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Famous Dyslexics: Entertainment

Famous Dyslexics- EntertainmentIt’s more probable you’ll be a diagnosed dyslexic than a famous actor or actress. For even the most talented entertainers, the odds of becoming a star are nearly impossible. According to the International Dyslexia Association, the odds of being diagnosed as a dyslexic are 1 in 5. The tools it takes to be a successful entertainer are quite similar to those needed to combat the symptoms of dyslexia – practice, patience, determination, and perseverance. By learning how to overcome the struggles caused by their learning disabilities, these famous dyslexics managed to stand out among the rest in Hollywood.

Jennifer Aniston

“I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, drama were explained.”

F3420464371_c371777a95_o (1)or those with an unidentified learning problem, self-image and education can suffer until an answer is found. Relief did not come until the age of 20 for former Friends star Jennifer Aniston.

The actress recalls being a poor student. Aniston could not retain the information she was being taught, but could make her fellow classmates laugh. She was drawn to subjects such as art and drama, which allowed her to channel her creative energy into school projects.

When Aniston was finally diagnosed with dyslexia, a weight was lifted off her shoulders. She felt like she finally had an explanation for the struggles she faced during her childhood. Not only is the actress the proud winner of a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, but she is also a proud dyslexic – sharing her personal experience so that others may find encouragement.

Whoopi Goldberg

“The advantage is that my brain sees and puts information in my head differently, more interestingly than if I saw like everyone else.”

Whoopi_Goldberg_-_Comic_Relief_2006_-_Daniel_LangerThe View‘s Whoopi Goldberg says no one called her struggles “dyslexia” when she was younger.

The well accomplished actress, comedian, radio host, television personality, and human rights activist struggled to grasp concepts in school. Unsure of what she was dealing with, Whoopi self-diagnosed herself as slow. To make matters worse, Whoopi was belittled by both students and teachers, who would called her names like “dumb” or “stupid”.

Although she found little encouragement from those in the classroom, Whoopi constantly had one supporter in her life who always believed in her- her mother. Even when Whoopi struggled to find her way after dropping out of high school, her mother continued to offer encouragement. With the help of mentors, Whoopi was able to gain the attention of industry leaders such as director Steven Spielberg.

Whoopi did not discover that her learning troubles were because of dyslexia until she was an adult. Today, Whoopi shines on the stage and the screen. When she is not sharing about her journey with dyslexia, she works as an advocate for various charitable causes such as homelessness and poverty.

Keira Knightley

“I am a slow reader. I always loved words, which is a strange thing given that I couldn’t actually read them.”

KeiraKnightleyByAndreaRaffin2011Without her dyslexia, famous British actress Keira Knightley may have never become a household name.

The Pride & Prejudice and Pirates of the Caribbean star was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six. She struggled with reading and writing, and was called stupid by classmates and casting agents. In order to keep Knightley motivated, the actress’s supportive mother made a deal with her daughter- if Keira wanted to continue to pursue acting, she had to maintain her grades at an acceptable level. Knightley did just that, and managed to graduate high school with high marks.

Knightley says her dyslexia does not affect her ability to memorize scripts, as long as she is given a sufficient amount of time to learn the lines. Her talent and determination are why she’s received two Academy Award nominations and is listed as one of the highest-paid actresses in the industry.

Patrick Dempsey

“I think [dyslexia has] made me who I am today. It’s given me a perspective of — you have to keep working. I have never given up.”

Like many other dyslexic children, famous actor Patrick Dempsey had to be put in a classroom for students mislabeled as “slow”.

The actor, who is best known for his role on the television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of twelve. Despite seeing himself as stupid, he continued to persevere. Dempsey left school at the age of 17 to work with various traveling theater companies.

Although Dempsey’s acting abilities makes the art look almost effortless, he says he still gets insecure about reading lines. With the help of his coach, he works on strengthening his skills as an actor and a public figure. Today, Dempsey continues to find healing as he teaches his daughter how to read.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 

Photo Credit: Flickr.com – Pimkie “aniston”geekchic89 “Patrick Dempsey” ; Wikipedia Commons By Photographer is Daniel Langer, dlanger on flickr.com. Copyright is held by Daniel Langer and Comic Relief, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons ; Andrea Raffin

Famous Dyslexics: Sports

Famous Dyslexics- Sports

Dyslexics can often thrive on the court or field more than they do in the classroom. For students that fall behind in the classroom, sports can equal out the playing field.  Dyslexics are sometimes seen as outcasts in school and their self-esteem suffers because of this. The chance to be on a team with their classmates makes them feel included. Sports also offer struggling students a positive escape from hard homework and poor grades. These famous dyslexics have become most known for their athletic accomplishments!


