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Forever Starlet
Celebrating young actresses of yesterday and today
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Ever After (1998), with Anna Maguire, vs. Cinderella (2015), with Eloise Webb

These two retellings of the classic fairy tale are both solid, watchable adaptations of the story, and each one takes it in a different direction. Ever After, aimed mostly at adults and teen girls, is one of the few non-musical, non-magical Cinderella movies; it gives the story a more historical context, replacing the Fairy Godmother with the Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci. The writing is smart enough that the plot still feels relevant and fresh to modern viewers, which is an impressive feat, but it also makes the movie too sophisticated and dramatic for most kids.

Cinderella, a live-action remake of the Disney cartoon, is also a non-musical, and to draw kids in, it makes up for the lack of songs with some silly and goofy moments. (Cinderella is still friends with the house mice, and her Fairy Godmother still turns them into horses so she can go to the ball.) But the writing and acting are good enough that most adults should enjoy this movie, too. So far, this is definitely the best film to come out of Disney's recent trend of live-action remakes of classics. (See previously, Alice in Wonderland, Oz: The Great and Powerful, and Maleficent. Up next, Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast, due out July 2017.)

Drew Barrymore, Ever After (1998). Lily James, Cinderella (2015). photo Ever After Cinderella Adults_zps03iu26jy.png
Drew Barrymore and Lily James as adult Danielle and Ella

Something else that these two movies have in common is that each one has an excellent adult actress giving a great performance as the wicked stepmother. Angelica Huston (Ever After's Baroness Rodmilla) and Cate Blanchett (Cinderella's Lady Tremaine) are both so impressive in creating fun, love-to-hate-them villains, and they even give their characters a touch of depth and sympathy behind their cruel facades. But let's talk about the child actresses.

In Cinderella, Eloise has about six minutes of screentime as young Ella. She's almost all wide eyes and smiles, cheerfully proclaiming, "I believe in everything!" when her ill-fated mother (Hayley Atwell) mentions fairy godmothers. And even after growing up, she remains constantly upbeat and passive, never once getting angry at her stepmother or stepsisters, no matter how badly they treat her. The film is good, but this character is bland beyond belief, despite adult actress Lily James's best attempts to give her some personality.

Anna Maguire, Ever After (1998). Eloise Webb, Cinderella (2015). photo Ever After Cinderella Girls_zpskvgi32f3.png
Danielle and Ella both exclaim, "Papa!" and run to their fathers when he comes home.
Danielle is dirty because she's just been mud-wrestling with a friend.

But while Cinderella focuses on Ella's kindness and optimism, Ever After highlights Danielle's wit and intelligence. As young Danielle, Anna gets almost the exact same amount of screentime (about seven minutes), and her role is a lot like Eloise's: they both start out sweet and happy, and end crying over the death of a parent. But Danielle has so much more spirit and spunk than Ella. As a little girl, she's sweet but also fun-loving and mischievous, and as an adult (played by former child star Drew Barrymore), she's kind but also strong and able to stand up for herself. As I said, both movies are good in their own ways, but to me, there's no question that of the two child actresses, Anna gives the stronger, more believable performance. It's also great to see Drew in something other than a romantic comedy that doesn't deserve her.

The premiere of Cinderella, March 2015.
Awards: Cinderella nominated for Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards.
Other reviews of Drew's films: Firestarter (1984).
["Why Do Child Stars Sink or Swim?" by Emalie Marthe, was published by Broadly earlier this month, and you can read it at its original site here. It's a bit lengthy but a worthwhile read, and lot of it echoes Mara Wilson's Why Child Stars Go Crazy.]

Alongside Taylor Swift's rotating cast of boyfriends and the Beyonce breakup rumors, the parable of the fallen child star has become one of the most popular stories in celebrity media. The tale of childhood stardom goes like this: cute kid stars in movies, faces horrors behind the scenes, turns to drugs, alcohol, or other unsavory coping mechanisms to deal with waning adult celebrity, crashes and burns for the world to see. Tabloids and gossip sites relish sharing the stories of the DUIs and public meltdowns of once-squeaky, adorable stars, but few of the child stars who make it to adulthood in one piece are given credit for their success.

