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Forever Starlet
Celebrating young actresses of yesterday and today
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The 43rd Annual American Music Awards
Held November 22, 2015, at Microsoft Theater. Hosted by Jennifer Lopez.

Selena Gomez, 23, performed her song "Same Old Love" during the show.

Demi Lovato, 23, performed two numbers, "Confident," and a duet with Alanis Morissette, "You Oughta Know."

Ariana Grande, 22, performed "Focus" and won Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. The first photo is from the press room, where Ariana struck several poses staring at and kissing her award. The second photo is from her performance onstage. She emerged from behind a red curtain and did a strip-tease as she sang, quickly losing the gloves and long skirt.

Zendaya Coleman, 19, presented.

Hailee Steinfeld, 18, presented with Shawn Mendes and accepted Pitch Perfect 2's award for Favorite Soundtrack together with her costars Chrissie Fit, Anna Kendrick, and Rebel Wilson. Hailee's outfit is surprisingly scantier than what she's worn to other recent events, like the Video Music Awards or the Pitch Perfect 2 premiere, to the degree that I wonder whether she chose it.

Since the release of her debut single "Love Myself" in August, Hailee has been fielding a lot of questions on whether the song is about masturbation. Between the lyrics ("I'm gonna put my body first / And love me so hard 'til it hurts / I know how to scream the words") and the "Self Service" shirt that she wore in the video, Hailee was obviously aiming for a double entendre, likely to get people talking, and it worked. She's probably been coached on how to avoid directly answering the question - telling one reporter, "I think for me the song just has a really strong self-empowerment message, and whether you take that as something physical or not, it basically means the same thing ... It's about being able to provide for yourself and knowing how much power there is in that." - and everybody has been asking it. At 18, is she really comfortable with adults asking her about masturbation?

Bailee Madison, now 16 (!), together with Ariana's brother Frankie Grande, 32, was one of the red-carpet correspondents for the event.
The Onion is supposed to be a parody news source... so why do their reports always seem to ring true? The website posted this mock article about Selena Gomez on November 19, just a few days after her performance at the Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Viewing the latest entertainment coverage of the 23-year-old singer and actor with great satisfaction, pleased citizens across the U.S. announced Thursday that Selena Gomez had completed her transition into a sexualized plaything just as they had expected. “Good, very good—the cycle is complete,” said Carlisle, PA resident Greg Deleon, one of millions across the country who nodded in approval at a recent Glamour magazine photo spread and Access Hollywood feature segment that signaled the conclusion of the former Disney star’s multi-year transformation into an eroticized puppet meant to occupy the attention of the American mind. “Yes, it is fulfilled, and it can never be undone. She is now but our playtoy, an object of carnality to suggestively dress and pose as we wish, just as those who came before her.” At press time, the nation’s populace had grown bored of Gomez and cast her aside to begin the sequence anew with a fresh, young 14-year-old.

Selena performing at Victoria's Secret fashion show, November 2015

It is disgusting to me that many actresses are sexualized at a young age (Emma Watson has said that it started happening to her at 14), and it seems especially prevalent with girls who get their start with Disney. There are probably several reasons for this. Some people are eager to see a cute, wholesome teen transform into a scantily-clad adult, and thre press will try to depict it as some sort of "fall from grace," even when it's just a part of natural teenage rebellion and growing up.

Former child star Mara Wilson, now 28, made a lot of good points about this in her 2013 essay Why Child Stars Go Crazy. For reason #6, Mara wrote that when a child star reaches the level of fame that Disney Channel can offer, their parents can lose control of that child to the entourage. (She cited Miley Cyrus as an example.) For reason #4, she named sexual exploitation, writing, "To be a teen idol is to be vulnerable. Brooke Shields has said that being a sex object led her to feel like she wasn't in control of her own body, and is one of the reasons she didn't have sex until she was 22. Natalie Portman has said similar things." How old was Selena when the sexualizing started for her? Did her parents feel like they'd lost control?

Disney Days: Selena and Minnie Mouse at the premiere of High School Musical 2, August 2007
As with Mockingjay: Part 1, the premieres for this movie started in Europe and moved westward. After premieres in Berlin, London, Madrid, and Paris (where press was canceled due to the recent terrorist attacks on the city), the American premiere for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 was finally held in Los Angeles on November 16.

Can anyone explain to me why America was the last premiere stop for this American movie? I really don't get it.

Erika Bierman, 14, had a small part as President Snow's unnamed granddaughter in the last two films. She doesn't seem to have a part in Mockingjay: Part 2, but she did attend the premiere.

Willow Shields, 15, has been attending public events a bit less often lately, and I approve. Her appearance here and in Berlin (the only European premiere that she went to) were her first since the Teen Choice Awards in August.

Since this movie marks the end of the the Hunger Games franchise, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at how much Willow has grown up since the first film. Here she is the Mockingjay Berlin premiere (where her hair and dress were more flattering) on November 4, side-by-side with her at the premiere of the first film in March 2012.

