Sandra Bullock didn’t fit in as a child. The daughter of a German opera singer and a voice teacher, she and her family split their time between the United States and Germany.
In the States, American kids tormented her because of her “frumpy” German-made clothes. On top of that, she spoke with a lisp.
Bullock says the pressure to “be normal” was tremendous. Through speech therapy, she lost the lisp but also tried to suppress anything else that made her different.
But her mother encouraged her to embrace her special qualities. “Uniqueness is something my mother pounded into me,” Bullock has said. And today the award winning actress, producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist sees things differently.
“I’ve made peace with the fact that the things that I thought were weaknesses or flaws were just me, and I like them,” says Bullock, 45. Winner of Academy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for her performance in The Blind Side, Bullock prefers risk over doing anything cookie-cutter. Off-screen she enjoys driving dirt bikes and fast cars. Her entrepreneurial ventures include a restaurant, florist and bakery, and restoring old buildings.
Bullock says she feels a responsibility to encourage other young people, particularly young women, to accept who they are and blaze their own trails.
“What would I wish someone would have said to me at 12, or 8, when I had my speech impediment?” Bullock asks. “What do I want to say to little girls that I know? I keep saying, ‘Don’t change. Be who you are.’ ”
Breaking the Mold
“Having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.” —Rudolph Giuliani
“Don’t let anyone else tell you that you have to be a certain way. Be unique. Be what you feel.” —Melissa Etheridge
“The idea of being all things to all people is a thing of the past.” —Michael Dell
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” —Robin Williams
“Each one of you has something no one else has, or ever had: your fingerprints, your brain, your heart. Be an individual. Be unique. Stand out. Make noise. Make someone notice. That’s the power of individuals.” —Jon Bon Jovi