There is a common misconception that people with ADHD are unable to focus well enough to complete tasks. But many highly successful actors and performers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder prove that, despite the challenges associated with their symptoms, their dedication to focus on what they’re passionate about can lead to remarkable success.
ADHD is defined as a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental type. Symptoms of can include being easily distracted, missing details, being forgetful, having trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, fidgeting, and having difficulty sitting still. About 30-50-percent of people diagnosed in childhood continue to have symptoms into their adult years.
Channing Tatum is among the actors who have publicly shared personal experiences with ADHD. In an interview with T, The New York Times Style Magazine, the Magic Mike star revealed he struggled with ADHD as well as dyslexia growing up. “I have never considered myself a very smart person, for a lot of reasons,” he stated. He described his persistent troubles with learning and fitting in during his school years saying, “You get lumped in classes with kids with autism and Down syndrome, and you look around and say, ‘Okay, so this is where I’m at.’ Or you get put in the typical classes and you say, ‘All right, I’m obviously not like these kids either,’ So you’re kind of nowhere. You’re just different.”
Now one of Hollywood’s top-earning actors as well as a producer, Tatum expresses his belief that the education system is broken. “If we can streamline a multibillion-dollar company, we should be able to help kids who struggle the way I did,” he insists.
As he matured, he describes being drawn “to people who knew about movies, art, even fashion.” When he moved to New York and was working as a model, he explains, “I just learned everything I could from anybody who knew something I didn’t.” He credits himself for being able to choose good mentors. “I can look at a person and say, ‘They’ve got something that I want up there in the head. I’m going to do my best to get in there and absorb it.’ My mom said, ‘Be a sponge.’ And so I’ve learned more from people than I have from school or from books.”
If left untreated ADHD can lead to bad credit, low grades, problems in relationships, and can chip away at self-esteem. In response, behavioral therapies, medication, and sometimes dietary changes are utilized. Channing has been open about his personal experience with prescription medications, saying they did not work for him. “For a time, it would work well, then it worked less and my pain was more. I would go through wild bouts of depression, horrible comedowns. I understand why kids kill themselves. I absolutely do. You feel terrible. You feel soul-less. I’d never do it to my child.” This perspective on ADHD medication is controversial as many individuals insist on the benefits they’ve experienced due to prescriptions.
Other actors who’ve shared having ADHD include the following.
Ryan Gosling said referring to his school years, “I didn’t feel very smart. They kept passing me in school even though I didn’t know how to do things I should have known how to do. Like, I couldn’t read…I couldn’t absorb any of the information, so I caused trouble.” It was only when he finally was diagnosed with ADHD and was given medication that he gained control over his behavior.
Although boys tend to be diagnosed with ADHD more frequently, girls are increasingly being recognized as exhibiting ADHD symptoms. Females may have less hyperactivity, but research indicates that their ADHD often continues into their adult years–as is the case with Michelle Rodriguez. The Fast & Furious actress told Cosmopolitan magazine, “I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADD. I have a hard time focussing when I’m alone. I’m a scatterbrain, but I’m nervous of taking medication. I don’t really want to depend on anything to control my brain.” ADD is term that some use to describe a subtype of ADHD that excludes the hyperactive symptom.
Also, singer, actor Justin Timberlake revealed to Collider.com, “I have OCD [Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder] mixed with ADD, you try living with that.” Clearly, The Social Network actor’s conditions haven’t prevented him from excelling as a performer and as a businessman.
Comedian, actor, and TV host Howie Mandel revealed he lives with ADHD. He recounts having a tough childhood and the fact that he didn’t earn his high school diploma. “I’ve always had problems sitting still and listening for long periods of time,” he says. The funny man was only diagnosed once he was an adult. Along with his ADHD, Mandel also has OCD. “Doing a scripted television series is tough, because my disorders make it difficult to write or read a script. I can do it–I was in ‘St. Elsewhere’ back when–but it’s challenging,” he told Psychology Today. “Thankfully, my parents accepted all of my quirks and differences. I have the best family–everyone shows me nothing but love, support, and strength. Even with all that, it can be hard–sometimes terrifying and dark–to manage the symptoms of my disorders.” He is a spokesperson for the Adult ADHD Is Real campaign.
After watching comedian and actor Jim Carrey perform in highly energized and creative roles, it’s not too hard to imagine he has ADHD. When he was a school boy, he coped by being the class clown. He told JimCarreyWorld.com that growing up he would complete his school assignments quickly and then start disrupting other kids. He’s involved with bringing awareness to the cause and insists treatments for ADHD help control symptoms.
Other actors who have hinted at having the disorder include Zooey Deschanel who once said while promoting a crafting project, “Are you an unmedicated adult with Attention Deficit Disorder who also LOVES to do crafts? I AM!” And actor, producer, and rapper Will Smith once described himself as the “fun one who had trouble paying attention.”
These inspirational performers have managed to find ways to use their ADHD to their advantage. And there are plenty more ADHD success stories to be found including Walt Disney, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, John F. Kennedy, Solange Knowles, and of course Albert Einstein.