At the age of three most of us were learning to form sentences and problem solve while film industry children were learning the rights and regulations of their contracts. Everyone longs for fame but fail to recognize all of the baggage that comes along with it. With so many rising stars that are young, it is important that they are clearly informed of their responsibilities and rights upon entering this rigorous industry.
Michael D. Moore conquered his first years of the industry starting at eighteen months old starring in various commercials which then lead to his roles in silent films. Moore was destined with a career in the film industry as his mother was an actress from Dublin (Brownlow 2). By age three he possessed eight different parts with four different companies. All of these parts took place back to back with very few days in between. When he was six he signed into a contract with J. Parker Read Productions in which he was required to “ … perform such services wherever required or desired by the corporation as it’s officers or agents may direct or find necessary”. Only six years into his life and part of his freedom were already stripped away. This was far from the end as Moore gave the industry 80+ years of his life as an actor and director.
Hollywood is growing faster than ever with more kids entering the industry than before. While becoming an actor sounds ideal, people seem to fail to mention the various contracts and restrictions that come with it. For starters, all income earned while underage goes directly to the parent or guardian. For most that could be a very safe situation and for others that could be a huge problem. In some instances, underage children have to get the court involved if the parent or guardian refuses to utilize the money for their good.
Along with the financial aspect, their childhood is also stripped away. Elementary, middle, and high school are almost non-existent in most child actors. Mary Plummer of KPCC radio said that for child actors in California “school comes to them in the form of studio teacher” ( Plummer 1). While they still receive some form of education, they miss out on the classical classroom experience. They miss the experience of forming friendships in after-school clubs and activities. They miss the experience of sharing lunch every day at the same table. They miss the experience of only having the responsibility of homework. They are restricted to an outside view of what it’s like to be a child.
Lastly, child actors because of their fast-paced life usually get steered in the wrong direction which results in emotional and psychological turmoil. Too often there are headlines of characters from popular television shows that have either passed away due to overdose or suicide, gone to rehab, or are experiencing some sort of mental breakdown. Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Corey Monteith, Brittany Spears, and others are all victims of this type of turmoil. There are no laws that require these children to receive counseling to help adjust them into adulthood, so they find other ways to cope. The industry along with laws fail to protect these children from the emotional and psychological turn these careers may have on them.
Fame is idolized way too often and normal people on the outside looking in, feel that they have it all. Although the industry contracts are not as extraneous as it was when Mickey Moore entered, they still rob kids of their childhood. When the cameras stop rolling when the lights go out and the curtains close who are they? They are people just like us who need a normal childhood without the cameras watching their every move. They need a voice. They need to be able to fail in peace without the whole world watching them.
Brownlow, Kevin. “Micky Moore: Child Star in the Silents Who Became a Director And.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 12 May 2013, www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/micky-moore-child-star-in-the-silents-who-became-a-director-and-worked-with-spielberg-8612988.html.
Southern California Public Radio, Mary Plummer. “Schoolwork on Set: Meet Studio Teacher Linda Stone.” Southern California Public Radio, 5 June 2015, www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/07/22/14301/child-actors-get-schooled-meet-the-woman-who-s-spe/.
Goldfarb, Matthew R. Contracting With Minors In The Entertainment Industry: A Spotlight on California. Kentlaw.edu.