10 Successful Entertainers Who Never Gave Up

If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Or in some cases, try 20 or 30 times. Many successful people, including authors, celebrities, and entertainers, failed multiple times before they finally made it. Here are 10 inspirational people who never gave up in the face of adversity:


J.K. Rowlinghas one of the greatest rags-to-riches stories known to the world. She couldn’t afford a computer or even a photocopier, so she manually typed out her 9,000-word Harry Potter novel and sent it to publishers. She was rejected 12 times until Bloomberg decided to publish her story. Now, Harry Potter is both the best-selling book series and the highest-grossing film series in the world.

 Stephen King’s first short story, The Glass Floor, was rejected 60 times before it got published. Carrie was similarly rejected dozens of times until it was sold to Doubleday Publishing. Then, King received $200,000 when Signet Books signed onto paperback rights for Carrie, which became King’s first established novel. King is currently revered as the most prominent voice in horror literature with books like The Shining and It. 

Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television three different times. He attended the school at a different location but dropped out to become a director. Since then, he has been behind some of the most recognizable US films in history including Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. When he finally graduated, he submitted Schindler’s List as his final project. What a way to prove everyone wrong.

Oprah Winfrey went through a lot in her childhood. She was a victim of sexual abuse from several family members. Winfrey ran away from home and had her first child at 14, who died two weeks later. She was also fired from one of her first jobs because she was deemed “unfit for tv.” After years of hard work, Winfrey became a major television personality and garnered a net worth of about $3 billion. She is recognized as perhaps the most influential woman in the world.

Elvis Presley was fired in 1954 after just one performance when Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, told him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Presley obviously proved Denny wrong, as he easily becomes one of the most defining musicians who has ever lived alongside The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.

Jack London received over 600 rejection slips when he was trying to get his first story published. He became famous due to novels like The Call of the Wild and its sequel White Fang, both of which are now considered to be classics of American literature.

 Harrison Ford was told that he didn’t have what it takes to be a film star after his very first movie role. Ford didn’t give up and has since starred as iconic characters like Indiana Jones and Han Solo. He has also acted in famous movies like Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, and The Conversation.

 Marilyn Monroe was told by modeling agencies that she should consider becoming a secretary instead of a model. Despite this, Monroe became a model as well as an actress and a sex symbol in her time. She is still an iconic woman whose image is still recognizable to this day.

 Jay-Z could not get a deal with a single record label when he was trying to start his rap career. He sold records out of his car and started Roc-A-Fella Records with Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs. Jay-Z eventually became one of the best-selling and most critically-acclaimed hip-hop artists of all time.

Lucille Ball was labeled as a failed actress and “Queen of the Bs” before she landed I Love Lucy. She eventually won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors and four Emmys for her work. Ball became one of the most recognized women in comedy and television, and I Love Lucy is widely considered to be one of the greatest television shows ever made.


Not everyone makes it. Sometimes people will give up just before they make it big. Those lucky few who do get rich and famous aren’t just lucky – they’re determined to pursue their dreams even when it feels like the odds are stacked against them. They don’t give up until the very end.




Browse All Quote Topics