Dyslexics who triumphed in sports

Magic Johnson

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.”

picture of magic johnsonFor Earvin “Magic” Johnson, basketball wasn’t merely a game. The five-time NBA champion, who received his famous nickname after scoring 36 points in a high school game, found his success story on the courts – not in the classroom. Johnson struggled with dyslexia in school and took summer classes in order to stay caught up. As a young boy, he was judged by both his classmates and advisers. While others had low expectations, Johnson saw the potential he had as a basketball player. In order to secure a spot on the Michigan State University team, the young player dedicated his early mornings to practicing his sport. Two years after enrolling in college, Johnson was drafted into the NBA where he would go on to win five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was also a part of the United States’ gold medal basketball team at the 1992 Olympics.


Muhammad Ali

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

picture of Muhammad AliWorld heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali fought hard in the ring as well as in the classroom. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Ali struggled with reading. He barely graduated from high school and never felt smart. He hated reading but loved to fight. A local law enforcement agent noticed the remarkable drive and energy that Ali had and later acted as the young boy’s boxing mentor. Ali grew up to become an incredible athlete, winning world championships and gold medals at the Olympics. Today, Muhammad, in collaboration with his wife, runs a program called “Go the Distance”, which aims to improve the literacy of young African Americans. He says his struggles with academics only motivated him to work harder for success.

Tim Tebow

“You can be extremely bright and still have dyslexia. You just have to understand how you learn and how you process information.”

picture of Tim TebowThe public eye is used to seeing NFL quarterback Tim Tebow tackle his opponents, but off the field, he spends time tackling the symptoms of his dyslexia. By looking at his high 3.7 GPA and the healthy study habits he exhibited while at the University of Florida, it would be hard to tell that the now free agent was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven. Tebow’s father and brother both struggled with the learning disability, so the symptoms Tim displayed were nothing unfamiliar to this family. Tebow says his dyslexia makes it hard for him to sift through large amounts of information in order to make a clear decision. He learns best from hands-on experience, rather than diagrams or game plans. In order to memorize complicated playbooks, Tebow makes his own flashcards to study up on plays before the big games. His dedication and willingness to put in extra behind-the-scenes work are what have helped the football player win multiple awards and honors for both his collegiate and professional football career.


Meryl Davis

“I learned how I learned and how my brain worked.  It helped me adjust and compensate for my differences…. It opened me up to problem-solving, seeing things differently, and how I can help myself overcome things.”

picture of Meryl DavisMeryl Davis often stays quiet about her dyslexia. She’s not embarrassed, but the world champion figure skater wants her skating to take the main stage. Meryl began ice skating at the age of five and was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade. While she shined on the ice, she secretly struggled with self-esteem and often viewed herself as unintelligent. She had a hard time reading throughout high school but successfully graduated as a member of the National Honors Society. After high school, the figure skater continued on to pursue a college education at the University of Michigan. When the 2014 Sochi Olympics rolled around, Meryl and her dance partner of 17 years were determined to reap the benefits of their demanding workouts and travel schedules. Their risky routine paid off, and together they became the first American Ice Dancers to medal in gold. Davis says her dyslexia is what helped her develop a remarkable character. After taking the time to understand how her mind works best, she has become more patient with herself. Although her skating career is currently on hold, she continues to work towards getting her degree in cultural anthropology.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 


Famous Dyslexics: Science

famous dyslexics in scienceDyslexia does not have to limit your accomplishments. Read the stories of three famous dyslexics who thrived in science despite their struggles…

Ann Bancroft

“My dyslexia and my challenges through school were the absolute perfect training for an expedition. Expedition people are all about one step in front of the other and not going very fast, just doing the hard work. What better way to get the work ethic than by having a learning difference?”

picture of Ann BancroftAnn Bancroft did not let her struggles with reading and mathematics stop her from becoming the first woman to cross both the North Pole and the South Pole.

