Star Privilege

The rise and fall of “Star Power”

With all that’s been happening in the last couple of months in Australia, it’s been hard hiding my past from people, and it’s kinda funny when people I’ve known for a while find out I used to be an actress. I explain I was a kid on a TV show, and they’re like, ok, and think it was a bit part or something. Then a couple days later, I can tell they’ve done a little Googling… The reaction I get so often is, “but you’re so normal”. It’s kinda sad that people just expect all former child stars to be either in rehab or total prima donnas.

For all the bad shit that happened, I’m still pretty happy for the way I was raised. I’m not on probation like Lindsay Lohan, making porn like Judy Winslow or dead like Dana Plato.

I never really did all the things famous kids do now. It wasn’t a non stop party of red carpets and after parties. I didn’t jet off to other countries for festivals. I wasn’t photographed a million times looking super glamorous. A quick google images search actually shows very little. Most images of me are unflattering screen grabs from my ACA interview, or cast photos. As much fun as it would have been, I never did any glamorous cover shoots for a glossy mag. I think I dreamt of doing a Dolly cover, but it never happened. I only attended 2 Logies awards. I remember being so jealous of the Neighbours kids because they lived in Melbourne and they got to go. I needed a chaperone & they didn’t want to pay for a second ticket. The last 2 years I went, I took our publicist one year & our make-up artist the last year. I took Megan our MUA because I loved her, (and she was willing to go) but then everyone just expected my room to become their private make up room and thought she was there for them, which sucked for her. I didn’t take her so she’d have to work.

There was some important lessons I learnt back then, hanging out with the crew. They’d talk about “soapie syndrome” which is when some new starlet gets a job on something like H&A and because they’re young and pretty, and they get famous quick, they become total divas. They think they’re going to be famous forever. Then, they’d leave, looking for bigger and better things, and when they didn’t get anything, they’d be crushed. Their world came crashing down. It was pretty sad to witness. Some picked themselves up and learnt an important lesson in humility, others, not so much.

There was a sign in the wardrobe room with a picture of a bucket. Underneath it said, Put your arm in a bucket of water, then pull it out. Watch how quickly the hole is filled. That’s how quickly you can be replaced.

Such a harsh statement, but also so true in the land of TV. Fuck up, and there’s another pretty young thing just waiting to take your place. There are days when I wish I had done some beautiful photo shoots, or been to more glamorous red carpets, but I was so young, I really wouldn’t have appreciated them for what they were. Or they’d be so normal that nothing civilian could ever satisfy me. I’m actually pretty glad I was raised to be just one of the production crew. It made transitioning into regular jobs so much easier.

Here’s the other thing people just don’t get. I don’t want to be an actor anymore. I have no desire to play make believe for a living. Just because I was an actor as a kid, doesn’t mean I want to be one when I grow up. Read any article from me as a kid, I always wanted to be something else when I grew up. Being a child actor was something that was chosen for me. I was too young to make that decision, like many other child stars. However, most people stay in acting because they don’t know how to do anything else. They were so busy working, they didn’t finish school. Or, they tried civilian life, and it was either too dull after the glamour of TV, or they had people who weren’t accepting of them. It’s hard to transition to regular life. I loved working in restaurants. I didn’t do it because that’s what every out of work actor does. I really enjoyed working with food. But you’d always get people making comments. I’ll never forget the bitch, who trying to impress her date, said “don’t most people go from waiting tables to acting, and you’ve gone the other way”…. Yes, I realize I’m not living up to your expectations, I was however being a good citizen and paying my bills.

Just like your parents may have put you into ballet lessons or football, it doesn’t mean that’s what you want to do forever. Just cause you worked at Maccas when you were 14, doesn’t mean you want to climb that ladder and be CEO of the chain. Just because I did some modeling and acting as a kid doesn’t mean I dream of winning an Oscar when I grow up.

