Lefties make up 10 percent of the population and there have been a number of theories that suggest the individuals dubbed “southpaws” have the upper hand when it comes to higher IQs and intelligence.
A 2007 study conducted by the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology found that, out of 150 subjects, “left-handed participants were significantly more likely to perform better on an intelligence test than right-handed people.”
Scientists have also discovered that lefties have a knack for exhibiting “superior verbal skills.” This could be attributed to the fact that their left and right hemispheres are “better-connected” to areas of the brain involving language an article for Brain notes.
While there’s no evidence that proves the age-old myth that left-handed people are more creative or right-brained, there are a number of celebs and cultural icons who certainly prove the theory to be true. Here are a few lefties who have impacted the world with their genetic difference.
In honor of International Left-Handers Day, which falls on Friday this year, let’s celebrate these southpaws.
1. Barack Obama
Barack Obama is a famous southpaw who changed the face of U.S. history after becoming the country’s first African American president. The Harvard Law school alum served as the 44th president from 2009 to 2017. Obama can thank his “superb verbal skills” for landing him in the White House.
2. Oprah Winfrey
Referred to as the “the queen of all media” Oprah Winfrey trailblazed into the world of TV with the debut of The Oprah Winfrey show in 1986. The star quickly became one of the most revered talk show hosts in history and one of the highest-paid too. Forbes estimates that Winfrey has raked in a net worth of nearly $2.5 billion dollars from launching her OWN cable channel in addition to her various partnerships with Weight Watchers. This left-handed media maven certainly used her creativity to change the industry for many people of color.
3. LeBron James
Basketball icon LeBron James won 4 NBA championships across three different franchises during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat, and the Lakers where he currently plays as a shooting guard. You might even be surprised to learn that James struck Olympic gold two times during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. There’s proof that might suggest famous left-handers like “King James” are more athletically inclined.
Rik Smith argues in his book The Puzzle of Left-Handedness that lefties can easily adjust when it comes to engaging in sports like basketball–but righties have a little more trouble.
“They’re forced to engage in an asymmetrical battle for which they’re poorly prepared, against an opponent who’s a dab hand at dealing with this type of asymmetry,” he explains.
4. Jimi Hendrix
Regarded as one of the most influential left-handed electric guitarists in the history of popular music, Jimi Hendrix was one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century.
Hendrix skyrocketed to fame upon moving to England in 1966 where he would later meet bassist Chas Chandler of the Animals. The two formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience and churned out classics like the “Hey Joe”, “Purple Haze”, and “The Wind Cries Mary”.
Shortly after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the rockstar’s third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland, reached number one in the US.
5. Whoopi Goldberg
Actress Whoopi Goldberg is another southpaw that shook up the film industry with her undeniable talent. Real name Caryn Elaine Johnson, The View talk show host made her acting debut in 1985 with her role as “Celie”, a mistreated woman in the Deep South, in Steven Spielberg’s period drama film The Color Purple. The star won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
5 years later, Whoopi captivated fans with her performance in 1990’s Ghost where she played an eccentric psychic. The film scored Whoopi her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1991 and a second Golden Globe Award.
6. Spike Lee
The 64-year-old film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and professor has done a lot in his lifetime. Spike Lee has produced nearly 35 films under his company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, since 1983. Lee made his directorial debut with She’s Gotta Have It (1986).
He has since written and directed such films as Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo’ Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), and more recently Da 5 Bloods that starred Jonathan Majors and the late Chadwick Boseman in 2020.
The revered director won an Oscar for Best Adapted screenplay in 2019 for the film “BlacKkKlansman.”
Spike Lee is one powerful leftie indeed.
7. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
With the aid of Eminem and Dr. Dre, 50 Cent released his first major-label album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in 2003. The album instantly shot to number on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 872,000 copies in its first week of sales. The rapper’s classic hits “In da Club” and “21 Questions” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, while “P.I.M.P.” became a number one hit in several countries.
After releasing a number of albums throughout the years, the Vitamin water investor ventured into the television industry with the premiere of his popular crime drama Power on Showtime. 50 served as executive producer on the show from 2014 to 2020 and starred in the series for a few seasons. The show has since produced various spin-offs. Looks like 50 Cent’s left-hand game is strong!
8. Morgan Freeman
American actor, director, and narrator Morgan Freeman has dazzled on screen in countless roles and has wowed the ears of listeners with his distinctive deep gravely voice. Freeman is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. The star won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Million Dollar Baby in 2005.
9. Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds blessed fans with his sultry vocals and produced a number of hit songs for countless celebs including Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Boyz II Men. The 12-time Grammy Award-winner has written and produced over 26 number-one R&B hits throughout his career.
10. Kirk Franklin
World-renowned gospel singer Kirk Franklin is best known for leading urban contemporary gospel choirs such as The Family and God’s Property among many others. He has won numerous awards, including 16 Grammy Awards. Variety dubbed Franklin as a “Reigning King of Urban Gospel”, and is one of the inaugural inductees into the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame.
Franklin’s debut album Rebirth of Kirk Franklin was released in February 2002 and spent 29 weeks on the Gospel charts, eventually landing the star a number one spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Shortly after, the album went certified platinum. The author showed up and showed out again when his second album Hero debuted in 2005. At the 2007 Grammy Awards, Franklin won two Grammys for Hero. Additionally, Hero was the 2007 Stellar Awards CD of the Year. The project boasted hits like “Lookin for You” and “Imagine Me.”