It was so nice to see Amandla Stenberg, now 17, return to the red carpet for the final film. Since her character Rue died in the first movie, Amandla didn't attend the premieres for Catching Fire or Mockingjay: Part 1. She was so stinkin' cute as Rue and has aged really beautifully.

I just wish that Isabelle Fuhrman, 18, whose character also died in the first movie, had been there, too.

Jennifer Lawrence, 25

Apparently it was a windy night in LA (you can sort see Jena bracing against the winds in the fullshot below), and Jennifer wore this white coat over her gown for part of the evening. To show support for the people of Paris, she wore a French flag ribbon and a Mockingjay pin on the lapel.

Jena Malone, 30
Film: Mermaids (1990). Young Actresses: Christina Ricci, 10, and Winona Ryder, 18.

I hadn't watched much of this movie before I thought, "So this is what Tumbleweeds was trying to rip off." Of course, some elements are different (rather than modern-day, Mermaids is set in 1963, and the assassination of President Kennedy is a major turning point), but the basic plot is the same: how a loose, nomadic single mom and daughter/s finally settle down. Mermaids has its flaws – mostly in the form of the protagonist older daughter, whom I found really hard to like – but it's still better written and executed than Tumbleweeds.

The film opens as single mom Rachel (Cher) and her two daughters – resentful teenager Charlotte (Winona), the narrator, and 9-year-old Kate (Christina) – are relocating yet again, this time to small-town New England. In an early scene, Rachel takes her daughters to get new shoes before school starts. Charlotte is disgruntled and moody because she doesn't want new shoes; she wants to keep wearing the cowboy boots that were a gift from her father (whom she barely remembers but still carries a torch for). Rachel, meanwhile, finds a new love interest in Lou (Bob Hoskins), the affable shoe store owner. But all of this goes right over Kate's little head. She's too young and too busy playing on a mechanical horse ride to notice.

This scene is typical of Kate's role in the film. While the rest of the characters fight, sulk, or fall in love, Kate is usually skipping around in her new red shoes or finding other ways to happily amuse herself. While Charlotte rallies against their mother's eccentricies – and often reacts by going to the opposite extremes – Kate just goes along with them. She doesn't let the grown-ups' problems bother her, or even pay them much attention.

It is such a treat to see a young actress like Christina playing a character like Kate. Just think about all the cliches in kid roles, especially for girls: the wise-beyond-her-years precocious girl, the bratty bad girl who gets her comeuppance, the child in danger who has to be protected by the adults, the wide-eyed innocent. But Kate is none of those things. Her prodigy swimming skills aside, she's just a normal, pleasant little girl. And even though it's a somewhat simple role to play, Christina's performance still gives us glimpses of the excellent actress that she'll become.

Putting on makeup, Charlotte asks Kate, "How do I look?"
"Like someone drew on you."

Now, think about the other movies that Christina did as a kid. She, of course, got her child-star-making role as Wednesday Addams in the 1991 cult classic The Addams Family, and the evil little girl struck such a chord with viewers that she was given much more screentime in the '93 sequel, Addams Family Values. Even Christina's comparatively normal character in Now and Then had a hard, Wednesday-esque edge to her. So watching Christina play such a different girl in Mermaids – with short brown hair instead of Wednesday's severe black braids, with wide eyes and a smile instead of narrowed eyes and a scowl – is a really surprising and delightful experience. She feels both foreign and familiar.

As for the movie as a whole – the romance between Rachel and Lou is mostly smart and well-handled, and the scenes of Lou bonding with her daughters are touching. But Charlotte, as I said before, isn't a very strong protagonist. (There is a rather silly subplot in which she thinks that she got pregnant just from kissing.) This film also gives Winona Ryder almost constant narration, and she doesn't really have the voice for that. As in her film Little Women (1994), I don't think that she was the right choice for the part.
Today, November 10, is the birthday of two of the brightest young actresses in Hollywood. Kiernan Shipka is turning 16, and Mackenzie Foy is turning 15.

Reciprocating tweets between the girls:

Mackenzie didn't share any birthday photos with us, but she did retweet this message from Disney Channel starlet Sabrina Carpenter, who turned 16 in May:

Yara Shahidi, 15, has known Mackenzie ever since their child-modeling, pre-Twilight days, and today, she posted the photo to prove it:

Joey King, who played Mackenzie's sister in The Conjuring, also posted a photo of the two of them together. Joey turned 16 in July.

And Joey tweeted happy birthday message to Roland Emmerich, who's currently directing her in his new movie Independence Day: Resurgence. (You know, the movie that isn't starring Mae Whitman?) Emmerich turns 60 today.

A number of kid actors were at the premiere of The Peanuts Movie, held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood on November 1. Unlike some animated films, most of the young characters in this movie were actually voiced by kids.

Francesca Capaldi, 11, has been promoting this movie since Valentine's Day.
She voices the Little Red-Haired Girl.

