“We Are Different, Not Defective”: SZA And 9 Other Stars Who’ve Opened Up About Having ADHD

October 30, 2017  |  
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While being interviewed by i-D magazine recently, singer SZA opened up about the ways she operates as a musician with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She admitted that it can be kind of hard. Ok, really hard.

SZA ADHD

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“Living with ADHD is really f–king difficult,” she said. “It’s a little embarrassing. Especially when I’m nervous, my mind is running a mile a minute. My ADHD speaks for me before I can speak for me. If I’m in public and people walk up to me – because I’ve never been famous before – I’ve probably lost something by the time everyone has left me. I’m easily disorientated. But I’m getting a hold on that.”

The admission is one of many that have been made over the years by individuals in the spotlight living with ADHD, from athletes like Simone Biles to actresses like Michelle Rodriguez. Check out stars speaking about dealing with ADHD both as kids and in some cases, like SZA’s, well into adulthood.

Simone Biles dating

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Simone Biles

“I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid,” Biles said on Twitter after her medical records were leaked online and questions arose about medication she was taking. “Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules, and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me. Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.”

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Solange Knowles

“I was diagnosed with ADHD twice,” the “Cranes in the Sky” singer said back in 2014. “I didn’t believe the first doctor who told me and I had a whole theory that ADHD was just something they invented to make you pay for medicine, but then the second doctor told me I had it.”

Will Smith ADHD

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Will Smith

“I was the fun one who had trouble paying attention,” Smith said about his childhood in an interview with Rolling Stone back in 1998. “Today they’d diagnose me as a child with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]. I was a B student who should’ve been getting A’s – classic underachiever. It was hard for me to read an entire book in two weeks. Today I buy a book and have someone read it for me on tape! [Laughs loudly]”

Justin Timberlake

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Justin Timberlake

While doing a roundtable interview back in 2008, singer and actor Justin Timberlake was asked if he had obsessive compulsive disorder after he adjusted all the recorders placed in front of him. “I have OCD mixed with ADD,” he said, “you try living with that.”

Will.i.am ADHD

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Will.I.Am

I don’t control my ADHD with Ritalin, but with music,” said Will.I.Am in an “as told by” piece for ADDitude. “Music brings control to my thoughts. When I write music, I make order out of disorder. If you think about it, the songs I write are very ADHD-ish. They have five hooks in one, and it all happens in three minutes.”

Music is my ADHD therapy and my straitjacket,” he added. “It keeps me sane and keeps my mind focused.”

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Michelle Carter

“Talking publicly about my ADHD and dyslexia is something I’ve never been shy about,” Carter, a gold-medal winning Olympian in the shot put, said last year as she prepped for the games in Rio. “I tell them you can do whatever you set your mind to—you just may do it differently. You may have to work a little bit harder, but you can do it.”

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Wendy Davis

“You’re NOT stupid, broken or disordered. Celebrate the good, step over the bad and work around the ugly,” wrote former Army Wives star Wendy Davis in a story for CNN about ADHD. “Realize that those of us with ADHD/ADD have a skill that allows us to see the world through a unique lens. We are different, not defective.”

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Michelle Rodriguez

“I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADHD. I have a hard time focusing when I’m alone. I’m a scatterbrain.” That’s what the Fast and Furious star said to Cosmopolitan in 2006, worried her choice to avoid medication would hurt her career. It hasn’t.

celebrity mental illness

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Audra McDonald

“Thanks mom and dad up in heaven for disobeying doctors’ orders and not medicating their hyperactive girl, and find[ing] out what she was into and, instead, pushing her into the theater,” said the Tony winner. She said all of this as she accepted her award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her work as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. “Thank you, mom.”

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