From a young age, Ann Bancroft was keenly aware that she thrived in nature, but not the classroom. In order to get by in school, Bancroft managed her troubles in reading, spelling, and mathematics with the help of tutors and her parents. After the successful completion of fourth grade, Bancroft’s family relocated to Kenya. Bancroft remembers these years to be the most influential in her life. Her experiences in the natural world allowed her to be more expressive and confident in taking on challenges.

When she returned to the States two years later, she enrolled in the seventh grade at an academically prestigious school. In an effort to move forward in school, Bancroft and her family ignored her learning troubles and pressed on. Despite working tirelessly to improve her academics, she never saw the results she hoped for. By the recommendation of teachers, Bancroft was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia that same year. This diagnosis was a relief to her worried parents, but Bancroft did not want to be an outcast from her peers. Even with the knowledge of her learning disability, she continued to fall behind in school. Administration began to pull her out of extracurricular like art, music, and sports. Bancroft was left with no outlets to be expressive.

Bancroft transferred to another school to finish her last two years of high school and went on to receive an education degree from the University of Oregon. After spending four years working in special education, Bancroft decided to take a chance and do something extraordinary: go to the North Pole.

Being able to accomplish such a goal inspired Bancroft to create multiple foundations to fund and support children who desire to explore their passions outside of the classroom. In addition, she travels as a public speaker, sharing stories of her adventures with nature and dyslexia.


Carol Greider

“I learned that I had to work hard. But maybe because I was putting myself in a different category because there wasn’t anyone around to say, ‘It’s not because you’re stupid, it’s because you have this other issue,’ which I can now say to my son.”

Carol Greider alwayspicture of Carol Greider saw herself as “stupid” as a child and never intended to pursue a career in science. Ironically, the American molecular biologist won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering telomerase, an enzyme that has the potential to fight cancer and age-related diseases.

Greider says her early school days were not easy, as she struggled with spelling and sounding out words. She remembers being taken to separate rooms to learn, which deflated her confidence. Thanks to her determination, school got better for Greider. Instead of letting failures defeat her, she pushed through to accomplish her goals. One of her tricks was using memorization to remember difficult words such as dinosaur names. Greider did not identify herself as dyslexic until she later watched her own son face the same problems she did with reading.

After working in a laboratory in undergraduate school, the daughter of two biologists decided to pursue a graduate program. This was not an easy tasks, as most school rejected her because of her low standardized test scores. Thankfully, U.C. Berkley accepted Greider based on an interview and her high grades, experience, and drive. This is where she would go on to complete the groundbreaking research that garnered her a Nobel Prize.

Greider says a lot of her success and strength is attributed to her dyslexia. Because of her learning disability, she learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. 

Albert Einstein

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Imagination encircles the world.”

picture of Albert EinsteinAlthough dyslexia diagnoses were not common during his lifetime, some academic societies believe famous genius Albert Einstein exhibited many symptoms consistent with those we now know to be related to dyslexia.

It was recorded Einstein did not speak until the age of three. His verbal development remained stagnant in school, where he struggled with arithmetic and foreign language studies. Teachers perceived the young boy as lazy and worthless. On the other hand, Einstein excelled in areas that utilized his nonverbal abilities. His interest in geometry flourished with the help of his uncle. He began to understand complex puzzles and prove theorems. His success in complex geometry and other visual subjects made him a creative thinker. 

His verbal struggles continued into his adult life. Einstein’s working memory was also poor. He did not exhibit strong memorization skills, often forgetting sequences as simple as the months of the year. Despite his struggles, he made scientific contributions that still continue to influence today’s understanding of the world around us.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 

AnnBancroft 2006-02-06″ by Jonathunder – Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons
Carol Greider © Prolineserver 2010 / Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
Einstein Photo Credit: Flickr: o5com

Famous Dyslexics : Business and Entrepreneurship

Business and Entrepreneurship

Business and Entrepreneurship

A 2007 survey done by NY Times revealed that about 1/3 of surveyed business owners identified as dyslexic. Entrepreneurs and dyslexics often share some of the same skills, such as problem solving, persistence, creativity, and ability to look at the bigger picture. These are all positive attributes that can be turned into opportunities if seen as such. The following entrepreneurs and business people did just that.

Richard Branson

“Being dyslexic can actually help in the outside world. I see some things clearer than other people do because I have to simplify things to help me and that has helped others.”

