Money

Before Melissa McCarthy made it big, she had less than $5 in her bank account

Actress Melissa McCarthy has starred in some of the funniest, female-led movies in recent years: "Life of the Party" is out May 11, and who can forget "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat." She's a multimillionaire and lives in a sprawling 9,000-foot home in Los Angeles with her husband and two kids.

But when she first started out, McCarthy was flat broke, the star recently revealed to Glamour magazine.

"I remember when you could still get a $5 bill out of an ATM and I couldn't get it because [my balance] was under $5," McCarthy tells the publication.

McCarthy, 47, who was raised on a farm in Illinois, started out going to fashion school in New York City. And she wasn't very smart about money.

"When I moved to New York at 20, I wish I did not discover that you can just get credit cards. I had a friend — Brian Atwood, the shoe designer — and I remember him saying, 'What are you going to do, walk around New York in cheap shoes? You go to Bergdorf,'" McCarthy tells Glamour. "I was such a farm girl that I was like, 'I guess he's right.'"

She tried to justify pulling out plastic for such pricey purchases, and tells Glamour, "I couldn't afford anything in there, but they would just give you a store card, and so we were buying wonderful things. I was like, 'I work really hard. I'll pay this off in increments.' No, [laughs] you will not."

McCarthy soon quit school to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, but success wasn't immediate, and she spent years hustling in Hollywood before making it.

"I would never quite have the money for rent," she says, "so I would call my mom and dad or my sister and say, 'This is how much I'm short.' They never made me feel guilty, because they knew I wasn't lying around doing nothing," she recalls.

Despite having a support system, McCarthy wanted to be financially independent and still remembers what it was like to pull her first paycheck.

"I thought, I don't want to continue this pattern. I want to be able to pay the phone bill and not panic," she tells Glamour. So she got a job as a production coordinator and "got an actual check. It was the first time I stopped calling my parents, and it was an amazing feeling."

Melissa McCarthy 
Gregg DeGuire | Getty Images
Melissa McCarthy 

After several years, McCarthy landed her breakout role as Sookie on the CW's "Gilmore Girls" in 2000. She went on to star in CBS's "Mike & Molly" from 2010 to 2016 and became a box office darling with "Bridesmaids."

Today, McCarthy has come a long way from her single-digit bank account. She was ranked by Forbes as the fourth-highest paid actress of 2017 with $18 million in earnings, and Forbes estimates she earned an eight-figure upfront fee for her role in the 2016 remake of "Ghostbusters."

Still, McCarthy says she wouldn't change the years of hustling, telling Glamour, "when you spend 20 years working your butt off, you know yourself better.

"I think the best thing I could have done was struggle until I was 30," McCarthy says. "I always assume every job is my last. Twenty years of desperately trying to get a single job gets deep in your DNA."

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