While Madonna may seem like some sort of superhuman—pointy breasts and all—she actually struggled to make her way to stardom. She wasn’t born into money or fame; she had to earn it. These top five facts are sure to help feed your Madonna obsession and give you a little insight about her rise to the top.
5 Owns a Mother-Daughter Business
In 2010, Madonna’s then 13-year-old daughter Lourdes realized she had quite the eye for fashion. It must be in her genes. So the pop star and her teenage fashionista launched “Material Girl,” a clothing line for juniors that is featured in Macy’s. Don’t worry, parents—the clothes are based on Lourdes’ hip but conservative tastes, not the risqué outfits you remember Madonna showing off in the ’80s.
4 Controls Her Empire
Madonna never wanted to be under the control of some demanding record label. So in 1992, she decided that she wanted to be her own boss and became one of the founding members of Maverick Records, part of the Warner Music Group. She still had rules to follow, but at least she had a say and was able to put her own demands into her contracts.
3 Started Out as a Drummer
In 1979, Madonna started dating Dan Gilroy of the band the Breakfast Club. The following year, she joined Gilroy’s band—but not as a singer. She started out on the drums, creating the pop ’80s beats that the era is known for. But shortly thereafter, her beauty and ability to carry a tune prevailed, and she became the band’s lead singer.
2 Struggled to Pay Rent
Back in the 1970s, before Madonna was a household name, she did whatever she had to do to pay the bills. She posed nude as an art model, worked as a server and did random performances for the American Dance Center in New York City—all to scrape together enough to keep a roof over her head in the Big Apple.
1 Nearly Flawless School Record
Believe it or not, the future queen of pop was at the top of her class back in the day. Throughout high school, she maintained straight As, while cheerleading and dancing in the afternoons. Her dedication to extracurricular activities and ability to focus on her studies caught the attention of the folks at the University of Michigan. They offered her a full scholarship to attend college and become a member of their dance crew. She stayed at the university for only two years, though. With a little push from her dance instructor, she built up the courage to drop everything, move to New York City and follow her dream of dancing.