Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scary Stuff!

It’s Halloween time and the scary decorations are out in force only to be taken down and replaced by snowmen, angels and the ever popular Christmas tree.  I love Christmas but I have to say for a pure no pressure enjoyment holiday, Halloween has got to be it.   There are no family commitments to deal with - you don’t have to make an appearance to keep the peace or drive hundreds to miles to make it in time for the stressful family dinner.  No, it’s just primo candy, ghosts, ghouls and the scores of Disney Princess costumes.  When I was a kid and you got to a certain age, like 10 to 11, you would go out trick or treating with friends instead of parents carrying pillow cases which were your Halloween bag and you'd get them filled with an assortment of M&Ms, Milky Ways, Baby Ruths, Snickers and LifeSavers.   You would also get what I call “lame candy” like Neeco Wafers (if you read my blog Nana and the Grudge – you would understand my aversion to those things), Mary Janes, cinnamon candy, peppermints or gasp – candy canes (left over from last Christmas).   We used to walk for hours on Halloween and almost all of the houses gave candy.  It was a magical night where kids owned the streets.  Back at my house, my dad would dress up as the headless horseman.  We had a mannequin head and he would hold it next to him and button his shirt over his head with a red washcloth to make it look blood (that was a gory as my parents would get).  When he would open up the door, the little kids would freak out which was fun and the big kids got a laugh.  He was always a big hit in the neighborhood and we would go through tons of candy. 

After our Halloween trek, we  would came back home and my mother would dutifully go through the pillowcases of goodies and make sure that nothing untoward had been put in there – no apples with razor blades, and any baggies of popcorn or other seemingly harmless treats that were not factory sealed were thrown away.   This was the 1970’s and there were always stories of people putting LSD into homemade candy (although to be fair, what respectable druggie would actually waste perfectly good acid on a bunch of neighborhood kids?).  We were only allowed to eat packaged candy and she would pull out the fun size Snickers because she swore that we hated them (when I finally tasted one I realized that my mother was really calling dibs on those confections under the guise of saving us from ourselves).   We had so much the candy – it would last into the New Year since my parents would only let us have one or two a day - minus what they sneaked when we weren’t looking.

When I got too old to go out Trick-or-Treating, I took over the rite of giving out candy.  I had been a huge fan of Shields and Yarnell and loved the robots that they created on their show.  I would dress up as a Robotic mime in white face.  I would stand outside on the front stoop of the house and when the children came up – I would robotically turn to them, nod, give them candy and then go back to my original position once they had moved to the next house.   The funny thing was once the kids had gotten the treats, they were perfectly happy to move onto the next house, but the parents would stay behind to see if I was going to move.  I would always end with my head down so I could blink and breathe without it being noticed.   Their kids would be three or four houses down and still the parents would stay and watch to see if I would move.   After a few minutes, I would pop my head up robotically and look right at them, shaking my head mechanically back and forth.  They would gasp or scream and move on.   It was not about scaring little kids - freaking out their parents was way more fun and I was able to do it bloodlessly without an entrail insight.

I guess that’s why I’ve never been a huge fan of slasher flicks.  It me, you’re working really hard with blood and gore give people nightmares when some good old fashion editing and scary music will do the trick.  Who can forget the shower scene in Psycho?  When my mother saw it, she spent a year only taking showers if my dad was home.   I love horror movies where the evil guy is perfectly normal vs. the guy in a hockey mask with issues – give me Norman Bates over Jason or Michael Myers any day.    One of the drawbacks to having done movies and videos is that I’ll look at the technical aspects – the lighting, the point when the dramatic music comes up, where they might have put in computer generated image, etc.   The Blair Witch Project did not scare me because I was too annoyed at the sloppy camera work.   Nightmare on Elm Street with Freddy Kruger as the man of your dreams – really?!  Maybe if he was buff and had an uncanny sense of style then the idea of him turning into a guy with bad skin and scissor hands would be scary.  Frankly Freddie just seems to be trying too hard.