Former child stars Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes

For every arrest and bankruptcy, there is a child actor who went on to worldwide celebrity — or a happy, calm life away from the spotlight. What factors allow for some of these young stars to thrive, and for others to fail? Broadly spoke to former child actors succeeding outside of Hollywood, and some of the industry's most successful child agents, to see what makes young stars sink or swim as they age out of their childhood fame.

Children by their very nature are more vulnerable to abuse — both emotional, sexual, and financial — and many young stars face a combination of the three during their careers in Hollywood. While some child actors are supported by parents who simply want to honor their kid's desire to perform, others are guided by parents who are motivated by greed and a desire to make money off of their child's fame. Iconic child stars like Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, and Macauley Culkin had parents who famously exploited their celebrity and, in some cases, stole their money. More recently, Modern Family actress Ariel Winter, 18, successfully filed to become legally emancipated from her mother, who was accused of emotional and physical abuse.

Susie Mains, one of Hollywood's biggest and most accomplished child agents who has worked with such stars as Tobey McGuire, Seth Green, Fergie, and Adam Brody, tells Broadly that these cases are actually tragically common in Hollywood. "A lot of times parents will abandon their kids once they grow out of the breadwinner and child-star role," Mains says.

Without consistent parenting, it's natural for many of these young actors to turn astray. Parents who support their children's dreams of acting might not support their decision to move away from the spotlight. "I once had a client whose parents supported her through the roof: moved the family from the East Coast to LA to help her with her dream, and even brought the grandmother, the uncle along," Mains says. "One day a few years after she had experienced some success, her mom brought her by my office to work on a script. Once her mom left the room, this little girl broke down sobbing, saying she didn't want to do this any more. She said her mom didn't understand, calling her ungrateful after all they had done for her. So this 'supportive' mom was not supportive when the child changed her mind [and wanted] to be able to try different things."

Even if a young actor comes from a stable home, there are other predatory adults that can take advantage and lead them down the wrong path. As a child, Spencer Breslin starred in The Kid and The Cat in the Hat, while his sister Abigail (who went on to adult fame) received an Oscar nomination at age 10 for Little Miss Sunshine. Spencer, 24, who now plays in the band Broken Machine and hosts the Spencer & Lara's Vomitorium podcast, says that negative influences are all too common in Hollywood.

Spencer and Abigail Breslin at an after-party at the Tribeca Film Festival, April 2011

"A lot of times there are people who will kind of latch on to kids, whether it be an agent or a manager or anyone else like that, [who] will try to get the parents totally out of the picture so that the actor can rely on them," Spencer says. "That can be really dangerous because then you have someone whose only motivation is making money calling the shots and directing this kid's life and what they should be doing. These wolves are coming up and saying, 'You don't really need mom and dad around, you don't really need that teacher you respect around, all you need is me and I'll take care of you.'"

Adult figures without young entertainers' best interests in mind run rampant in Hollywood. Iris Burton, one of the first and most famous child talent agents in Hollywood, who represented young stars like River Phoenix and Kirk Cameron, famously told People, "I hate to say it, but kids are meat. I've never had anything but filet mignon. I've never had hamburger. My kids are the choice meat."

Famous fraudsters like famed boy-band manager Lou Pearlman have gone to prison for running Ponzi schemes and stealing from their clients, while popular child agent Marty Weiss was charged with child molestation after years of allegations against him went unheard. Former child actors like Elijah Wood and Corey Feldman have recently spoken out about the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse in the entertainment industry. Feldman has spoken about the sexual abuse he and fellow child star Corey Haim suffered as young actors. "This is a place where adults have more direct and inappropriate connection with children than probably anywhere else in the world," Feldman said of Hollywood.

Lisa Jakub, now 37, is a former child actress who starred in major blockbusters like Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day. Lisa, who is now an author and speaker who has written a book about her experiences in the film industry, tells Broadly that she saw lots of inappropriate behavior between adults and children in the industry, whether it be sexual or through allowing kids early access to more "adult" experiences, like drugs and alcohol. (Drew Barrymore, for example, famously checked into rehab at the age of 13.) Lisa counts herself as lucky for avoiding many of these experiences, but didn't escape them entirely. "I did experience some things before I was ready for them. A variety of substances were easily accessible, which of course makes the abuse easier," she says. "I got hit on when I was still too young to know what that meant."

