19 celebrities with ADHD or dyslexia whose success should inspire us all
Neurodiversity is a part of everyday life, so it’s no surprise that many of the world’s most successful celebrities have brains that function differently from the average or ‘neurotypical’ person.
Check out some of the most inspiring stories of stars who’ve flourished while living with neurodiverse conditions including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.
1. Richard Branson
The Virgin founder overcame his dyslexia to set up one of the most successful businesses around the world.
He struggled with other people’s attitudes when he was younger and dropped out of school because of it.
Branson said his dyslexia was “treated as a handicap: my teachers thought I was lazy and dumb, and I couldn’t keep up or fit in.”
He says dyslexia is “not a disadvantage” but merely “a different way of thinking”.
2. Adam Levine
The Maroon 5 frontman has spoken openly about getting a diagnosis for ADHD in his early teens.
He said: “My doctor diagnosed me with ADHD in my early teens. What was really helpful to me was learning that this was a real medical condition – I had ADHD.
“The diagnosis helped explain the challenges I was having in school, including my difficulty focusing, sitting down and getting my school work done.”
And he went on to be in one of the most successful pop-rock bands ever.
3. Steven Spielberg
The Jurassic Park director is dyslexic and like Albert Einstein, struggled with college and eventually dropped out.
Despite learning to read two years after his classmates, Spielberg says working in Hollywood helped him overcome his difficulties.
“I never felt like a victim,” he said. “Movies kind of saved me from shame…from putting it on myself, from making it my burden when it wasn’t.”
4. Steve Jobs
The late Apple founder Steve Jobs spoke openly about his struggles with dyslexia.
He spoke openly about dropping out of college and of being frustrated with the academic system from a young age.
“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” Jobs said.
“So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
5. Robin Williams
The late Mrs Doubtfire star spoke openly for a long time about their mental health.
He often spoke out about his own battle with depression and a bipolar diagnosis, as well as living with ADHD.
Throughout his career, leading up to his death in 2014, Williams sought to break down the stigma of mental illness.
He lives on today in the hearts and minds of his fans who loved him.
6. Anthony Hopins
The Silence of the Lambs star has said he thinks his dyslexia made him more interesting as an actor.
In 2013, he said: “I was pathetic at school in Port Talbot. I don’t know if it was dyslexia or attention deficit disorder, or just me being a problem child, but I sat in the back of the classroom and didn’t know what any of the teachers were talking about — I was bottom of the class at everything. And I was made to suffer.
“But in a way that was a great gift that life gave me, because in the end I was so angry and enraged that I made a certain choice in life. I thought: ‘I will get my revenge, I will become rich and famous and that will show them.’”
7. Elvis Presley
Elvis was believed to have had ADHD, although the diagnosis was not made during his life.
The “Jailhouse Rock” star was one of the most successful musicians of all time, despite being believed to have shown symptoms of ADHD.
Although ADHD was first mentioned at around 1902, it wasn’t recognised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until the second edition in 1968.
8. Jim Carrey
The actor has been open about being treated for ADHD since he was a child.
He has also spoken openly about dealing with major depression at times in his life and has advocated for the stigma of mental illness to be dealt with.
The Dumb and Dumber star has also spoken about being prescribed anti-depressants.
9. Albert Einstein
Because of some details of his life, legendary theoretical physicist Albert Einstein is now widely considered to have been dyslexic.
He did not talk until the age of four and according to some accounts, did not learn to read until he was nine years old.
Later in life, Einstein lost three teaching positions and it took several attempts to be admitted to college.
But Einstein went on to be one of the greatest minds, and throughout his academic career still excelled in various subjects.
10. Joan Rivers
The late TV host, comedian and entrepreneur didn’t pull any punches when it came to critiquing others.
But she also opened up about her own issues, including living with ADHD.
She didn’t let her diagnosis stop her from becoming wildly successful as a stand-up comic and host of Fashion Police.
11. John Lennon
The late Beatles star is believed to have had ADHD and was diagnosed with dyslexia in school.
He went on to find massive fame as a musician despite struggling at school with spelling and memorising information.
Lennon went on to form the Beatles and overcame the challenges to create some of the most well-known music in history.
12. Avril Lavigne
The “Complicated” singer has spoken about being diagnosed with ADHD as a child and the struggles she and her family had living with it.
She released her hit album Let Go at the age of 17 and has gone from strength to strength since.
Despite struggling with ADHD in her younger years, Lavigne continues to be one of the most successful recording artists of the 21st century.
Cher has said that she has to read slowly when checking scripts for film roles because she has dyslexia.
The “Believe” singer was diagnosed at age 30, and her dyslexia was never spotted in school.
“I never read in school,” Cher said in an interview.
“I got really bad grades, D’s and F’s and C’s in some classes, and A’s and B’s in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade, I just quit. When I was in school, it was really difficult.
“Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said that I was not living up to my potential.”
14. Keanu Reeves
The Matrix star dropped out of school before he finished after struggling with dyslexia.
He credits his successful acting career as having stemmed from a full-time act he put on at school to pretend that he understood things he really didn’t
Reeves says he thinks he was “coping with the fact that I didn’t really fit in.”
To this day, the actor reads and recites Shakespeare to calm himself.
15. Emma Watson
The Harry Potter star, best known for portraying Hermione Granger on the big screen, was diagnosed with ADHD as a child.
As well as starring in one of the most successful film franchises in history, Watson has achieved an English degree from Brown University.
She also went on to become a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
16. Michael Jordan
The famed basketball star didn’t let ADHD stop him from becoming one of the most successful athletes of his time, both on and off the court.
Jordan appeared on the big screen screen playing himself in 1996 comedy film Space Jam and is also a wildly successful businessman, having made millions from merchandise and other investments.
17. Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder did not let an ADHD diagnosis slow down his dreams of becoming a musician.
The “Signed, Sealed Delivered I’m Yours” singer went on to become one of the most successful and recognisable figures in the music industry.
Wonder was signed to a record label at age eleven and was often considered a child prodigy when it came to playing instruments.
18. Jack Nicholson
Despite being diagnosed with ADHD, Nicholson has gone on to appear in some of the most recognisable roles in Hollywood.
He didn’t let ADHD slow him down, appearing in Batman, as well as other titles like A Few Good Men and The Shining.
19. Whoopi Goldberg
Goldberg is one of the most well-known faces in the world and has overcome a late dyslexia diagnosis to help understand some struggles she overcame at school.
The Sister Act star says she was labelled “dumb” in school, but also was diagnosed with dyslexia in her adult life.
She likened the misunderstandings around dyslexia to those of menstrual cramps in young people.
“It’s like in the early days when little girls complained about having cramps. It took … years for people to understand that menstrual cramps are a real thing, that PMS is a real chemical change in the body.”
MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.