 Now while I don’t really watch horror movies, I’ve always thought that Jigsaw of the Saw movies was a thinking man’s serial killer.   If you’re not going to take your life seriously then why should he?  So those that are careless with the gift of life have to fight like hell to save it.   His methods are sick and twisted but those stories have more of a moral rather than “Hey kids, if you stay a virgin, there’s a real good chance a murderous psycho will allow you to make it to the end of the movie.”   Jigsaw is more scary than the rest of them because in the back of your mind you are thinking about all the stupid things you’ve done and what if that guy had honed in on you before you got your act together.  Now that’s some scary stuff.
I do remember being scared of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.  For as cheesy as those special effects were, those winged primates grabbing Dorothy and Toto used to really upset me.   When I got older and found out how they did it, I wasn’t scared anymore although I don’t really enjoy that scene.   I also remember having nightmares about my younger sister and I being in the back seat of a car and the motor would start on its own and start driving at a really fast speed.  We’d be in the back seat, screaming for it to stop and it would go faster – I would wake up right before it crashed.   I remember having this dream every few months for years – then when I learned to drive – it stopped completely.   I guess subconsciously I knew that if the car went out of control, I could handle it. 

So, I now try to see what scares me and overcome it.   I really don’t like being in a dark enclosed space – it’s not a simple fear that is momentary – I mean I really hate the idea of being stuck in a small place with no light.  My breathing starts to get shallow and my heart races.    So every summer, what do I do?  I make myself go to the public pool and I wait in line with a bunch of damp kids and get on the slide that is completely enclosed.   That’s right – it’s dark, it’s small, it’s wet and I’m hurling in the dark.  My panic starts to take hold as I’m twisting and turning blindly until I explode out of the slide into the daylight with such unexpected force, I get water up my nose every time.  It takes few seconds to get my bearings and then I burst back up through the surface of the water gasping for air with what must be a look of shock and relief.   I then get right back in line and do it at least two or three more times.  Why you might ask?   Because by the third time, it’s not so bad and I feel like I can handle things better. 

Public speaking can scare the hell out of people.  Because I do improvisational theater, I’ve never really had a hard time getting in front of people and speaking.  I remember doing it in middle school and high school and never having a problem.   I’m always amazed at the number of actors who are flat our terrified of doing improvisation and the idea of going up on stage without a script literally scares them witless.   It’s not just actors, most people are afraid of public speaking – it’s one of the number one fears that people have.     They’re afraid that they will forget what they need to say or their mouth will open and nothing will come out.    They have been watching too many reality talent shows where the image of Simon Cowell savaging them in front of everyone is enough to make them sit quietly during meetings and say nothing because putting yourself out there is pretty scary stuff.    When I teach improv to non-actors one of the first things I tell them is that if they allow ideas to flow – if they can relax and trust that they will think and speak clearly.   It’s the fear, the idea that they will screw up that is the self-fulfilling prophesy.   

I’ll have my new improvisers do an exercise called The Library where I will walk them through imaginary rows of shelves and ask them to pick out an imaginary book at the library.  I’ll ask them what it looks like, what it smells like and how heavy it is.   They start to imagine that they have a real book in their hands.   I’ll ask them to give me the title of the book and flip through the pages; I will then say “Stop, now read me a page of the book and the name of the chapter.”   At first, they will look like a deer in headlights, but I will ask them to look closer and just read the words, that they are right on the page.   Then something clicks, the resistance falls away and they start reading like they see the text.   After that, I ask them if they want to keep the book and they can sit down.   The look on their faces is usually one of astonishment.   I’ll ask how it felt and they’ll usually say that once they stopped fighting the exercise and just went with it – their perception changed and they could see all the information in the book.   They faced their fear and it melted away and was replaced by articulate thought that was not going to let them down. 

