Stage Parents

Are they the worst parents on Earth?

Well, maybe not, but they’re certainly not in line for any parent of the year awards either.

You see it all the time here. Child stars who are screwed over by their parents. Gary Coleman had all his money taken, Lindsay Lohan has two equally screwed parents. One’s in an out of jail, the other used her as a way to skip the line at clubs and get free ice-cream. Macaulay Culkin had some winner parents, fighting not over him, but his funds. There’s more screwed over former child stars than I can list.

Of course, there’s some good ones in the group. Unfortunately, it seems like it’s a 8/2 ratio. The eight being the bad parents. Most stage parents are like the ones in the Bruno video above. They don’t give a shit about their kids safety, or if the kid wants to do it or not. All they can think about is living vicariously through their kids, or paying the rent.

The average kid in Hollywood goes on 90 auditons for each one they get. They get told they’re not cute enough, they’re too fat, they sound funny. That’s so much rejection for a little person to deal with. Their parents keep dragging them to the next audition though, just in case this one is their “Big Break”.

I’ve met some great stage parents. When I was teaching acting classes, there was some parents who brought their kids along because they thought it would be a great way for their kids to learn some confidence, get to play with other kids, learn to speak in public. Then there’s the ones who don’t care that their kid hates the class. They want their kid to learn so they can pack off to Hollywood and live off their kid. They didn’t care how much classes cost, it was all just an investment in their future.

I think parents shouldn’t try to live vicariously through their kids. I also don’t think they should expect their kids to pay the bills. At least here in the US, they now have to put the majority of the money in trust, but there’s still ways around it. Kids can make millions of dollars and still be broke and unemployed when they’re 18.

It’s a parents job to protect their kids. If parents are expoiting their kids, and the kid is a working enough to support themselves, they should be able to emancipate themselves from their parents, like Michelle Williams did. Most working child stars act more grown up than their parents anyway.


Celeb for a Day – WTF???

Are you kidding me?

After yesterday’s post on Mary Kate talking about her childhood and seeing all the comments from people dissing celebs who don’t always appreciate the attention, I was amazed to find how many photographers are now latching on to the fake paparazzi thing. Take for example, Celeb 4 a Day. This is an entire agency devoted to making ordinary people feel like celebrities for a day, by stalking them with paparazzi for an hour. Seriously. For $250, they’ll stalk you for 30 minutes, snapping pics and asking you about yourself. If you want to feel like a mega star, you can spend $1500 and have your own bodyguard and publicist and 6 paparazzi who’ll follow you for 2 hours.

For $1500, Matt and I could spend a week in Mexico in a beautiful resort. Airfare included. Seriously, what kind of attention starved individual would pay $1500 for 2 hours to feel like a celeb? What’s worse, is that for 2 hours, it might be a lot of fun. Then said individual will try to work out how to be in the spotlight more. (Yes, I’m talking about you Kim Kardashian) Then, years later, when they are an actual celeb, they’ll start to hate the same paparazzi, the ones who they no longer have pay for, but who continue to stalk them.

A quick Google search shows that even regular photo studios are offering paparazzi packages. You just give them your regular schedule, and they’ll be hiding behind tress, waiting to take real life shots of you. Now, I’m a fan of candid shots, I like real life action shots much better than posed photos. However, calling it a paparazzi package and catering to people’s need to be famous just seems kinda sick.

I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Those who live as ordinary citizens wish for the perceived glamour and lifestyle that stars get. Celebs wish they could just blend in and go get some Starbucks without being stalked. I guess since I grew up on TV, cameras were just part of growing up. I always longed to be an ordinary person. I’d hate to be a celebrity these days. Maybe the 2 hour package is long enough for people to realize it’s not that great. My Woman’s Day photo shoot was fun at first. It had been a while since I got to play dress up, and it’s always nice to have someone else do your hair and make-up. Matt didn’t realize just how long a photo shoot lasts and holding a smile for more than an hour is tiring! We both went home exhausted. I was very happy to go back to being a nobody again after that day. Well, until I had to fly to Oz and then hide out while there… After that, Matt said he had never seen me so happy to get back to San Antonio.

It’s a pity the Celeb 4 a day people aren’t in San Antonio. I’m a good photographer and it could be fun to be on the other side of the camera for a change….


Mary Kate Olsen on her childhood

‘I would never wish my upbringing on anyone’

This seems to be a recurring statement among former child stars. This time, it’s been uttered by Mary Kate Olsen, one half of the Olsen twins who grew up on Full House.

