Support & Stories

Ari Emanuel on ADHD and Dyslexia

Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, Ari Emanuel is a Hollywood legend who inspired the Ari Gold character on “Entourage.” He’s also an adult with ADHD and dyslexia who struggled to read as a child.

Hollywood Sign from Behind
Hollywood Sign from Behind

I was in third grade when teachers knew something was wrong. A specialist showed me pictures of a banana and a mule. I knew the difference between them, but I couldn’t get the words out.

My father, a pediatrician, diagnosed me with ADHD and dyslexia. That began a process in which my mother took me to different reading teachers, and, through force of will, got me to read. There were also horse pills of Ritalin.

In high school, I was in the “special ed” program. The teachers said that I wasn’t going to college. My mother didn’t listen to them. We continued to see the reading teachers. I hated her for it then, but I love her for it now.

[Take This Test: Dyslexia Symptoms in Adults]

In my house, you had to do well in school, and my parents didn’t treat me any different from my brothers. I had to read the newspapers and fight for my opinions about politics at the dinner table.

As head of Endeavor, I have to be creative. My dyslexia helps me: I don’t think the way other people do. To stay focused, I get up at 4 a.m. and work out like a madman. It works. I don’t take Ritalin any more.

[Read This Next: What Does Dyslexia Look Like in Adults?]

From the New York University Child Study Center’s Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture on May 13, 2009.