Lest you think I’m a total bad ass or a zen master that can just about anything, I will confess that I do have a huge fear of heights.   I mean I really hate being up in high places and I really hate roller coasters.   So last year, when the kids and I were offered free tickets to Six Flags, I almost turned it down.   But since we’d never gone as a family, I decided it was worth it to go.   Of course the first things the kids wanted to go on were things like Dare Devil and the Georgia Scorcher.  Then there is Goliath, a $20 million ride that pulls you slowly up the 200 feet incline before it drops you 175 feet and kicks to its top speed of 70 miles per hour.  As we start to go up I’m thinking, “Holy crap, I really don’t want to be on this.”  I’m starting to panic, but I have no choice now and can’t get off.  So after traversing 4,500 feet of roller coaster track, the ride ends and I make it out alive.   We spent the rest of the day going on six roller coasters while I scream at my anxiety “suck on this baby!”  as we loop de loop through another twist and turn.   We went again for Fright Fest this year, this time staying after dark and dealing with roller coasters at night and zealous zombies who are pretty chill about photo ops. 

Facing your fears is something I’ve had to do a lot in the last year.   I’m coming up on a year since the layoff of a job that I had been working at for almost four years.  It paid very well and had good benefits.   When I found out that I was being let go - that fear of having everything crash in around me like a roller coaster started to creep in.    I got a three month severance package but what if I didn’t have another job by the time it was finished?   Unemployment would not pay the bills.   What if Max was laid off too?  Would we lose the house?   Would be my family be homeless?  Screw Jason, Michael Myer, Samara Morgan or Freddie Kruger, those fears were terrifying enough to keep me up at night.   Losing financial security scared the crap out of me way more than taking a shower with Norman Bates, but I learned that I could handle it.   I got another job in May, six months after losing my other job.   We’re still digging out financially but we’ll be fine.  I learned that my marriage is as strong as it ever was, and that my family will stick by me no matter what. I learned to look at what I feared the most in the eyes and I didn’t blink.   I didn’t crumble and I didn’t give up.   So to all you movie psychos who think you have the market on creating fearsorry to disappoint you but this past year I’ve been there – done that and you are just not that scary anymore.  So Jigsaw, if you want to play a game, I have one for you – it’s called Don’t Screw with the Blond or You Might Get Burned!  - because this peri-menopausel cougar knows how to scratch her way back.  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mo Money

If there one thing that I’ve had to battle constantly in my life – its money.  We were not always foes –in fact when I was a kid, we were the best of buds.  If someone gave me a dollar, it was like I suddenly had power.  I could go out on my own and buy things –even if it was a soda and a candy bar – it was still my choice and my dollar.   I remember the thrill of handing that money to the cashier at Buy-Rite or Sentry Drugs and getting my things put into a bag and then getting of all things – change!  Change to either save or use to purchase something else another day.   Oh, the feeling of financial freedom – the feeling of being a customer!  The money would change form, it would ebb and flow, but it was there to help you get things that you needed or wanted.   You have to admit – that’s one hell of a friend.  When I was 10 or 11, there was no job to worry about, no mortgage to pay, no utilities, no credit card bills, no student loans, just the exhilaration of being a pure consumer.   When my dad would lie on the floor and change would bleed out of his pockets, us kids would circle like sharks going for chum. Once he got up, we made a mad dash because most of the time, the change was there for the taking.   I remember thinking that shiny pennies were like manna from heaven.  They were these perfect spots of change – more sparkly then their friends the dimes, nickels, quarters and half dollars.   Just seeing one as a kid made me so damn happy – it was like I was the first person to send this little coin on its long trip through the financial waters of our economy – where it would get used and tarnished.  I still smile when I get a shiny penny because it’s money in its simplest and purest form.

