Keira Knightley

Born: 26th March 1985

Occupation: Actor

Challenges overcome: Dyslexia

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Being born into a family of actors, her father Will Knightley and mother Sharman McDonald, Keira dived into the world of acting and requested her own agent at the age of three. Her parents held off on this request until she was six years old, which is where her career began. Her first role was in the 1993 TV film ‘Royal Celebration’.

Keira appeared in a number of television films during the nineties, and her first major movie role was as Sabé, in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 1999. Knightley’s breakthrough role as Jules in Bend It Like Beckham propelled Keira into the spotlight in 2002. She then went on to working major roles in Hollywood, such as Elizabeth Swan in Disney’s epic Pirates of the Caribbean with Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp, and in Love Actually alongside Hugh Grant and Liam Neeson.

Keira has worked in a number of different genre movies, including period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, and has won a number of awards. She has been nominated for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her roles in Pride and Prejudice in 2005, and in Atonement in 2008.

In late 2015, Keira will make her Broadway debut in the title role of Thérèse Raquin. Keira has done a lot of charity work, including being the face of an Amnesty International campaign, working alongside Comic Relief, Water Aid, Oxfam, and Woman’s Aid. In 2010, Knightley became a patron for the SMA Trust, a charity that funds medical research for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Challenges Overcome

Keira was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six, but believes that she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in today without her learning disability, as her dyslexia has turned her into the actress she is now.

Struggling with her reading and writing throughout her school years, her parents used Keira’s passion for acting as a carrot to dangle in front of her; ‘If I dropped a grade, I wasn’t allowed to [act], if I didn’t behave at school, I wasn’t allowed to do it, if I didn’t improve with reading, I wasn’t allowed to do it. ‘It was used like that to get me through it – and I definitely did it.’

Her dyslexia usually doesn’t affect her ability to memorise scripts, so long as they’re given to her in advance. She revealed: ‘I find it very difficult to do big budget films because there isn’t a set script when you start and I find it difficult to learn unless I’m given it at least a week before.’

Disability Definitions


Dyslexia, also known as alexia or developmental reading disorder, is characterised by difficulties when learning to read and with differing language comprehension despite normal or above-average intelligence. This includes difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills and verbal comprehension, or rapid naming of objects. Dyslexia only affects some skills and abilities and is not linked to a person’s general level of intelligence.


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Information sources:

Please click on the information links below to find out more.

Keira Knightley. (2015, April 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:41, April 2, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Keira_Knightley&oldid=654549105


Image source – Wikicommons

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