The Untold Truth Of Chris Rock

One of the most respected and recognized comedians ever, Chris Rock has been a dominating force in the entertainment business for decades. He started as a standup comic and continued to make audiences laugh throughout his career. And showing that he had more depth than just standup, he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" to show off his sketch comedy skills. This transitioned into starring as a member of "In Living Color" and later, scripted comedies. His sitcom, "Everybody Hates Chris," lasted for four seasons, leading to even more acting roles. He's appeared in goofy roles, like those alongside Adam Sandler. But as Rock grew older, he also started to take more serious roles. He joined the fourth season of the TV drama series "Fargo" as a "wily mob boss" in the 1950s, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And in 2021, Rock starred in the ninth installment of the "Saw" franchise called "Spiral."

Behind the success in entertainment, things were once difficult for the actor. This included relationship troubles, a traumatic childhood, and a loss in the family. And while he faced some criticism, Rock was a major voice in political discussions and was an early proponent of an important movement in American history. Be prepared to laugh out loud as we go into the untold truth of Chris Rock.

Rock faced bullies as a child

Chris Rock is a Brooklynite but was born in Andrews, South Carolina in 1966. His family first relocated to Crown Heights, then Bedford-Stuyvesant — Bed-Stuy — when Rock was six years old. For education, he was bused to school "in the poor white district of Gerritsen Beach, in Brooklyn," via Rolling Stone. While attending this school, Rock endured intense bullying based on his race. Years later, as an adult, Rock looked back at his difficult childhood to reflect on those that hurt him. In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, Rock admitted to feeling damaged from those early days at school. But he also noted that he forgives those who bullied him. And he likes to believe those same people learned from their mistakes and changed for the better. "I forgive, it made me who I am," he confessed.

Rock also uses humor to joke about this childhood experience in the white school. "Even in all the misery, there was always that Brad Pitt, '12 Years a Slave' white person that was nice," he told Rolling Stone. But he noted the environment, coupled with the fact that some of his younger brothers were once Black Israelites, created "a cloud of rage around me."

He had his career mapped when he was just a kid

Chris Rock is arguably one of America's most popular comedians. Rock may have been able to achieve such success because he began chasing his dream of becoming a comedian when he was a child. The "Down to Earth" actor knew what he wanted to do for a career at only 6 years old. "When I was about 6, I said to myself, 'Wait a minute — I'm dead serious, and everyone else is cracking up.' I thought, 'I've got something here. Let me learn how to work it,'" the star said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey for O, The Oprah Magazine.

This realization began Rock's journey into the world of comedy. He told Winfrey about career goals he set while still only a child. "By the time I was 7 or 8, I wanted to be a comedy writer," the comedian continued. "When I'd see the credits roll after a comedy show, I'd say to myself, 'I'm going to write for one of these shows one day.'" Rock's early ambitions seem to have paid off because not only is he a successful comedian, but his IMDb page also indicates he also has numerous writing, producing, and directing credits under his belt.

His dark childhood left him with low self-esteem

As previously mentioned, Chris Rock endured bullying throughout his childhood. During an interview on "The Howard Stern Show," Rock detailed the intensity of the bullying he went through and how the trauma followed him into adulthood. He explained he went to a predominately white school and was often called racial slurs. "You have this childhood trauma that you haven't dealt with," he told Stern. "And you think you've dealt with it because you're on the radio and you talk about it and you made a lot of money. And I think I've dealt with it because I can write jokes about it, but I never dealt with it. It was just a horrible existence." He continued on about the abuse he endured at school. "The closest character I can relate to is Tim Robins in 'The Shawshank [Redemption].' Every day was hell," Rock said. He later revealed that: "Sometimes some sexual sh*t happened."

According to the comedian, his confidence took a hit following this horrific bullying and abuse. "I suffer from big ego, low self-esteem," the star told Stern. He clarified that he only has an ego when it comes to his craft. He's confident about the jokes he tells, but not in other areas of his life. Rock was possibly forced to relive these dark days when he was struck by Will Smith at the 2022 Oscars.

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Chris Rock comes from a huge family

You may remember the hit sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris," which was based on Chris Rock's life as a teen growing up in Brooklyn, New York. It turns out the TV show's hilarious dramatization of Rock's childhood leaves out one interesting detail: The comedian is the oldest of seven siblings. One of Chris' brothers, the late Charles Ledell Rock, was a half-sibling who lived a difficult life. Charles experienced homelessness and worked through drug use and addiction. He died in 2006, per The Washington Post.