The twins started on Full House when they were only a year old. They appeared in dozens of movies and were self made millionaires by the time they were 10 years old. On paper at least, they’ve been producers since they were kids and are now successful entrepreneurs, with their own fashion line.

Like most Former Child Stars, they feel like they missed something from their youth. They didn’t get to do normal kid stuff. While other kids were out playing and having a good time, they were inside working, expected to act like adults.

Reading comments on the twins, especially in the article linked above, people just don’t get what it’s like to be a child actor. Everyone says, Boo Hoo, Poor you and think you’re a spoilt brat. Sure, she may have money, but money can’t buy you happiness. It can’t buy you love and it can’t buy your sanity.

Everywhere these girls go, they’re scrutinized. They’re followed by cameras. They’re being judged. Most people have no idea what it’s like to be constantly talked about. People have this obsession with fame and want to be rich and famous, but they don’t get what it really means. Just because you’re out there on Twitter and giving too much information on Facebook doesn’t have any correlation whatsoever to what it’s like to really be famous.

Growing up on television and in the public eye is way harder than people think. It’s hard enough going through puberty as it is, without the entire world discussing your first period or first bra. Imagine if your first kiss is scripted. Most people fondly remember their first kiss. What is that was taken away from you by some producer who wanted you to kiss someone for a scene? How do you find your first real boyfriend? How do you know they aren’t just there for the fame? How do you lose your virginity without wondering if you’re going to end up with a sex tape?

Being a child actor sucks. There’s a reason almost everyone in the industry says they’d never let their kids act and why most former child stars agree it wasn’t a good upbringing. There’s child labour laws preventing most kids from losing their childhoods to work. Somehow, that doesn’t translate to media. It’s OK for kids to work, to be treated like adults, to be exposed to adult situations. I don’t get it. I know it would be hard to make television or movies without kids, but I still think more should be done to keep kid actors as kids and help them get the most out of being kids. Growing up too quickly fucks a lot of people up. Just because you’re famous doesn’t make it any different. It just means more people get to call you a screw up.


The Surreal Life of a Former Child Star

It’s funny how life can be so surreal sometimes.

I’ve lived here in Texas for 10 years now. We’ve traveled a bit, including a couple of trips back home, but for the most part, I’ve spent the past 10 years being just your average Joe. Nobody over here really knows about my life back in Australia. The few people who do know that I was once an actress only really know because they’ve been to one of my parties where another Aussie Expat has let the cat out of the bag and said that once upon a time in a land far, far away, Sarah was on a popular TV show…. For the most part though, I just tell them it was on a long time ago and it’s not a big deal and they leave it at that. I’m so normal over here that sometimes even I forget that I was once an actress. I tell them “Hey Dad..! was like Full House and I was like Candace Cameron. Nobody’s heard of her since then either…. ”

So, when I’m out and about and look at my tweetdeck and see my own name come up, sometimes I’m like, “Huh?” Yesterday, I was out working at a promotion and saw a couple of tweets. I figured someone may have been slow on the uptake, or I had somehow come into Andy Blume’s wrath of hate again.  So when I clicked on the link and saw it was a new article, it was kinda strange.

really? Page 3? Surely there's something more important going on.

I sent the link to Matt and when I got home he told me he thought something was going on, since he had been getting calls all weekend from strange journalists looking for a story. He thought it was odd that people were all interested again. I had also received emails from a couple of journos, but forwarded them on to the Detectives at Strike Force Ruskin, since I’m not supposed to talk about the case at all while they’re still investigating.

It’s very strange when you’re in the news. It’s even weirder when you’re so far removed from it that you don’t even know it’s happening except when you happen across it like on Twitter or someone sends you a newspaper clip like the one above. It’s very surreal. It’s also amusing that it took journo’s over a month to find that blog post. Oh well, I guess it was a slow news day in Australia.

But, I guess at least the good thing is that they mentioned Bravehearts. I am super excited to be one of their Ambassadors. I’m going to be coming home in September to attend the White Balloon Day event. They’re going to be having a Celebs Who Say NO campaign and I get to be part of it. I’m not sure I really qualify as a Celeb, as I think of myself as just another has been Former Child Star, but I’m flattered somebody thinks so. If it means I get to do something good, I’ll take the title.

So, make sure you keep an eye out for any White Balloon Day events near you. It’s not to early to start planning something.

