Child Stars and Time Off

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I read an article in the New York Times recently about the film Spring Breakers, and about how this film is an attempt on the parts of Selena Gomez and Vanesa Hudgens to shed their Disney images. There was then a riff on the problems that child stars face when they try to transition into adult roles.

This got me thinking about, at least, a handful of performers who have successfully transitioned. I thought of, for example, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson, James Franco, and even Drew Barrymore*. And I realized that most of these examples had one thing in common (and the asterisk has a related factor). The common factor? They all went to college. (Except for Barrymore, who, instead, went to rehab. More on that below.) Gordon Levitt went to Columbia, Foster to Yale, Portman to Harvard, Franco to a number of institutions. Partly, I think, the college experience helped give these performers a perspective on reality that those who try to keep their careers going don’t get.

But, more than that, they went away. Maybe not entirely, in the case of Portman and Watson and Barrymore. But they did significantly reduce their public profiles (and I don’t only mean in tabloid terms, but in work terms). Barrymore only made a handful of films during that period, re-appearing later. Gordon Levitt focussed entirely on his education; Portman, on summer break, made only the Star Wars prequels. Basically, these performers largely disappeared during those years, re-breaking in as adults.

Perhaps Gomez, Hudgens, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, et al., if they are really interested in re-appearing as full adults, could take a page from that history, and take some time off. And, for my money, some time in college. I know that the idea os skipping college has gained currency in certain (coding) circles, but personally I found the college experience essential.

About Scott Epstein

I've consumed science fiction for as long as I can remember. I've written it since age 8. I founded and edited Proteus Continuum, a Science Fiction magazine, at Tufts University from 1990-1992. Professionally, I've worked in professional publishing for more than 17 years, in both editorial and marketing functions.
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