Those with dyslexia have a difficult road to tread, there is no doubt. In this digital age, reading and writing have taken a large role in communication through texts, email, and Social Media. Reading is a basic and necessary skill for everyday life. So, having a reading disability such as dyslexia means you (or your children, if they are dyslexic) may have to work harder to level the playing field.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach whatever goals you set for yourself — and the same goes for dyslexic kids, too! Just take a look at these famous dyslexic actors who have faced down the challenges of dyslexia and are succeeding in their chosen field. We’re sure you’ll recognise their names but you may be surprised — as we were — to discover they are dyslexic.
“You have to believe that something different can happen.“
This charismatic actor made his name in the 90s with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He’s known as a composer, rapper, and actor and is considered one of the powerhouses of Hollywood. With movies such as Independence Day, Men in Black, The Legend of Bagger Vance, and The Pursuit of Happyness on his IMDB page, it may be surprising to some that Smith has dyslexia. However, Smith’s work ethic and dedication helped drive him; he is always working, pushing himself to be better.
“The first step is you have to say that you can.”
“I made a conscious decision to live my life the best way I could…”
She’s been a queen, a pirate, an English lady, a duchess, and a spy. As a child she had difficulty learning. She was called “stupid” a lot, and that bullying made her determined to learn to read and write – to figure a way around her dyslexia. She made a deal with her parents – that if she practiced her reading, they would get her an agent. She’s loved words ever since.
“… I think life is about finding out who you are and what you like.”
“There are no regrets in life, just lessons.“
A California native, Jennifer Aniston may be best known for her role of Rachel on Friends, but she’s performed off-Broadway as well as on the big screen. Diagnosed at the age of 20, Aniston never realized her poor grades in school were due to dyslexia. Her diagnosis was life-changing. “I felt like all of my childhood “traumadies,” tragedies, [and] dramas were explained.” It was due to her struggles in school, however, that she developed an “innate humor,” which she channeled into acting.
“Once you figure out who you are and what you love about yourself, I think it all kind of falls into place.”
“Hold on to your dreams and never, ever, think that you’re not good enough.”
Best known for his roles as Legolas in Lord of the Rings and Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom was diagnosed at age 7. He struggled, as do many others, with reading and writing. His parents, too, bribed him to keep reading. In his case, he was earning for a motor bike. Orlando firmly believes that creativity is the key to helping children with dyslexia.
“Never let anyone tell you that you’re stupid or that you’re not capable… Take this obstacle and make it the reason to have a big life.”
“All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.”
He may not be an actor, but we could not leave Steven Spielberg off this list of famous Hollywood dyslexics. Through his blockbuster movies, which include Jurassic Park, E.T., Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, Men in Black, and Goonies, Spielberg has touched lives everywhere. His inspiration for writing Goonies was his experience as a dyslexic child, being bullied and always feeling like an outsider – a member of the Goon Squad. Diagnosed as an adult, Spielberg says his parents were very involved with his homework and very supportive of him as he struggled to learn. “I never felt like a victim… I think movies really helped me, kind of saved me from shame, from guilt, from putting it on myself.” Making movies became his great escape.
“You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams that we can’t even imagine dreaming.”
All of these amazing, inspirational people have taken their struggles with dyslexia and turned them into strengths. It’s taken drive, determination, and creativity but they didn’t give up!
The most important thing that connects them is not their dyslexia, but the fact that they’ve turned something most would see as a negative, into something that is a very positive force in their lives.
Do you have any similar stories about your experiences with dyslexia? What other actors do you know of who are dyslexic?