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Child acting

The phrase “child actor can be applied generally to any child acting in movies or television, but is also used to describe adults who, as a child, had an acting career. Sometimes these adults are also called a “former child actor.” “Teen actor” is another term used to describe child actors.

There are certain things that a child actor is not allowed to do:

· A child actor is prohibited from risking his or her physical well being
· A child actor is prohibited from exposure to morally compromising situations
· A child actor is prohibited from appearing nude or partially nude
· A child actor is prohibited from engaging in overt sexual acts.

Education laws specify that a child actor must be enrolled in school, private, home-school or public. The child actor may not be disrupted while working on school assignments and must do schoolwork under the supervision of a teacher while working on an acting set.

A child actor’s work hours are limited. The younger the child actor, the stricter the time limits generally become. The regulated work hours are lifted when the child actor turns eighteen years of age.

Regulation of Child Actors

The activities of child actors are regulated by the governing labor union, if any, and state and federal laws. Being a minor, a child actor must secure a work permit before accepting any paid performing work.

Limitations imposed by laws are not uniform across the states or beyond national boundaries. Longer work hours or risky stunts, prohibited in California, for example, might be permitted to a project filming in British Columbia. Some projects film in remote locations specifically to evade regulations intended to protect the child actor.

Issues Involving Child Actors

Ownership of Earnings

Using children in motion pictures has been criticized as exploitation, particularly since some prominent child actors never got to see the money they earned. Some child actors have earned millions while still a children but the money may have been spent by parents.

Some have defended this saying that the child directly benefits from the lifestyle the earnings made possible or that the child would not have achieved stardom without a significant investment of time and effort by the parents. Others argue that it is unfair for the child to have to support the family when the parents are capable.

In 1939, California weighed in on this controversy by enacting the Coogan Law, amended at various times since, which requires a portion of the earnings of a child actor to be preserved in a special savings account called a blocked trust.

Competitive Pressure

Some people also criticize the parents of child actors for allowing their children to work, believing that more “normal” activities should be the staple during the childhood years. Others observe that competition is present in all areas of a child’s life—from sports to student newspaper to orchestra and band—and believe that the work ethic instilled, or the talent developed accrues to the child’s benefit.

The child actor may experience unique and negative pressures when working under tight production schedules. Large projects which depend for their success on the ability of the child to deliver an effective performance add to the pressure.

Many child actors have had successful careers into adulthood including Ron Howard, Roddy McDowall, Tommy Rettig, Bill Mumy, Alyssa Milano, Jodie Foster, Kurt Russell, and Christian Bale. Others transitioned to non-acting careers, for example Peter Ostrum, who, after a starring role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is now a successful large-animal veterinarian.

While tragic and well publicized examples certainly exist where a child actor falls into self-destructive behavior, scientific studies have shown that child actors are at no greater risk than the population at large of growing into unhappy or dysfunctional adults.

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