The language-based learning disability that affects people with normal or above-average intelligence, dyslexia can definitely be a big obstacle in school, but it hasn’t stopped many celebrities from becoming successful in their fields.
Learn more about a few of the biggest celebrities with dyslexia, from Orlando Bloom to Whoopi Goldberg, and find out what they have to say about the problem, how it affected them, and how they overcame it.
Drama school helped Orlando Bloom a lot in overcoming dyslexia, and it hasn’t stopped him from becoming a movie star. He was diagnosed early on and had the most difficulty with reading out loud.
“When my mother told me that I was dyslexic it was both a gift and a bit of a cross to bear, but she tried to make me feel like it was something special and I was going to be great with it. But it was something that I hid from other kids as best I could,” he explained at a 2010 gathering for the Child Mind Institute.
One of the youngest major celebrities with dyslexia, Keira Knightley found her passion for acting helped her make progress at school. “A lot of it is down to perseverance and hopefully you’ll have parents who will work hard with you, because that’s what mine did. I still have days where reading just won’t work but most days it will,” she told Daily Mail.
The CNN news anchor, war correspondent and author also had trouble reading as a child, but was got the help he needed in the form of a coach. “I had a mild form of dyslexia where I would see some letters backward, and I had to go to a special reading instructor. One way she helped was to encourage me to find books that I was really passionate about,” Cooper told Oprah.
While most celebrities with dyslexia were diagnosed early on, Jennifer Aniston only realized it in her early twenties, when she couldn’t make out the words while getting a prescription for glasses. “I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
After getting diagnosed at the age of 7, Tom Cruise struggled with the learning disability, that he kept a secret well into his adulthood. “All through school and well into my career, I felt like I had a secret. When I’d go to a new school, I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability, but then I’d be sent off to remedial reading,” the actor explained.
Academy Award winner and Grammy winner Cher has also struggled with the issue, and she’s one of the celebrities with dyslexia that was diagnosed later on. “The only way I learned was by listening to the teachers in my classroom,” the singer explained. After leaving school at the age of 16, she was only diagnosed when her kids were tested for it.
Diagnosed in 2007, Steven Spielberg says that he never felt like a victim because of his learning disability and followed his heart toward a very successful career in Hollywood. “It was like the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that I’ve kept to myself all these years,” he told website Friends of Quinn about his diagnosis.
Many celebrities with dyslexia use creativity to overcome it, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver found his outlet in the kitchen. In 2013, he admitted that the first book he actually finished reading was “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” at the age of 38.
“Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey only opened up about his dyslexia in 2006. In an interview with Barbara Walters, he credited the learning disability for his acting success. “It’s given me a perspective of - you have to keep working. I have never given up,” he explained.
She’s known for “The View” and winning the EGOT (she’s won Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards), but Whoopi Goldberg is also one of the celebrities with dyslexia. “When I was a kid they didn’t call it dyslexia. They called it... you know, you were slow, or you were retarded...” she recalled, adding that other kids at school called her “dumb”.