Celebrity quotes: Learning from challenges

Celebrities with learning and thinking differences are often willing to share what those challenges have taught them. Here’s what nine famous people with ADHD, dyslexia, and more have to say.

Orlando Bloom, actor

“If you have kids who are struggling with dyslexia, the greatest gift you can give them is the sense that nothing is unattainable. With dyslexia comes a very great gift, which is the way that your mind can think creatively.” — Child Mind Institute

Will.i.am, Grammy-winning singer and producer

“You’re always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things. But those traits work well for me in studios and in meetings about creative ideas. If you listen to the songs I write, they are the most ADHD songs ever. They have five hooks in one and it all happens in three minutes. I figured out a way of working with it.” — Daily Mirror

Tim Tebow, former NFL quarterback


“It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are. You can be extremely bright and still have dyslexia. You just have to understand how you learn and how you process information. When you know that, you can overcome a lot of the obstacles that come with dyslexia. When you figure out how you learn, you can accomplish whatever you want.” — ESPN

Whoopi Goldberg, award-winning actress and comedian


“They thought I was lazy, so they put me in the slow class. But my mom was a Head Start teacher, and she told me, ‘You’re not slow, you’re just different.’” — Brattleboro Reformer

Ty Pennington, host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition


“That’s the other thing: Even if you’re on medication, you still have to treat your body properly and take care of yourself. The idea that [ADHD] goes away or you grow out of it isn’t true.” — Huffington Post

Henry Winkler, actor, director, and author


“Somebody asked me if I could go back and start again with a different brain, would I. Years ago I thought yes, I would, and now I know I wouldn’t. Because whatever challenges I had in school, I guess they forced me to where I am today. So I now see them as an asset.” — USA Today

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

Dyslexia and ADHD

“Perhaps my early problems with dyslexia made me more intuitive: When someone sends me a written proposal, rather than dwelling on detailed facts and figures, I find that my imagination grasps and expands on what I read.” — Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

Salma Hayek, director, producer, and Oscar-nominated actress


“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. [The dyslexia] doesn’t bother me now. Some people read really fast, but you’ll ask them questions about the script, and they’ll forget. I take a long time to read a script, but I read it only once.”

— WebMD

Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medalist


“When I’m focused, there is not one single thing, person, anything that can stand in the way of my doing something. There is not. If I want something bad enough, I feel I’m gonna get there.”

— No Limits: The Will to Succeed


Explore related topics

Read next