12 Famous People With ADHD to Give You Inspiration

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
November 8, 2023

Well, first off, why should we care? Yeah, rich people have ADHD, big woop, eh? 

Well, I’m not their marketing agent, and I’m not here to convince you to love or hate anyone on the list. 

But as someone who lives with ADHD, I understand how easy it is to fall into pits of despair. To think that you will amount to nothing because you can’t commit to anything and that even if you put in your best effort, your best ending is mediocre life held by glue and shoestrings. 

And I can scream that it's not true as much as I want, but I think that picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, “pictures” will be undeniable truth, the evidence of people with ADHD being successful and best of the best

So, you know. Don’t necessarily start watching The Daily Show or listening to Foo Fighters because of this list if you don’t want to! But just consider the greatness these people have achieved despite the odds against them. 

Enough said. Let’s dig in

Trevor Noah

Famous for: Hosting "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.

Being one of the faces of the American Late Night and acing through it while juggling ADHD doesn’t seem like the easiest thing to do in the world. I can barely listen to a friend for more than 5 minutes before I start to zone out, but Noah seems to blitz through every interview, his fame and popularity earning him lucrative gigs such as hosting the 2022 Grammy Awards. 

Noah isn’t just quite open about his double diagnosis of ADHD and depression, but is also very wise about things he needs to do every day to keep his symptoms in check. 

His success shows that ADHD isn’t a death sentence and can be reigned with the right mindset and approach. 

Thoughts on ADHD: “I think over the years, what I've come to learn, thanks to some great therapists, is my depression is created by a severe level of ADHD …  But, like, so for myself, it means that if I'm not careful in how I sleep, how I eat, how I - how I manage my routine I can become overwhelmed, and it can just feel like the whole world is just too heavy to bear.”

Emma Watson

Famous for: Playing Hermione Granger in the "Harry Potter" film series.

Who doesn’t know and love Hermione, right? But it would be unfair to dilute all her accomplishments to one role, even if it’s the fan favorite. Besides her continuous acting career, Ms.Watson has also graduated from Ivy League School and is currently serving as UN Goodwill Ambassador! 

That’s quite a resume, and I can’t help but wonder if ADHD was not a detriment but a superpower here 😅

Although Emma Watson has never fully opened up about her diagnosis, UK’s ADHD Foundation claims that Ms.Watson was diagnosed as a child and has been on medication ever since.  

Johnny Depp

Famous for: Iconic roles such as Captain Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean."

Captain Jack Sparrow. Always feels like he’s just bumbling around in his world, but beneath this deceiving facade is a man of action who is always ready to rise to the occasion with the most convoluted plans and save the day. 

If that’s not a positive representation of ADHD in the media, I don’t know what is! (Well, maybe besides Jack’s love for a bottle…let’s not mention that).

Much like Emma Watson, Depp has never been candid about his diagnosis with the press. His ADHDness comes from the court documents revealed during the infamous trial against Amber Heard.

Channing Tatum

Famous for: Starring in films like "Magic Mike" and "21 Jump Street."

When I first saw Tatum, I thought he would be forever typecast as a tough meathead in the same vein as Dwayne Johnson. Yet, Tatum managed to win over and surprise critics and audiences as he effortlessly slipped from action to comedy and high-stakes dramatic roles, nailing every attempt.

It’s almost like us jumping between our special interests, don’t you think? 🧐

Thoughts on ADHD: “Everyone’s on a spectrum. Some people really need [medications] to help them, and others could maybe go on a different route. So it’s really tough. Whatever you do, hopefully, you can use it to your benefit”

Justin Timberlake

Famous for: Being a singer, songwriter, and actor, with hits like "Cry Me a River."

Justin Timberlake rarely speaks about his condition, and we have only one short excerpt sharing his frustration about living with ADD and OCD to boot! 

In the artist’s own words, it seems like his diagnosis frustrates and causes him trouble daily. But if you’ve asked me to guess, I would never know he has ADHD!

