In a recent Glamour article, Chrissy Metz shared a heartfelt account of her nearly 20-year struggle to succeed in Hollywood. Indeed her talent, belief, determination, and help from her supportive friends have paid off. Last year she landed a part on the critically acclaimed drama This Is Us. At the time she left the audition room for the role of Kate Pearson, she was convinced it was a “miserable and terrible” audition–not to mention she was down to 81 cents in her bank account! And yet, after landing the part, she went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. And last month, NBC renewed the series through its third season.

Metz is from Florida, and while growing up her family struggled to make ends meet. “After high school, I really wanted to act, but I didn’t even know how to begin. I didn’t know anybody with connections, I didn’t come from money, I didn’t go to Juilliard. But I never was afraid of the odds, even though they were seriously stacked against me,” she told the magazine.

Early on, Chrissy accompanied her sister to an open-call model-and-talent search. One of the scouts asked Chrissy if she could sing or act. “I sang Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’–Lord knows why I chose that big ol’ thing. The following day she called my sister for a modeling contract and told me she’d introduce me to managers and agents in Los Angeles.”

Chrissy traveled across the country with five other young women. Once in Los Angeles, they all shared a two bedroom apartment. Still, money was tight, but she got by with nanny work and taking on odd jobs. As for her dream of acting, she admits, “I had two auditions that pilot season, maybe. I cried a lot.”

The plus-sized star has said she battled her weight since she was about three years old, and has described how there are only so many roles that require a plus-sized actress, so opportunities to audition are hard to come by. However, Metz was able to land episodic television roles over the years on various shows like playing a counter girl on Entourage, or the character Chunk on My Name Is Earl.

To her elation, Chrissy procured a recurring role in 2014 as Barbara, aka Ima Wiggles, on American Horror Story: Freak Show. She was hopeful the new exposure would springboard her career.“But when it wrapped, there was…nothing,” she said. “I almost moved back to Florida, but my mom said, ‘You can either be miserable here and not pursue your dreams, or you can be miserable in L.A. and at least pursue what you want.”

Fortunately, she decided to remain in Los Angeles. Chrissy said of those enduring months:

“I kept auditioning, with no savings and no money, credit card debt gaining interest. I went on unemployment. I bought ramen noodles at dollar stores. I never had to–God forbid–live on the streets; I moved in with a roommate who told me, ‘Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don’t give up.’ People who supported me were like, ‘If you don’t have money for food, I’ll cook you dinner. You don’t have money for acting class? Let’s get together and read lines.’ I am so grateful that I had such an amazing support system, but when I booked ‘This Is Us,’ I had 81 cents in my bank account. I could cry right now just thinking about it.”

Success has come to a grateful heart in Chrissy Metz. She now says, “Sometimes I cry on the way to the set still. There is something that happens when you are grateful: You continue to keep receiving blessings. So I will always be grateful.”

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