Growing up, my family was middle to lower middle class.  There were five kids in the family and it never felt like we wanted for much but I knew there were times my parents were really struggling.   During the recession of the 1970’s, there were gas lines, and boycotts of lettuce and ground beef because the prices were so high.   Much like today, people were hurting.   Saying that you couldn’t afford something was not something to be ashamed of – it was a fact and the reality was that many people had to cut back to make ends meet.   Good God, interest rates on home loans were 19% - that’s not an interest rate – that’s loan sharking!  You would see episodes on All in the Family about how they had to cut back and it made you feel a little better about where you were.  If Archie, Edith, Michael and Gloria had to eat spaghetti with just tomato sauce for the fourth night in a row, then maybe sausage noodle casserole twice a week was not so bad.  The emphasis on designer jeans had not hit until I was in high school and things then were a bit better for my parents. Even though I could have asked for them, I always thought it was stupid to pay so much more for a label that you wore on your jeans like Calvin Klein or Jordache.  You were paying the designers more money to wear their label on the pocket to promote their product?  Really!?   The fact that nothing came between Brooke Shields and her Calvins was a bit gross.  I even did a song for the school talent show lampooning designer duds.  Shabby chic and the Annie Hall look were fun, cheaper and way more comfortable then really, really tight jeans.

When I was a junior at Southwest Senior High, my first job was to work at Publix Supermarkets and I got paid $3.10 per hour minimum wage in 1980.  I would work 12 hours on Saturday and then another 12 hours during the week.   I was so disciplined that I would take out $20 per paycheck for spending money and put the rest of the bank.  I was tough keeping my grades up and working that much and sometimes I felt really burned out but I was able to save close to $3,000 to go to college with which my father matched.  I had a really nice bank account and a chance to study at Florida State University – so now me and my besty money were together to set the world on fire. 
So how did my elation about money turn to so much anxiety as an adult?  Why do I spend so much time worrying about it?   Probably when I had the responsibility of actually paying for things on my own.  I was able to go two years without working and living on what I had saved in college.  I was living in a dorm which my parents paid for and I just needed money for food, going out and clothes.  I didn’t even have a car that first year so I didn’t have to pay for gas and at FSU – most things that you needed were within walking distance of the campus.   But then I wanted to move out of the dorms and live in an apartment and have a car – so things got more complicated financially.  Money was tighter and I needed to go back to working – this time waiting tables.   I began to worry about money especially when my roommate was consistently late with her share of the rent.  One time she wrote me a bad check which then made me bounce checks which sucked.   Money wasn’t there as a sure fire friend – sometimes I could depend on it and sometimes I couldn’t.  It was very unreliable.  Worse, I would get tight feelings in the pit of my stomach wondering how I would pay for things.   I could no longer take it for granted and maybe that was money’s payback. 
When Max and I got married, we were worried about money but we always seemed to get by and we were both working.  Except for the time when we won a lawsuit about six years into our marriage, we were always just scraping by and if we came up short, we would ask my parents for help which they were always willing to do.  I hated asking for help but my parents were always nice and understanding about it.  We actually moved up to Georgia in 1998 with the lawsuit money and bought a house.  At that point, I decided to take a year off from working to spend more time with Amber who was just a toddler.   It was weird not working.  I didn’t feel like I had an identity and as much as I loved spending time with Amber – I longed for adult conversation during the day and something do to that was not focused around when the Teletubbies came on.   The money would not hurt either as the lawsuit money was beginning to run out- another ebb and flow that my friend money was all too often prone to.
So I went back to work doing what I did best - working for non-profits.  The kind of organizations who have very little disposable income.  The kind who are dependent on government agencies, grantors and kind benefactors to get their funding.  That’s how I’ve lived the bulk of my financial life so I’m comfortable with organizations that just pray that a big grant or check comes in just in time.  I’ve worked for international agencies and know that money does not come easily to some parts of the world –where  so many people are just getting by on $1 to $2 per day, no clean water and terrible medical conditions.  In this country, we spend $5 on Starbucks when that would feed a family of four for a day in other parts of the world.   Hey I’m not knocking loving your Mocha Light Grande or your tall Salted Caramel Frappanchino – I’m just pointing out that there are people in this world that would do more with that $5 then get a java buzz.
