The cost of making a kid a star...
- "They nailed her to the cross."
- "At home I'm used to pushing her."
- "I don't want to get frustrated with you here. Tone it down and start to cry."
Alai: "Couldn't you just talk it out with her?"
Gigi: "She's a liar and how do I feel about liars?"
Alai: "You don't like them."Setting aside what I am convinced is almost always the horrendous emotional cost to the child, what about the parent's investment? Mary Jo's mom said she'd invested $35,000. By this, we can understand she means classes and more classes, head shots, wardrobe, hair, travel, phone calls. She may - or may not - also be including the cost of the eye surgery that she reported Mary Jo endured. Perhaps the eye surgery was unrelated to the goal of stardom (I hope so) and isn't included.
What about the other costs? How do you measure the cost of time spent on the road? What happens to the rest of family life when one parent's energy is consumed by looking for an agent, traveling to an audition, fitting in yet another lesson? What is the cost to the other children in the family, to time together at home? What happens to down time, where kids don't have to practice anything and can just be? What remains for other interests and other possibilities?
For anyone who is considering traveling this road, consider this: ActingCareerStartup reports that each year thousands and thousands of teens decide to pursue an acting career - more than double that of most other demographic categories of actors. The odds of the investment paying off? Not good.
Worst of all, even if you win you lose. The real cost is to the child, to what is sacrificed in her emotional development while her energy is absorbed in developing a false self. Look at the young adults who "won" and made it to the top as child stars. It will remind you that it is likely you will need to factor in the other costs: drug rehab and psychotherapy.