4574017204_0be0a5151e_bBritish billionaire Richard Branson is the founder and CEO of Virgin Group. The entrepreneur dropped out of school at sixteen partly due to the struggles he faced with dyslexia. Teachers thought he was lazy because he did not work the same way his peers did. Realizing that the classroom was not the right environment for him, he used his entrepreneurial drive to begin publishing at the age of sixteen. Richard later went on to launch several branches of what would eventually become Virgin Group, including Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America airlines. In order to succeed in the business industry, Richard adapted his management style to the mechanics of his learning disability. Thanks to his dyslexia, he developed strong delegation abilities and was able to better focus his skills when applying them to different projects. As a dyslexic, Richard prefers everything to be simple and clear-cut. By making sure his business followed these guidelines, he created a brand that is known for having a superior and clear communication strategy that draws in customers. The entrepreneur says he never saw his condition as a disability, but rather a gift. This positive outlook is what drove him to become a powerful businessman and a strong advocate for those with dyslexia.

Daymond John

“My mother always said, ‘It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big,’…So dream big and think bigger.”

5598588671_44e0dd9efc_oShark Tank investor and entrepreneur Daymond John knew from a young age that his strengths were creativity and analytical thinking, but he had to first overcome hurdles to finally harvest those talents. In school, Daymond had a hard time with reading and spelling. His parents often got frustrated, as they believed he just wasn’t applying himself. After watching her child struggle academically, Daymond’s mother worked closely with her son on a daily basis to help develop his abilities. Knowing that reading and writing were his weak points, Daymond worked hard to be exceptional at what he was already good at. This ideal brought him to enroll in a co-op high school program, which would allow him to work full-time one week and do his schooling the next. With great work experience under his belt, he later went on to create FUBU, an influential clothing line that has helped the entrepreneur garner many awards. Daymond did not get a diagnosis for his dyslexia until he was an adult, but he says he found his success by never letting his weaknesses define him. Drive and determination are what helped him transfer his creativity and analytical thinking skills into successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Tommy Hilfiger

“I performed poorly at school – when I attended, that is – and was perceived as stupid because of my dyslexia.”

5181824242_cca34087ee_bTommy Hilfiger, founder of the popular lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger, always knew he was different from the other designers in the fashion industry. He first noticed his learning disability in school when he received low grades on assignments. Because of his poor academic performance, his teachers simply thought he was unintelligent and never took the time to seriously diagnosis what was causing him to struggle. Instead of pursuing a higher education after high school, Tommy moved to New York City to work within the retail industry. At the age of eighteen, he opened his own storefront. Despite the store going bankrupt, the designer showed perseverance and went on to do freelance work for other well-known designers. These opportunities are what led to the founding of his own company, which has continued to remain popular for over twenty years. He believes his lack of formal training is what allowed him to have a viewpoint on design that differed from that of his colleagues. Tommy still has trouble reading and has to take time to concentrate to accomplish the task, but taking his own path has taught him how to use his struggles as tools for success rather than sources of frustration.

Nancy Brinker

I was such a hard worker all my life. I wasn’t stupid by any means, I had the intelligence, but I couldn’t learn the way other people did”

4028869951_19d1ec5f61_bNancy Brinker, founder of Susan G Komen for the Cure, struggled with reading, writing, and math, but this wasn’t obvious to her teachers and parents. Despite facing hardships in the subjects, Nancy learned how to use memorization to her benefit at a young age and, as a result, performed at the same level of her peers in the classroom. It wasn’t until standardized testing came along that Nancy’s parent realized something wasn’t right. Nancy knew how to memorize numbers and facts, but she couldn’t use logical methods like the test questions required. Even though standardized tests were a wake-up call, Nancy was never diagnosed with a learning disability. It wasn’t until her own son was diagnosed with dyslexia that she realized many of her symptoms were the same. Despite all of this, Nancy has gone on to create one of the most well-known breast cancer foundations and win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given in the United States. Nancy found her success by focusing on her strengths in visual learning and growing from doing and experiencing, rather than reading. As for advice for young dyslexics that have some of the same troubles, Nancy encourages all children to find their passion and pursue what they love to do.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 

Photo Credits (some photos have been modified): Flickr.com – Jarle NaustvikU.S. Embassy Nairobi4hourworkweek, Kunstakademiets Designskole IAEA Imagebank