Lisa Jakub holds her book You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up, published in 2015.

After a whole childhood spent working, young stars are often confused when roles dry up as they move into adulthood. Lisa found the transition out of the only life she had ever known especially difficult: "I didn't know how to leave [Hollywood] — I didn't remember ever not being an actor. I wasn't even sure who I was because I had spent so much time pretending to be someone else," she says. "My education was very spotty and I didn't have many experiences of the outside world to let me know what else I might be interested in. I had no skills other than crying on cue and doing foreign accents and didn't know what I could ever be passionate about."

Child actors face a reverse conundrum of their non-famous peers: Rather than having a free childhood before a lifetime of work, they spend their early years working and are suddenly faced with freedom. Lives on sets are micromanaged. Freedom is daunting. Mains, the child agent, says this transition is where she often sees young stars go astray, sometimes out of not knowing what to do with themselves; sometimes out of deep-seated feelings of rejection. "Everybody loves you and adores you and you're on red carpets, and then boom, you're pushed out and it's the next exciting person," she says. "It becomes an issue of the ego. That's why kids turn to drugs and alcohol. There are some who are thrill-seekers and it passes, but others are trying to assuage a pain that doesn't go away.

Another coping mechanism: Evangelical Christianity. "It's is sort of a bigger trend than you may even know," Mains tells Broadly. She says many of her Nickelodeon clients, inspired by a few "cool kid" stars, attend the same church every week, and the trend has been going on for decades. Child actresses like Tia & Tamera Mowry (who were once represented by Mains), Kim Fields, and Dakota Fanning have attributed their success to their faith, calling it a grounding force in their lives.

A surprising number of former child stars have taken their faith a step further and gone on to become Evangelical preachers, ministering salvation to the fans that once watched them on TV. Former child actresses like The Facts of Life's Lisa Whelchel and Full House's Candace Cameron Bure have dedicated their lives to Evangelical ministry, using the skills of charisma and storytelling they learned as young actors in Hollywood.

While religion can help or hurt a young actor in their attempts to leave Hollywood, Mains, Spencer, and Lisa all agree that the most important factor in child performer's transition into a successful adulthood is the presence of grounding and supportive adults in their lives. quot;I think my transition was relatively successful due to having a really great family," says Spencer. "I have good parents who did their best to shield me from a lot of the scummy stuff that goes on in LA. None of my friends were actors. We just played sports and did stupid kid shit. We weren't comparing résumés or asking each other which agent we recently signed with."

Spencer with child actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, his longtime friend, in 2000.
Skye died of an accidental overdose in 2014, at age 21.

Mains says that she tries to remain a steadying force in her young clients' lives, providing a counterbalance to many of the more predatory figures in Hollywood. "As a manager, I spend a lot of time with my clients and I can communicate solid values and insure that they realize that who they are as people is not defined by their last job," she says. "It's really about being able to give kids a balanced perspective that helps them transition to productive adults with a healthy and positive attitude."

Spencer and Lisa also agree that while the journey into adulthood can be difficult for anyone, the threats that face young stars are often overblown. The phenomenon might have less to do with the pressures created by Hollywood, and more to do with the spotlight that focuses on the actions of young stars as they come of age. "I'm not sure that [transitioning to adulthood] is drastically harder for child actors than it is for anyone else," Lisa tells Broadly. "When the kid who works at the grocery store goes on a bender and wraps a car around a tree, it doesn't end up on the cover of People magazine. I think it's mostly about the fact that our society fetishizes fame and puts so much focus on painful celebrity drama. There are plenty of us that have made it through just fine. That's just not a grabby headline." Spencer says, "I think the tabloid and celebrity-obsessed culture we live in definitely roots for failure. Some star or starlet stumbling out of a bar half-naked and drunk garners a hell of a lot more clicks than a well-adjusted actor going to the dentist on a Tuesday afternoon."
15th-Jul-2016 01:03 pm - The Kids Choice Sports Awards
Nickelodeon sent several of its young stars to the Kids' Choice Sports Awards, held at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 14, 2016. I like the sporty styles worn to this event; it had such a different look from most kids' award shows, but quite a lot of familiar faces.

