One thing you may not know about actress Octavia Spencer is that she is dyslexic. She was diagnosed, like most, with the learning disorder when she was a child. However, she’s redefining the way people think about dyslexia.
“I was a dyslexic child and am a dyslexic adult; that doesn’t really mean that you’re not intelligent — it just means that your brain functions differently,” Spencer said when speaking with WENN.
She is starring in the new film Gifted, about a single man (played by Chris Evans of Captain America fame) taking care of his niece, who happens to be a mathematical prodigy. The actress can somewhat relate to the story. Despite her dyslexia, Spencer said that growing up, she tested in the gifted program due to her remarkable problem-solving skills.
“I was actually tested for the gifted program in my school because I was more auditorially inclined than visually,” she said. “I just remember thinking differently. I could solve puzzles quicker than the average child. I would start with the mazes at the end and go to the front and be done in, like, 30 seconds. My deductive reasoning was very important.”
The Academy Award winner credits her teachers back in Montgomery, Alabama for encouraging her and helping her to cultivate her talents. Had they not aided her in seeing what she was capable of, she would have likely looked at her dyslexia diagnosis differently and her life may have had a different outcome.
“You have to allow kids to be kids,” Spencer said. “You also need to nurture their thirst for knowledge. I don’t know that allowing them to skip grades is good because then they end up in a grade with people who are much more mature than they are.”
She continued, “I had great teachers and I think teachers should be paid as much as athletes. When you think about it they spend the majority of the day with your kids so they should be compensated. They’re also teaching them and shaping their views about themselves. I feel very fortunate that in the public school system in Montgomery, Alabama, I had some wonderful teachers.”
Gifted hits theaters on April 7.
Image via WENN