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45 Former Child Stars Are Calling Out Hollywood for the Way They Were Treated

45 Former Child Stars Are Calling Out Hollywood for the Way They Were Treated

Miley Cyrus


Even though Miley Cyrus is more active as a singer nowadays, no one can forget her as Hannah Montana. She was and still is our favorite pop star! Even though she seems to have the “best of both worlds” on the show, the truth is she didn’t have it that easy in real life.


Miley Cyrus

Hollywood didn’t go easy on her as a child actor. It was drilled into her head that she was worth nothing without the Hannah Montana wig! This ultimately made her feel a lot of unnecessary pressure.



Drew Barrymore


Don’t we all love Drew Barrymore? She stole our hearts long ago when she portrayed little Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Although she played a sweet and innocent child in the film, that was hardly the case in real life. Drew didn’t have an easy childhood.


Drew Barrymore

She shared in a recent interview that being the sole breadwinner for her family at such an early age put her into risky situations, and Hollywood just made it even worse! This even strained her relationship with her mother and family.



Todd Bridges


Todd Bridges, a.k.a. Willis from Diff’rent Strokes, is another star who shared their horrible experiences recently. He opened up about an experience as a child actor where he had to go through some unwanted situations.


Todd Bridges

The interview he had given was for a documentary named An Open Secret. He shared how he faced extreme racism while filming Diff’rent Strokes. However, he finally shared these experiences to help and give strength to other victims.



Soleil Moon Frye


A very popular show from the ’80s, Punky Brewster follows a young girl and her life being raised by a foster parent. Actress Soleil Moon Frye stole everyone’s heart as the funny and bright Penelope “Punky” Brewster.


Soleil Moon Frye

However, Soleil’s experience wasn’t that great after the show ended. The actress later shared that, because she had matured early, she was cast in inappropriate roles after the show ended. She also revealed that many people in the industry shamed her as a teen.



Demi Lovato


Demi Lovato is another celebrity who became a star at a very young age. They were only 10 years old when they got their first break in Barney & Friends. Even though they were destined to be a star, Demi also shared that their experiences as a child actor weren’t so sweet.


Demi Lovato

They recently shared that, while working at a young age, they were abused by a fellow young actor. They shared that even though they reached out about it to people who could do something about it, they didn’t get any help or support.



We all know how the Jonas Brothers rose to fame. They were very young when they became a worldwide sensation. However, their popularity came with a price.


Joe Jonas

In an interview, Joe — the band’s guitarist and second-eldest brother of the family — recently shared that, because they wore purity rings and the fact that they had specific contracts with Disney, their projects were heavily monitored. He also shared that this put them in a box and even hampered their creative flow. This was made worse when they tried to break away and do things on their own.



Raven Symone


How can any kid that grew up in the 2000s forget a show like That’s So Raven!? It’s quite impossible! There are very few people who didn’t love Raven Symone on that show. However, Symone’s journey as a child star in Hollywood wasn’t as fun as the show made it seem.


Raven Symone

She recently shared that while working in Hollywood, she faced a lot of body shaming. She was even told that she wasn’t the right person to do an hour-long concert because she was too “big” for that. As a result of this pressure, Symone suffered quite a bit emotionally.



Zayn Malik


There was a time when One Direction was equivalent to today’s BTS. Niall, Liam, Harry, Louis, and Zayn stole every girl’s heart. Like many other stars on this list, the band members were really young when their popularity skyrocketed.


Zayn Malik

However, their journey wasn’t that smooth. For Zayn especially, it was even more challenging. Apparently, he and the others in the band were highly monitored. He even shared how he wasn’t allowed to grow out his beard because he looked older than the other boys in the band.



Jennette McCurdy


We all know Jennette McCurdy from iCarly in which she played alongside Miranda Cosgrove. Her popularity also came at a price. Now that she’s all grown up and out of the spotlight, she has revealed how Hollywood’s certain body size expectations made her life way more complicated than it should have been.


Jennette McCurdy

She even shared that these expectations instigated her eating disorder at the young age of 11. We can’t imagine how she went through it, but we know now that she isn’t the only child star who suffered because of these expectations.



Cole Sprouse


Cole Sprouse is all grown up now; he’s not that little Ben from Friends anymore or Julian from Big Daddy! He and his identical twin brother, Dylan, have worked as child actors ever since they were a few years old. However, as Cole was growing up, he had a lot of questions about the industry he was working in.


Cole Sprouse

He felt that the environment of Hollywood was “insular” and provided little opportunity for different experiences. That’s why he chose to take a little break from acting to attend college alongside Dylan. He has since returned to the industry.



