‘Camp Rock”s Alyson Stoner fights back: What does this mean for child actors?
Remember child star Alyson Stoner who starred in multiple films from the 2000s such as Camp Rock, Step Up, Cheaper by the Dozen, and more? Well while it seems like she’s had an unforgettably fun childhood getting to act in numerous hit movies, the child star has stepped forward to admit that her life growing up was not all glitter & gold. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
In a very vulnerable statement, Alyson Stoner recounted all her past experiences as a child actor being in projects from Camp Rock to Phineas and Ferb, and detailed the psychological & emotional tolls her acting career took on her and other child stars at such a young age. Read all about what she had to say about her adolescence in the limelight here.
On Wednesday, a People essay written by Alyson Stoner herself was published, which described all her “harrowing” experiences as a child star in the entertainment industry, and how she hopes better treatment can be shown to current young actors, actresses, musicians, and other entertainers. Alyson began her piece with: “Name something comparable to the pop culture phenomenon of child stardom”.
“As someone whose professional career initially spiked at 11 years old and whose face is now the cover of clickbait articles titled ‘10 Shocking Ways These Child Stars Died,’ it’s been a harrowing 80 years. I’m only 27”, she continued.
“While traversing extreme peaks and valleys of global fame, hidden medical hospitalizations, artistic milestones, rapid adultification, and multi-layered abuse I wish on no one, I narrowly survived the toddler-to-trainwreck pipeline. In fact, nothing was designed for me to end up . . . ‘Normal.’ ‘Stable.’ ‘Alive.’”
Lots of pressure
In the essay, Camp Rock star Alyson Stoner recalls all the pressure she faced during auditions, whether it be from psychological challenges or having to perform incredibly emotional scenes at a very young age. She also wrote that the industry often side-steps child labor laws and have “inappropriate and hazardous” set conditions.
She also claimed agents encouraged her to pursue early emancipation so she was able to work more hours which would make her more hire-able. Stoner admitted: “I’ve learned that it is safer to dissociate in order to survive what my mind and body are subjected to daily. I’ll be numb for another five years, but all you will see is the ever-highly-functioning, Smiling Girl #437”.
The child star also said that by the time she was seventeen, the entertainment industry had “suffocated and destroyed” her family. She even became over twenty pounds underweight, she had to go against her team’s wishes and check herself into rehab.
What she is fighting for
Alyson Stoner has suggested that every set has “a qualified, third-party mental health professional” who will “monitor working conditions” and “assist entertainers in regulating, shifting between identities and discharging residual inner turbulence after emotional performances”. These professionals can also be a safe space for those to anonymously report misconduct.
The Camp Rock star also suggested that guardians of child performers should be required to take courses in industry and media literacy, as Alyson Stoner said the courses can “check the guardian’s motives and level of preparedness,” “reveal negligent and greedy behavior within agencies” and “establish the best practices for getting the million-dollar shot in the safest, most ethical manner”.
Alyson Stoner added: “Though I’m not without scars and ongoing struggles, I am still one of the most fortunate cases. By some inner mysterious force I committed to deep self-work and constant healing as my rebellion.” She also “didn’t mention the sexual harassment, stolen IP and money, paparazzi, psychological impact of the new influencer landscape, toxic power plays, and what actually happened on all of those sets”.
She finished her powerful statement with: “For the folks who click on Where Are They Now articles, I am here. We are here. This is your first time reading my story, but it is our millionth time asking you to listen.”