October 10, 2022 at 12:56 pm

8 Famous Celebs Talk About What Being a Child Star Is Really Like

by Matthew Gilligan

We’ve all heard the horror stories about what happens to a lot of child stars after the lights fade away.

Many of them have struggled with life as they grew older and their painful stories became tabloid fodder.

But some celebrities who were child stars have managed to stay in show business and make it work.

Here are what 8 of them had to say about what being a child star is really like.

1. Shirley Temple

Temple is one of the most recognizable child stars of all time but her experiences working in Hollywood as a kid weren’t always good.

Temple called her debut film, Baby Berlesks “a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence that occasionally were r**ist or s**ist.”

Temple also had to deal with terrible working conditions and a producer at MGM exposed himself to her when she was only 12-years-old.

Historian John Kassan says about the making of Temple’s first film: “To threaten and punish uncooperative child actors, the director, Charles Lamont, kept a soundproof black box, six feet on each side, containing a block of ice.

An offending child was locked within this dark, cramped interior and either stood uncomfortably in the cold, humid air or had to sit on the ice. Those who told their parents about this t**ture were threatened with further punishment.”

2. Selena Gomez

Gomez may be a huge star but she has a lot of negative feelings about her experiences as a child singer and actress.

Gomez said, “My whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited. 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.”

Gomez added: “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. 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.”


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3. Regina King

King became a familiar face on TV as a teenager on the show 227 and she says her mother’s decision to keep her in public school during those years was ultimately a good thing.

King said, “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. 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.”


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4. Kirsten Dunst

If it seems like Kirsten Dunst has been around forever, it’s because we’ve been seeing her in movies since she was a little kid.

The actress said that she always had a good work/life balance: “It’s hard to be a child actress and make sure it’s balanced with school and friends and all that stuff. And I always had that, so I got lucky with growing up in that way. But there’s a point with any job you do, if you do it that long, where you question whether it is you want to continue doing that.”


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5. Mara Wilson

Do you remember the cute little girl in Mrs. Doubtfire? Her name is Mara Wilson and she appeared in some other popular movies when she was just a kid, as well.

But Wilson said her high profile had some negative consequences: “People had been asking me, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ in interviews since I was 6. Reporters asked me who I thought the s**iest 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 p**nography. Every time, I felt ashamed.

Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never s**ually harassed on a film set. My s**ual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public.”


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6. Natalie Portman

Portman has been a big star in Hollywood since she was a kid in the mid-1990s but she says that came at a steep price.

The actress said, “Being s**ualized as a child took away from my own s**uality because it made me afraid. 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 s**y because it made me worried about the way I was perceived and how safe I felt.

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 s**uality, and you do have your own desire. You do want to explore things, and you do want to be open.”


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7. Amanda Bynes

Bynes has been in the spotlight since she was young on TV shows such as All That, The Amanda Show, and What I Like About You.

But Bynes has struggled in the public eye with legal issues and substance abuse problems and she was in a conservatorship with her mother from 2013-2022.

Her All That co-star Chelsea Brummet said about the issues that Bynes had, “[She] was always self-conscious. On red carpets, if there was Lindsay Lohan or someone else, she would always look at herself and fix her hair. You could just tell she was self-conscious once her career started not being so great. I don’t think she liked not being in the spotlight and not being number one. I think she became so addicted to it, it became a lifestyle.”

After her conservatorship ended, Bynes said, “I would also like to thank my lawyer and my parents for their support over the last nine years. In the last several years, I have been working hard to improve my health so that I can live and work independently, and I will continue to prioritize my well-being in this next chapter.”


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8. Lindsay Lohan

Lohan is another example of a child star whose success led to substance abuse issues and legal troubles.

The actress said, “When I moved to LA after filming Mean Girls, I was 17 or 18. I was around people so I wasn’t lonely, and I didn’t pay close enough attention to people being around for the wrong reasons.

I was making too much. I wasted so much money; I was living at a hotel, and I had an apartment. I wasn’t really being guided. I didn’t think about it, and I didn’t listen to my family when they told me, ‘Come back to New York.'”


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