Whoopi Goldberg was born in New York City in 1955, as Caryn Johnson. She spent the first years of her life in a public housing project in Manhattan. Over the course of a turbulent early life, she survived poverty, drug addiction, single motherhood and a stint on welfare to become one of America's most beloved entertainers.
Growing up, however, Goldberg also struggled with dyslexia and, as a result, dropped out of high school.
"I knew I wasn't stupid, and I knew I wasn't dumb. My mother told me that. Everybody told me I wasn't stupid or dumb. If you read to me, I could tell you everything that you read. They didn't know what it was. They knew I wasn't lazy, but what was it?"
As an adult, she finally found the reason for her reading struggles—dyslexia. As Goldberg once recounted, "I learned from a guy who was running a program, and he had written a sentence on a board. And I said to him, 'You know, I can't read that.' And he said, 'Why not?' And I said, 'Because it doesn't make any sense to me.' So he said, 'Well, whatever you see, write exactly what you see underneath.' And so, he brought me to letters by coordinating what I saw to something called an A, or a B, or a C, or a D, and that was pretty cool."
Goldberg has reported that reading still takes effort, but time and practice have made it easier. Most important, she never allowed her learning challenge to stand in her way. Instead, she became one of an elite group of actors who have won Grammy, Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony recognitions. Today, Goldberg has come a long way from a teenage mother to one of the most powerful women in show business, thanks to hard work—including the hard work of believing in herself.
Hard Work. Pass It On!
This billboard about Hard Work features Whoopi Goldberg; comedian, actress, political activist.