That shows that ADHD symptoms aren’t as simple as “being jumpy and inattentive” and can be much more nuanced. And, in general, it’s never a good idea to assume things about people!

Thoughts on ADHD: “I have OCD mixed with ADD, you try living with that.”

Dave Grohl

Famous for: Being the drummer for Nirvana and the frontman for Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl is a prime example of how impulsivity and hyper-fixations on special interests - fairly common symptoms of ADHD - don’t need to be flawed but can be turned into an extreme advantage!

From early beginnings as drummer for Nirvana to becoming the frontman of Foo Fighters (did you know he recorded every part on the debut album) and being just the rock’n’roll’s favorite dad, Grohl never stopped pursuing his dreams. And, boy, did it pay off.

Disclaimer: We don’t recommend anyone drop out of school to pursue far-fetched dreams. You can combine things, people! 

Thoughts on ADHD: “I hate to break it to you, but I was a terrible student. I was just stubbornly disengaged, impeded by a raging case of ADD, and an insatiable desire to play music. Far from being a model student, I did my best to maintain focus but eventually left school half way through 11th grade to become a professional touring musician — not advised.” 

Michael Phelps

Famous for: Being the most decorated Olympian of all time.

Remember when we keep telling everyone that physical exercise is good for you and ADHD management? If you don’t believe us, would you believe Michael Phelp’s mother? According to her, swimming helped Michael maintain focus and discipline, and when she saw that his mind would wander elsewhere, she would relate topics to sports and swimming to reign him back in. 

We can’t promise you will become the most renowned and accoladed swimmer of all time if you buy a gym membership, but… you know… good for joints? 

Thoughts on ADHD:” Growing up, I was someone who was constantly bouncing off the walls — I could never sit still. I [saw] kids who, we were all in the same class, and the teachers treated them differently than they would treat me, I had a teacher tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would never be successful.”

Sam Fender

Famous for: Being an award-winning singer-songwriter.

Sam Fender joins the ranks with Dave Grohl as a musician who says his ADHD propensity to hyper-fixate is the secret sauce behind his musical success. 

I don’t know about you, guys, but one time it can be a coincidence, but two times in a row? Well, that’s data points for you, baby. From a kid who has been told he won’t amount to anything to dueting with Elton John! Take that, grumpy teacher.

On a more serious note, his opening up about his treatment in school raises an important point: kids with ADHD aren’t “dumb” just because they can’t follow the one size fits all curriculum in schools. It shows that kids with ADHD are as capable as their peers, given they have a right outlet for their unruly minds. 

Thoughts on ADHD: “I [saw] kids who, we were all in the same class, and the teachers treated them differently than they would treat me,” he says. “I had a teacher tell me that I would never amount to anything and I would never be successful.”

Scott Kelly

Famous for: Being an astronaut who spent nearly a year in space.

Being an astronaut is not like any other job. It requires athleticism, courage, and scientific mind, and, most important of all, a lot of dedication. It’s probably one of the toughest gigs to land that we have right now. 

For someone with ADHD, such grit certainly didn’t come easy, but the renowned astronaut said that everything changed for him once he read a book about astronauts, which spurred his decade-long obsession with space.

Now, try telling us ADHDers that we can’t focus! We just need the right hyper fixation, that is all. 

Thoughts on ADHD: “I never believed it was possible because I had a little bit of a problem paying attention in school. If I were a kid today, I would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. It was impossible. Every year, I thought, ‘This is the year I’m going to start paying attention and doing my homework.’ And that would last all of two days.”

Jim Carrey

Famous for: Comedic roles in films like "Ace Ventura" and "The Mask."

The man of many faces and even more numerous thoughts, when people heard about Jim’s diagnosis, many were elated to know that he’s “one of us”, while others were like… “yep, I knew it all these years.” 

A Reddit user by the name NAND_NOR even made a cheeky suggestion about how one of the actor’s most famous roles - Detective Ace Ventura - is the embodiment of ADHD:

Thoughts on ADHD: “My report card always said, ‘Jim finishes first and then disrupts the other students.’”

Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach

Famous for: Being a top YouTube personality and game commentator.

Markiplier might be a bit of an oddball in this list, given he’s the “just” Internet celebrity, but I would say that over 35 million subscribers are nothing to scoff at. He has realized the dream of many ADHDers - earning money by playing video games - and has been an inspiration and a distant friend for many Internet dwellers. 

And there’s a good reason why he’s so successful! Markiplier knows how to entertain and entrance his audiences, and he also provides one of the more profound meditations on how it feels to live with ADHD, which I will kindly leave below. 

Thoughts on ADHD: “'You can want to do something, and you can be at the place where everything is set up for me to do this thing, there is nothing in the world I want more than to do this thing that is in front of me ... and it's the closer I got, or I pushed myself to do that thing the more there was sandpaper rubbing in my brain. I had a physical, visceral reaction that pushed me away. And there's another voice in my head that says you are pathetic and worthless, why can't you do this thing."

Simone Biles

Famous for: Being one of the greatest Olympic gymnasts of all time.

Like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles is an athlete who keeps winning despite ADHD’s attempts at bringing her down. By many metrics, she is one of the greatest American gymnasts of all time, an achievement that is not just about being “good at sports” but requires mental fortitude, dedication, and grit. 

And it’s one of those “I would have never guessed!” Unfortunately, Simone Biles had to open up about her condition on less than agreeable terms. Hackers decided to leak her medical records, which revealed her use of ADHD medication, which prompted Ms.Biles to speak up in a valiant effort to normalize living with ADHD and take medication.

Thoughts on ADHD: “Having ADHD and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I'm afraid to let people know.” Even More Inspiration

Looksie. I can’t promise you that any of these folks are using Numo. I don’t know, maybe they’re using pseudonyms? But that’s not the point.

The point of today’s shortlist was about inspiration. When your strength falters, others can inspire us to push on; people like us suffer from the same condition. 

And when you can read about people rocking the packed stadiums, becoming the Olympic gods, or flying into friggin 🚀space🚀 … sometimes it’s just enough of a push to keep going forward. 

This idea is why we have created Numo. We wanted to build a community full of trust and kindness where ADHDers can support each other through victories and losses, to ask for help, or just share relatable memes, you know? 

So I can’t promise you will find Justin Timberlake bringing the sexy back. But I can promise you a good time ;) 

Oh, and just to sweeten the deal, let’s look at what else we have in store:

  • ADHD Planner: With our more than an ordinary planner, you can accomplish any tasks that life throws your way through the power of order and gamification
  • Noise Generator: There is research suggesting that noise generators can benefit us ADHDers as they can both calm us in stressful situations and help us focus by providing “noise” for our unruly minds to latch on. We can be your haven when the world's volume isn't right. This tool can help you find the optimal soundscape that enhances your focus, a valuable asset for those wrestling with ADHD.
  • Knowledge Repository: This is where you will find all cool and exciting tips & tricks about how to manage your ADHD and develop healthy coping mechanisms. 

So, our app is pretty much everything at once when it comes to ADHD, so why not become a member of our tribe and see how it suits you? 

Concluding Thoughts

So. Are you feeling ✨inspired✨

Looking at all these celebrities excelling at their thing despite, or maybe because of, ADHD certainly makes me happy. It shows that with the right attitude, treatment, and coping strategies, I can accomplish great things and even turn ADHD quirks to my advantage to shift into 2nd gear when others are out of breath. 

But besides waxing poetics, it feels like another, more literal inspiration is hidden in this list. Have you noticed a common thread among those fellers? Most of them are performers, artists, musicians, and actors

So, who knows, maybe ADHD is the secret sauce you need to be the A-lister. 🤔 Makes you think. Maybe it’s all about our innate ability to perform under pressure, and if a live stage isn’t pressuring enough, then I don’t know what else.

And if it made you wonder if there are other jobs where ADHD can shine, I got a list just for you! 

Give it a read when you have time. And hop on Numo if you’d like! Hope to see you there 😉

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