There are many aspiring actors and actresses who worry about their success due to a childhood voice disorder. If it pops up again under stress or nervousness, could it ruin their career?
It is quite possible to overcome these disorders in many cases. In fact, many famous celebrities have overcome a voice disorder and achieved major success. Here are just a few you may have heard about.
James Earl Jones
Did you know that the iconic voice of Darth Vader and CNN was nearly mute for 8 years during childhood because of a stutter? Throughout his whole childhood, he had great difficulty with speaking and received a lot of mocking from his fellow students. It wasn’t until a teacher in high school forced him to recite a poem he wrote from memory (the teacher thought he didn’t write it) that he started to overcome the problem.
This incident got him to talk and do more recitation, which then led to acting. Through training, he’s learned how to manage his stutter.
Eric and Julia Roberts
Both of the Roberts siblings suffered greatly from a stutter during their childhoods. Julia hasn’t discussed her stutter much, but Eric has talked about his with the press. He turned to reading to hide from it and stayed quite quiet, a common reaction. He almost got placed into special education until his father noticed that if Eric memorized something he could recite without the stutter. That’s what sparked his acting career.
Barbara Walters has one of the most recognizable voices on television as a newscaster and interviewer. But did you know that she has a lisp? You might be able to hear it in her earlier interviews. When she went to the Today Show, she tried to get training to overcome it but found the training too difficult to keep up with her schedule. She found her own ways to deal with her lisp and now you can hardly hear it.
Samuel L. Jackson
If it wasn’t for his stutter, you might have never had all of those memorable movie moments from Samuel L. Jackson. His stutter was so severe that his speech therapist recommended getting acting training from an early age to get some additional practice. That helped him get started. After his role in Pulp Fiction, he became a household name and has been on a roll ever since.
Nicole Kidman is famous for her movies but she’s also famously shy. As a child, this shyness contributed to her stammer. It took much hard work to overcome the issue. Despite the shyness, she overcame her fear and has now been in films that have grossed over $4 billion dollars.
Drew Barrymore is sometimes said to talk a little too much out of the side of her mouth. That’s because she has a lisp involving sibilants (‘s’ sounds). Despite that, she has gone on to achieve great fame. In fact, her manner of speaking to minimize her lisp has led to her distinctive voice that has won the hearts of Americans who love her films.
While known for his swimming rather than his speaking, sometimes athletes who hide their speech disorders behind athletic prowess suddenly find them front and center when they reach fame. He has a noticeable lisp when he speaks, partially due to his jaw structure. He was bullied for it a lot as a young child, like many children.
While not heard much today unless you’re a fan of film history, Bogart’s distinctive speaking tone was because of scars around his mouth. This gave him a lispy manner of speaking that helped his voice become quite recognizable around the time motion pictures started using audio.
Here’s an actor that turned his speech disorder into an advantage. The ex-actor is famously known for pronouncing “s” as “sh”, but he also has a heavy Scottish accent. The actor learned how to blend his accent with his disorder to create a unique tone that is still remembered to this day, and some ladies find quite attractive!
Whether it was through hard work through lots of acting practice, working with a speech therapist, or finding ways to cope with their speech disorder, there are lots of famous people who have learned to deal with their issue. You can do it too!
If you have a speech disorder you’re struggling with and you fear it will affect your speaking or acting career, our speech-language pathologists and speech therapists are ready to work with you to help you overcome your issue. Whether it’s through vocal and breathing exercises, helping with articulation issues, or even checking for voice box problems like lesions, we can give you the care you need. Call us for a consultation.