Charles had a close relationship with Tony Rock, Chris' comedian brother who followed in his footsteps. Tony spoke on his experience being a comedian with a superstar brother in an interview for The Washington Post. "It's part of the gift and the curse of coming behind my brother," he said. "I'm not afforded the luxury of just taking a set casual, taking the night off. Because if I bomb, it's 'Oh, he's not funny — he's just doing it because of his brother.'"

It seems that humor runs in the Rock family because Chris' brother, Jordan Rock, is also a comedian. Not only does Jordan do stand-up, but he is also an actor. He's starred in "Love Life" on HBO Max and "Big Time Adolescence" on Hulu, as well as other TV shows and movies.

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The actor worked odd jobs during high school

While growing up, Chris Rock worked several low-income jobs. As reported by Rolling Stone, he worked at a "discount store called Odd Lots," the Red Lobster seafood chain, and McDonald's for a time. But he decided for an abrupt change. In tenth grade, Rock dropped out of school. In an interview on "CBS Sunday Morning," the comedian revealed the reasoning for cutting his education short. "My game plan was to keep working at Red Lobster, get my truck driver's license, and kind of drive a truck like my dad," Rock said. 

And he admitted that all the way up until he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live," he could have been content in life with a simpler career path. "If you would have offered me a job that paid $10, $12 dollars an hour, I would have never told another joke in my life," he said. Instead, Rock's path involved "briefly flipping burgers before moving to standup," according to The Guardian.

The origin story of Chris Rock's standup career

When he was 17 years old and still working at Red Lobster, Chris Rock went to see one of the hottest comedians at the time: Eddie Murphy. According to Rolling Stone, "Rock was in line to buy a ticket for Eddie Murphy's show at Radio City Music Hall when he read a notice about an open-mike night at Catch a Rising Star." Rock landed a spot on the amateur open-mike, despite lying that he was 18 and old enough to legally perform. Unsurprisingly, Rock was a hit on stage when he first started performing standup. 

He continued to perform, despite early ups and downs in his reception. "My first 15 times onstage I killed — like, really big laughs. Then I got a little cocky, and I proceeded to not get laughs for the next four years," Rock said in an interview with Rolling Stone. He recalled that his jokes weren't up to his level of excellence he achieved later in his standup career. Rock remembered one of his "dumb" early jokes was, "Miles Davis is so Black, lightning bugs follow him in the daytime." But he started to hone his craft, both from studying the art of standup and with the help of other comedians. Rock explained he and comedian Colin Quinn spent most days together, analyzing their performances and dreaming of being among the greatest standups.

The truth behind the comedian's time on Saturday Night Live

In the '80s, Chris Rock continued to develop his presence as a standup comedian. Then, he was recruited to use those comedic skills on live television. In 1990, "Saturday Night Live" welcomed Rock as one of its newest cast members. Marci Klein, one of the show's producers, recalled the hype surrounding Rock as he was set to join. "There was a lot of pressure, more than on any cast member I've ever seen come in here," she told Rolling Stone. Klein explained that Rock was the first Black comedian to join "since Eddie Murphy, who saved the show during the five years [producer] Lorne [Michaels] wasn't here."

Rock stayed on for three seasons but admits he never quite found his footing on the sketch comedy series. "I never worked as hard as I should have at 'SNL,'" Rock confessed. Instead, he remembers a lot of partying. Instead of focusing on sketches, he was distracted outside the studio. "I wasn't getting sleep, and I wasn't eating, and the focus was all off. Fluffing lines," Rock remembered. The comedian ultimately left because of another opportunity. "In Living Color" offered Rock a starring role in the sketch TV show. Rock later returned to "Saturday Night Live" as a host. "He came out there, completely grabbed the show — almost to show how far he had come," Conan O'Brien — a former SNL writer — said about Rock's performance as host.

Chris Rock tried his luck in the music industry

Chris Rock is known for many skills, like acting and standup comedy. But he also has a hidden talent that he once pursued as a profession. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rock revealed he once tried to be a rapper. And this was more than just a side hobby. He secured a record deal with one of the biggest corporations in music. "I got a deal at, like, Atlantic or an Atlantic subsidiary," Rock said. And the comedian revealed, "There's demos of me rapping out there. It was before I was a comedian! Way before." According to Rock, his delivery on the mic in the studio was slightly different from his delivery as a standup comedian. He explained that his style was to hype listeners up and he would say, "I'm Chris Rock, and I want you to know that these are the breaks!"

Eventually, his rap career went away. But he says that if he knew the future of rap, he might have decided to stick with the music industry. Rock said, "Honestly, if I had any idea that DJs would make as much as they make now!" Though, he did admit that he occasionally still likes to rap. Just not where people might recognize him. Rock revealed that sometimes when he traveled to different countries, he would get up on stage to "spin."