Lizzy Greene, 13, with her costars from Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn

Ella Anderson, 11, and Riele Downs, 15, from Henry Danger, which airs its season two finale this week

Breanna Yde, who just turned 13 last week, and Jade Pettyjohn, from School of Rock, which just finished airing its second season this week. Breanna's previous Nickelodeon series, The Haunted Hathaways, wrapped last year after two seasons. School of Rock is based on the 2003 film of the same name, with Jade playing Miranda Cosgrove's character.

Madisyn Shipman, 13, and Cree Cicchino, 14, from Game Shakers, which finished airing its first season in May. Cree's character on the show is named "Babe."

Esther Zynn and Celina Martin, from The Other Kingdom, a fantasy series that just premiered in April
Film: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015). Young Actresses: Jessica Tyler Brown & Ivy George.

The sixth – and thankfully, the last – installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise delivers nothing that you haven't seen before in other, better horror movies. There's a little girl (Ivy) with parents who are too stupid to live and an imaginary friend who's actually a demon. There's a visit from a priest, a failed exorcism, some predictable jump-scares, and several sloppy attempts to tie together and wrap up all the loose ends of the previous movies.

Ivy plays Leila, the girl at the center of the new storyline, while Jessica reprises her role as Kristi from the 2011 film, Paranormal Activity 3, set twenty-five years earlier, via old videotapes that Leila's dad (Chris J. Murray) finds and watches. If you saw PA3, then you should know that Jessica's part here isn't a rerun of that, but new footage recorded specifically for this movie. It was filmed not long after PA3 and initially set for release in 2012, but then the studio decided to drag the franchise out for as long as possible and pushed it back. Chloe Csengery, who played Kristi's big sister Katie in PA3, makes only a brief appearence in this movie.

Leila's father holds her while a video of Kristi plays in the background.

Ivy has a fairly large amount of screentime as Leila, but her role is a very passive one, the "child in peril" part that's so common in horror movies. She's an unusual-looking girl who manages to come across as both cute and creepy, and I suspect that her looks are the main reason why she was cast. Jessica's role as Kristi is slightly more active, but she doesn't seem to be making much of an effort – and I can't say that I blame her there, since nobody in this movie does.

Review of Paranormal Activity 4 (2012), starring Kathryn Newton.
Post about Paranormal Activity 3 (2011), starring Jessica Tyler Brown and Chloe Csengery.

5th-Jul-2016 12:43 pm - Just Because It's Summertime {2016}
Some recent Twitter photos of young actresses enjoying their summer...

And a few who took Disney vacations!

Black-ish's Marsai Martin, 11, and activist Marley Emerson Dias, 11, made a trip to Washington, DC, to attend the White House Initiative for African-American Excellence at the Department of Education. The event promoted literacy and summer reading among black kids.

Previous summertime posts: 2015.
28th-Jun-2016 04:44 pm - The 2016 BET Awards
The 2016 BET Awards
Held June 26, 2016, at Microsoft Theatre. Hosted by Anthony Anderson & Tracee Ellis Ross.

Marsai Martin, 11, attended to support her Black-ish TV parents, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, who hosted the show and were nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress.

Quvenzhane Wallis, 12, was nominated for the YoungStars Award, but she lost to Amandla Stenberg, 17. (Willow Smith, 15, was also nominated in this category, but neither she nor Amandla attended the show.) Quvenzhane hasn't been making many appearances since her movie Annie was panned by critics in such an unnecessarily mean way, and I was happy to see her at this event.

Yara Shahidi, 16, from Black-ish, was also nominated for the YoungStars Award.

