10 Public Figures with ADHD to Inspire Your Child
ADHD Support & Awareness
More and more, public figures and celebrities are coming out and declaring their private struggles, loud and proud. Sharing the details of their mental illness, raising funds for medical conditions or declaring proudly their nonconforming gender identities, celebrities have the power to normalize conditions and lived experiences in our culture.
If you or your child lives with ADHD, you know how challenging it is to explain the condition to those who don’t know it. The public perception of ADHD is often comical and trivializing – Oh, you get distracted. Me too! – or, worse, completely invalidating. We’ve all heard the old soundoff in the comment section of our fave parenting site or at the playground: “If kids weren’t instantly gratified/on screens all the time/learned to behave themselves there would be no such thing as ‘ADHD’.”
So, while you may not be a massive proponent of celebrity culture, the power of celebrity can normalize and inform the public through messaging and visibility.
A public figure with ADHD sends a clear message when they are open about their condition: ADHD is real. And people with ADHD can lead successful, even extraordinary lives.
Here are ten public figures and celebrities who openly share their experience with ADHD. Share this list with your child or teen and help them see that the sky is the limit, with or without ADHD.
US Olympic Gymnast and international champion Simone Biles was forced to publicly acknowledge her ADHD diagnosis when drug testing results including the presence of Ritalin were publicized. Biles, 24, has an astonishing 19 international and Olympic medals, and declares ADHD a “superpower” not a “downfall.” She shares her experience with ADHD in this inspiring video by Understood.org.
Grammy award-winning artist Will.i.am, 46, has a music career spanning decades. He was a founding member of The Black Eyed Peas and has gone on to write, produce and sing multiple hits, as well as dabbling in business and acting. Born William James Adams Jr., Will.i.am is open about his ADHD and claims composing and performing music helps manage his symptoms: “Music brings control to my thoughts.”
Michael Phelps might be the greatest Olympian ever. Phelps, 36, has won 28 Olympic medals and taken the swimming world by storm since he was 15 while living with ADHD, diagnosed when he was just nine. Phelps says he lives life “to the fullest” with ADHD. “Once I found that it was okay to talk to someone and seek help, I think that [sic] changed my life forever.”
You might not have heard of Jessica McCabe but the online world has. McCabe, 38, is an American actress and YouTube star. The title of her wildly popular and informative channel, “How to ADHD,” is in itself a declaration that life with ADHD is perfectly okay. Her Tedx talk, “Failing at Normal: An ADHD Success Story” has more than 2.5 million views on YouTube and promises “You are not a failed version of normal. You are different, you are beautiful, and you are not alone.”
Adam Levine is best known as lead singer of the pop band Maroon 5 and former celebrity judge on the singing competition show, “The Voice.” Levine, 42, uses his celebrity to raise awareness of ADHD. Diagnosed as a child, he says his symptoms remained with him into adulthood. “It was affecting my career the way it had affected me in school,” Levine opens up. He advises his fans to seek help if they’re struggling. “ADHD isn’t a bad thing…you’re not alone.”
Baseball’s original bad boy, Babe Ruth, was known for his erratic behaviour but it’s now understood he lived with undiagnosed ADHD from childhood. While ADHD causes difficulty in focusing, for many successful athletes and professionals like Ruth, their passion for their sport, art or profession brings a kind of focus unparalleled by those without ADHD. Ruth’s career spanned 22 seasons and cemented him as a baseball legend.
Child star Emma Watson will forever be Hermione of the Harry Potter series in our minds but Watson has a flourishing acting career as an adult and even acted as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, all while living with ADHD. While Emma hasn’t spoken openly about the condition, she has apparently been diagnosed and medicated for ADHD since childhood and throughout filming the Harry Potter series.
Berlin-born Audra McDonald, 51, is a musical theatre force to be reckoned with. McDonald has won more performance awards than any other Broadway actor, awarded six Tony awards and nominated for two more thus far. McDonald has been outspoken about living with ADHD since childhood and using musical theatre, not medication, to manage her condition, facing some backlash from parents of children with ADHD. Nonetheless, she is astonishingly successful and a testament to the creative prowess of people with ADHD.
Famed chef Jamie Oliver was diagnosed with ADHD as a child in Britain and went on to lead an empire of television shows, cookbooks and restaurants. While research is ongoing about whether food additives can exacerbate ADHD symptoms, Jamie credits good nutrition as his main strategy for managing symptoms and preaches the benefits of a balanced diet online and in British schools
Jim Carrey became a household name in the 90s with his signature slapstick comedy and incredible voices. Carrey has been treated for ADHD since childhood, sharing that he was “a restless child” who would always finish his assignments quickly and start disrupting the other kids. He is open about also suffering from depression, which is often diagnosed in people with ADHD. Despite his challenges, Carrey turned his high energy and humour into huge success.
These are just some of the many people with ADHD who have become icons, public figures, and leaders in their field. It’s a true testament to the creativity, ingenuity and bravery of those who overcome learning differences.
Which public figure with ADHD inspires YOU the most?