After years of seeing their brand maligned, the lobby of Former Child Stars Who Turned Out Okay is finally fighting back.
The tipping point for this once-silent majority seems to be the obsessive tabloid coverage of Nickelodeon starlet Amanda Bynes, whose tail-spinning behavior has generated all kinds of gloating speculation about the price of adolescent fame. This week, reports our colleague Emily Yahr, several once-young thespians started speaking out. Message: No, they are not (necessarily) doomed.
Fred Savage: The former “Wonder Years” star, now 36 and a successful director, said Monday that the media ignores stories like his. “For every one that spins out of control, there’s 10 that haven’t,” he told Kim Masters, host of “The Business” showbiz podcast. “What about everyone else who’s a dentist or a doctor?” His former kid co-star Danica McKellar became a math scholar; Josh Saviano (who played Paul Pfeiffer) “is an intellectual property attorney and killing it.” What helped him: Great parents, non-showbiz pals, staying in school.
Mara Wilson: The cutie from “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” now 25 and a writer, published a biting essay Tuesday for Cracked.com on the “7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy.” Among them: sexual exploitation, greedy parents, overly mature environments. (At 7, she was asked by a red-carpet reporter what she thought of Hugh Grant’s hooker scandal. “If he had been arrested for something like defacing a Lion King poster or stealing bouncy castles, I might have cared.”) What helped her: Getting out of acting, going to college. “People who meet me as an adult are often surprised that I’m alive and have never been in prison or rehab. Sometimes they’re disappointed I’m not cooler.” Advice for child stars: “Make sure it’s really your choice, get out of it when it stops being fun, and get an education.”
Dylan Sprouse: The “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” star, now 20, struck a thoughtful note with a candid YouTube interview — which went viral Wednesday before it was made private — discussing why he and his twin brother Cole left the Disney Channel hit franchise for college at New York University. Rough showbiz lesson: Even though they wanted to leave acting, the boys pitched Disney on a spin-off to help their old cast and crew, so “they would not lose their jobs in our decision to go to college in real life.” Sprouse claims the bosses rejected the idea, then turned around and pitched them on the same concept — minus the producer credits.
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