Society has historically seen ADHD as a disorder and deficiency.
But what if we've got it all wrong?
While ADHD presents challenges and could be a daily struggle, this narrative is only part of the story.
What if, instead of viewing ADHD as a drawback, we saw it as an exceptional driving force behind creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship?
From the boardrooms of global corporations to the cutting-edge kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants to the high-stakes arenas of Olympic sports, adults with ADHD are breaking the mould and thriving.
They are reframing what it means to be neurodiverse, showing that alternative mental wiring isn't a flaw to be corrected but a different lens through which to view the world.
A lens that has given us some of the most disruptive innovations, iconic brands, and extraordinary athletic achievements we've ever seen.
It's important to celebrate those who openly talk about mental health and ADHD as they create awareness and demolish the stigma.
In the spirit of shattering ceilings and deconstructing stereotypes, let's delve into our list of the 30 famous people with ADHD.
Famous Entrepreneurs with ADHD
So many famous entrepreneurs with ADHD have shattered ceilings and rewritten the rules of their industries.
ADHD and entrepreneurship are the perfect fit. Many people with ADHD tend to think outside the box, take quick action and tolerate higher risks.
Neurodiversity, on the whole, has proven itself to be an asset outside of the confines of the standard 9-5 routine.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder and genius behind IKEA, was open about his ADHD diagnosis.
Kamprad credits ADHD for his unique problem-solving and creative approaches that propelled IKEA to worldwide fame.
He adapted IKEA to accommodate his ADHD and dyslexia.
His ADHD-inspired creativity and philosophy are core factors that made IKEA the epitome of simplicity, efficiency and clean Nordic design.
David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways, is another trailblazer diagnosed with ADHD.
His unique approach to business has revolutionized air travel, making flying more accessible and customer-friendly.
Rather than seeing it as a drawback, Neeleman calls his ADHD an asset that boosts his creativity and problem-solving.
He's stated that he wouldn't even consider erasing his ADHD, citing it as a source of his disruptive, industry-changing ideas.
“If someone told me you could be normal or you could continue to have your ADHD, I would take ADHD”
Simon Sinek, renowned author and leadership guru, has openly embraced his ADHD diagnosis.
Calling it his "greatest advantage," Sinek finds that it fuels his ability to intensely focus on passion projects.
Sinek champions that ADHD can be an "abnormal advantage," urging others to leverage their unique traits rather than suppress them.
For Sinek, ADHD isn't a hindrance; it's a unique lens that shapes his trailblazing perspectives.
"I have ADHD and it is one of the single greatest advantages I have. Sure, it has its drawbacks. It’s harder for me to focus on things that don’t interest me. But all that means is I should focus on doing things that do interest me. I have an abnormal advantage and I feel sorry for all the people who aren’t able to apply intense focus on something like those with ADD or ADHD."
Mel Robbins, a famed motivational speaker and author, openly discusses her ADHD diagnosis as an adult.
Robbins credits her ADHD for her energetic delivery and ability to connect with diverse audiences.
Her 5 Second Rule, a self-help technique, can also serve as a practical tool for managing ADHD symptoms, showcasing how she turns challenges into actionable advice.
Charles Schwab, the finance magnate behind the Charles Schwab Corporation, is upfront about his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia.
His experience led him to advocate for educational reform, specifically to better accommodate neurodiverse students, making him not just a business icon but a voice for inclusivity.
Seth Godin, marketing maven and best-selling author, has been diagnosed with ADHD.
Rather than a limitation, he views it as a differentiator that fuels his boundless creativity.
"There is nothing defective about people with ADHD...you are not broken" he says.
Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef and nutrition advocate, was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child.
He is a passionate advocate for healthy eating as away to manage ADHD symptoms.
Heston Blumenthal, the 3-star Michelin chef and culinary innovator behind The Fat Duck, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world but it’s made me realise things about my behaviour"
He believes that his ADHD fuels his relentless curiosity and boundary-pushing culinary experiments.