Like most of those soapy stars who have been humbled by hitting the bottom, I would do things differently if I was given a second dose of celebrity. I’d use it for good, not evil. Have you noticed the ones who appreciate what they have are always trying to use it for other things, like charity? I was doing some promo modeling over here, and one of my products to flog was the Justin Beiber perfume. While its seems derigeur now to have a fragrance if you’re a celeb, I loved that unlike the others adding to their vast empire, all the proceeds from Someday were going to be given to charity. I love it when actors use their voice to be Ambassadors for a good cause. Look at Angelina Jolie or George Clooney. Yes, their lives are fabulous, but at least they’re trying to give back. When was the last time you saw Jennifer Aniston do anything for someone?

I’d love to create my own perfume, and give the money to a good cause. I’m not famous anymore, but I’m glad I can still use what I did in the past to try to do good now. I’d love to be one of those people who used to be famous but is now an activist or professional philanthropist. Don’t make fun of people doing charity shows like Celebrity Apprentice. It’s not always about a career bump. Some people really see it as a great way to promote their charity, and help do their bit to raise some money and awareness. If all they wanted was another 15 minute extension, they’d do celebrity rehab or have a public meltdown.

One day I’d still like to make Going Down. Yes, it’s TV related, but I don’t want to be on screen. Im just too cheap to hire someone for in front of the camera for now. I’d like to produce a scuba series that could focus on the world around us and the water that covers 70% of our planet. There’s so many awesome scuba charities, like the Wounded Warriors. People save what they love. If you can introduce the oceans wonders to people, maybe they too will learn to love it and try to save it. I still believe some programs are great for TV and for humanity. And seriously, who wouldn’t want to make a living getting to travel and meet awesome people? Samantha Brown & Anthony Bourdain have the second best jobs in the world. Their producers have better ones. Same travel, same people, but when they feel like going stealth, they can go out and eat dinner and nobody bothers them. They also don’t have to worry about what they look like in a swimsuit…

Of course, when all this is over, I’m going to see if I can do some glamorous victorious magazine cover. Every girl dreams of getting to dress up in haute couture and being fussed over by stylists and then being photoshopped to perfection. I’m no different. I’m just glad it’s a dream of the future and not a memory of the past.


Celebrity Reality Shows

Celebrity Reality Shows

Cast of Surreal Life, season 1

Why do we love watching these celebrity train wrecks reality shows? How many celebreality shows are on TV right now? Here in the US, there’s dozens of them. Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Rehab, Dancing with the Stars, I’m a Celebrity; Get me out of here, the Kardashians and all their spin offs, all the different Real Housewives, the Girls Next Door and the list just goes on…

Of course there’s never any A list stars on these shows. They’re busy working, or, have a team that doesn’t want them doing reality. The only time they’re allowed to speak in public is when doing publicity on a talk show and they have all the questions prepared up front.
Which is what makes Celebreality TV so fascinating. You never know what’s going to happen. For the most part, it’s not scripted. It’s filmed over a few weeks, so people can’t be all sunshine and light and fake being fabulous Miss Congeniality the whole time. You get to see people’s somewhat real personalities come through. I say somewhat, because it is TV and these are mostly actors. They are going to ham it up for the cameras and of course the editors are going to cut stuff up for dramatic effect.

Who doesn’t love watching Celebrities explode on shows like Celebrity Apprentice? Or take a bunch of has-beens and throw them into a house together like on the Surreal Life. I know there’s a bunch of high brow folk who claim they don’t watch anything that’s not on the ABC, but we know reality TV is their dirty little pleasure too. I know they watch, because even though they claim they don’t, they can list all the reasons why, including all the best bits of each episode…