White Balloon Day is September 7th, 2010.  Go to the White Balloon Day website to see how you can get involved. It could be as simple as purchasing an official White Balloon Day Balloon to fly at work, wearing white that day, or attending on of the special dinners that are being organized. I’m going to be sitting at one of those dinner tables, so maybe we’ll get to meet in person. I like meeting new people!

So check back here to see more information about White Balloon Day and Bravehearts as I get more involved.


Let THIS be a lesson in professionalism….

I guess as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, karma can be a bitch. If you don’t do the right thing, it will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.

My best friend, as she was watching all this unfold, asked me, “Which was worse, the abuse, or the fact that so many people knew about it, but didn’t do anything to stop it?”

For the record, I DO NOT blame Simone and Ben for what happened to me on the set. You have to understand, the entertainment industry in Australia back then was incredibly small. There wasn’t a lot of work around. It was very easy to become an outcast and never work again. When I confided in them, they both did what they could at the time. They went to management, they were both told to be quiet. I can also understand why they haven’t brought it to the attention of the police in the years since. They waited till I was ready to deal with it. When I was, there were there to back me up. I find it offensive that people are suggesting that they only came forward once somebody waved a cheque at them. Yes, they were offered a lot of money by some other networks to tell their story. They didn’t accept it. This was NOT a money making exercise for any of us. This was about releasing a demon that we were all carrying for so many years.

I have always loved Simone and Ben dearly. They were there for me when I needed them back then and they are here for me when I need them now. I know both of them have been carrying this with them for many years. Please do not judge them. It’s all very easy for people not involved to say what they would have done in the same situation, but until you really are in that situation, you can’t know how you would react. I know what went on back then, and I’ve seen how it’s affected their lives since. I would ask that if I still love them and hold no bad feelings, that other people would respect that. You can’t blame them.

On that note, to a lesser extent, I can even understand why Gary tried to keep it quiet. Hate the show all you want now, but at the time, we were the highest rating show on Television. It was Gary’s baby. It was his show. It was his responsibility to keep the show running. I’d like to think that I would have handled the situation differently, had two different cast members come to me telling me what was happening. But, I wasn’t in that situation, so I can’t know for sure.

Let THIS be a lesson in professionalism. If somebody comes to you, telling you that something is not right, don’t try to cover it up. When it does all come to light, however many years later, you don’t want to look like a fuckwit. There’s more to life than money.

Oh, and it’s nobody’s business how much we made, but here’s the Women’s Day letter to Media Watch about how much we got paid. We didn’t make enough to buy new houses, or even a car. They simply covered the time we had to take out of our days to tell our story. I didn’t fly first class on my 30+ hr trip back to Oz. Not even premium economy. I sat with the screaming kids back in row 70. My husband had to take time off work so he could join me, as this was something hard for me to do alone. They didn’t pay him for his time either. It’s in the police report how much I made, and it will all be evidence if we ever go to court.


About THAT article…..

Since I got an email less than an hour after WD released the article online, and I was made to feel bad about not naming the offender because it makes everyone look guilty, I’d like to say the following:

I did not go to the media looking to sell my story. They have been asking me to release my story for over 2 years now.

It obviously wasn’t a secret, since the media knew about it and came to me looking to publish the story.

The publication chose not to release his name for legal reasons. I guess they’re worried about a slander suit.

It was such a badly kept secret, that when I came back to Australia from my student exchange, the only questions I got at auditions were about that. In the end, I decided to not act anymore, since that was all anybody wanted to talk about.

I didn’t want to do the article, as it’s obviously a very personal story and I didn’t feel the need to rehash the past, but a wise person told me that if by doing the article, I can give strength to even one other person to come forward and say that it’s happening to them and it helps it stop, then I’ve done a good thing.

I know I was not the only person affected by inappropriate behavior in the entertainment industry. Many other Child Stars are abused, many far worse than I. But through a fear of not working, they don’t speak up. Instead, they end up on drugs or bad pornos. As we’ve seen in the last couple of years, many end up dying way too early. How many Former Child Stars do you see making it as normal adults? There’s a reason they’re so screwed up.

It’s not Show Play, or Show Fun, it’s Show Business and it’s not a place for unattended children.  I hope that by coming forward, I can educate some parents on making better decisions for their children. I hope that other children can find the strength to stand up for themselves.

What happened to me was NOT my fault. I’m sorry if it makes the innocent look guilty. But I’m not going to feel guilty for speaking up and breaking the silence. I just wish I had done it 20 years sooner.