Celebrities often seem to have it made, given they became successful in the music and movie industry. But they are real people who had to go to school at some point like everyone else. A lot of them also ended up struggling with classes and getting teased by other students because of dyslexia.
Dyslexia affects how a person interprets words and symbols. Because of this, things like reading can be harder. There have been many celebrities who revealed that they have been diagnosed with dyslexia either in childhood or later in life.
So what were their experiences like and what did they learn from living with dyslexia? Here are 15 popular celebrities who you never knew had dyslexia and what they have to say about it.
1. Tom Cruise
The action star has spent years doing stunts on the big screen. But before playing heroes solving big missions, he struggled in school due to dyslexia. He opened up about it for People.
“I was a functional illiterate,” he said about his time when graduating high school. He then continued:
When I was about 7 years old, I had been labeled dyslexic. I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read. I would go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb. I would get angry.
He also revealed how his mother helped him with his school work. “If I had to write an assignment for school, I would dictate it to her first, then she would write it down, and I would copy it very carefully.”
Next: This icon tweeted about her dyslexia.
The icon is also dyslexic and isn’t ashamed of it. She once tweeted, “ITS TRUE IM DYSLEXIC & some of u have a problem following me !I am who i am! Dyslexia is no joke ! If i had Some1 twt 4 me whats the point.”
Next: This famous director was diagnosed later in life.
3. Steven Spielberg
The three-time Oscar winner is also dyslexic and was diagnosed later in life. He said getting diagnosed was like “the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I kept to myself all these years.”
He said he was two years behind the rest of his class when it came to reading, and he was teased for it.
Next: This Oscar winner was accused of faking her learning struggles in school.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
The trailblazing Oscar winner also suffered from dyslexia, and it took a long time for the diagnosis to come. “It takes people awhile to realize that something is going on, and you’re not faking it,” she told Dr. Harold Koplewicz.
She ended up not going to high school and did an alternate education plan. When she got into acting, she had someone read her lines to her and then recorded it to memorize.
Next: This movie star became a better reader after being diagnosed.
5. Keanu Reeves
The Matrix star and his sister are dyslexic, but also went onto become proficient readers, according to Vanity Fair. He did, however, struggle through education and went to attend four different high schools.
The future actor did do well in Latin, despite struggling in other classes.
Next: This actress said she was undiagnosed for a long time and did well in school.
6. Salma Hayek
The actress is another celebrity who went undiagnosed for quite some time.
“I’m really a fast learner. I always was, which is maybe why in high school they didn’t realize I had dyslexia. I skipped years without studying too much” she said, according to Understood.
Next: This actor writes children books featuring a dyslexic boy.
7. Henry Winkler
The Happy Days star has also written children’s books inspired by his dyslexia. The books focus on a young boy who has dyslexia named Hank Zipzer. Henry Winkler opened up about how his dyslexia affected him working on his well-known sitcom.
“It was scary,” he said. “I learned to memorize as much as I could from any page and then improvise.”
Next: This actress said working on this movie helped her overcome dyslexia.
8. Keira Knightley
The Sense & Sensibility actress said the movie helped her with her struggle with dyslexia. This is mostly because of her mother who got a copy of the screenplay written by Emma Thompson.
“And I was – am – dyslexic and the way she got me over it was to say: ‘If Emma Thompson couldn’t read, she’d make ——- sure she’d get over it, so you have to start reading, because that’s what Emma Thompson would do,'” She told GQ magazine.
Next: This former talk show host said having dyslexia helped him.
9. Jay Leno
The former late night talk show host said that dyslexia actually helped him become successful because it led to a great work ethic.
“My mother always said to me, since I was dyslexic, ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard as the other kids to get the same thing.’ I said, ‘OK. That seems fair.’ And I did work twice as hard to get the same thing,” he said on CNBC.
Next: This reality star judge also thinks dyslexia benefitted her.
10. Barbara Corcoran
The Shark Tank judge is one of many on the show that has dyslexia. She suggests that growing up with dyslexia actually gave her an edge over others in the real world.
She said, according to Entrepreneur:
It made me more creative, more social and more competitive. There’s a great freedom to being dyslexic … if you can avoid labeling yourself as a loser in a school system that measures people by As and Bs. And the kids that are so good at school, that don’t have to fight for it, very often they don’t do as well in life and business because they’re not flexible.
Next: This cook thinks people with dyslexia are lucky.
11. Jamie Oliver
The famous cook has an empire, and he says part of that has to do with his dyslexia. “I genuinely think that when someone says to you, ‘Johnny’s got dyslexia’, you should get down on your knees, shake the child’s hand and say, ‘well done, you lucky, lucky boy’,” he told Radio Times.
He also revealed that he sees problems differently because of dyslexia.
Next: This entrepreneur said he wasn’t ashamed because he didn’t know he had it for a long time.
12. Daymond John
The FUBU founder was undiagnosed with dyslexia for a long time.
“I was never ashamed of it because I didn’t know I had it,” he told Business Insider. “My mother treated me so well and loved me so much and made me feel like there was something special I had, but I had to work on all the things I was weak about.”
Next: This comedy actor revealed his dyslexia led to his work ethic.
13. Vince Vaughn
The comedy actor opened up about his childhood and struggling during that time.
“When I was in school, I wasn’t a very good student,” he said, according to Contact Music. “I had a form of dyslexia and short attention span.” But he also went on to say he has a good work ethic because of it.
Next: Another Shark Tank star opens up about his dyslexia.
14. Kevin O’Leary
The shark has dyslexia and sees the good in it. As he told Entrepeneur:
The way to look at dyslexia is as a unique power instead of an affliction. Very few people have the abilities that dyslexics have. If you look down the road, as they grow, what happens to dyslexic men and women is they become very successful in business. This is because dyslexia gives you some really unique perspectives and abilities that I’d call superpowers.
Next: This movie star helped make a documentary about dyslexia.
15. Billy Bob Thornton
The movie star is dyslexic and even helped make a documentary about it called Dislecksia: The Movie. In it, he revealed he struggled with school because of this and learned lines by having dialogue read to him repeatedly.
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