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Child stars grow up in the public eye under intense pressure.
Alyson Stoner spoke out about the devastating effects of fame at a young age in a People op-ed.
Jennette McCurdy details the darker side of child stardom in her new memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died."
Jennette McCurdy, who starred on "iCarly," told The New York Times that "my whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited."
"My whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited," she told The New York Times. "It still gives my nervous system a reaction to say it. There were cases where people had the best intentions and maybe didn't know what they were doing. And also cases where they did - they knew exactly what they were doing."
Selena Gomez said she felt "violated" when paparazzi photographed her as a teen.
"I remember just feeling really violated when I was younger, even just being on the beach. I was maybe 15 or 16 and people were taking pictures, photographers," Gomez told Business of Fashion in 2017. "I felt very violated and I didn't like it or understand it, and that felt very weird, because I was a young girl and they were grown men. I didn't like that feeling.
In a 2019 interview radio interview with the Zach Sang Show, the former Disney star credited friends, therapy, and taking time off with restoring her mental health.
"Working since I was 7, being away from my family, moving from Texas to [LA], experiencing fame, being confused by what that means, trying to grow up, being in such a weird position where people are actually caring and being awkward because you're growing up. I think I was scared of it and I probably hated most of it," Gomez said. "But with that time that I've been given, I've just been able to come out on the other side and be okay. And I don't really know how other than all the work that I did, meaning friends, therapy, taking time off, going back to Texas, just enjoying what's right in front of me."
Former Disney Channel star Alyson Stoner spoke out about the systemic pitfalls and devastating effects of child stardom in a People op-ed.
In the early 2000s, Alyson Stoner became known as an actor, singer, and dancer. She landed roles in movies like "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Step Up," as well as Disney Channel's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "Camp Rock." She also performed as a background dancer for artists such as Missy Elliott, Will Smith, and Eminem.
In a video essay and op-ed for People magazine published in April, Stoner said she faced sexual harassment, severe eating disorders, child labor law violations, and other "harrowing" experiences during her burgeoning career.
"While traversing extreme peaks and valleys of global fame, hidden medical hospitalizations, artistic milestones, rapid adultification, and multi-layered abuse I wish on no one, I narrowly survived the toddler-to-trainwreck pipeline," Stoner wrote in her op-ed. "In fact, nothing was designed for me to end up normal. Stable. Alive."
Stoner is now using her platform to advocate for changes in the industry to protect young actors such as mental health professionals on every set and mandatory media literacy courses for guardians.
Cole Sprouse told Variety that working on a Disney Channel sitcom for nine years was an "insular environment" that risked making him forget what real life was like.
Cole Sprouse and his twin brother, Dylan, starred on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and spinoffs from 2005 to 2011.
"When you're a child actor, you're a minor, and so a lot of the larger business decisions that are controlling your career are outside your agency," Sprouse told Variety in 2019. "One of the dangers of, at least in my position, which was a sitcom inside a sound stage for nine years with Disney Channel, you're raised in such an insular environment that you forget what real human experience or boots-on-the-ground actually looks like."
Sprouse credits taking a break from acting to attend New York University for keeping him grounded.
"Taking time for college was really important, and I think it's one of those things that I'd recommend to every single young actor," he said. "It allowed me to regain a semblance of my anonymity, which is something that's really important. Anonymity is one of those things that allows you to enter into a human space with an open heart and really be able to move with more agency and learn about people and learn about their stories without these predetermined notions of yourself, being carried by other people."
Raven Symone has opened up about body shaming she experienced as a child star, and how it led to "mental issues."
On an episode of "The View," Symone spoke about being criticized for her weight on set.
"It was definitely hard," she said in 2015. "I remember not being able to have the bagel or anything at - we would call it crafty, where it's just a table of food, ready for you to eat whatever you want. And I remember people would be like, 'You can't eat that. You're getting fat!' I'm like, 'I'm 7! I'm hungry!'"
She also told People magazine in 2017 that times have changed since she was a child star, and people are more accepting.
"I wish I was living now as a younger person," she said. "I probably wouldn't have so many mental issues."
Mara Wilson has written about being objectified and sexualized as a child star.
