A year ago Chrissy Metz, the breakout star of the hit NBC show This is Us, had less than a dollar to her name.
In a new interview with Glamour, Metz, 36 explains that becoming an "overnight star" took years of struggle and frustration.
After moving to Los Angeles from her hometown of Homestead, Florida, Metz says she auditioned but didn't book anything. She paid her way by nannying and finding other odd jobs.
Over the years, she booked an episode on shows here and there, before booking a recurring role on American Horror Story: Freak Show in 2014. A role she thought was going to be a jumping-off point for her career.
"But when it wrapped, there was…nothing," she says. "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.' "
So Metz stayed and kept auditioning.
With no money and a lot of credit card debt, Metz says she soon hit unemployment and only survived because of the amazing people in her life.
"I moved in with a roommate who told me, 'Stay with me until you can afford rent. Don’t give up,' she explains. "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.'"
In 2015, after years of struggle, Metz learned she had booked the role of Kate Pearson on This Is Us.
At the time she says she had 81 cents in her bank account.
"I could cry right now just thinking about it," she says.
And since the show premiered in September, Metz says everything has changed—and nothing.
"It’s crazy to go from not having enough money to buy food to getting free dinners," she says. "Why is it that when you really need something, you don’t have it? And when you can afford it, you have a surplus of it? You may think, 'Ooh, you’re on TV, you’re a millionaire!'"
While she's definitely making more money than she was, she still lives with her roommate. "Though I pay my proper share of the rent now," she adds.
Metz says she's also been able to pay back the friends and family who helped her when she was struggling. Three months ago she finally paid off all her credit card debt.
"I've had women—average women, older women, teenagers—who say to me, 'Your role and this show has changed my life,'" she tells Glamour.
"That makes all the struggle, all the ramen noodles, all the times when I couldn't pay my bills, all the times where I was like, ‘I can't do this,' worth it."
She still can't believe the life she's living.
"Sometimes I cry on the way to the set still," she says. "There is something that happens when you are grateful: You continue to keep receiving blessings. So I will always be grateful."
This Is Us returns to NBC on Tuesday, February 7, at 9 p.m. EST.