When the going gets really tough, even the tough can be tempted to throw in the towel. But hang in there, because for all you know, success is just a few steps away. Take a page from these stars who experienced major setbacks in life, but never gave up the fight. If they can overcome their challenges and rise to the top, then you can, too!
1. Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland is force to be reckoned with in the world of dance. As the fourth ever African-American to become a soloist in the prestigious American Ballet Theater, she's blazing a trail for performers everywhere. She's also considered a prodigy, only starting ballet at 13 years old, which is 10 years later than when most girls who end up as professionals begin. Despite her skills, one ballet school outright rejected her because she was too old and has the wrong physique for ballet (You can even see the exact rejection letter in her kickass Under Armour video). Had she listened to them, she wouldn't have enjoyed the success she has now. Today, Copeland continues to soar high in her dancing career, taking on highly-coveted ballet roles. She's also found recognition outside the ballet circle, becoming a judge for the dance reality show, So You Think You Can Dance, and publishing her own memoir.
Multitalented artist Shakira realized her passion for performing at a young age. However, during second grade, she was rejected from the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher even told her that she sounded "like a goat." She almost didn't get signed by Sony Colombia because the song and artist director who heard her demo tape was not impressed and thought she was a "lost cause." Despite these setbacks, Shakira pursued her dreams and found success and recognition all over the world. She has since won a lot of awards including two Grammys, and even has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
3. Marilyn Monroe
Before Marilyn Monroe found fame as an actress, model, and singer, she had had to deal with some pretty rough circumstances. Her mother was mentally unstable and was financially unable to care for her, so Marilyn was given up for foster care. Her early attempts at modeling were met with rejection, with one agency telling her that she should just "consider becoming a secretary." Her producer at 20th Century Fox even decided to drop her because she was "unattractive and couldn't act." But those setbacks just made her success all the more sweeter, as Marilyn blazed her way to the top and became one of the most iconic entertainers of all time.
4. Emily Blunt
Actress Emily Blunt has such a commanding presence onscreen that it's not surprising that she has risen to the ranks of Hollywood A-listers. But when she was still a teen, Blunt couldn't even carry a conversation with her classmates because she had a major stutter. In an interview with W Magazine, she said, "I was a smart kid, and had a lot to say but I just couldn't say it. It would just haunt me." Luckily, a junior high school teacher encouraged her to act in the school play and suggested that she try accents and character voices to get the words out. This helped Blunt overcome her speech impediment and she went on to have a bright career in acting, getting lead roles and award nominations for her work.
5. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson was a strong contender in the third season of American Idol. She was predicted to sing off against belter Fantasia Barrino in the finals, but shockingly, two weeks after she got the highest votes for her performance of Elton John's "The Circle of Life," she was booted from the show. This didn't deter her because she went on to become a big success despite not winning the competition. She nabbed the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. She has also released two albums and is prepping for a Broadway debut.
6. Hilary Clinton
Hilary Clinton is no doubt one of the most powerful women in the world today. But her road to political stardom was not a smooth-sailing one. Early in her career, she failed the Washington D.C. bar exam. Her marriage to former US President Bill Clinton had also been a tumultuous one—she had to deal with her husband's extramarital affair, which became a huge scandal and got him impeached. Hilary still remained strong and poised despite these challenges, and she continued to work hard to realize her political ambitions. To date, she has a long list of achievements under her belt—she served two terms as US Senator, became the US Secretary of Defense, and now she's campaigning to be the first female US president in history.
7. Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour is one of the most important and respected figures in the fashion world. As Vogue's editor-in-chief for 27 years and running, she has been widely praised for her eye for fashion trends and for her support for younger designers. But before making a name for herself, Wintour actually got fired from Harper's Bazaar after nine months because her shoots were "too edgy" for the editor. She shook off that rejection and went on to become a fashion editor at Viva. This was followed by stints at other well-known fashion magazines before she set her eyes on Vogue, which propelled her to fashion world fame.
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