"My Mom Always Says She Wanted Me To Fail": 14 Celebrities Whose Parents Were 100% Against Them Pursuing Fame
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1. Simu Liu
Growing up, the actor and his parents constantly bickered about their cultural and academic expectations. After graduating from business school, Simu became an accountant - which made his parents proud - but was fired eight months later. He took the opportunity to pursue an acting career and his relationship with his parents deteriorated.
It wasn't until he landed his first major role in Kim's Convenience that they began to mend their relationship. For his mother's 60th birthday, Simu wrote a heartfelt, eight-page letter that led to some healing conversations. "It was the first time we really talked about these issues," he told People. "We both acknowledged that we're flawed people trying to do our best."
2. Jennifer Affleck
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When she dropped out of college to pursue her dreams, her parents were deeply upset. According to E News! They told her it was "really stupid" and "no Latinos did that." During an interview with W Magazine, Jennifer said, "My mom and I had a falling out. I didn't want to go to college - I wanted to try to dance full-time. So she and I had a break.”
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“I started sleeping on the sofa in the dance studio. I was homeless, but I told her, 'This is what I have to do.' A few months later I got a dance job in Europe. When I came back I booked In Living Colour. I became a fly girl and moved to LA. It all happened in a year."
3. Gemma Chan
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After graduating from Oxford with a law degree, she turned down an opportunity with a law firm to study acting at the Drama Center London. Her parents did not agree with this decision; Gemma and her father did not speak to each other for months. "I totally understand why they were scared and upset because I don't come from a showbiz family," Gemma told Allure. "We have no affiliations with anyone in the industry."
"My father said to me, 'It doesn't matter how good you are, how talented you are, you won't find enough work.' I graduated from drama school 10 years ago so I've been working for 10 years, but there really weren't that many Asian faces on stage or screen in the UK back then.
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During an interview with Glamor, she said, "When I told my parents at 14 that I wanted to move to New York and be an actress, they said, 'Well, no. Apparently.' And I just wouldn't shut up. I had already saved money for babysitting. So I thought, 'I'm going.' I've always been a real money freak. I didn't buy things at the concession stand. I never knew what I was saving for until New York came to mind. And then I thought, 'That was me saving for. I go.'"
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"And they said, 'Well, we don't want her to die.' [So] my brother came with me. But they said, 'You can try for the summer, and then you have to come back and finish school.' My mom always says she wanted me to fail so I could get home because not failing meant I was in New York. She lost a daughter, really, at 14."
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The son of Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson - a famous wrestler inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame - Dwayne wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, but his old man disapproved. During an interview with Today, The Rock said: "We had the biggest fight between a father and a son over this. He said, 'Look around. Look what I have after all these years and I want more for you.' And I said, 'I know, and I appreciate that, but I feel like I have something to offer.' And we fought and fought and fought."
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It was Dwayne's mother who finally intervened and changed his father's mind. "Finally, after my mom said, 'Let me talk to you for a minute. Let me talk to you husband. Let me talk to you about how this whole thing is going to play out.' And then he said, 'Okay, I'll train you.'"
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6.Daniel Dae Kim
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Daniel's father was a doctor and his parents wanted him to pursue the traditional career path of doctor, lawyer or banker. But Daniel took an acting class in college that changed everything. "Something changed inside me," he told NBC News. "So I took as many acting classes as I could and got an independent acting major at a neighboring college because my college didn't have an acting major. After that, when all my friends came to places like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, I bucked the trend and ended up going to New York to trade."
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"The first few years were really difficult," he continued. "My parents worried about me. I believe at the heart of our conflict at the time was the fear that her son would not be able to support himself in the profession he was learning and would not be able to do all the things that a son could do, which is to get married, have children and the Being able to support parents as they get older – this vision that many Asian immigrant parents have for their children.”
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7. Katy Perry
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The daughter of ministerial parents grew up in a strict household and told Vanity Fair she wasn't allowed to listen to secular music or say the words "devil's eggs." She started out as a Christian singer but quickly turned to pop, which her parents disapproved of. They were deeply upset when she released I Kissed A Girl. During a sermon, her father told the congregation, "I kissed God—and I liked it!"
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"I think sometimes when kids grow up, their parents grow up," Katy said. "Mine grew up with me. We coexist. I'm not trying to change them anymore and I don't think they're trying to change me. We agree to disagree.”
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During an interview with USA Today, Kerry revealed that her mother was unhappy when she told her she was aiming for an acting career. In fact, her mother burst into tears and began to sob. Kerry also told The Guardian: "My mother's nightmare was that I was going to be a starving actress. She felt that life as a woman, as a person of color, was hard enough for her. Why would you put up that extra fight?”
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While he was a student at UCLA, he started an on-campus theater company, which his parents didn't mind since it was "for fun." But they weren't happy when he decided to pursue acting seriously after graduation. "My mom actually worked at UCLA ... and she heard firsthand stories about how hard it was," he said at a USC event. "And she told me, especially as an Asian, how impossible it would be. And she was right, it was really hard.”
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In hindsight, however, Randall appreciates the financial support his parents offered. "I'm saying my parents didn't support my career, but with the perspective I have now, they've really supported me in my pursuit of this career because they've housed me, fed me at times, and maybe done my laundry here and there ."
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On an episode of The Howard Stern Show, Steve shared that his father was critical of his acting career. After one of Steve's film premieres, he and his parents went to dinner, where his mother asked his father about his thoughts on the film. His father simply said, "Well, he's no Charlie Chaplin." After Steve hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time, his father wrote a newsletter with a negative review of his son, insisting that the SNL appearance wasn't helping Steve's career.
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Despite having Julia Roberts as an aunt and Eric Roberts as a father, Emma revealed that her mother didn't want her to step into the limelight. During an interview with Elle Canada, Emma said, "[My mother] just didn't want me to deal with it young. When you come from a family that's in the industry, they always say, 'Be a doctor! a lawyer!' But in the end we want to be actors."
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On an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! She said: "I called my dad to tell him I was leaving college to be a comedian and he was like, 'Eddie Murphy? Eddie Murphy isn't even Eddie Murphy. Diane, grab the phone and tell this girl she's not funny. You are not funny! You've never made me laugh. Never!'"
"He didn't support it. He didn't support it at all... The whole family. My friends, everyone, said, 'Girls, if you quit that comedy thing and get a real job? One of my friends thought I was really funny, but they also said, 'Get a job'."
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During an interview with the Sunday Times Style Magazine, she said: "My mother saw acting as 'low', that was her mindset, which is Korean. She's just a classic East Asian parent - constantly unsatisfied! But not being satisfied gives you drive, it's not bad."
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14. And finally, Ross Butler
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When he moved to California to pursue acting instead of becoming an engineer, his mother did not support his decision. Ross told Paper that his mother saw acting "as insecure and reckless and not a way [he] could [support himself.]" They didn't speak to each other for several years. He shared that he often wondered, "How do I fit my dreams into the Asian cultural dream? How do I bring these two worlds together?”
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Wishing he had been able to pursue creative endeavors as an adult, he said: "I think the problem isn't necessarily the decision to go into art. The problem is allowing Asian American children to be creative at a younger age. A decision down this path doesn't seem as radical or extraordinary. Because if I had started earlier, I can't tell how the story would have changed, but the transition could have been earlier."
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Do you know other actors whose parents didn't initially support their careers? LMK in the comments below!
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