Hard Work
“I knew I wasn't stupid, and I knew I wasn't dumb.... They knew I wasn't lazy, but what was it?”

—Whoopi Goldberg


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.

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Pass It On®

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Your Comments
Quinn from Albuquerque APRIL 23, 2020
I am super happy you followed your dream. and super amazed with your efforts and finaly getting it right.

Anonymous MAY 4, 2017
This is inspirational!

Anonymous NOVEMBER 21, 2016
something to look up to

Emily Rose Duplin 11 from USA MARCH 17, 2016
I have always loved you Whoopi but hearing that you have dyslexia is very good for me because if you where able to do what you did then i could to it too. LOVE YOU WHOOPI.

NULL from NULL JANUARY 29, 2015
Hard Work!! PASS IT ON

NULL from NULL JANUARY 22, 2015
I have ADD and ADHD and its very hard to overcome. I think its great because shes dyslexic and she did it. She proves that you can overcome anything when you set your mind to it.

Maddy from Wi SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
You r really cool and I look up to u

Andrew from Texas FEBRUARY 11, 2014
Dreadlocks are cool!

Lady Di from Tacoma, WA DECEMBER 13, 2013
I have followed your career for many years and so proud of you. Through television I am honored to see your patience intelligence and your calm spirit.

alex from nj NOVEMBER 20, 2013
I love you

Molly B from CT MARCH 25, 2013
Good for her, for over coming dyslexia.

YoItsOOZY from here MARCH 11, 2013
Whoopi Goldberg is funny! I saw her on this show called The Veiw once :D

mmc from rogers FEBRUARY 19, 2013
What a big thing to overcome.

Anneliese from AZ DECEMBER 30, 2012
I love you Whoopi! I never knew that about you.

Pablo from Newark nj MAY 4, 2012
I'm the only one who sees the spelling mistake??

Erin from Chicago, IL SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
I have dyslexia. My teacher found out in 1st grade. Then my parents told me in the middle of 2st grade. Now I am in 7th grade and it's still been very hard. I actually I just found out about this poster today. This poster is in my math teacher's room. If i had it my way I would not read at all. If any one has suggestions of books in the 4th to 5th grade level but a little more on the 5th grade side please send me back. P.S. I like mystery books! Yours always Erin

Indya Conover from Two Rivers Magnet Middle School FEBRUARY 7, 2011
That is the reason I love Whoopi Goldberg!

Dee Z. from New Jersey OCTOBER 15, 2010
I am only 2 years older than Whoopi and I struggled with dyslexia my whole life. Everyone called me stupid, even my teachers and I felt like such a loser. I now know I am a smart, caring woman.

steph m from collingwood ont OCTOBER 15, 2010
That's a good picture of her.

John K. from Portland, OR SEPTEMBER 20, 2010
Good poster by the way.

Dustin K. from Chandler, AZ DECEMBER 25, 2009
Christmas Eve I had dinner with my mother at a Pizza Hut. There was a young kid (maybe 10 years old) with an apron and uniform on busing tables and cleaning. He was doing that while waiting for his mother to get off of work. I left him a note that said "Merry Christmas Little Brother" and left five dollars for him.

Ann W from San Diego, CA NOVEMBER 6, 2009
I'm one of the Mother's Against Dyslexia: DAM... My daughter will never LOVE reading, but when since finishing the Susan Barton system she CAN read the autobiography of Kat Von D, Whoopi and others who inspire and perservere!!!

Mr. C. from Marion Station, Maryland JULY 3, 2009
We are blessed in so many ways. Using your gifts and talents for the betterment of others is our way of giving back.

Maria R. from Spain APRIL 15, 2009
That is very good for people that has some healthy problem or personal problems. I think that if you work very hard in something you can achieve what you propose. Whoopi Goldberg is an example of this.

Karin P. from Libya MARCH 26, 2009
I loved and deeply admired Whoopi even before I read this billboard. Whenever I see her on the screen my heart jumps and I'd love to see her in person some day.... Maybe she is interested in yoga....I might give her private yoga lessons when we meet....smile, smile, smile...

Anonymous MARCH 24, 2009
That is really cool how she did that and she did not give up she worked hard to do that:)

Jake. B from Mac, Oregon OCTOBER 30, 2008
This billboard inspired me and was Amazing!

Samuel C. from Toronto, Canada SEPTEMBER 23, 2008
I too have suffered with dyslexia. Here is a poem to all. To Be My Best To be my best, is all I wish. Is it too hard for this? As time goes on, I'm aware, that life's lessons are everywhere. To be my best is all in time, with patience, love, and friends of mine. Just give me a minute to explain, whilst I make this story plain. With love and patience, I will strive, to be the best at what I do. With my friends, I will share my thoughts with them, and my fears. They will advise me, the best they could, then I will decide if I should.

Mary T. from Birmingham, AL JULY 27, 2008
My child is severely dyslexic. Through early diagnosis, proper intervention and his hard work, he is now in 7th grade and a B student!

Don P. from Anderson, Indiana USA OCTOBER 28, 2007
Thank You FBL Foundation! These Billboards represent the best in all of us-Thanks for the inspiration!

Debbie W. from Michigan, USA OCTOBER 22, 2007
I did not get diagnosised till I was 25. I was told by a reading teacher and 4th grade that I was lazy. My whole childhood was filled with hurt and pain. Thank you so much for making it OK.

Jean S. from Marysville, Michigan USA OCTOBER 11, 2007
I am so pleased that this billboard has been created. My 10 year old daughter has dyslexia and often feels all alone, I'm glad she can see have tangible evidence of successes.

Karolina K. from Guelph, Ontario Canada AUGUST 8, 2007
This gives my brother, who is dyslexic, hope for a future.

D Amilare from nigeria JULY 27, 2007
nice job keep growing

Mary J from Jamaica JULY 25, 2007
I am a slow learner but once I get the grip of things I am good to go. I learn that everything comes with practice

Sandra L. from Texas, USA JUNE 4, 2007
That's right hard work makes you powerful. I can relate to her, I am a hard of hearing person and it does not stop me from achieving.

William L. from St. Louis, MO APRIL 9, 2007
Amazing, truly amazing!

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