The star was an early voice in the Black Lives Matter movement

Back in 2018, Chris Rock talked about police violence in his standup special "Tamborine." At the time, before the Black Lives Matter protests, Rock received mixed reviews. He talked about police forces in the frame that other professions, like pilots, aren't allowed to have "a few bad apples." Rock also discussed his experience "raising Black children in a racist country," via The New York Times. The comedian remembered after the special aired, "I got a lot of flak over that cop thing. There was a lot of people trying to start a fire that never really picked up." So, he was happy to see that two years later, the discussion finally gained support in greater numbers. According to the comedian, the discussion and protests associated with Black Lives Matter "is the second great civil rights movement."

In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, Rock revealed, "most of my dealings with the police are good." But he confessed there is still a percentage of times that aren't good. And he revealed that even as a famous comedian, he was once stopped right near his home by a police officer who said, "You don't live around here do you?" Rock, a local resident, remembered thinking, "No, you don't live around here."

Roles you may have missed with Chris Rock

Throughout his career, Chris Rock has been involved with an impressive array of projects. Though he's known for his standup skills, as an actor, he can play anything from silly to scary and everything in between. Per his IMDb page, Rock has appeared in several Adam Sandler films, provided his voice to films like "Madagascar," and appeared as a sheriff in the "Old Town Road" video by Lil Nas X. He's also appeared in more indie films like "Two Days in New York," the 2012 film by Julie Delpy. And off-screen, Rock once performed on Broadway in 2011, in the play, "The Motherf***er in the Hat." During his performances, Rock was "calm, confident and completely immersed in his role," as recounted by The Guardian. Rock said the experience "taught him how to respect acting in a new way."

There are also a lot of projects with Rock that never saw the light of day. He revealed to The New York Times that he was supposed to appear in a film by director Bob Altman called "Hands on a Hard Body." As Rock explains, "we were ... going over my character and I was so excited about doing the movie. And he died." Rock was also supposed to play a part in "Superman Lives," Tim Burton's canceled superhero movie starring Nicolas Cage as the title character. Rock recalled Burton "showing me the models of the sets for 'Superman.'"

The comedian considered a career in journalism

Although Chis Rock always had a passion for comedy, he also contemplated going into broadcast journalism. He opened up to Oprah Winfrey about how his educational background reflected his interest in the field. "After I left high school and got my GED, I studied broadcast journalism for a year at a community college," the star said, per O, The Oprah Magazine. "Though part of me had always wanted to be a comedian, another part of me had always wanted to be Bryant Gumbel or Dan Rather." Rock had a change of heart when he realized why broadcast journalism wasn't a good fit for him. When Oprah asked about his passion for the field, Rock replied: "It's gone. Broadcast journalism involves presenting other people's words."

As for his college days, the then-aspiring journalist attended Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York where he studied communications. Rock's higher education career was short-lived, though, because he only attended college for one year. Still, the comedian received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the school in 2021. Rock spoke fondly of his time at Kingsborough during his acceptance speech. "Some of the things I learned [at Kingsborough] I apply even today," he said, per

Chris Rock is an expert behind the camera

In addition to being the funny guy that everyone watches, Chris Rock also used his talents behind the camera. In 2003, he directed "Head of State," about a man who becomes the first Black president. This was years before President Barack Obama made this fictional dream a reality in 2009. Rock also directed the 2007 film "I Think I Love My Wife" and he independently made the movie "Top Five," per Rolling Stone. According to Rock, his triple threat skillset of writing, directing, and acting wasn't always a dream. "It's not a key ambition," he confessed. But according to Rock, he didn't feel people were making the types of movies he wanted to be a part of. "If someone was going to hand me something like 'Top Five,' I'd be more than happy to act in it," he quipped. And he also expressed his desire to use his creativity. "I've got arty taste, which is great and not great at the same time," Rock explained.

Rock also uses his influence and eye for the next best thing to promote others. He revealed to The New York Times that he once had a "production overall deal at HBO and I came in with one person to sell a talk show with them. And they wouldn't. That person's name is Wendy Williams." The comedian estimated that the deal with the future talk show host could have made him $100 million.

His father's death

As a young man who was just starting to find his footing in the comedy scene, Chris Rock's world forever changed. His father died in 1989 when Rock was 23 years old. In an interview with Oprah, he explained how the event altered his outlook on life. "I realized that none of us should take things too seriously, because everything except death works itself out," he said, adding, "No matter what happens or how difficult things become, you will eventually feel better." But he also confessed that he became partly nihilistic. Rock confessed to Rolling Stone that it was hard for him to feel emotions. He explained, "there is something about your dad dying that makes you go, 'What's the point? What's the point of any of this sh**? What's the point of taking this test in school?'"

