7 years old child star Emmanuella Samuel displayed pictures of herself in a Disney Studio set, thanking Disney amid jokes as usual. This has been reported across Nigerian news media houses as Emmanuella signing a deal with Disney and at the very least joining Hollywood. Senate President Bukola Saraki has congratulated her and invited her to the Senate to “discuss” Nigerian talents. But like most things Emmanuella, very few have considered the impact of such exposure on a child so young her teeth are not fully grown.
As few persons complain about the culture of rudeness and clap back a 7 years old child is being used to propagate via the Mark Angel weekly videos, even fewer persons within Nigeria, are asking questions about Hollywood. But not so Americans.
Dr. Reef Karim, Medical Director of The Control Center and a prominent Hollywood addiction specialist says about children who go to Hollywood and become child stars
“The life of a childhood star is about business. It’s about agents, managers, publicists, parental pressure and being a character that is not you. It is fantasy, but the pressures are very real.”
Twin stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse entered into major movies at the age of 7, same age as Emmanuella. They were formerly the fourth highest paid child actors in the world, but they left Disney and millions of dollars on the table because just when they planned to be anything other than actors who are ordered around, Disney Executives were said to have laughed in their faces and pushed them out of the door.
Anne Henry, co-founder of BizParentz, a non-profit corporation providing education, advocacy, and charitable support to parents and children engaged in the entertainment industry says about this
“Child stars, especially on children’s networks, are a product created by the network. Companies like Disney know it is very easy to create a new show with a new set of twins. Most child stars learn the reality of the biz quickly, that it is fleeting. Most sane people just don’t want to live their life with that instability.
Mara Wilson on her part hit the major screen at the age of 6 when she featured in Mr. Doubtfire. She is now well over 20 and says child stars end up deeply troubled because they’re “sexually exploited.”
Melissa Francis started her own acting career before she was a year old. At 6 months old she featured or, more appropriately, was featured in two seasons of a tv series. She is now a journalist and she says
“When I hit my teen years, I started to feel awkward about acting, like a puppet mouthing someone else’s words. I wanted to have a voice of my own,” she explained. “I look at the children in my son’s Kindergarten class and realize I had a five day week, full-time job by the time I was their age.”
Amanda Bynes who also began acting at age 7 says not even after retiring does the problem goes away.
“If your existence is based on your celebrity status and you don’t develop emotional skills, when you leave the profession you often have difficulties,” Dr. Karim says.
Many remember the lovely 14 years old kid who acted with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the legendary movie Terminator 2. His name is Edward Furlong. In 2014, Edward landed in rehab for drug abuse and alcohol. He constantly violated restraining orders and was involved in cases of domestic violence.
Before that he dated his tutor for 6 years and she said in the period he constantly abused her. He was 15, she was 30 years old.
Little Cute girl on “Family Matters”
Her name is Jaimee Foxworth. She was that adorable little girl in the family-friendly tv series titled Family Matters where she featured as the couple’s youngest daughter. She started modeling by 6 years old and after asking for a raise in her money on Family Matters, the show kicked her out. She tried to regain fame, failed and became a porn actress. Before that, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol.
She featured in the Celebrity Rehab in 2008 and says she only decided to slow down when she became pregnant.
Parents Trapped Lindsey
Lindsey Lohan’s movie titles say everything about how she transformed. From the adorable twin in Parent’s Trap when she schemed her separated parent’s reunion and The Wonderful World of Disney, to objectifying movies like Means Girls and Confession of a Teenage Drama Queen.
In the end, the Hollywood which raised her abandoned her to her drug and alcohol problems, with the latter landing her a DUI appearance in Court.
Another child star anyone will remember is Macaulay Culkins of the Home Alone fame. At 10 years old, Culkins was already a worldwide star starring in one of the biggest movies in the world. But in 1995, Culkins discovered his father has been mismanaging his fortunes. He went to Court and the parents went to Court to argue they should be in charge of his money. This broke Culkins, being a child. Unsupervised, Culkins soon started using drugs and was arrested in 2004.
The Media made his life a living hell as everyone wanted that little innocent boy back. This also did not help.
Education, Money Actually
In Nigeria, a child below 18 is not allowed to operate a Bank account. This means Emmanuella will be eligible for a Bank account in another 11 years. Today she has some of the most viewed Nigerian videos on Youtube recking in cash, attends shows, even night shows without her age in the audience and she has landed in Hollywood, with little or no known parental involvement.
But the question on the lips of very few is not just who manages her money or how she could give her consent to these exposures at such a tender age. The question only a few ask is why are the champions for girl child education ok with the near obvious truncating of a little girl’s education because she – or her parents (?) – could make some cool bucks.