Zaijian Jaranilla may be hanging on to his career as a juvenile actor despite the imminent threat of “galloping adolescence,” but other young actors were more realistically made to “graduate” from a kiddie TV show last month.
Some of the “graduates” accepted their “fate” philosophically, but others wept, quite understandably insecure about what the future holds for them, now that they’re ex-child talents.
Some of them can find occasional work as “tween” performers, but others may have to do what generations of over-aged child stars have done—namely, to gamely “disappear” for a couple of years, let nature take its course in terms of physically and psychologically transforming them from children to teenagers—and then making a comeback as swoon-worthy faves on the small and big screens.
The sad reality, of course, is that a number of them will be unsuccessful in making that key shift, so they may have to find other, nonshow biz ways to earn their keep and pay the rent.
Should that come to pass, we hope that the former child talents’ parents shall have prepared them to deal with that new reality.
Trouble is, some kid talents’ “stage parents” have gotten so used to the child actors being their families’ breadwinners that, when the gravy train stops chugging, everybody is left high and dry—and resentful as all heck.
Still, the tick of the clock can’t be ignored much longer, so like it or not, the piper must be paid.
We hope that no one among this batch’s “graduates” will have to undergo what befell a former child star some years ago: She still looked tiny and cute, but was really 13 years old and was already menstruating. But, her “stage mother” kept it a secret from producers and directors, for fear that they would no longer cast her.
Worse, her smothering mother ordered her to act even younger, despite the fact that she hated playing it so cute and little-girly.
Well, despite her best efforts, word eventually got around that she was years older than her screen image, so the job offers indeed dried up, and everyone in the family had to wake up—posthaste!
Even worse off was another former child star, who vanished from public view for a couple of years, but reappeared at an audition we conducted for a sexy show. We were surprised to see her all made-up and dressed and tressed up in a “seductive” manner. What was she doing at that audition for adult talents?
Well, it appeared that her stage mother believed that she was ready to make the big shift from kiddie to sexy(!), and instructed her to do a sensual dance number!
Naturally, we were aghast, and told her to stop. We berated her mother for exploiting her own daughter—but, being cognizant of their need to make money, offered to help by putting the “still physically evolving” girl in a more age-appropriate role in another show we were directing.
Years later, we were happy to see the former child star doing well as a popular young-adult performer on TV. Her story had a happy ending—but what about the many others that don’t?