Sadly, his father didn't get to see the height of Rock's success. Though Rock revealed his dad had a chance to meet with Eddie Murphy before he died, it didn't help take all the pain away. Rock said one of the worst parts was losing a support system. He noted, "When your dad dies, you know you're alone."

The rise and fall of Chris Rock's family life

In 2001, after the terrorist attacks in the United States, Chris Rock felt clarity in what to do next. He recalled thinking, "The world's falling down, and what have I done with my life?" So, he and his wife Malaak Compton-Rock decided to grow their family, per Oprah, yet many years later, the Rocks revealed they were getting a divorce

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rock explained that the separation left him in a completely new place. "You get to reset. It's not a breakdown, but something in your life broke down," he said. The comedian also revealed that he cheated on his wife with three different women. Looking back, he felt remorse for his actions. "Your significant other, if they really love you, has a high opinion of you," Chris said, "And you let them down." In the aftermath of the divorce, he mentioned that some days he felt especially sad. But he was at least grateful that his "daughters are good and I'm only an hour away. Two houses close by. It's good," he explained to The Guardian.

As of 2021, Chris is still single and on the market. During an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, he claimed that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it still seemed better to have a significant other. "My friends that are in bad relationships are happier in COVID than my friends that are single," Chris said.

His taboo addiction

During his Netflix standup special "Tamborine," Chris Rock was candid with the audience about this once-secret passion. He revealed that he used to be addicted to pornography. Among the problems contributing to his previous marriage was his obsession with adult content. "I was not a good husband. I was f***ed-up. I was addicted to porn," Rock said, as recapped by IndieWire. He framed the discussion around the "billion-dollar industry," noting that others may have a similar issue. According to the comedian, watching too much porn made him "desensitized." 

He explained that the more he watched, the more his desires became absurd and unrealistic. Rock said the addiction started to affect his real life. He claimed, "I was 15 minutes late everywhere." And he also said by watching an excessive amount, he had "a hard time with eye contact and verbal cues." Fortunately, Chris Rock was able to recognize his addiction and claimed, "I'm a lot better now."

What was Chris Rock up to during quarantine?

When the world changed from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris Rock focused on self-improvement. In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, the comedian revealed that he started therapy sessions. And more than just an occasional discussion, like he had done prior to the pandemic. After COVID-19, he revealed that on average, he spent seven hours a week in therapy and would go usually every day. Thanks to the sessions, he was able to recognize the weak spots in his behaviors and past. "Sometimes I wasn't kind and sometimes I wasn't listening. And sometimes I was selfish," he confessed. And it also led him to separate his public identity from what's actually going on inside his head. "On the outside, it looks like I'm this daring person. But boy, can I play it safe. I need to jump in the pool a little bit." The actor was also alluding to his new skill set. 

Rock decided to learn how to swim for the first time as a result of the pandemic and his therapy sessions. According to Rock, the physical act of learning to swim also helped him improve in all areas of life. "If I can learn to swim I can do anything," he said. And Rock added, "If I can conquer this, in my 50's, I can do anything."

The charitable side of the actor

As a charming, funny, and charismatic guy, Chris Rock is unsurprisingly a highly sought-after host. Fortunately, he is gracious to spend his time in support of charitable causes. He told The Hollywood Reporter that he receives a lot of calls to host different charity events and is happy to help.

Back when he was married, Chris and his then-wife Malaak Compton-Rock donated their time to the Salvation Army. As reported by Essence, the couple worked in partnership with Target to renovate 40 Salvation Army libraries across the United States. The Rocks attended the reopening of the Salvation Army Bushwick Community Center in Brooklyn, where Chris used to spend time as a child. "I played here as a kid after school. I played pool, basketball, and it's all good," he said. $1 million went to the rebuilding efforts, with another $25,000 awarded to Chris and Malaak. Both were given "to modernize the center with new books, furniture, flooring and a computer lab."

Sharing his political thoughts

Chris Rock has never been one to shy away from controversial topics — and politics are no exception. He supported Barack Obama during his presidency. In a 2015 interview, towards the end of Obama's presidential term, Rock was pleased with the results of the head of state. "Oh yeah — he's been good. Great, even," Rock explained to The Guardian. According to the comedian, he claimed Obama "wasn't going to solve America, but the country was off the rails." He compared the situation to Alec Baldwin in "Glengarry Glen Ross," and, in the fact, according to Rock, Obama "really sorted sh** out." But Rock was not as happy with the president who came next.