Mara Wilson


Anyone that says they’re not a fan of Mara Wilson is lying! She was probably one of the most lovable child stars of the ’90s. Unsurprisingly, though, Wilson had a very bitter experience working in the industry as a little girl.


Mara Wilson

She shared some awkward situations that made her feel uncomfortable and humiliated as a girl who was just hitting puberty. As a preteen, she had to face what every middle schooler was most afraid of. This makes us wonder if Hollywood really even cares about the treatment of child stars!



Billie Eilish


Billie Eilish is another star who rose to fame as a young girl. Did you know that she started making songs at the mere age of 13? Even though it sounds pretty unbelievable, it’s actually true.


Billie Eilish

As she grew more popular, Billie began to receive a lot of unwanted attention.  This undue attention limited the experiences she should have had at her age. She shared that not having a normal life in Hollywood makes her angry at times.



Mark-Paul Gosselaar


Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s popularity reached sky high as soon as Saved by the Bell began airing on television. He was just a teenager then.


Mark-Paul Gosselaar

Despite that fact, though, he wasn’t treated like a teen. Apparently, he was constantly reminded to act like an adult. He was told that he wasn’t a kid anymore for as long as he was on set. We now can realize why these child stars are highly mature for their age and get burned out so quickly!



Melissa Joan Hart


Can you believe that Melissa Joan Hart began her acting career at the age of four?! The face of Clarissa Explains it All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Hart had a lot to deal with from a very young age.


Melissa Joan Hart

When Hart’s mother asked co-star William Hurt to speak to her nine-year-old daughter in a way a child could understand, he replied, “No, if she wants to play with the big boys, she has to learn how to speak like the big boys.” According to Hart, “I get that he didn’t want to dumb it down for me […] but I was just trying to hold on to these conversations without knowing how to respond.” 



Corey Feldman


We all recognize Corey Feldman from all those ‘80s hit films including Stand by Me and The Goonies. Thanks to these projects, Feldman became a teen idol — but it came at a cost.


Corey Feldman

In recent years, Feldman has revealed that he — along with fellow child actor and best friend Corey Haim — were abused as young stars.



Alyson Stoner


Alyson Stoner danced into our hearts during the early 2000s — Cheaper by the Dozen to Step Up and even Camp Rock, Stoner became a hugely popular child star. Now 28 years old, she has since spoken out about her experiences in Hollywood as a child star.


Alyson Stoner

In a recent interview, Alyson shared that she faced abuse and child law violations while working as a child actor. At one point, she even developed an eating disorder as a result of the pressure.



Regina King


Regina King is another actor who got an early start in the industry. She began playing as Brenda Jenkins in 227 at just 14 years old.


Regina King

She has stated that life in Hollywood at such a young age wasn’t always easy. Luckily, King’s mother helped her daughter maintain a good balance between work and school life by sending her to public schools. According to the actress, meeting different people helped her tackle difficult situations in Hollywood.



Kirsten Dunst


Kirsten Dunst began her career in Hollywood at a young age. She was just 11 years old when she starred in Interview With the Vampire in 1994. Soon after, she played alongside Robin Williams in Jumanji.


Kirsten Dunst

However, she also had a quite tough time working as a child star in Hollywood. In fact, she recently shared that, because of Hollywood’s unhealthy environment and pressures, she suffered from depression throughout her 20s.



Natalie Portman


Natalie Portman was just 11 years old when Luc Besson cast her in the film Léon: The Professional. Her child celebrity status rose to prominence thanks to movies like Beautiful Girls and Heat.


Natalie Portman

However, she shared recently that working at such a young age in those roles subjected her to being objectified. She felt very insecure about her identity and work because of this. And so, these horrible experiences have made her reconsider many of her decisions.



Christy Carlson Romano


Christy Carlson Romano is known for portraying Ren on Even Stevens and voicing the titular character of Kim Possible. Recently, she shared that working from a young age in Hollywood allowed her to earn millions. But, those millions were quickly spent.


Christy Carlson Romano

Because she began earning from a young age, Romano thought she was set for life. It was only later that she realized work in Hollywood isn’t always consistent. She wasted most of her money because she knew little about managing her finances, and she had no guidance.



Daniel Radcliffe


Let’s be real here — the  Harry Potter franchise is beloved by most. Although Daniel Radcliffe completely nailed his performance in each and every movie, what people don’t know is how hard the star had it in real life. He shared how the lack of privacy in Hollywood made him succumb to various horrible habits.


Daniel Radcliffe

During a 2019 episode of The Off-Camera Show with director Sam Jones, Radcliffe opened up about his substance abuse. According to the actor, he used drinking as a way to forget the fact that he was constantly being watched. He revealed that it took “a few years and it took a couple of attempts” to curb his drinking habit.



