We know him at the booming voice of Mufasa in the Lion King or Star War’s Darth Vader, but James Earl Jones didn’t always speak this way. Born in rural Mississipi in 1931, he had a rough start on life. His father left the family to become a prizefighter and an actor. His mother left to earn money as a tailor. His grandparents adopted him and they moved to Michigan. The move traumatized him so badly that he developed a stutter.

School was hard for him. He was teased and laughed at constantly. So much so that he quit talking for 8 years. At the age of 13, an English teacher pushed him beyond his fears and forced him into public speaking. He stuttered and stammered but he did it. James Earl later began taking acting lessons and the rest is history. He has played many roles and won many awards such an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. James Earl Jones is a prime example of why you should never let fear get in the way.