In an interview with The New York Times, Rock expressed his disappointment with President Donald Trump. "Part of the reason we're in the predicament we're in is, the president's a landlord," Rock said. What he specifically meant is that "No one has less compassion for humans than a landlord." And he didn't hold back from criticizing both political parties "Republicans tell outright lies," Rock claimed. "Democrats leave out key pieces of the truth that would lead to a more nuanced argument," according to the comedian. He summarized, "In a sense, it's all fake news."

Chis Rock was once upstaged by Martin Lawrence

Chris Rock experienced a comedian's worst nightmare soon after his career took off. The star opened up about the embarrassing ordeal while being interviewed by Hollywood director Judd Apatow for Vanity Fair in 2012. When asked about his professional low point, Rock explained he was once upstaged by Martin Lawrence at his own show. At the time, Lawrence was still trying to make a name for himself. In fact, the comedian was headliner Rock's opening act that night. "I never used to watch the opening acts, but I was in my dressing room and I heard a roar," Rock told Apatow. "I got up to see what was going on. I thought it was a fight or something. So I got up and went to the side of the stage. When I got there I realized it wasn't a fight, it was people laughing so hard that the building was shaking. People were crying, standing, stomping their feet — screaming laughter. I was terrified."

This humbling moment was likely needed at this point in the comedian's career because he also told Apatow he let his post "Saturday Night Live" fame get to his head. Thankfully Rock was able to bounce back from the experience. He even went on to star alongside Lawrence in "Death at a Funeral" (2010), so it seems there was no bad blood between the two talented comedians.

He made a film about hair

Many fans might be shocked to find out that Chris Rock made a documentary about hair. The film, titled "Good Hair," was released in 2009 and focuses on the cultural significance of hair within the Black community. "Good Hair" was mostly well-received, but some felt the documentary failed to explore important issues. In 2009, film reviewer Alynda Wheat wrote: "'Good Hair' is often funny, fascinating, and raises a few key ideas. What it doesn't do is offer a cogent, relevant analysis of why Black women relax their hair or wear hair extensions — which was supposed to have been the point," per Entertainment Weekly.

This argument was revisited over a decade later after Chris Rock's poorly received 2022 Oscars joke that resulted in actor Will Smith slapping the comedian. It appears many Twitter users felt that Rock's joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's hair was particularly insensitive given he interviewed a woman who had been diagnosed with alopecia for the film. The woman featured in the interview, Sheila Bridges, chimed in following the incident at the 2022 Oscars ceremony. "Shame on you @chrisrock. Didn't we sit down and talk at length about how painfully humiliating and difficult it is to navigate life as a bald woman in a society that is hair-obsessed?" Bridges wrote in part in an Instagram post. It is unclear whether Rock even knew about Pinkett Smith's alopecia diagnosis, but some fans aren't letting up.

How much is Chris Rock worth?

Thanks to being one of the most legendary comedians ever, Chris Rock has enjoyed decades in the spotlight. His many projects as an actor, comedian, director, and producer have all contributed to his massive bank account. And it seems his big paychecks are only getting bigger. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rock signed a contract for two standup specials with Netflix. His first, "Tamborine" aired in 2018. And reportedly, Rock earned $20 million for each special. This meant as of 2021, Rock was worth an estimated $60 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

With some of this money, Rock could afford to live in a luxurious mansion. As reported by Architectural Digest, Rock lived in the same Brooklyn mansion for over two decades. The home, which he purchased in the '90s, features wood beams throughout and original exposed brick. The home also includes a "roof terrace, a patio with a barbecue, and a private two-car garage." In 2017, Rock listed the house on the open market for $3.85 million, New York Post reported.

Rock also loves to buy sneakers. On a shopping trip with Complex, the comedian spent close to $2,400 on sneakers in just one day.

He was diagnosed with a learning disorder as an adult

Chris Rock got candid about being diagnosed with a learning disorder in his 50s in an in-depth interview with The Hollywood Reporter. After hours of testing, doctors concluded that the comedian has been living with nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD). According to, those with the disorder often have deficits in visual-spatial abilities like organization, executive functioning, and more.

As for how NVLD affects Rock, he revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he struggles with non-verbal signals. "By the way, all of those things are really great for writing jokes — they're just not great for one-on-one relationships," he said during the interview. "And I'd always just chalked it up to being famous. Any time someone would respond to me in a negative way, I'd think, 'Whatever, they're responding to something that has to do with who they think I am.' Now, I'm realizing it was me. A lot of it was me." He also explained that therapy is helping him work through his childhood trauma and learn to live with NVLD.