Dyslexia is a common learning disability (a neurological disorder) that can affect reading, writing and spelling abilities. Although it’s most often diagnosed in children, it can also affect and/or continue in adults. Many famous actors have dyslexia, including Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Aniston.
However, having dyslexia does not have to be a roadblock to your acting career, as you may have guessed from the list of actors I just mentioned. You just need to work around it.
Many people with dyslexia have difficulty with phonemic awareness, word decoding and word recognition. This can make reading a script difficult.
If you’re dyslexic, you might think, “But how am I to read and memorize a script? How am I going to keep up with the rest of the cast?” That’s a solid question — especially in a world where scripts are shot out of order and there are last-minute rewrites.
How do actors with dyslexia read scripts?
Use a text-to-speech device such as the Scanmarker Air Pen Scanner. This item is portable so it can easily fit into any of your pockets or bags. Perfect for actors since we’re always on the go! One of the options the air pen scanner has is Text to Speech: “The Scanmarker apps will read the text back to you in real-time while scanning! Aids with memorization and reading comprehension, and is an effective assistive tool for those with dyslexia or other reading difficulties.” Bonus: It comes in different colors!
How do actors with dyslexia manage their condition?
There is no single approach to managing dyslexia. However, many experts agree that early intervention is key. The earlier dyslexia is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. This may involve tutoring, special education services and accommodations at school. So if you suspect your child actor may have dyslexia, don’t just brush it off.
Some people with dyslexia also find it helpful to join a support group or connect with other individuals who have the condition. With today’s technology, there’s a high chance you can find an online support group if you’re unavailable for in-person meets.
What are the challenges actors with dyslexia face?
The challenges are mostly related to the audition process. You may have trouble reading lines or memorizing them, which can put you at a disadvantage when competing for roles.
There are ways to overcome these challenges. Some actors use cue cards instead of traditional audition material. Others work with a coach to help them prepare for auditions. And many just work harder than their non-dyslexic counterparts to make up for any shortcomings.
The bottom line is that dyslexia is not a death sentence for aspiring actors.
How do actors with dyslexia prepare for roles?
You can read the script out loud to yourself to get a better understanding of the character and the story. You want to feel confident and prepared. (Actually, reading the script out loud probably works for the non-dyslexic community as well!)
What advice is there for actors with dyslexia?
People with dyslexia may often feel overwhelmed and underprepared when it comes to learning new tasks. However, there are a number of accessible strategies you can do to help.
But first, it’s important to remember that having dyslexia doesn’t make you any less capable than others. With the right strategies in place, you can still excel academically and professionally.
Create an environment at home or on set that is free of distractions such as noise or clutter so you can focus your attention on the task at hand. Additionally, breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks makes them easier to manage. Example, if you have a large speaking part, you’d want to consider each scene as a “smaller chunk.”
Actors with dyslexia have proven that, even in the face of immense obstacles, anything is possible. Through courage and perseverance, they’ve been able to achieve recognition and success in the entertainment industry. It’s been shown that a diagnosis of dyslexia does not define one’s future or limit potential. Overcoming the odds is something you can do!