also garnered 3 Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums. A gifted writer, Maya’s words have become one of the most inspiring stories of women coming from humble backgrounds.
Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, and Kanye West are some of the people who have celebrated the activist. Even when she passed away on May, 28th, 2014, she was honored as the “ultimate teacher” during her funeral.