With the abundance of magical realities, 3D effects, and touching stories, the world of cinema is simply mesmerizing. Just like brave heroes, the audience can easily recreate the adventures on the big screen in their imagination. One can get lost in the frozen fields of Narnia or the colorful dunes of The Never-ending Story. One can dance dressed in the sparkly costumes of Hannah Montana or save the world from the dark secrets of the Demogorgon.
Films with child actors, in particular, play with nostalgia and people’s understanding of youth. Matilda, Stranger Things, Home Alone... we all hope to relive the magic of innocence. Films are also a great platform for talent searching.
Nevertheless, child actors are living a nightmare behind the camera - something only Stephen King can think of! Girls are forced to follow strict diets, boys are asked to play dumb, and many are punished just for feeling burned out. Disney is particularly strict, imposing draconian rules and hours.
So, here are 20 terrible rules that prove that growing up in Hollywood is like a tedious episode of American Horror Story.
20 Morals Clauses Are Real
Childhood is often associated with innocence and laughter, so it’s no surprise that filmmakers are fascinated with youth. According to bfi.org.uk, films with children exploit people’s memories of their own youthful experiences. To keep the magic of innocence alive, child actors should follow strict rules and morality clauses. When talented Vanessa Hudgens had her hot photos leaked, for instance, she was about to get fired.
19 Maintaining Individuality Is Almost Impossible
Some actors go to extreme lengths for their roles… and child actors are no exception. Children often lose their individuality, with networks playing a major role in their lives. Miley Cyrus told Marie Claire, "You're a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing. Meanwhile, I'm this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like Toddlers and Tiaras."
18 Child Actors Are Told How To Talk
Companies not only tell children how to dress on and off-screen but control the way they talk. For example, although nobody can stop the course of nature, networks can "stop" child actors from revealing the fact they are growing up. Shake It Up Star Bella Throne told Harpe’s Baazar she was forced to get rid of her husky voice and keep a high-pitch accent.
17 Media Training Is A Must
While acting allows child actors to learn new skills and make some money, they are still children who need some guidance. Some studios, however, provide more than guidance – networks pull the strings to make sure their employees keep their innocent image 24/7. Media training is a must; children are taught how to deal with media, aka how to play dumb.
16 So Is Autograph Training
Being part of the Disney talent machine comes with lots of requirements and fake perfection. Funnily enough, autograph training is also essential for many child actors. According to thegamer.com, Miley Cyrus had to change her signature to make her fans happy. Simply because actors are seen as a mere product of the entertainment machine!
15 Children Have No Say
No matter how talented a kid is, child actors admit they are often undervalued by their co-workers and agents. Dylan Sprouse, one of the leading stars of Suite Life of Zack and Cody, told Vulture.com, "We had a really awesome idea for where the show needed to go. We were 18. If that isn't old enough to know exactly what the show needs, then... well, I would beg to disagree."
14 They Do Not Own Right To Their Own Names
Trademark and copyright regulations can be draconian; even a child’s name can be seen as a property. Miley Cyrus told, popbuzz.com, "My name was Miley on my show, but I didn't own my name - we didn't think about that… My mom started understanding how many people take advantage of a child, so she hired smart people to protect me in that way… and put me in a position where I can now control my music."
13 Disney Beards Are A Big No-No
Child actors are aids in conveying perfection, innocence, and sweetness. No surprise children in the film industry have no say! For example, beards are a big no-no in the infamous House of Mouse... and boys are asked to shave daily. Joe Jonas told phillymag.com, "I had to shave every day because they wanted me to pretend like I was 16 when I was 20... It ended up being some weird slapstick humor that only a 10-year-old would laugh at."
12 Networks Control Their Magical Future
Children are innate scientists who love exploring the world and their surroundings. However, many child actors are forced to grow up in limbo. Many Disney stars, for example, are forced to stay in the infamous House of Mouse and decline other professional projects. According to thegamer.com, voice actress Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, couldn't "appear anywhere at any point in the future."
11 And Guardians Run Their Social Media
It’s not a secret that children and teens love surfing the net. (We all do!) In fact, according to theguardian.com, most children have a mobile phone by the age of 10. Child actors, however, are a bit different; they have limited social media use and guardians often run their social media.
10 Child Actors Are Often Pushed To Sing
Sound and visual effects go hand in hand. Music effects play a vital role in cinema as songs can trigger emotions; some even stick in the minds of the audience. Therefore, child actors are often forced to sing. Shia LaBeouf, one of the most famous Disney stars, however, refused to become the "male Hillary Duff" and left his music career behind.
9 Hours Are Not Limited...
Although child labor laws are strict, child actors are often forced to work long hours. Sometimes young kids have to work for more than eight hours – just like adults. According to therichest.com, Miley Cyrus suffered from Vit D deficiency and depression, so she asked for a sun lamp to compensate for the harsh studio environment.
8 But Salary Negotiations Are
While hours are not limited, salary negotiations are. Kids and their parents have no say in the world of entertainment, so it’s no surprise that some actors get very little. When Miley Cyrus started, she was one of the lowest-paid child actors. Yet, according to fame10.com, Miley is worth $200 million.
7 Child Actors Are Controlled On Set
Whether it’s subtle daytime make-up or provocative behavior, child actors are living in a controlled-chaos world. In addition to the normal difficulties that mark childhood, actors have to follow strict rules on-set... and even compete with other children. According to shareably.net, as some roles impact their lives in the long-term, many children develop emotional and physical problems.
6 Their Lives Are Directed Not Only On Set
The things happening off-camera are often ignored because companies want everything to look perfect on the big screen. In fact, actors are often controlled in real life. Mouseketeers, for instance, were not allowed to show their bodies to keep the magic of childhood alive, and famous Annette Funicello was even forced to bind her breasts to look more innocent.
5 Education Is Not Always A Priority
What is more important: work or education? Due to the high levels of stress, many child actors entering the world of work ignore their education. There is set education, which is often done during set and camera changes. According to quora.com, balancing work and education simply adds more pressure... and many children simply do not get real schooling.
4 Dates Can Be Arranged For Them
Love is magical... at least on the big screen. However, many child actors are not allowed to experience the power of love. Alarmingly, according to vulture.com, big networks like Disney ask their stars to date within the Mouse family to keep their fake innocence. So, were Selena Gomez and Nick Jonas actually in love?
3 Some Children Need Extra Energy To Keep Going
Child actors have to suppress their own desires and hide the course of nature. Therefore, many kids spiral out of control when they leave their acting careers. Others simply start trying things adults do to keep going. Miley Cyrus, for instance, admits that she started drinking coffee early – simply because starring in Hannah Montana was way too exhausting.
2 Smoke-Free Films Only
While many actors develop bad habits to cope with the film industry, smoke-free films and shows are a must, especially for Disney - considered the Royal Family of the film industry. Many actors are forced to hide their personal vices from their fans. Interestingly, according to ranker.com, Walt Disney himself smoked three packs a day.
1 Reality TV Kids Can Suffer Long-Term Harms
With the growing interest in reality television, child actors are becoming in-demand commodities. However, reality TV often impacts children... and many become targets of online bullying. Social media child stars are also exposed to negative comments and trolling. According to parentingfirstcry.com, children are simply not as happy as they appear on TV.
Sources: BFI, Fame 10, Harpe's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Parenting First Cry, Philly Mag, Ranker, Shareably, The Gamer, Guardian, The Richest, Pop Buzz, Quora, Vulture