The former child star discussed the pitfalls of performing so young and why it is so easy for a child star to see their life spiral out of control
You may recognise Mara Wilson from somewhere if you saw a picture of her today, not from anywhere recent but from your childhood, as though she is a long-lost friend you lost touch with in high school. That's because Mara Wilson was one of the most famous faces of the 90's and the star of numerous blockbusters such as Mrs Doubtfire, Matilda and the Miracle on 34th Street remake that made her a household name.
Mara isn't like most other child stars though, the Macaulay Culkins, Lindsay Lohans and the Amanda Bynes that have seen their lives spiral out of control just as their careers have dwindled to nothing, however the former child star has given some insight into why such well-known and loved celebrities spiral out of control after a childhood in front of the cameras. Mara, who quit acting in 2000, wrote a humorous yet informative article for Cracked.com entitled '7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy,' giving an insiders perspective on why so many child stars descend into madness.
Her first point was that 'Their Parents Won't Help Them ...' a point that included numerous nods to the help her own parents gave her in her young career. Mara herself had to 'force' her parents into letting her act and were fully supportive of her when she decided to give it up. Many child stars however do not have this close-knit relationship with their parents, and in turn they grow to resent their parents for taking away their childhood, their earnings and for pushing them until the acting bug has warn off. Sound familiar?
Her next point was that some parents can't help their children, those who can't assert their authority over their superstar kids and therefore have no ability to bring them down when their behaviour gets out of hand. Again, sounds familiar right? One of the key arguments in her seven point manifesto and her next note was that after years of being given love and attention from the public, to have that taken away so suddenly and drastically as soon as puberty hits will no doubt send people on the road to ruin. She referred to this as the "the hedonic treadmill," or rather the process of having everything all at once, and then losing it soon after.
Unlike Macauly, Mara has managed to keep her life in check
Her next point was more serious and personal, not to herself, but some former Hollywood child stars - sexual exploitation and drug abuse. She then went on to make some more sensible and understandable points, adding that many child stars can't rebel like real teenagers, with child stars often being told to adhere to the good-as-gold persona that endeared them to audiences during their youth. Whilst Mara managed to escape her past and seek out an education, she lamented in her next point, 'They Don't Know What Else to Do,' that "most former child stars are proud and sensitive and don't have much of an education" and therefore they end up stuck in the world of showbusiness and the heartache it brings because they know nothing else.
Her final point related to her last and to all others really; 'They Can't Escape It.' She mentioned Jake Lloyd of The Phantom Menace fame, but it is a rule that must apply to every child star really. After all, who wants to spend their life known as the kid who helped ruin a great franchise? No one, that's who.
The article is a great and informative read and available in full on Cracked.com. Mara on the other hand is spending her time now writing stories and occasionally appearing in online shorts for friends as she looks to break into the world of young-adult fiction. As for the fuure of child stars, hopefully the current generation of young actors will be able to handle their lives as well as Wilson and a select few others have.
Amanda Bynes is currently awaiting a court date.