Macaulay Culkin


Often regarded as one of the most successful child actors of the ’90s, Macaulay Culkin was just eight years old when he starred in Home Alone. Despite — or perhaps, due to the fact that he became a household name before he even hit teenagehood, Culkin grew up very quickly.


Macaulay Culkin

Thanks to the pressures of Hollywood, he made some really bad decisions during his younger years. During an interview with Esquire in 2020, the 41-year-old revealed that “I played with some fire, I guess is the best way to put it.”



Rivkah Reyes


It’s been quite some time since any of us have seen this star. Their name is Rivkah Reyes but you may better recognize them as Katie, a Horace Green Prep School student that becomes the bass guitar player of Dewey Finn’s band in School of Rock.


Rivkah Reyes

Now 29 years old, Rivkah revealed in an interview that classmates bullied them after the movie came out and that they became a “raging addict” from the age of 14 to 24.



Alisan Porter


Alisan Porter was just nine years old when she played the titular character in Curly Sue. However, she shared that acting at such a young age in Hollywood didn’t work out so well for her.


Alisan Porter

Because of the pressure thrust upon her at such a young age, she shared that she eventually fell under the trap of substance abuse. After years away from the spotlight, however, Porter got sober and won season 10 of The Voice.



Amanda Bynes


Amanda Bynes entered the entertainment industry when she was just seven years old. From The Amanda Show to What I Like About You — and let’s not forget the plethora of films she has starred in — Bynes was one of the most beloved young stars of the 2000s.


Amanda Bynes

However, the constant exposure and invasion of privacy soon made her succumb to substance abuse. During an interview in 2018, Bynes advised people who struggle with substance abuse should be really careful. According to the actress, her habits “made me a completely different person. I actually am a nice person. I would never feel, say or do any of the things that I did and said to the people I hurt on Twitter.”



Lindsay Lohan


Lindsay Lohan entered the entertainment industry at the age of three when she was signed to Ford Models. After appearing as a regular on a TV soap opera, Lohan’s career took off as she began landing starring roles in all sorts of films.


Lindsay Lohan

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Lohan had a series of run-ins with the law and spent time in rehab. During a 2019 interview with Variety, Lohan explained that she knows “that in my past I was young and irresponsible — but that’s what growing up is. You learn from your mistakes.”



Aaron Carter


Another star that made his way into Hollywood at a very young age is former teen heartthrob Aaron Carter. He shared that due to the mismanagement of his career in Hollywood, he went through a lot at a young age.


Aaron Carter

After his parents’ divorce in 2004, Carter became extremely depressed. “I couldn’t dwell on it. I couldn’t think about it too much. I kind of had to block it out. I started partying and getting into a lot of trouble.”



Hilary Duff


Hilary Duff is another child celeb who became a star at a young age when she landed the starring role in Lizzie McGuire. She shared that being constantly compared to her fellow actors made her super self-conscious of her weight.


Hilary Duff

During an interview with Byrdie, Duff said that she struggled with food around the ages of 18 and 19. She worried about portions and how much she was eating due to these unnecessary comparisons.



Elijah Wood


Elijah Wood was just nine years old when he first began auditioning. Before he landed the part of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings series, he dealt with a lot of harsh rejection and treatment.


Elijah Wood

He shared that directors and filmmakers were unnecessarily harsh towards him, which in turn, made him feel extremely vulnerable. He even revealed that he faced abuse throughout his career, and accused Hollywood of enabling other issues.



Corey Haim


We’ve already talked about Corey Feldman and how he shared his horrible experiences in Hollywood. Feldman started his journey alongside Corey Haim.


Corey Haim

They both became a household name after the release of their film The Lost Boys. Like Feldman, Haim opened up about the abuse he endured as a child actor. Because of the trauma, he fell victim to substance abuse at some point and sadly passed in 2010.



Anthony Edwards


Anthony Edwards is an American actor and director most widely recognized for his portrayal of Dr. Mark Greene on the first eight seasons of ER — or perhaps his performance as Nick “Goose” Bradshaw in Top Gun.


Anthony Edwards

It was before all this success, though, that Edwards learned about the harsh reality of Hollywood. According to an essay the star wrote on Medium, screenwriter/producer Gary Goddard befriended and assaulted him along with several of his friends “for years” beginning when they were 12 years old.



Eliza Dushku


Best known for starring as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, actress Eliza Dushku actually got her acting start when she was just 12 years old. It was during that time that Dushku was molested by stunt coordinator Joel Kramer while she was working on the set of True Lies.


Eliza Dushku

According to the star, an adult friend of hers confronted Kramer, and that same day, Dushku was injured during a stunt, while Kramer was responsible for her safety. Kramer has denied the accusations.



