Today, she’s a two-time Oscar nominee worth a reported $33 million but Melissa McCarthy‘s long and tough road to mega Hollywood success was far from easy. “It can all go away as fast as it came,” the 48-year-old star said in Closer Weekly‘s newest cover story, on newsstands now, adding that’s why she always gives “500 percent on everything.”

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During her childhood in rural Plainfield, Illinois — “I’m from a small farm, and I didn’t see much of the world or have experiences until I was 20 and moved to New York,” she has said — Melissa didn’t originally want to be an actress. “I wanted to do fashion. My grandmother was a seamstress, and I get that from her,” the star, who launched her own clothing line for plus-size women called Seven7 in 2015, explained. It wasn’t until high school that the Ghostbusters star landed her first onstage role playing a cheerleader in a school production. Though she was interested in comedy, not everyone around her agreed that she was funny. “My first acting teacher said, ‘Oof, I don’t see you being funny,’ because we only did dramatic plays,” Melissa recalled.

Melissa McCarthy Bridesmaids

Thankfully, Melissa followed her heart and moved to Los Angeles after struggling to land dramatic roles for seven years — and it was on the West Coast that she met her now-husband, Ben Falcone. “Our plans when we moved to LA were very similar, which was, ‘If I can make any kind of a living doing something I really enjoy, then, hooray,'” Ben, 45, has said of the two performing with the improv-sketch troupe the Groundlings.

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“I spent lots of years calling my sister, Margie, and my mom and dad [for money],” Melissa said of her early days in Hollywood. “It was hard to keep it together when you’re not making a living wage.” She almost gave up on her acting dreams when she landed her breakout role. “I was starting to work production jobs, and then a week or two before my 30th birthday, I got Gilmore Girls,” she recalled of playing Sookie St. James on all seven seasons of the beloved show. “That was the first time I ever said, ‘I’m an actor.'”

Melissa McCarthy Ben Falcone
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After being cast as Molly Flynn on the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, Melissa got her biggest movie role yet with 2011’s smash hit Bridesmaids — and she almost skipped the audition! “It was just such a crazy big deal. I was like, ‘I don’t want to blow this,'” she recalled. Now, Melissa revealed she’s just happy to have made it after years of struggling to break into the ‘biz. “I like not having to worry about my phone bill or insurance. I’m glad we make a steady living. I just want to take care of my kids,” she said.

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Melissa and Ben — who tied the knot in October 2005 — are parents to two daughters, Vivian Falcone, 11, and Georgette Falcone, 8. “They go to a tiny school — we drop them off and pick them up,” Melissa has said of her home life. “We’re not, like, clubbing or going to fancy restaurants — I go to bed every night at 8:30, and I’m up at 4. I’m like an old man.” As for her marriage, the star has admitted being with Ben is easy. “He’s a much better human than I am,” she once gushed of her husband. “When people say, ‘Relationships are so hard,’ I’m like, ‘No.'”

Melissa McCarthy Daughters

Melissa’s latest success came with a starring role in the 2018 biographical film Can You Ever Forgive Me? which recently earned her a second Oscar nominationDolly Wells, one of her costars in the movie, recently gushed to Closer that the actress is “as wonderful as you expect her to be.” She continued, “She’s generous and kind. And she remembers everybody’s name.” Hollywood is lucky to have such a fabulous leading lady in Melissa!

For more on Melissa McCarthy, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!