Previous posts on the BET Awards: 2015, 2014.
Disney Channel premiered its 100th original movie, Adventures in Babysitting, on June 23. As the 100th, the movie's premiere was also hyped as a celebration of all Disney Channel original movies. A history lesson: The first ever Disney Channel original movie was 1983's Tiger Town, about an aging baseball player (Roy Scheider) and his young fan (Oscar-nominated Justin Henry).

Maia Brewton (center) in Adventures in Babysitting, 1987

The cast of Adventures in Babysitting, 2016

Alumni who have graduated from Disney Channel original movies to bigger stuff include Katherine Heigl (Wish Upon a Star, 1996), Camilla Belle (Rip Girls, 2000), Hayden Panettiere (Tiger Cruise, 2004), Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, 2006), and Keke Palmer (Jump In! 2007). Adventures in Babysitting is adapted from the 1987 classic of the same name.

In the movie, Sofia Carson (Disney Channel's Descendants), 23, and Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World), 17, star as rival babysitters who team up when one of their clients accidentally runs away to the city.

Nikki Hahn, 13, plays Emily, the runaway girl who starts all the trouble. Nikki told Twist Magazine, "I love Emily Cooper's wardrobe, smokey eye make up and fearlessness. My green hair is pretty cool, too."

Madison Horcher and Mallory James Mahoney play two younger kids along for the ride. Neither of their characters are based on Sarah, the role played to perfection by '80s child actress Maia Brewton in the original film.

Dove Cameron, 20, and China Anne McClain, 17, attended to support Sofia, their Descendants costar.

Two graduates who attended the premiere were Monique Coleman, 35, and Oleysa Rulin, 30, both from High School Musical, and Christy Carlson Romano, now 32 and pregnant, who starred in Even Stevens, Kim Possible, and several other Disney Channel projects of the early '00s.
Here are the starlets who attended the premiere of Disney's The BFG, held on June 21 at El Capitan Theatre. Based on the beloved 1982 children's book, the film is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars 11-year-old newcomer Ruby Barnhill.

The stars of Disney Channel's new series Stuck in the Middle, Ariana Greenblatt, Malachi Barton, and Kayla Maisonet, 17. The trio also took a trip to DisneyWorld together this month.

Shortly after attending the premiere, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, 9, and her mother Amy took a vacation to Disneyland together with the Eh Bee family, Canadian Internet stars.

Trinitee Stokes, 10, recently said of her KC Undercover TV family (which includes Zendaya, 19, star and co-producer since season two): "We fight a lot like brothers and sisters and we get in the funniest arguments. It's really funny. We've grown to treat each other just like family."

Of course, 11-year-old star Ruby Barnhill was front and center at the premiere (here, with Steven Spielberg and Mark Rylance, who voices the Big Friendly Giant). Ruby said in one interview: "When I met Steven, the great thing was that he made me so comfortable and so relaxed because, you know, like, when you're feeling nervous, it's really nice to have someone there to calm you down and help you stop feeling nervous. It kind of felt, when I met him, like I'd known him for a long time, which was quite nice."

Many reviews are praising Ruby's performance and Spielberg's work with child stars (which includes Drew in ET and Dakota in War of the Worlds). He said of the film: "What really appealed to me was the fact that the protagonist was a girl. Not a boy. And it was a really strong girl. When I saw Ruby's reading, I went crazy because I'd been looking for over half a year — actually, longer. Over eight months I'd been looking."

Katherine McNamara, 20, just started modeling in a back-to-school campaign for Wallflower Jeans. She said of the brand: "Their messaging of body positivity and expressing your unique style through denim is so beneficial to their customers. It's the perfect opportunity for girls who want to go their own way through fashion."

The BFG opens everywhere July 1!
Film: Junior Miss (1945). Young Actresses: Mona Freeman, 18, Peggy Ann Garner, 13, and Barbara Whiting, 13.

If you're a fan of young actresses – and you must be, if you're visiting this blog – then you've probably seen Margaret O'Brien's delightful, juvenile-Oscar-winning performance as Tootie in the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. That film has a few elements in common with Junior Miss. They were both adapted from short stories by The New Yorker writer Sally Benson, and Margaret's Tootie and Peggy's Judy are both based on Benson herself as a child.

