A photo of child star Jenette McCurdy, author of the book pictured on the right. (SIMON AND SCHUSTER)
A photo of child star Jenette McCurdy, author of the book pictured on the right.

SIMON AND SCHUSTER

THE CURSE OF THE CHILD STAR

WHAT’S POPPIN’

September 9, 2022

After watching interviews from Jennette McCurdy, who played Sam from iCarly, I realized that so many child actors had to go through so much just so they could make us young viewers watching these shows and movies entertained. iCarly came back with a reboot last year and the main cast came back to reprise their roles, minus Jennette. But, listening to her interviews it makes a lot of sense why she wouldn’t want to come back.

 

She stated, “I worked with an incredibly emotional producer, and talking about it now my face gets hot thinking of it.” The producer/director in question would be Dan Schneider, who’s known to be a predator and very problematic to the actors and cast members of his shows.

 

To learn more about her struggles as a former child actor, you can read her new book, Im Glad My Mom Died, which is a saddening and humorous memoir that talks about how she took control of her life. It includes topics about eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother.
 

But, she is far from many actors who have come forward about their negative experiences as a child star. 

 

Alyson Stoner, who rose to fame as a dance prodigy and known mostly from her Disney Channel days, has opened up about her own negative experiences as well. And even actresses like Drew Barrymore, Natalie Portman, and a lot of Disney Channel stars from the early 2000s have similarly shared bad early experiences of going down the wrong path by getting into drugs, alcohol, and being groomed by older men in the industry. 

 

Another former child star, Corey Feldman, who starred in The Goonies and Stand by Me, has been talking about predators and the hardships of being a child star for a long time now. On The View in 2013, Feldman was shut down by Barbara Walters saying, “There are people that did this to both me and costar Corey, that are still working. They’re still out there, and they’re some of the richest most powerful people in this business[…]”

 

The first pathway offered for child celebrities is that they can go on to become successful actors like Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling, or Emma Watson. The second pathway is that they have to deal with publicized obstacles like addiction or mental illness, like Macaulay Culkin, Judy Garland, Amanda Bynes, and the list goes on. Then the third pathway is that the child star can just leave Hollywood and step away from the spotlight altogether and/or get “normal” people jobs, like Mara Wilson from Matilda who has now become an author and journalist. 

 

So can we come to an agreement that the industry over works and publicly humiliates young child stars, or do they need better support systems? Comment down and discuss below!

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About the Contributor
Photo of KARSEN THOMPSON
KARSEN THOMPSON, STAFF MEMBER
Karsen Thompson is a Writing and Publishing senior at Lincoln Park. This is her 5th year attending LP and is the creator of What’s Poppin’ on the Siren! She loves music, fashion, movies, and all things pop culture!

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