Alex Winter


Alex Winter rose to stardom as Bill S. Preston in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure opposite Keanu Reeves. Before that, though, he started out in the industry as a child actor.


Alex Winter

It was during this time that, like many other kid actors, Winter faced abuse. At some point, he not only grew disillusioned with the movie business but also became sick of the pressure — all whilst dealing with the trauma from his childhood assault.



Alison Arngrim


Alison Arngrim got her start in television at the age of 12. She’s perhaps best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on NBC’s Little House on the Prairie from 1974 to 1981.


Alison Arngrim

Because of how she had to play her character on the show, Alison and her mental health were negatively affected. Fortunately, she was able to come out of the toxic circle and reinvent herself.



Julianne Hough


Actress Julianne Hough got her start in the industry back in the early 2000s. But, before that — amidst her parents’ divorce — she was sent to London with her brother to live and study with their dance coaches.


Julianne Hough

According to the 33-year-old, “While I was in London, I was abused, mentally, physically, everything.” She revealed that it got even worse when she “started hitting puberty, when I started becoming a woman and stopped being a little girl.”



Evan Rachel Wood


Evan Rachel Wood was just 14 years old when she was cast in a very mature role in 13. She shared that coming from a small-town family, there was a lot of pressure on her to succeed.


Evan Rachel Wood

She said that being a promising talented actor made it quite impossible for her to fail in her career, as a lot of people looked up to her. However, because of the toxic environment and lack of proper support, she started losing direction in her life and career. What’s more, she also suffered abuse as a teenager.



Britney Spears


It’s no secret that pop star Britney Spears got her start in the industry as a little girl, thanks to The Mickey Mouse Club. In fact, she was just 12 years old when she appeared on the show alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, and more.


Britney Spears

However, her journey through the limelight wasn’t easy, as many of us have come to find out. She was subjected to a lot of humiliation and scrutiny, made worse by Hollywood and the media.



Samantha Geimer


Samantha Geimer is widely known for her accusations against the film director. She was the first one to come forward to report the abuse against Roman Polanski. She was just an aspiring actress and model when she came to Hollywood.


Samantha Geimer

However, she stated that her dreams and hopes got shattered when she was subjected to abuse at the age of 13. Even after coming out with her experience, she had to face the trauma over and over again in court and in the media.



Evan Henzi


Evan Henzi was a young actor working his way to Hollywood. However, before he could become a household name, he faced the bitter reality of the industry. He was just 11 years old when youth talent manager Marty Weiss abused him.


Evan Henzi

He felt so humiliated for what he had to go through that he blamed himself for everything for quite a long time. Later, he shared his experience in the documentary, An Open Secret.



Gabriel Byrne


We know Gabriel Byrne as that charismatic Irish actor. However, when he was starting his journey in Hollywood as a child actor, he didn’t have it easy.


Gabriel Byrne

Apparently, he too suffered abuse at the hands of some people that he thought highly of. He felt ashamed and didn’t realize the effects that these experiences would have on him. Because he wasn’t emotionally prepared, he masked many of these issues by drinking.



Michael Egan


Michael Egan was another young actor who came to the industry in hopes of becoming a star. However, he recently shared how he had to pay the price while trying to make it in Hollywood.


Michael Egan

He shared that on his way to stardom, he was actually abused by a Hollywood director, X-Men‘s Bryan Singer. Egan shared very crucial details about the abuse, which made his story very different from others. However, his allegations have not yet been proven.



Anthony Rapp


Now 50 years old, Anthony Rapp originated the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway production of Rent. He reprised it in the film adaptation. Today, he stars on Star Trek: Discover. Unfortunately, he too faced his fair share of abuse on his way to success.


Anthony Rapp

In late October 2017, Rapp alleged in a Buzzfeed interview that actor Kevin Spacey made an unwanted advance toward him in 1986 — when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26.



Aly & A.J. — now known as 78violet — are a pop duo consisting of sisters Alyson and Amanda Michalka. However, many of you millennials may recognize Aly from Phil of the Future.


Aly & A.J

Between that and their overnight success as a musical duo, Aly & A.J. certainly felt the pressure, to say the least. Because of it, the sisters struggled with mental health issues. However, they were quick enough to get the help they needed, which made things easier for them later on.



Selena Gomez


Another Disney child star who started her career very young is Selena Gomez. When she starred in the show Barney & Friends, she was just nine years old. From there, her career only continued to skyrocket.


Selena Gomez

With shows and films like Wizards of Waverly Place and Another Cinderella Story, she became a household name everywhere. However, she also shared how the Hollywood pressures had made her feel vulnerable from a very young age. She shared that she even made some mistakes early in her life because of these pressures.