Feature

Keira Knightley’s battle with dyslexia

Knightley’s parents used their daughter's interest in acting to help her overcome dyslexia.

Keira Knightley has always been ambitious, said Geoffrey Macnab in the London Independent. At the age of 3, she asked her parents if she could have an agent. “My mum is a writer and my dad is an actor, and [agents] were always phoning the house,” says Knightley, 26. “I don’t think I knew what an agent was, but I knew it was exciting when they phoned up.” Fearing their daughter would be doomed to a life of low-paid stage roles, Knightley’s parents initially tried to discourage her theatrical dreams.

But when Knightley was diagnosed with dyslexia at 6, they began using the possibility of an acting career to help her overcome the condition. “If I dropped a grade, I wasn’t allowed to go up for auditions,” she says. “The acting was this amazing carrot at the end of the stick. I got over it because I had that thing dangled in front of me. By the time I was 11 I was deemed to be fine.” Knightley now describes herself as an “incredibly slow reader.” Yet she reads all the time, consuming everything from Tolstoy to Nietzsche. “I left school at 16 [for acting], so my education is on me.”

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