We get to see our favourite TV stars and find out what they’re really like. We get to see if they’re total pretentious dickheads or if they’re just like you and me. Some stars are total Divas. Others are surprisingly down to earth. Also, the other great thing about Celebrity competition type shows is that instead of trying to win cash for themselves, the celebs are raising money for charity. What charity doesn’t need a couple thousand dollars and untold amounts of free publicity? The Hey Dad..! cast did Celebrity Family Fued back in the day and we got a day trip to Brissie and raised money for (I think it was) the Children’s Hospital. We didn’t win the big prize. I was the final quiz person, but we did raise a couple thousand dollars. They gave me a telephone for my appearance. I swapped it with Julie who actually needed a phone. They had giver her a beautiful gold fountain pen I liked much better. 😉 I remember it was fun because that was back in the day when you actually got to fly first class. Back when Ansett was still in operation.  I think the only other time I flew first class was on a trip to the Logies. Studios just don’t pay for good seats anymore. 🙁

Anyway, I’m pretty excited to see an Australian version of Celebrity Apprentice popping up. They’ve already got Pauline Hanson, who was on Dancing With The Stars. There’s some pretty good innuendos about who else will be on there. I’m not sure they’re going to have the same heated arguments that the US version does. Aussie’s are way too laid back for that kind of drama…. Still, I hope they end up showing the Aussie version here in the US.

I wonder what other kinds of Celebreality shows are in the works? Maybe they could do a Surreal Life Australia. I know just the has-been for that one. 😉


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.



You know how most people don’t like their in-laws?

Thankfully, I do not have this problem. Growing up in Oz, I had 11 cousins on my Dad’s side. I don’t know how many are on my Mum’s side. She doesn’t like her family, so we really didn’t get to know them. I only knew her parents because we would go stay with them and they used to babysit me a lot. I knew she had a sister that died when she was a kid, and an older brother. I found out recently that there was in fact 2 older brothers…. The only other person on her side that I ever talked to was my cousin Allan. I always liked him, but Mum didn’t like us talking to anyone from her family, so we didn’t see him much. She hates her family so much, she didn’t even go to her own dad’s funeral…

Dad was one of 3. He was the youngest. His oldest brother had 5 kids and his sister had 4. We spent most holidays together. My aunt had a pool and so Christmas was usually at her house so we could all splash around. I remember getting together for Xmas and Easter but not many other holidays. My brother is 6 years older than me. I love him with all my heart, but we’re really not that close. I am the baby of all the cousins. Like everyone, I have my favourites. (That’s you Matthew and Julie!) However, I’ve lived here for 10 years now, and not a single relative has visited me. I bet if I lived in Hawaii, LA nor NYC, I’d be swamped with visiting relatives. I do have one Aunt who does write me nice cards and emails me. Thanks Aunty Helen. I love getting mail from you. Otherwise, I get left out of the loop. A few years ago, someone had mentioned my uncle was sick. I was one the phone home and I asked about him. Turns out he had died about 4 months earlier and nobody bothered to tell me…. I had to tell my Mum she couldn’t email me when someone died, she had to pick up the phone and call… We all have Skype. They still don’t keep me in the loop.

Matt has a large family. His dad is one of NINE kids. So when we get together for holidays, it’s HUGE and they get together for every hallmark holiday. I first met them all at his family reunion. There was about 50 people there for me to meet all at once. Matt’s an only child, and his cousins are a few years younger or older, so there’s really not anyone right around his age he grew up with. He always preferred hanging out with the adults. They like to bicker amongst each other and play favourites. It’s quite amusing. His grandpa was a sailor in WWII and is one of the sweetest people ever. His grandma was a nurse. It’s like an old Hollywood movie.

The only thing I didn’t like about all the get togethers is that they are all huggers. They want to hug you when you walk in, they’ll hug you again when you leave. They may not seem like a big deal, but when there’s 40 people in a room, and they all want to hug you, it gets a bit much, especially when you’re not a hugger. I’m fairly big on my personal space. I don’t mind kissing someone on the cheek. I’ll gladly shake your hand. But I really don’t like to hug people. I’ve gotten used to it, and I’ll hug a close friend. But to have to walk around a large room and hug everyone is just silly. I almost had them trained to just shake my hand, but there’s one uncle who insists on grabbing that extended hand, pulling me in and bear hugging me. There’s one other foreign in-law. An Aunt from France. She’s not a hugger either. One day, they were talking about her behind her back, bitching about how she didn’t like to hug. That’s when I just let it out that I didn’t like to hug them either. They all looked at me like I was crazy. Oh well. At least I’m honest about it.