“I have a restless curiosity and a mind full of questions and possibly a somewhat obsessive personality”
Far from being a drawback, his condition compels him to be constantly innovating, which has led to groundbreaking dishes and cooking techniques.
His ADHD is integral to his status as one of the world's most creative chefs.
Famous Athletes with ADHD
Remarkable athletes with ADHD have continuously pushed boundaries and redefined the limits of human performance.
The traits commonly associated with ADHD—such as hyperfocus, impulsivity, energy, and the need for constant stimulation—can be leveraged to excel in sports.
These athletes often possess the ability to focus intensely during crucial moments and react quickly to changing circumstances.
Rather than a hurdle, neurodiversity can be a key asset in the high-stakes world of competitive sports.
Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was diagnosed with ADHD at age 9.
Phelps initially relied on medication but found a more impactful therapy in swimming.
His mother encouraged him to channel his energy into swimming, teaching him discipline and focus.
He's spoken about how the pool became a space for him to burn off energy and gain self-discipline.
Simone Biles, the dominant US gymnast, was diagnosed with ADHD as a child.
The diagnosis hasn't stopped her from becoming a four-time Olympic gold medalist.
“I have ADHD and have taken medication for it since I was a child…having ADHD, and taking medication for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.”
Chapeau to you Ms. Biles, for her invaluable contribution in breaking the stigma and normalising neurodiversity!
Shaquille O'Neal, NBA Hall of Famer, has been candid about his struggles with ADHD, a topic he further discussed in the context of Simone Biles' own mental health issues.
"I have ADHD. I've had it since I was a kid".
His remarks underscore that even superstars must navigate complexities tied to their conditions, but they don't have to be barriers to monumental success.
Terry Bradshaw, the NFL Hall of Famer and sports analyst, has been public about his ADHD diagnosis.
His boisterous personality and high energy, traits sometimes associated with ADHD, have been harnessed both on the football field and as an entertainer.
Bradshaw underscores the importance of treating ADHD as part of a balanced, healthy life.
Justin Gatlin, sprinter and Olympic gold medalist, has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a child.
He views ADHD as a challenge that shaped his athletic focus, remarking, "In class, I had trouble concentrating, but racing helped me focus....If I could harness that [energy], I could use it on the track"
Gatlin revealed he stopped taking ADHD medication after a positive amphetamine test and a ban from competitive sport in 2001.
Famous Actors with ADHD
ADHD traits like creativity, expressive emotion, and a knack for improvisation often make for a powerful on-screen presence.
These actors thrive under the spotlight and bring unparalleled depth to their roles, breaking free from societal misconceptions about ADHD.
Trevor Noah, renowned comedian and host of "The Daily Show," has spoken about his severe levels of ADHD contributing to his depression.
"My depression is created by severe levels of ADHD...If I am not careful in how I sleep, how I eat, how I manage my routine, I can become overwhelmed, and it can feel like the whole world is too heavy to bare.”
Depression and ADHD often occur in tandem and, when they do, the symptoms of each condition are more acutely experienced.
This revelation adds depth to his persona and stands as a testament to the multifaceted effects of ADHD.
Johnny Depp, the iconic actor known for roles like Captain Jack Sparrow, was officially diagnosed with ADHD in 2014, alongside other conditions like depression.
Depp's unique acting style, often portraying quirky and complex characters, could be seen as a channel for his ADHD-fueled creativity.
Channing Tatum, Hollywood actor and producer, has been candid about his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia since childhood.
The diagnosis impacted his schooling and self-esteem, but Tatum leveraged his hyperactivity and creativity into a successful acting career.
"You start thinking you're dumb; really you are just bored," he's said.
Howie Mandel, comedian, actor, and television host, has been open about his diagnosis with ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), mood disorder, and anxiety.
For Mandel, ADHD manifested in an incessant need to move and talk, which he funnelled into his comedy.
