Photo Credit: Denis Makarenko /

There is a common misconception that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are unable to focus well enough to complete tasks. But many highly successful actors and performers with ADHD prove that despite the challenges associated with their symptoms, their dedication to focus on their passion can lead to remarkable success.

ADHD is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Symptoms can include being easily distracted, missing details, being forgetful, having trouble completing or turning in 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 said. 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 was drawn to “people who knew about movies, art, even fashion” when he was growing up.

When he moved to New York and was working as a model, he chose to learn everything he could from anyone he met that knew something he 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. Behavioral therapies, medication and sometimes dietary changes are used to help treat the condition. 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… You feel terrible. You feel soulless. 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.

But Channing Tatum isn’t alone. Other A-list actors have shared their struggles with ADHD as well.

Referring to his school years, Ryan Gosling said, “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 the Barbie star gained control over his behavior.

Although boys tend to be diagnosed with ADHD more frequently, girls are increasingly being recognized as exhibiting ADHD symptoms.

Girls 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 star told Cosmopolitan, “I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADD. I have a hard time focusing 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 a term that some use to describe a subtype of ADHD that excludes the hyperactive symptom.

During an interview with Collider, singer/actor Justin Timberlake revealed he has “OCD [Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder] mixed with ADD, you try living with that.” Despite his struggles, The Social Network actor continues to excel as a performer and as a businessman.

Like Timberlake, comedian, actor and TV host Howie Mandel also lives with both ADHD AND OCD. “I’ve always had problems sitting still and listening for long periods of time,” he said.

Having had a tough childhood due to his situation, Mandel was only diagnosed as an adult. In an interview with Psychology Today, he described some of the challenges he still faces as a result. “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.”

Despite his struggles, Mandel has always had a great familial support system and was able to achieve success and acclaim in show business. At times, living with ADHD and OCD can still be overwhelming for the America’s Got Talent judge.

“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.”

Mandel is a spokesperson for the Adult ADHD Is Real campaign.

These inspirational performers have managed to find ways to use their ADHD to their advantage. There are many ADHD success stories, including Walt Disney, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, John F. Kennedy, Solange Knowles and of course, Albert Einstein.

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