Perks and perils of child stardomBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANY local child stars come from poor families, so they frequently end up becoming breadwinners for their loved ones—at much too young an age!
It’s an onerous situation, but most young talents put up with it, because their parents expertly take them on “guilt” and “gratitude” trips that underscore their “obligation” to “share the wealth” with their less blessed relations.
So, while child stardom can be glamorous, exciting and exceedingly profitable, it sometimes ends up warping young talents’ development as psychologically healthy and balanced adults—and there can be the devil to pay.
Aside from the psychological onus, young talents’ physical development can also be affected, because long shooting and taping hours result in lack of time to play and sleep—so, quite a number of former juvenile talents turn out to be more “vertically challenged” than their contemporaries!
Plus, there are former child stars who can’t accept the fact that their days as cute and popular “wonder” kids are over, so they are perennially dissatisfied with whatever life throws their way, once their “best” years are over.
The fact that some of them are regarded as has-beens when they’re only in their 20s is a chilling reminder of the shocking impermanence of show biz fame and fortune!
Even more conflicted are the erstwhile big stars who used to attract a coterie of hangers-on because of their financial success and generosity. When the lucrative offers stop coming and the money machine ceases to spew out ready cash on demand, the hangers-on disappear, and the young ex-stars are left with the psychologically crippling realization that they were liked, not for themselves, but for the money they “shared” with their ga-ga and giddy entourage of “yes” people.
For these and other reasons, parents of very young talents who dream of joining show business should think thrice before they act on that exciting impulse.
In an ideal universe, the best rule should be: If you’re poor, don’t make your child enter show biz, because he’ll be practically forced to act as your family’s cash cow.
And, if your family has money, you should vow early on not to touch your child’s income as a performer, and instead put it in a trust fund for him to make use of once he reaches adulthood.
Of course, real life is much more limited in the options it provides, which is why child stardom in these parts is often so problematic.
But, if it’s at all possible, juvenile talents’ parents should do their best to separate financial motivation from their love for their gifted children, or else that love can eventually be corroded and sundered—frequently on the part of the often-used and -abused child.
A good example that turns out to be one of the few exceptions that prove the rule is the case of former Wonder Boy Niño Muhlach, whose dad saved his son’s huge earnings and invested them in a building that Niño continues to make good use of to this day.
How many other parents or guardians of former child stars have been as provident and enlightened in their handling of young stars’ hard-earned savings—if anything is indeed left? We hope and pray that Niño’s dad is not alone!
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