Childhood stars face adulthood: Life after Disney Channel and Nickelodeon

Childhood stars face adulthood: Life after Disney Channel and Nickelodeon

David Ehrenthal

by David Ehrenthal

   Picture this: it is 10:00 p.m. on a Thursday night, and you are too wired to sleep. You turn on the T.V. and find the 90’s sitcom, “Full House.” You wonder where the “Full House” stars are today.

   It is hard to believe that Jodie Sweetin, who played innocent Stephanie Tanner, has completely changed her persona. The sweet blonde girl has experienced a rocky rollercoaster since her days with the Tanner family. In 2010, Sweetin spilled the secrets she kept about her life after “Full House” in her memoir “unSweetined.” She wrote about her desire to be a regular kid while filming the show and her drug abuse after filming ended.

   So what comes after childhood stardom? New T.V. shows? New Movies? Modeling? Cocaine? Because the pressures of Hollywood require celebrities to uphold their name, many past child stars have done whatever it takes to stay in the limelight. From drunk driving and shaved heads to popping pills and sex scandals, fans have seen it all.

   Remember regular teenager by day, pop-star by night, Hannah Montana?  Since her days off of  the Disney Channel, Miley Cyrus cut off all her hair, donned some red lipstick, and began to twerk everywhere. The reinvented Cyrus can be seen dancing on stripper poles and grinding on oversized teddy bears on her 2014 World Tour, Bangerz. Smoking marijuana in front of her teenage fans in concerts, Cyrus epitomizes the moral downfall of the former teenage role model.

   “Mah-Ha” and “Bring in the dancing lobsters” were lines constantly croaked by Amanda Bynes, on her hit show “The Amanda Show.”  The show, which aired from 1999-2002, centered around Bynes and friends that were featured in comedic segments within the show.  Always bring ing laughter to the live audience full of teens, Bynes brought her zany energy and love of acting to television screens across the country.

Fast forward 11 years and you can find Bynes in an ill-fitting blonde wig, tweeting out to the nation. With tweets such as “It goes against my religion to follow an ugly person” and “I was diagnosed bipolar and manic depressive, so I’m on medication,” Bynes grabbed the media’s attention.    

   “[We should] stop publicizing and making a joke of what [Bynes] has turned into,” said junior Naomi Zaksenberg. “I am guilty of laughing at some of her more absurd tweets, but she really does need professional help for her mental illness.” As a former role model for children and teenagers, Bynes continues to have influence over her fans. By getting professional help, she would show that she is an adult who can make responsible life decisions. This decision can help Bynes reclaim her positive influence over the teens who looked up to her.

   The list of childhood stars continues with “Freaky Friday” star Lindsay Lohan.  Lohan rose to fame when she landed the role of Hallie and Annie Parker, in the 1998 remake of “The Parent Trap.” She went off the rail starting in 2009, when she was arrested for driving under the influence and missed several court appearances. After being sent to rehab, Lohan continued to struggle with drugs and theft.  As a childhood actress, she had a responsibility to young fans who respected her, but she failed them when she began behaving irresponsibly.

   “Sometimes it’s really amusing, but overall it’s very sad,” said Zaksenberg. “These are people that kids from our generation grew up worshipping and to see a lot of them on such a negative path is disappointing.”

   With the ups and downs of Hollywood, child stars who have grown into destructive adults show how hard it can be to maintain the appearance that the media and fans approve of while trying to live their lives. While many former child stars may act negatively now, there are some who prevail through the pressures of Hollywood. These celebrities teach today’s teens that the past is no marker of how successful the future will be.

   If teens were to learn anything from the stars we all look up to, it is that it’s equally important to be your own person, and not let the actions of your role models dictate the actions you take.