Peggy and Mona on the cover of Junior Miss, and Peggy on the July 1945 issue of Life Magazine.

Of course, things don't always work out in real life like they do in movies. In reality, Benson's family had to move away from St. Louis and miss the World's Fair (the opposite of what happens at the end of Louis), which is why in Junior, we find a family with Missouri roots, the Graves, living in New York City. The Graves have two daughters, boy-crazy high-schooler Lois (Mona) and her scheming little sister Judy (Peggy), about 12.

After a slow beginning, the movie picks up when Judy sees her father (Allyn Joslyn) comforting a female coworker, Ellen (Faye Marlowe), who's being bullied by their boss. With her overactive imagination, Judy misreads it as her father and Ellen having an affair, and she determines to end it by setting Ellen up with her handsome bachelor uncle Willis (Stephen Dunne). Several humorous misadventures follow: her father gets is fired from his job, and although he gets rehired, there's a brief threat of Lois and Judy having to move to Missouri to live with their grandparents if he can't find a new job. (It's ironic after you've seen Louis, which treats moving to New York as the worst fate possible.) The movie as a whole is watchable but average and typical of screwball comedies of the era. It doesn't have Louis's witty dialogue, elaborate sets, or excellent adult cast. The real reason to watch it is Peggy, and she certainly does make it worth watching.

Christmas Morning: "It's perfectly silly to think Judy could wear a junior miss coat!"

Released only four months after her drama A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, for which she received a juvenile Oscar, Peggy was at the height of her child stardom here, and it shows in her large amounts of screentime and dialogue. This isn't the common child-role of reacting to what the adults do; Judy is the catalyst for almost everything that happens in Junior, and it's the adults who react to her. There's a perfect, realistic mix of childhood and adolescense in Judy. (The movie is titled after one of her greatest ambitions: to go clothes-shopping in the junior miss department, rather than the children's department.) Like Tootie in Louis, she's overdramatic and forgets her roller-skates on the stairs, but she's also mature enough to understand the very real problems that her family faces after her father loses his job. At Christmas, she's given both a doll and her first pair of high heels. Judy immediately tries on the high heels, but she puts the doll back under the tree and laughs, "Perhaps I can find some child to give it to." But later, when her family isn't watching, she sneaks the doll out from under the tree and plays with it, and it's one of the most touching scenes of the movie. The scene has no dialogue, but Peggy's acting is strong enough that she doesn't need it.

I've compared Junior Miss to Meet Me in St. Louis a lot in this review, but it also has a few things in common with Atonement (2007). Judy is at that same in-between age as Saoirse Ronan's Briony, and both girls misinterpret the adult situations and think that they're more grown-up than they really are. Certainly Peggy was as talented an actress as Saoirse is. As for the other two young actresses in this, Mona is decent as Judy's sister Lois, and Barbara, as Judy's best friend Fuffy, is an impressive young character actress who stands out even when she shares every scene with Peggy.

Other reviews of Peggy's films: Jane Eyre (1944).
20th-Jun-2016 06:10 pm - Remembering Anton Yelchin
Actor Anton Yelchin died on July 19, 2016, in a freak car accident in the driveway of his home in Studio City, California. He was only 27. Born in Russia in 1989, Anton was a prominent child actor of the early '00s who worked with several young actresses of the era, including Mika Boorem in his biggest childhood role, Hearts in Atlantis (2001). As an adult, he was best known for his role as Pavel Chekov in JJ Abrahm's Star Trek films.

Camilla Belle, 29, wrote on Instagram, "Absolutely heartbroken. I grew up seeing him at auditions, admiring his work in films. What a terrible and shocking loss. We will miss seeing the characters you brought to life Anton Yelchin. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones." Lindsay Lohan, also 29, wrote a bit more bizarre message: "This is the result of #hollywood a beautiful life has come to an end. A brilliant actor and a loving friend. Surround your life with good people and know who your #true #friends are my prayers and love goes out to anton's family #anton соболезнование семье и близким this breaks my heart. He was my friend I am so sorry to Anton's father."

Many of the former starlets who remembered Anton on social media were also contemporaries of him.

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