With minimal child labor laws during the early days of Hollywood, child stars had it rough. When they misbehaved, studio employees locked them up in windowless sound rooms, giving them only a block of ice to sit on. When Shirley Temple was just 12 years old, an MGM producer threw her out after she giggled when he exposed himself to her. Judy Garland was given amphetamines to keep going as a teenager, which ultimately led to her addiction and early death from an overdose at the age of 47, as an article on the dark origins of Hollywood stardom notes.
Fortunately, things have changed significantly since then. While it still requires hard work, there are laws and rules in place that must be followed by producers and anyone else working with a child actor on the set today. Even child stars who are emancipated minors require following certain rules with California Labor Laws very clear as to how they are treated. They've been put in place to protect the kids as well as the filmmakers and include requirements like half-hour meal breaks and getting at least an hour of recreation time on the set.
While being a child actor can be challenging due to busy schedules, perhaps having to turn down invites to birthday parties and the like, it can also bring many benefits.
Public Speaking Experience
Child actors are practicing public speaking whenever they're standing in front of a casting director auditioning or performing to a sold-out house. That translates to an adult who is comfortable speaking in front of people, which can be a huge benefit personally and professionally in many careers in addition to acting.
Confidence is important for school, careers, relationships, and life as a whole. Acting is a great way for young people to understand how to think outside of the box, appraise situations and be more confident when going into unfamiliar situations. They learn to trust in their abilities and their ideas, which can help them go far, even if it's not a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Memory is a skill that takes a lot of practice, including memorizing lines. The tricks child actors have to use to remember their lines are going to be invaluable when it comes to studying for tests in school or simply remembering the names of people they meet at a business conference as adults.
Acting is all about communication, bringing the opportunity to improve both verbal and nonverbal communication skills, which benefit young people throughout their lives. It can improve their tone of speech and articulation as well as observation and listening skills.
Strong Work Ethic
Kids in the acting business naturally learn at a much younger age the importance of being on time and prepared for an audition or a booking. If they aren't, they will understand quickly that arriving late on the set or goofing around is something that will get you fired. That's a lesson far better learned early on than as an adult when it can have more serious consequences. 03/31/2021 (Bits of Rocks)