In 2008, Jo gave the commencement speech at Harvard University. She shared how hitting rock bottom became the foundation upon which she rebuilt her life.

"I've often met people who are terrified—you know, in a straitjacket of their own making—because they'd rather do anything than fail. They don't want to try for fear of failing," she says. "[Hitting] rock bottom wasn't fun at all—I'm not romanticizing rock bottom—but it was liberating. What did I have to lose?"

Now with an empire of books, movies and even a theme park, there's no doubt that Jo is now a success. However, she's has been careful to protect the Harry Potter brand. In fact, Jo says Michael Jackson once approached her about making a musical based on the books, and she turned him down. When Universal proposed the theme park to her years later, she told them she only wanted to do it if it was going to be incredible.

"They showed us their ideas, and I thought, 'This could be amazing,'" she says. "And it truly is. I mean, if I had been a reader of the books, I would have wanted to go there."


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