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Kelly Clarkson on what fueled her fame and the pledge she's made for an even brighter future

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Kelly Clarkson on what fueled her fame and the pledge she's made for an even brighter future

Before she became America's first Idol, before the record deals, three Grammys and hit daytime talk show, Kelly Clarkson was a broke cocktail waitress in Los Angeles trying to make ends meet. But even though the singer-songwriter has reached superstardom, Clarkson continues to make pledges to invest in herself to keep her future on track.

Like so many Americans making pledges in 2020 — to gain financial freedom or find true happiness — Clarkson is committed to pursuing her own dream: "to invest in love, and encourage everyone to do the same."

Clarkson's determination to pursue her dream is undoubtedly what fueled her fame: In 2000 Clarkson decided to abandon all thoughts of college in order to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. In an interview with NPR radio host Guy Raz, Clarkson recalled her decision, saying, "I knew that I'd rather go out and almost, like an apprentice-style, just start doing background vocals for people and then just kind of work my way up. So I chose to move to L.A. randomly."

There, Clarkson put a demo together and hustled to make some money doing some side jobs. "I worked at Six Flags. I did the singing and dancing, like all those shows. Any option that was available to make money singing, I was like, 'OK.'" Investing in herself meant taking any paying gig she could find. She worked as a cocktail waitress, at a comedy club, Papa John's and even Subway.

Kelly Clarkson performs on American Idol in 2002
Kevin Winter | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

After just 18 months in L.A., Clarkson's apartment complex burned down, forcing her to sleep in her car for a few days until she made enough money to drive back home to her childhood home in Burleson, Texas. It was then that Clarkson finally got her big break, nailing the audition in Dallas for the opening season of "American Idol." She was just 20 years old.

Immediately after being crowned Idol's first winner, in 2002, Clarkson put out a No. 1 single, signed a record deal and co-starred in the 2003 romantic comedy "From Justin to Kelly" with Idol challenger Justin Guarini — but that was just the beginning. The singer-songwriter, now 36, has sold more than 25 million albums.

Since those early years, Clarkson has segued into a number of ventures, including a collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama on an initiative to help young girls who are denied an education. Today she is the host of NBC's "The Kelly Clarkson Show," and she plans on sticking around. NBCUniversal Television Distribution just renewed the show for a second season in syndication.

With a reported net worth of $45 million, Clarkson is pledging to invest in the simpler pleasures of love and community in 2020. And there's no doubt she will make an impact.

Whether you dream of owning your own business, paying down debt or becoming a star, investing in yourself is crucial to building wealth. Take the pledge to get invested in 2020 today.

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
Disclosure: "The Kelly Clarkson Show" is produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Television.