The mention of child actors often draws one’s thoughts to the decline of Lindsay Lohan, the deterioration of Macaulay Culkin, as well as the large number of other young stars seemingly crippled by the weight of fame. The spotlight or eventual loss of it is sometimes too much. As grades suffer, and indulgence in alcohol or other drugs becomes a coping mechanism; acts of debauchery keep the attention on the young artist. Acting as a child has serious risks, yet it should not be entirely denounced.
To start with, someone needs to fill the role of children in television and movies. Without child actors, directors would not have children in their works, or the adults would have to mimic children. Like it or not, child actors are a must in film and television.
Steps can be taken, however, to ensure that child acting is a positive experience. Parents should not be allowed to force their children into such roles that they don’t want to pursue. If the child would rather live a normal life, then that should be entirely their call, and their parents should not be allowed to sway their decisions.
Alongside this, the environment in which these child actors work should be made safer and more comfortable. Unneeded pressure should not be placed on child actors by any members of the cast and crew. Additionally, education can be tricky to fit into a child’s busy schedule, but it is a necessity. It’s unfair to leave children without an education because they have taken a role that could very well be transient.
It would be ignorant to deny that some child actors suffer from detrimental effects due to their run in with fame at a young age, yet there’s an often neglected flip-side. Consider the cast of the Harry Potter movies, for instance. Constant support given by adult members of the cast and crew created a productive environment. Many of the actors became close friends in real life and lots of them have gone on to act in a wide variety of different roles and to support causes important to them.
The stars of Harry Potter were not ditched once the movies finished, but set up for future success. The positive experiences of actors such as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint show that child acting does not have to be an inherently negative thing. It can and must be done correctly.
Radcliffe did have alcohol abuse issues, but he has since recovered and has continued to have an amazing career. Watson is a stellar example of childhood acting success, taking lead roles in many films and standing up for women’s rights.
Child acting does come with risks. Young and susceptible minds can be twisted by poor influences and high pressure. The system, however, can change and instead of dissolving the chance at a full life, it can promote the creation of a life with many rich opportunities.
The opposing Face Off can be found here