In the 20 years that I’ve worked for non-profits and I’ve gotten to know some really wealthy donors.   Some are real down-to-earth type of people who would give you the clothes off their backs to help.  They understand the mission of the charities that they are trying to help.  They have a real desire to make a difference in the lives of the people that you are working with.  It makes raising money so easy because it’s not a donation – it’s an investment in the social cause they are passionate about.  Those are my favorite type of donors – they are not pushovers but they know how their money can help and ask you directly what you need.  There are those that write the checks to get their names on things or to be recognized.   They are still doing good with their money even if it’s just for the recognition- it doesn’t matter because in the end they are helping your cause.  Then there are the ones who use their donations or promise of donations to manipulate the organization to do things their way.  Those are the donors that use their money to hurt – not to help.   That’s the side of money that I really hate to see.   How many times have you heard about a donor at a major university that donated millions of dollars to build a building but reneged because they weren’t happy with a campus’ stance on gay rights, or the use of the medical building for something like stem cell research, or an editorial in the school newspaper that they didn’t agree with.   Sure, the fundraising department probably needed to spell things out little clearer for that donor, but sometimes there’s just the unforeseen.  When a donor takes back a donation or pledge - it’s obvious they never really had the institution’s best interests at heart to begin with – it was all ego.    
I’ve seen donors dangle even something as small as $5,000 or $10,000 donations to try to get what they want.   You jump through hoop upon hoop to never see the donation or maybe a $1,000 here and there because that donor is too busy playing games than to give you the money.   In the meantime, you could have been cultivating a major gift donor who was sincere rather than playing fetch with Mr./Mrs. Nevu Riche.    Again, it’s a side of my frienemy money that I really hate to see – manipulating those in need – kids in abuse shelters, international healthcare organizations to satisfy this misguided need for financial power.   
I also hate to see money squandered in the name of fame.  Who can forget the Kim Kardashian $10 Million wedding that lasted only 76 days.  How many people in developing countries could you have helped with that kind of money that went for essentially nothing but to satisfy a spoiled brat with an overinflated ego?  Millions or enough to build schools in Africa to help thousands of girls become leaders and not winey celebrities.  I’m not preaching socialism – I just think that we need to take a look at what we as society spend money on and who we support.   If you don’t like Kim, then don’t watch her show or buy her products and with any luck she and her family will go away. 
Max once told me that “Everyone is broke on a different level.”  Maybe we want too much and when we can’t buy it – it feels like we’re barely getting by.  For me, it’s the simple times, the ones with my kids at the park and seeing a wild rabbit or going to the library and checking out books for free that we read at storytime  when they were little that I cherish the most.   Does that keep me from having knots in my stomach at the thought of having $40 in the bank and still four days from payday?  No, but when the money flows back in – I do have to remind myself that less is more and we don’t need the latest and greatest to be happy.   Maybe if I keep on remembering that, money and I can be friends again.  Maybe we’ll sit down at the 5 and Dime, have a soda and a moon pie and remember the power of a shiny penny.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Child Star

When I was a kid, Family Affair was a huge hit.  It was a sitcom with the premise that a successful bachelor engineer with a butler could take over the raising of his nieces and nephews after this brother and his wife are killed in an accident.  Not exactly fodder for a sit-com, but the cast made it work.  Cissy was the protective big sister and who looked after her six year old twin brother and sister.  When they had to move in with their Uncle Bill they also got a very proper English butler named Mr. French.  I loved watching Buffy and Jody try to outwit Mr. French and live in a huge apartment in Manhattan.   I wanted a Mrs. Beasley doll so badly and when I got it for Christmas, it was like all my Buffy dreams came true.   I would wear my hair in pigtails just like her and wished that my parents would get us a British man servant to take us out to eat or to the museum.   It was fun, harmless and having child stars that I could identify with just made it worth watching.   It must be fun to be those actors, I thought to myself when I was little – I have been hooked on acting ever since.

