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The Impact on Childhood Acting

Khalilah Daye

12th Grade ELA Section 2


November 28th
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Everybody thinks being a child star is glamorous. But, you’re a child who has a hard job.

“When you’re on a show, you are often carrying the whole show and you know that. You have to

pull it off because people are making money off of you.”(Mowry) This is indeed true childhood

acting isn’t just simply what it states in its name it could be broken down into multiple topics.

Childhood acting is common whether it be on the theatre stage or on the television screen. But

there are rules and regulations to this type of acting business. All of these responsibilities that a

child has to face at such a young age could turn them insane. Due to early childhood acting, there

is a big impact on human development leading into adulthood because of having to deal with

early independence.

As you may know, it is actually really easy to get into the acting business at a young age.

A few examples include auditioning, having connections (growing up in a famous family), or

even Youtube. But most people enter this world of fame without having any actual idea what

they are getting themselves into. According to Anne Henry “SAG-AFTRA status is more

important because there are some safety regulations and things that don’t exist in other states.”

SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio

Artists and you can start as young as 4 years old. If you don’t live in New York or Los Angeles it

can be tough to do “nonunion work” because you have to join that organization.

When it comes to California and New York they both have very different ways of

managing their child performers. California has a work permit in their state which is regulated by

age. Eventually overtime it becomes illegal to child actors and actresses. As for parents, they

must always be able to see and hear their child while on set whether it be theatre or television.

They also include three hours of schooling on-set with a state licensed studio teacher which is

required each day. Lastly, all childhood actors must set up a “Block Trust Account”(Coogan
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Account) this allows all of them to get 15% of their earnings. As stated in “Why do some child

stars implode?” even though in New York things are pretty much similar as to California. There

will be new rules and regulations that will be governed very soon.

But with there being so many separate rules in different states there are still rules that

stand around the world. A “responsible person” must be there for a child actor while back stage

so they won’t need any stage moms on set. The article “Why do some child stars implode?” says

that “a child can’t be employed any earlier than five in the morning, no later than midnight on

evenings proceeding school days, and no later than 12:30 in the morning on non-school days.”

Due to child labor laws limiting the amount of filming a kid can do in a single day. There

are now huge advantages for twins getting hired to act. This is for good use when you've used

one kid for the day there always be a “backup kid.” This is the perfect rule for babies since stage

direction isn’t their strongest suit; one might be better at sitting still when they need him to,

whereas the other might be a little better at interacting with others. There is an even higher

advantage for identical twins to make excellent doubles, which works even if the twin isn't an


With all of these obligations being given to you at such a young age it may be difficult to

manage it all at once. But that is where their parent comes into the picture to help them out. It is

now the question of whether them coming into the picture helps the child or not. A psychologist

stated that the children that end up doing well in the long run are people that their “...parents are

able to keep every aspect of the child’s life controlled and normal…” It is very easy for a child

to switch roles with their parents if the parental unit is very stable.

Every child needs to have that time to be a kid because without that you will eventually

want to seek it when it already too late. According to New Jersey-based clinical psychologist
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Eileen Kennedy-Moore "Childhood is about finding out who you are and being able to relate to

others, and those things are harder to learn when you're famous. That amount of public scrutiny

makes it hard on kids to do that. They can't mess up. So they have to adopt a very self-assured,

precocious identity very quickly.” When it comes to being in the public you are constantly being

stared at waiting for a mistake to be made. Imagine an innocent child being completely clueless

to what’s going on suddenly get the feeling of “self-importance.” Now when it comes to a point

in time when a mistake is made they don’t know how to respond because they didn’t experience

much challenges as a child. Carlsson-Paige states that “...so they might have a drug problem or

act out in some way” this is most of the time all they can turn to.

Since plenty of child actors are open to more things due to their wealth they can get what

they want more easier than others. “And if the parents want that lifestyle, they too get caught up

in it." says Lucia Scarano Forte. This is not to say that more actors or actresses are more likely

to use drugs or alcohol more frequently. But, they do get more of the spotlight for those types of

situations. It should never get to the point where the parent doesn’t feel in control because

sometimes when these kids start to make more money than their parents (Mowry).

A lot of parents also let the fame rise to their heads as well. This is also definitely not a

good environment for a child to be in knowing that they are more than likely struggling as well.

“I’ll never forget, even before Sister, Sister I was doing commercials, and I was doing a Barbie

commercial. This family clearly didn’t need money. There was one other girl and she did not

want to do it. You could tell her mom was pushing her to do it. The kids will tell you, ‘I don’t

want to do this’, you would see the moms push the kids.”(Mowry) Being a pusher does not help

with any of the harsh reality of being a child star.

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"I realized early on that you can't have it all, unless you are a very big star. A performing

career just takes too much time away from home, especially if you're on tour" (“Moving On” 9).

Overall even though it seems like being a child actor is considered living the luxury life. Then,

you have to think about both sides of wanting to enter this career field. You have to think about

making time for yourself so you won’t be stressed out too much. You have to learn how to not let

the money get into your head because that could lead you into the wrong direction. But, most

importantly to not let being famous change you.

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Work Cited

“7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective).” Cracked.com,


Back Stage. PowerSearch,


ALE|3224. Accessed 21 Nov. 2017.

Freydkin, Donna. “Why do some child stars implode?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite

Information Network, 6 Aug. 2013, www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2013/08/06/child-star-


“Making Use of the Twin.” TV Tropes,


Miller, Sean J. “Understanding Union Rules and Labor Laws for Child Actors.”

Backstage.com, 5 Apr. 2013, www.backstage.com/news/backstage-kids/understanding-union-