Wilson was just 6 years old when she made her on-screen debut in "Mrs. Doubtfire" in 1993.
She took a break from acting to focus on a career as an author and journalist, but continues to do voiceover work and make small cameos. She has also written about the pitfalls of childhood stardom for Cracked, The Guardian, and most recently, the New York Times.
"People had been asking me, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' in interviews since I was 6," she wrote for the Times in February 2021. "Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant's arrest for soliciting a prostitute. It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did. Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed.
"Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set. My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public."
Regina King was 14 when she started playing Brenda Jenkins in "227." She's said that living a public life at such a young age was "not an easy thing."
King credit's her mother's decision to send her to public school for keeping her grounded.
"It was instrumental in me becoming a person who can find balance on shaky ground. It's not an easy thing, living your life on display, and it's particularly hard when you're young," she told People magazine in 2020. "But participating in those social situations as a teen gave me an understanding to how different people can be, which has been very helpful when navigating Hollywood."
Kirsten Dunst spoke about seeking treatment for depression.
Dunst started young in Hollywood. She played Claudia in "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles" in 1994 with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise when she was 11 years old. A year later, she played Judy Shepherd in "Jumanji" with Robin Williams.
At age 27, Dunst checked herself into the Cirque Lodge treatment center in Utah for depression.
"I was struggling, and I had the opportunity to go somewhere and take care of myself," she told E! News in 2008. "I was fortunate to have the resources to do it. My friends and family thought it was a good idea, too. But I didn't know where to go. My doctor recommended Cirque Lodge."
Natalie Portman said that being sexualized in her early roles made her feel unsafe and afraid of exploring her own sexuality.
In a 2020 interview with Dax Shepherd on his podcast "Armchair Expert," Portman said she struggled to feel comfortable with her sexuality following her roles in "Beautiful Girls" and "Léon: The Professional" in the 1990s.
"Being sexualized as a child took away from my own sexuality because it made me afraid," she said. "When I was in my teens I was like, 'I don't wanna have any love scenes or make-out scenes.' I would start choosing parts that were less sexy because it made me worried about the way I was perceived and how safe I felt."
She continued, "It made me feel like the way I could be safe was to be like, 'I'm conservative,' and 'I'm serious and you should respect me,' and 'I'm smart,' and 'Don't look at me that way.' But at that age, you do have your own sexuality, and you do have your own desire. You do want to explore things, and you do want to be open."
In a YouTube video, Christy Carlson Romano said she "made and lost millions of dollars" because, as a child actor, "you aren't told that the work is going to slow down."
"Even Stevens" and "Kim Possible" actress Christy Carlson Romano got candid about her finances in an August 2021 YouTube video titled "How I Lost All My Money."
She said she spent money on "big-ticket items" like Ralph Lauren clothes, a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, and a psychic who she said managed to get a lot of money from her.
"I was using buying things and money as a weapon," Romano said. "I felt like if I could just buy certain things, I would feel better or if I just lived a certain lifestyle."
Romano added that she had book and record deals that garnered about $1 million one year, but she spent it all in the same year.
"My biggest thing about child actors, you aren't told that the work is going to slow down," Romano said. "In fact, I was told the opposite, specifically by my mom, some of my team, even my money manager at the time."
Romano said that she regretted not investing the money she earned as a child star or learning how to manage her finances.
"I am not a millionaire in any way, shape or form. I'm just a mom monetizing my channel, doing sponsored content, having fun, working when I can," Romano said.
Daniel Radcliffe struggled with drinking as the "Harry Potter" movie franchise came to a close.
Radcliffe said in a 2019 episode of "The Off-Camera Show" with Sam Jones that he used alcohol to cope with being recognized and feeling watched in public.
"In my case, the quickest way of forgetting about the fact that you were being watched was to get very drunk," he said. "Then as you get very drunk, you become aware that, 'Oh, people are watching more now because now I'm getting very drunk, so I should probably drink more to ignore that more.' There is no blueprint for starting young and working stuff out."
Radcliffe said it took "a few years and it took a couple of attempts" to curb his drinking habit.
Macaulay Culkin spoke about his past drug usage in an Esquire cover story.
Culkin pled guilty to two misdemeanor drug possession charges in 2005.