Francesca taking a selfie with singer/songwriter Meghan Trainor.
Trainor's original song for the film Better When I'm Dancin' was released as a single last month.

This is the first major movie role for Hadley Belle Miller, 11, who voices Lucy (pictured at a cast photocall at Knott's Berry Farm on October 31). She's done previous voice work on Ariel Winter's Disney Junior series Sofia the First.

Hadley and Francesca at the premiere with Noah Schnapp, 11, who voices Charlie Brown.

Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, 8, is getting to be a red-carpet veteran.

A good group shoot of all the kids - and Snoopy.
The girl in the striped dress standing in front of Francesca is Rebecca Bloom, who voices Marcie.
Here are the former young actresses who attended the 19th Annual Hollywood Film Awards, held November on 1 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and hosted by James Corden. The show wasn't televised due to last year's poor ratings.

Saoirse Ronan, 21, received the New Hollywood Award for Brooklyn. Is another Oscar nomination in the near future for her? She's keeping her fingers crossed! Saorise read her (rather lengthy) acceptance speech for the teleprompter, but I don't think the fact that it was obviously prepared made it any less touching.

Saoirse"s Acceptance SpeechCollapse )

Although she skipped the red carpet, Selena Gomez, 23, presented the Comedy Award to Amy Schumer for Trainwreck.

Reese Witherspoon, 39, presented the Supporting Actor Award to Benicio Del Toro for Sicario.

Also attending the show were Thora Birch, now 33, and Danica McKellar, 40.

Previous posts on the Hollywood Film Awards: 2014.
2nd-Nov-2015 07:46 pm - Halloween 2015 with Just Jared
After a certain age, wearing a generic Halloween costume like a princess or a fairy becomes boring, and teens start pulling their costume ideas from pop culture instead. That was certainly the case at Just Jared's Halloween Party, held at No Vacancy on the evening of October 31. Here are a few of the young actresses who were there.

Sabrina Carpenter, 16, dressed up as Khaleesi, a character from Game of Thrones. At right is a shot of Khaleesi on the show, played by Emilia Clarke.

Kaitlyn Dever (Laggies), 18, and her younger sister Mady dressed up as Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World. At right is the theatrical poster for the 1992 hit.

Courtney Eaton, 19, and her boyfriend Ross Lynch, also 19, dressed up as Romeo and Juliet from the 1996 modern-day movie, where the characters were portrayed by Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. Courtney wore a replica of the angel costume that Juliet wears to a masquerade ball in the film, along with fake blood from Juliet's self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound at the end. These are the clothes that they wear on one of the movie's posters.

Victoria Justice, 22, dressed up as late singer Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011 (alcohol poisoning complicated by bulimia). At right is a paparazzi shot of Winehouse in New York City.

Previous Halloween posts: 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, and 2009.
25th-Oct-2015 10:15 am - Remembering Maureen O'Hara
Legendary Irish-born actress Maureen O'Hara died of natural causes on October 24, in her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95. A natural at playing independent, strong-willed heroines, O'Hara is best remembered by most for her roles in the Oscar-nominated films How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952). But among young-actress fans, she's best remembered as the mother in Natalie Wood's Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and Hayley Mills's The Parent Trap (1961). Both films were remade in the '90s.

Film: Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). Young Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, age 17.

Pitch Perfect, a comedy about a collegiate acapella singing team called The Bellas, was a surprise hit in 2012. Most people didn't expect it to be as successful as it was, which is probably why it felt a lot more natural and appealing than this stiff sequel. Pitch Perfect 2 isn't a terrible movie, but it doesn't have the same wit or humor as the first one (a common problem with sequels, which usually try too hard to recapture the original's success). There are a few instances of the same irrevent, off-beat humor that we saw in Pitch Perfect, but there are also too many sexist and racist jokes – especially in the form of Flo, a Guatemalan member of The Bellas who's mostly just a rip-off of Sofia Vergara's character in Modern Family.

Emily (left) singing onstage with The Bellas

In this movie, The Bellas aim to win a worldwide acapella singing competition, rather than just a college-level one – and at the end, they win it, of course. A lot of elements felt forced, including Hailee's character Emily, a freshman singer who's new to the group. She's a legacy, meaning that her mom (Katey Sagal) also sang for The Bellas when she was in college. Emily wants to forge her own identity independent of her legacy status, but she never really does. With so many Bellas getting screentime and their own subplots, Emily remains underdeveloped. We never learn much about her, besides that she's a legacy and writes her own music. It's the same situation that you'll see in Hailee's 2013 movie Begin Again, where the music takes up so much room that there's none leftover for good acting opportunities.

If you're a Hailee fan, then Pitch Perfect 2 is worth watching to hear her sing, which she does impressively well and for the first time in her acting career, but otherwise, I wouldn't recommend it unless you really liked the first movie.

Teen Choice Awards: won Choice Movie: Comedy, nominated for Choice Movie :Scene Stealer (Hailee).
Other reviews of Hailee's films: Hateship Loveship (2013).
Photos from the premiere here.
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