We used to hang out with them more, but lately, we’re taking them in smaller doses. Several of the Aunts have been mean to Matt’s mum, so we’re boycotting them. I’ve just learnt to accept their bickering and find amusement in it. Since his head injury, Matt’s not so tolerant. Funny how just as I get over the hugging, he says we don’t have to go anymore….

We do hang out with Matt’s parents a lot. I’d say we eat with them at least once a week. I’m not sure how to describe them. His Mom is a cross between Leave it to Beaver and the Mom on That’s 70’s show. She’s super nurturing and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad word come out of her mouth about anybody. So it was highly amusing the other day when they came over to dinner at our house and she saw the cookbook out on the table. Matt had wanted to see the recipe for potato salad which was in the book. But when she saw the title, she questioned it. It was the Australian Women’s Weekly Beginners Cookbook. Now, bear in mind, I had just cooked a roast duck. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens for years, including some 5 star restaurants. I make killer dishes for the family get-togethers. So, she looks down, and ever so sweetly confused, says, “Why do YOU have a beginners cookbook?” I explain that I had asked my mother for a cookbook one year, with Australian recipes in it. Now, she gets even more confused. “Why would your mother buy you a beginners cookbook?” At this point, you can see that slight shake of the head, with that does that person know this girl at all? look. It was highly amusing. Matt had to explain that a lot of the recipes that I was looking for were in that book, but I was however happy that my mother in law recognized that I was in no way a “beginner” cook and had no qualms in saying so. Truthfully, I had been slightly thrown when my mother gave me the beginners book. For some reason, she thinks my brother is a gourmet chef and I just make crap food. I think my mother in law knows and loves me way more than my mother back in Oz. I’m grateful every day that I lucked out and got such a great MIL. So many people have horror stories about their MIL. I love mine dearly and we hang out even when Matt’s out of town on business.

So I quite enjoy being over here. Even though sometimes I get sick of having to be the one to cook all the time, I do enjoy that everyone over here loves my food. People always ask what I’m going to be bringing. Our friends ask when we’re doing another party, since I always cook. My Aussie friends always ask me to make meat pies and sausage rolls. After our friends go hunting, they bring me the deer to butcher, and then I make some great backstrap for us all.

Sometimes I wish I could see my relatives in Oz more often, but after 10 years here and having made the trip home several times and nobody coming here, I’ve gotten happy with the idea that at least over here people like me for who I am.  Who I really am, now. Not who I used to be, or who people perceive me to be. They don’t know about Hey Dad..! or that I’m some former child star.  My in-laws accept me for being some strange foreigner with weird taste in food who doesn’t like to hug. I accept them as weird Americans who like to be way too into each others business and personal space.  But, the most important thing is that we accept each other. Nobody’s perfect. I know I’m not. I don’t expect others to be. It’s our flaws that make us interesting and endearing to each other.

I just wish some people in my family back in Oz understood that.


Feeling Blonde

dumb blondeWell, I feel like a dill. Yesterday I invited you all to say hi, and I forgot that I had tightened up my settings so people couldn’t send me messages. D’oh.

Well, I’ve changed the settings back so that you can now leave a comment or a question and I’ll answer you. Just a heads up, there are some words flagged to go straight to spam, so if you’re writing to tell me I’m a publicity whore, or money grubbing, etc, it’ll go straight to the trash. There’s a few other choice words in there too….

Anyway, for the rest of you, fell free to message me.


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.


Lindsay Lohan

Many people wonder what’s wrong with Lindsay Lohan?

