The terrible, no good, very bad reality of child actors


campus editor

The entertainment industry is a detrimental environment for the development of child actors.

People have made memories out of countless films and television series. These moments are usually elevated by talented and self-assured actors. 

Many children growing up in the late 2000s and early 2010s feel reverence for shows like “iCarly” and “That’s So Raven.” Child actors like Jeanette McCurdy and Raven-Symoné were admired by 2000s kids. Lots of children wanted to be like them.

But as those actors have aged — they’ve become increasingly vocal about what they dealt with during their time acting. Many of them have shared stories about their unhealthy working conditions and acting careers.

On Aug. 8, “iCarly” actress Jeanette McCurdy released her memoir titled “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” The book explored her traumatic experiences working under Nickelodeon as a child.

She opened up about what happened behind the scenes on the show, and she detailed the destructive conditions she worked under. It’s an eye-opening read for those who grew up watching her work and are interested in how children can be treated in the industry. 

McCurdy’s memoir has shed light on the industry’s harmful treatment of child actors and started discussions about the ethics of allowing children to act in the business.

They run the risk of their entire childhood and youth being exploited — damaging their mental health at an early age and being harassed or violated by greedy or perverted executives, directors, co-stars or paparazzi. 

That’s not to say they will, but it can and has happened. It’s risky to allow children to work alongside adults in such a self-destructive setting. 

Child stars are exposed to sex, drugs, alcohol and the overwhelming expectations of appearing perfect, bubbly and flawless. It’s too much for most adults, let alone children. It’s a lot for a child to absorb, and they’re expected to adapt to it which leads to years of mental instability and insecurity.

They develop anxiety disorders, eating disorders and self-image problems that stick with many of them into adulthood. Many child actors such as the Olsen twins or Mara Wilson have stopped acting because of mental health issues.

Child stars have to juggle multiple responsibilities and use up a lot of their time. Their childhood should be taken care of. Instead, it’s ripped away. 

In an excerpt from “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” Jeanette McCurdy wrote, “They’re giving you $300,000, and the only thing they want you to do is never talk publicly about your experience at Nickelodeon.”

During an interview with celebrity news show PEOPLE Now, “That’s So Raven” actress Raven-Symoné said in regard to her childhood acting career, “I wish I was living now as a younger person. I probably wouldn’t have so many mental issues.”

The entertainment industry is not a healthy space for children actors and can lead them down harmful paths. Child stars are forced into adulthood and must sacrifice their innocence and mental stability for the satisfaction of their abusers and exploiters.