Everyone knows the name “Lady Gaga” these days, but not that long ago, she was just Stefani Germanotta. Lady Gaga has had one of the most intense rises to fame in Hollywood history, going from underground rule-breaker to total icon in a matter of two or three years.
Read on to learn about how Lady Gaga grew up, where she got her education, how she got started in the music business, where her career has led her since she became famous, how much money she’s making, and what she loves to spend her (many) millions on when she gets a little free time.
Growing Up in New York
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in March of 1986. The pop star is now 35 years old, and she’s been performing for almost that long.
Her mother was a philanthropist and businesswoman, and her father was an entrepreneur of the early internet. Gaga has said that both her parents were raised in lower-class households, and they were dedicated to working extremely hard. Gaga herself was raised in her parent’s upper-middle-class household on the Upper West Side of New York City. The Upper Westside is known as an affluent residential area that’s both an intellectual and cultural hub for the city. Schools bordering the neighborhood include Barnard College and Columbia University. As of 2017, the median household income of the Upper West Side from 59th street to 110th street is about $123,894, according to Census Reporter.
So, Gaga was raised in a very affluent area around quite successful people. When it comes to her art, she also had the benefit of being in close proximity to significant hubs of culture and creativity throughout New York City. In fact, her mother encouraged her to become a more “cultured young woman” by taking up piano lessons when she was just four years old.
In 2003, Gaga was accepted to the Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) when she was just 17 years old. CAP21 is a professional musical theater training conservatory within New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The conservatory has trained several Broadway performers, as well as film and TV stars. However, Gaga ended up dropping out of the program in 2005 in order to focus fully on her burgeoning career in music.
Launching Her Career
Lady Gaga’s career took off from there. She started off by trying different collaborations with other artists like Melle Mel and friends she met in college. The SGBand was formed by Gaga and her NYU friends, and they gained popularity around the downtown Lower East Side clubs.
In 2006, Gaga participated in the Songwriters Hall of Fame New Songwriters Showcase in New York. There, a talent scout saw the young singer and recommended her to a music producer. Soon after, Gaga was producing electropop tracks and sending them to executives, waiting to see if anyone would bite. It didn’t take long before Def Jam decided they wanted to add her to their label in September of 2006. However, the deal didn’t last, and Lady Gaga moved to Streamline Records in November of 2007.
Gaga began writing songs for stars like Britney Spears, The Pussycat Dolls, and Fergie. While executives were still pushing back on Lady Gaga’s dance-centric tracks, she continued to insist that her sound was the future.
She was right, and 2008 was the breakout moment for her career. She had moved to Los Angeles to finish her debut album, The Fame, which included the hit singles “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” A 2009 reissue of the album, The Fame Monster, included even more iconic Gaga tracks.
Songs like “Bad Romance,” “Alejandro,” and “Telephone” debuted in 2009, and Lady Gaga became an instant celebrity. That same year, she became the most downloaded female singer in a year in the United States after 11.1 million downloads of her music were sold.
Lady Gaga has not stopped producing hit music since. After The Fame Monster, she continued to release pop music that would dominate the charts for the next decade. Her albums include:
- Born This Way (2011)
- Artpop (2013)
- Cheek to Cheek (with Tony Bennett) (2014)
- Joanne (2016)
- Chromatica (2020)
She has also embarked on five headlining tours, and The Chromatica Ball tour is set to launch in 2022.
Other Business Ventures, Acting
In 2018, Gaga starred in A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper. It was her first lead acting gig, and critics and audiences alike were blown away. Aside from being nominated for several awards for her performance, she and Cooper also got credit for writing and producing the soundtrack together. The lead single, “Shallow,” blew up globally, and you couldn’t go a few minutes without hearing on the radio for an entire year.
“It put me right in the place I needed to be, because when my character talks about how ugly she feels — that was real,” Gaga told the Los Angeles Times in August of 2018. “I’m so insecure. I like to preach, but I don’t always practice what I preach.”
Susan Batson, Gaga’s acting coach, added, “It was her first [starring role], but you would have never known it, and I think that has something to do with the fact that she’s done so much performing already. The Lady Gaga that the public knows? They won’t see her [in this film].”
Lady Gaga is reportedly venturing into other film projects even as she works on her music. She will star in House of Gucci, an American biographical crime film surrounding fashion icon Maurizio Gucci. Gaga will play Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Gucci, who was an affluent Italian socialite. Reggiani went through a high-profile trial when suspicions were raised that she had something to do with her ex-husband’s passing.
The cast for this film is stacked. Her co-stars will include Adam Driver, Salma Hayek, Al Pacino, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, and Jeremy Irons. The film will be directed by Ridley Scott.
Gaga is also set to star in a 2022 film called Bullet Train, an action thriller directed by David Leitch. The ensemble cast will be led by Brad Pitt, and it also includes Sandra Bullock, Bad Bunny, Hiroyuki Sanada, Zazie Beetz, and Karen Fukuhara.
To date, Gaga has won an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a BAFTA, three Brit Awards, 18 MTV Video Music Awards, 16 Guinness World Records, and 12 Grammy Awards. Gaga has sold at least 146 million singles and 27 albums across the globe. Certainly, all this hard work, popularity, and success means Lady Gaga has been earning good money since 2009. However, this pop star does not seem to take any breaks, and her personal wealth has expanded even more as she takes her talents to other industries.
Lady Gaga’s Net Worth
So, now that we know Stefani Germanotta has built up one of the most impressive resumes in the country, we can discuss just how much money her amazing success in the entertainment industry has earned her.
With the most recent estimate being based on her earnings up to 2016, adjusting for inflation allows us to see where her net worth stands in 2021, and it’s pretty astonishing. Lady Gaga is worth over $307 million. Some reports even put it as close to $350 million, and with her busy schedule, I wouldn’t be shocked to see her hit billionaire status someday soon.
With that money, Gaga participates in activism and philanthropy. Causes she has put her money toward include LGBT+ rights, earthquake and tsunami victims in Haiti and Japan, the Red Cross, educating young women about harmful diseases, and the World Health Organization.
She also likes to treat herself, of course! In 2014, Gaga purchased a gorgeous mansion in Malibu for $23 million. The six-acre, Mediterranean-style home had a private movie theater, an incredible pool, a wine cellar, an indoor gym, a two-lane bowling alley, a safe room, and even a horse stable and dressage ring. Gaga also likes to spend her fortune on vintage cars for her collection.
At the end of the day, the iconic Lady Gaga knew what she wanted out of life, and she went for it. That’s what made her into the star she is today. In an especially poignant observation about her career trajectory, she told the LA times about the differences between her character from A Star Is Born, Ally, and herself:
“What’s different from Ally than me is that when I wanted to become a singer, I hit the concrete running. I was dragging my piano from dive bar to dive bar to play music. I was calling people, faking being my own manager to get gigs. I really believed in myself that I could do this and that I wasn’t going to stop until I made it. …The truth is, when we meet Ally, she’s given up on herself. And that’s very different from me. I just wasn’t overwhelmed by the odds. The truth is, if we were not sitting here today and I hadn’t sold as many records as I have, I’d still be in a bar somewhere playing the piano and singing. It’s just who I want to be.”