"Every obstacle is an opportunity," he once remarked.
Zooey Deschanel, acclaimed actress and singer, has spoken about her struggles with ADHD, particularly during her school years.
She has mentioned how traditional learning environments didn't suit her, but her ADHD contributed to her creative pursuits.
Zooey once noted, "You don't have to go to college to develop your brain; you don't have to follow all the rules."
Her experience highlights that there isn't a one-size-fits-all path to success, especially for those navigating ADHD.
Russell Brand, the British comedian and actor, has been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder.
While his on-stage persona is one of energetic charisma, Brand admits that outside of performing, he's "shy, awkward, nervous, gauche."
He credits his unique energy and quick wit to his ADHD, while acknowledging it as a facet of his more complex self.
"People are multi-faceted, aren't they?" he says, encapsulating how neurodiversity can interact with our professional and private life.
Michelle Rodriguez, celebrated for her roles in "Lost" and the "Fast & Furious" franchise, openly discussed her ADHD diagnosis in a 2006 Cosmopolitan interview.
"I want to write and direct but it's not easy with ADHD" she noted, highlighting her challenges with focus. "I have a hard time focusing when I'm alone. I'm a scatterbrain".
Despite these struggles, Rodriguez has carved a successful acting career.
Famous Musicians with ADHD
ADHD creativity can fuel a musician’s artistic expression, enabling them to think unconventionally and experiment with sounds and styles.
The boundless creativity, energy and hyperfocus associated with ADHD can often translate into hours of dedicated practice and the pursuit of musical perfection.
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine has openly discussed his adult ADHD diagnosis and champions mental health and neurodiversity awareness.
"ADHD isn't a bad thing, and you shouldn't feel different from those without ADHD. Remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same thing.
Levine has partnered with the "Own Your ADHD" campaign to help others take control of their ADHD.
Former NSYNC singer, global pop icon, and actor Justin Timberlake has been open about having both ADHD and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
"I have OCD mixed with ADD, you try living with that.", he has mentioned about his experience with ADHD & OCD.
The iconic pop singer revealed that she was diagnosed with ADHD in her teens and had to take medication to manage her symptoms.
Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was diagnosed with ADHD early in life and bipolar disorder later on.
Cobain's neurodiversity might have contributed to his complex personality and artistry, fuelling both his creative genius and the struggles that ultimately led to his tragic end.
Will I Am
Multi-talented musician Will.I.Am has been candid about his ADHD diagnosis. He views the condition not as a hindrance but as a form of mental creativity.
“One thing I learned about ADHD is that it's hard to keep your attention, and you can't sit still and you're always moving and thinking about a whole bunch of things. But those traits work well for me in studios and in meetings about creative ideas.”
He has said that music serves as his ADHD therapy and helps him bring control to his thoughts while keeping his mind focused or, as he puts it: "keep my attention disorder in order".
Ozzy Osbourne, the "Prince of Darkness" in the world of rock, was diagnosed with ADHD in his adulthood.
Osbourne has often mentioned feeling "out of place" growing up, a feeling attributed to his ADHD.
In interviews, he's spoken about his tendency towards impulsivity, a hallmark of ADHD.
“I am terribly dyslexic and have attention-deficit disorder, so I have to carry a tape recorder everywhere I go. Also, if I get a melody in my head, I have to record it straightaway”.
His life - filled with substance abuse - may be seen as both an impact and coping mechanism for his condition.
Doja Cat, the rap and pop sensation, named her third studio album "ADHD" to highlight her struggle with the condition.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, she discussed how her ADHD makes her "get bored quickly," influencing her eclectic musical style.
Lily Allen, the sharp-witted British singer-songwriter, recently revealed her ADHD diagnosis in a 2023 interview with The Times.
