Trudie Styler

When the actress and filmmaker Trudie Styler, who is also a mother of four and the long-time partner of rock star Sting — started school, in England in the 1960s, she had trouble learning to read. School officials sent her to get her eyes tested. When it turned out she could see fine, the diagnosis was simple: she must be a “backward.” While she didn’t get a real diagnosis of inattentive-type ADHD until years later, her mother came to her defence: “Our Trudie is not backward,” she said. “She’s just slower learning to read.”

School became a nightmare for Trudi as she moved from a small primary school to a big high school. She was lost. What got her through? “My faith in God began to grow, and it was that small voice, when you’re extremely lonely and lost, that lets you know that you’re not alone.” Being a good athlete and actor in high school also helped. “When I got on stage, and when I started to be another character, I could somehow take a distance from me, and that character would come through.”

After high school, Trudi pursued an acting career. She packed her bags and left home for Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. While there, she became a house cleaner for a family and later moved to London with them. She wrote to the Bristol Old Vic Acting School, begging for an audition. She got one, and was accepted as a student, with a scholarship.

“My life really began there,” Trudi said. “I had started to realise my dream. It was the first time the tide wasn’t going against me.” In 1981, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since then, Trudi has appeared in movies and TV series and has produced 15 films.

Yoga is a big help for Trudi — “the meditation aspect has been incredibly useful in clearing the traffic that goes on in a chaotic mind like mine.” Medication helps her focus, especially when reading scripts.

Trudi’s advice: “As a kid, you obsess about wanting to be normal. As you get older, being normal is not such a big thing. Your gifts are important. Celebrate who you are and listen for the small voice.