Forest Whitaker: Looking Past His Condition To Greatness

(photo credit: facebook)

Actor, director, and producer Forest Whitaker is probably known best for his award-winning roles in movies like The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, Platoon, and The Color of Money. 

Whitaker attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona on a football scholarship, but a back injury made him change his major to music (singing). He toured England with the Cal Poly Chamber Singers in 1980. While still at Cal Poly, he briefly changed his major to drama. He was accepted to the Music Conservatory at the University of Southern California to study opera as a tenor and subsequently was accepted into the University’s Drama Conservatory. He graduated from USC in 1982. That’s the same year he got his first role in a major movie, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. The rest, as they say, is history.

With all of his great acting, directing and producing, have you ever, in the middle of watching a movie with Forest Whitaker playing a role, wanted to know what was up with his eye? He has a drooping eye on one side of his face. There’s hundreds of thousands of internet search terms for it, a number of blog pages dedicated to it, and thousands of memes addressing it, too.

Well, as it turns out, Forest suffers from a hereditary condition known as Ptosis.  Ptosis is a drooping of the upper eyelid. Ptosis is also known as lazy eye.

Ptosis can be caused by a number of factors that affect the muscles, nerves, or skin of the eyelids.  The levator muscle (the muscle that allows your eyelid to move up and down) can become weaken due to injury or age. Horner syndrome can also contribute to ptosis.


  • Drooping of one or both eyelids
  • Increased tearing
  • Impaired vision


  • Patients should be monitored every 3-12 months for signs of amblyopia due to congenital ptosis.
  • Patients can get blepharoplasty surgery to treat the drooping eye.

When asked about his eye, Forest doesn’t shy away from the topic at all.  “My eye? It’s a genetic thing. My dad had it and now I have it,” explains Forest.

(Photo credit:

“You know, I just found out that it may be correctable a little bit, because it does impair my vision. When I look up, I lose sight in this eye. I think maybe for other people, it informs the way they see me. But I don’t really think about this eye, other than the times people talk about it, or when people take photographs of me sometimes they might say stuff about it. I don’t think it makes me look bad or anything. It just is. I still strive to connect with people.”

And strive with people he does.  From producing and acting and directing, Whitaker is a creative force to be reckoned with in…