“It sort of runs in my family. And it [the diagnosis] is only because I’m here in America where they take these things slightly more seriously than they do in England"
Nelly Furtado, the Canadian singer-songwriter famed for hits like "I'm Like a Bird," revealed her ADHD diagnosis in an interview with Fault Magazine.
Diagnosed in her 40s, she has been using dance and choreography as a way of "dealing with it in a natural way."
Furtado takes a pragmatic approach to her condition, stating that she's been "finding solutions" rather than being "overly dramatic about it."
Former Spice Girl Mel B felt a sense of relief when diagnosed with ADHD, among other conditions, in 2019.
She told The Guardian, "It means you don’t feel as alone or different or crazy anymore."
Despite the challenges, Mel is optimistic about her capabilities, saying there's "no limit" to what she can achieve.
The singer, who has returned to her home city of Leeds, finds strength in being close to family and believes her conditions don't define her limits.
Self-diagnosed, with No Formal Diagnosis
It's crucial to recognize that not everyone with ADHD has received a formal diagnosis.
In fact, the condition remains heavily under-diagnosed (especially in women), despite recently growing awareness.
This list includes Demi Lovato, David Grohl, and Will Smith, who have mentioned ADHD symptoms but have not been formally diagnosed.
The absence of an official diagnosis doesn't diminish their achievements or the challenges they may have faced due to ADHD traits.
Want to learn more about ADHD symptoms, misdiagnosis, and underdiagnosis in women? Head over to our ADHD in women checklist article.
No Public Evidence of ADHD
We have compiled a list of famous people labelled in the public domain as having ADHD, despite a lack of evidence or public disclosure.
We believe it's unethical to speculate about someone's mental health without confirmed information or public disclosure.
To help reduce misinformation, we have listed the names of people often spoken about as having ADHD without that being confirmed.
It's essential to note that our team has not found any verifiable information or public evidence to confirm an ADHD diagnosis - be it formal or self-diagnosed.
- Richard Branson - Richard Branson is a celebrated neurodiversity advocate who openly talks about having dyslexia. Still he has never confirmed an ADHD diagnosis.
- Bill Gates - There is no evidence to suggest that Bill Gates has ADHD, and he has never publicly disclosed having the condition.
- Emma Watson - Often cited as having ADHD, Emma Watson has never confirmed a diagnosis or spoken openly about it.
- Michael Jordan - No evidence of confirmed ADHD diagnosis (formal or self-diagnosis).
- Jim Carrey - While Jim Carrey openly talks about his struggle with depression, there is no evidence of confirmed ADHD diagnosis (formal or self-diagnosis).
- Cher - Cher has openly discussed having dyslexia, but no evidence or public disclosure suggests she has ADHD.
- Whoopi Goldberg - Openly talked about having dyslexia, but there is no evidence or public disclosure to suggest she has ADHD.
- Woody Harrelson - Has never openly spoken about having ADHD.
Famous Historical Figures with ADHD
While the modern concept of ADHD did not exist in their lifetimes, many historical figures have been posthumously suspected of having ADHD due to behaviours and traits that align closely with the condition.
For example, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, John F. Kennedy, etc.
It's crucial to note that these individuals were never diagnosed with ADHD during their lifetimes.
Therefore, talking about historical figures in the context of ADHD includes a degree of speculation.
Still, the notion that these celebrated individuals may have had ADHD offers intriguing insights into how neurodiversity could have shaped history.
Why are there so many successful people with ADHD?
ADHD fosters creativity and divergent thinking, qualities that are invaluable in problem-solving and innovation across fields.
These traits enable individuals to approach challenges from different angles and come up with unconventional solutions.
The recurring need for stimulation and low tolerance for boredom are also key drivers of success for entrepreneurs, athletes, and even artists.
ADHD is a serious condition, with symptoms that can hinders us on a daily basis.
At the same time, at Deepwrk we don't see it as a deficiency. Instead we celebrate it as unique characteristic that can be an asset .
We see neurodiversity as an exceptional driving force behind creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and even athletic achievements.