This week, she has been declared as “unbankable” and fired from her next production. She looks like a train wreck. She looks like she’s going to end up like so many other former child stars, and we’ll get a headline saying she has overdosed on crack.

I feel sorry for Lindsay. She was cute as a button when she started out. She was a pretty good actress and apparently fairly decent to work with. Her mother on the other hand, is a total wanna be celebrity and bad stage mother. Remember a few years ago, when you would see pics of Lindsay out clubbing with her mother, while she was still underage? What kind of mother uses her kid to go clubbing? What kind of clubs let an underage Lohan in?

Now that Lindsay is looking all washed up, Dina has moved on to the kid sister. Lindsay is left out in the cold. Nobody is there to take care of her, especially now that she’s not a cash cow anymore.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be Lindsay right now. Everywhere she goes, there’s people just waiting for her to goof up, so they can splash it all over the internet and celebrity news shows. No matter what she does, it’ll be spun to make her look like a loser. People have no idea what it’s like to be constantly watched and ridiculed. To never be able to just try something and fail, like a normal human. If she gains 5lbs, there will be people talking about her getting fat. Lose the 5lbs, the media will be screaming of an eating disorder. Go out and have fun with your friends, a pap takes a bad pic of you, and you’re branded as being a drunk. She’s really in a no win situation right now.

People should lay off Lindsay. She’s had a crappy upbringing. She tries to keep working, but people just keep knocking her down, which just makes her spiral even further down the depression ladder.

I wish everyone could spend a week being hunted by the media, having people write awful things about you on the internet and being scrutinized by everyone who has access to the media before they ever judge another celebrity again. It’s not all red carpets and exclusive parties. Being famous can make you infamous. It can make you paranoid and crazy.

Next time, instead of judging Lindsay, give her a hug. She probably needs one.

I know I’m probably biased about Lindsay, since I can empathize with growing up in the media, even if I was nowhere near as famous as she is. It might also be because everytime I look at her I am reminded of a young Simone Buchanan back in her Secret Valley days. I used to love that show!

Maybe Lindsay just needs to come and spend some time in Texas, away from all the prying Hollywood eyes. Take a year off and just regroup. Nobody down here cares who you are. That’s why so many celebs keep second houses in San Antonio and Austin. They can be normal humans without ending up on TMZ…


RIP Corey Haim

It’s only March, and Corey Haim is the third Former Child Star to die this year… I’m sitting at the office, trying not to openly cry at the thought of yet another great child actor who was simply used up and cast into the wind.

I’m not sure who to blame for all the pint size stars who end up struggling as adults. Is it the studios, the agents, the parents? Who was supposed to be taking care of these people, protecting them, making sure they were raised right? It seems as if the only child stars who turned out OK were the ones in John Hughes movies. He obviously treated those kids with respect and took care of them. All the others were just used up while they were cute and then tossed aside.

The hardest part about being a kid actor is you’re expected to work like an adult, behave like an adult, but still be cute like a kid. People get greedy. They are in charge of you. They don’t always do what’s in your best interest. Thankfully, these days in America, there’s some safeguards put into place to at least protect kids money, although there are ways around it. But when you’re a kid and you’ve got a tonne of money and then it’s all gone, it’s hard to go out and get a real job. Someone like Corey Haim or Macaulay Culkin can’t just go down to the local McDonald’s and get a minimum wage job. Well, they could. If they’d get hired. But then when you do get hired, it’s for the freak factor. But, after a while, the boss gets mad, because while you’re busy signing autographs, nobody is flipping those burgers. So then the boss gets mad and fires you. So now you can’t even keep a minimum wage job. No wonder some of those Former Child Stars turned to porn….

I hope no other Former Child Stars die this year. It’s making me nervous…. How many of us are going to just wind up as some byline about the trappings of fame as a youngster. Maybe more people should be working out what to do to help these kids, instead of just writing about them after they’re dead.

RIP Corey. You will be missed.