"I played with some fire, I guess is the best way to put it," he told Esquire in February 2020. "At the same time, I've never been to rehab or anything like that. I've never had to clean out that way. There were certain times when I had to catch myself, once or twice ... But I never went so far down that road where I needed outside help."
"School of Rock" star Rivkah Reyes said their role in the movie led to bullying and addiction.
Reyes, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them, played the bassist Katie in Jack Black's 2003 movie "School of Rock" when they were 10 years old.
Reyes told the New York Post in a March 2021 interview that classmates bullied them after the movie came out, and that they became a "raging addict" from the age of 14 to 24. In an essay for Medium in 2017, Reyes wrote that they used self-harm, sex, drugs, and alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Reyes also told the Post that they "felt unsafe existing" because of obsessive fans and feeling sexualized while barely a teen.
Alisan Porter spoke about overcoming addiction after her early fame in "Curly Sue."
After years away from the spotlight, Porter got sober and won season 10 of "The Voice."
"It's amazing and every day I work hard to not go backwards and keep moving forwards, and I ust feel very blessed to be here and be doing what I love," she told People magazine in 2020.
Amanda Bynes has also spoken out about struggling with substance abuse.
Bynes' comedy skills helped her land her own show when she was 13 years old. After a slew of successful movies including "What A Girl Wants," "Hairspray," "She's the Man," and "Easy A," Bynes took a break from acting due to her drug usage.
"My advice to anyone who is struggling with substance abuse would be to be really careful because drugs can really take a hold of your life," she told Paper magazine in 2018. "Everybody is different, obviously, but for me, the mixture of marijuana and whatever other drugs and sometimes drinking really messed up my brain. It really made me a completely different person. I actually am a nice person. I would never feel, say or do any of the things that I did and said to the people I hurt on Twitter."
After starring in classic movies such as "The Parent Trap" and "Mean Girls," Lindsay Lohan had a tumultuous few years.
Lohan had a series of run-ins with the law, spent time in rehab, and largely disappeared from the spotlight in the early 2010s aside from a few guest spots on TV shows. In 2019, she spoke to Variety for an article titled "Lindsay Lohan Wants You to Forget Her Past."
"The first time I was in a tabloid, I was like, 'Oh, my God, I feel like Britney Spears!' because she was in a tabloid and I felt cool," she said. "Little did I know what would happen from there."
She continued: "I know that I'm a damn good actress, and it's been my passion since I was a child, and I know that when I care about something I put 100 percent and more into it," she said. "And I know that in my past I was young and irresponsible, but that's what growing up is. You learn from your mistakes."
In an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network, former teen heartthrob Aaron Carter revealed that he self-medicated with drugs and alcohol to treat his depression.
Carter said that he became depressed after his parents divorced in 2004.
"I couldn't dwell on it," he said. "I couldn't think about it too much. I kind of had to block it out. I started partying and getting into a lot of trouble."
After he "went broke" and his career stalled, Carter turned to drugs and alcohol. He eventually realized he needed help and checked into the Betty Ford Center.
Miley Cyrus got her start on Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" and subsequently shed her squeaky-clean image.
Cyrus' music took a mature turn with her 2013 album "Bangerz" and a twerk-filled performance at that year's MTV Video Music Awards. Her latest album "Plastic Hearts," released in November 2020, shifted into a rock sound.
"People were so shocked by some of the things that I did," she told Today in 2017. "It should be more shocking that when I was 11 or 12, I was put in full hair and makeup, a wig, and told what to wear by a group of mostly older men."
Hillary Duff said that she "struggled a little bit" with food when she was a teenager.
Duff starred in "Lizzie McGuire" on Disney Channel from 2001 to 2004, and went on to launch her acting and singing career.
"I struggled a little bit when I was 18 or 19 with food," she told Byrdie in 2019. "And wanting to fit into this 'image' of a girl who is not me. But that was such a long time ago. Honestly, I feel like I'm in the same five- to 10-pound struggle as most other women out there. Sometimes I'm crushing it and feeling great, and other times I'm like, ugh. I love to cook and, honestly, being a mom and being consistently busy helps keep my priorities straight."
Read the original article on Insider