Then in 1976, when I was 14 years old, I found out that Anissa Jones who had played Buffy had died of a drug overdose at 18.  I remember standing in the middle of Sentry’s Drug Store - hearing the news on the radio and being stunned.   Buffy, the sweet little girl from my favorite TV show when I was a small child was dead from drugs.   I still had my Mrs. Beasley doll in the bottom of the toy chest and now it seemed to have lost its innocence.  She was just four years older than me and now she was gone.  Of course, things hadn’t gone well for her after the show ended – but 18 and out just seemed too soon.  The next day at Glades Jr. High, many of my friends were also reeling from the news.   I mean, where were her parents?  Why didn’t anybody try to stop her?  Why didn’t anyone care?   Sadly that seems to be the case for too many child stars – after the lights dim and the fame goes away, they don’t have much in the way of support or a passion to pursue acting or much of anything else.  It’s just too much too soon.

I’ve always thought that being a child star must be a very strange dynamic.   Here you are - a kid - yet so many adults have their livelihoods depending on you.  There must be days when you want to say “Screw this, I’m going outside to play.  I want to be a kid who wants to be the pretend king of the mountain rather than worrying about if our stupid Neilson ratings make us king of the network,” but you can’t.  You’re stuck inside a studio dealing with the meltdowns of the director or the adult actors who are worried that if the show is cancelled they won’t make their mortgage payments.   That’s a hell of a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of someone who is just a child.   Add the fact that these kids are probably spoon fed their lines by the director so that they say it exactly like the adults tell them to and you have someone who has never really learned how to act – just be cute and parrot the lines the adults told them to.   The parents of these kids start to get dependent on the attention their children receive and the money that it brings in (and thanks to the Coogen Law, 15% of their earnings is put into a trust fund so they can access it when they are legal adults).  The life of a child actor can be a life of someone who adults look to for their livelihood and depend on - it’s just not natural.


I remember hearing Simon Cowell once say that he doesn’t like to pick singers who still in their teens because “child performers make very weird adults.”  You don’t have to look further than Michael Jackson to see some truth in that statement.   Joe Jackson seemed to be the devil incarnate and the stories of how he treated his children are pathetic.  So when Michael had the money, he created “Neverland” and had this odd fixation with inviting kids over to his house as an adult for sleepovers, no one said anything.  Even if nothing happened – it was still weird that no one could tell him no because so many were so dependent on him for their jobs.   As he spiraled more and more out of control emotionally and financially, this man-child with the high voice continued to demand drugs to sleep that you would only get from a hospital and had a greedy doctor that was only too happy to give them to him for $150,000 a month.  I’m sure some folks might have tried a few interventions but by then it was too late.  He had retreated into a fantasy world where no one could reach him.   When he died, people were upset but not surprised.  Sadly a great talent expired because he never got a chance to be a kid and never got the normal discipline that helps you grow into a healthy adult.

But it’s not just Michael Jackson; it’s so many others who haven’t had parents that looking out for their best interests because they got caught up into the fame machine.  Lindsay Lohan’s father has been incarcerated twice.  Her mother seems oblivious to her daughter’s problems as she tries to cash in on her success.  She even parties with Lindsay and gets drunk with a daughter who needs to be in rehab.  It’s no wonder Lindsay is such a train wreck and it’s a shame because she’s actually a good actress when she’s not high.   Then there are the kids from Diff’ent Strokes – two of them are gone before their time and one has been in and out of jail and has also had problems with drug abuse.  Gary Coleman died at age 42, Dana Plato died of a drug overdose at age 35 and Todd Bridges has been in trouble with the law for decades but seems to have finally straightened his life out.   These young stars faced physical and sexual abuse either while they were doing the show or after and it sucks that no one at the studio system took the time to see what their home life was like and tried to protect them.   

The fact is that many child actors fall on hard times after they hit the pinnacle of their careers and those precocious catch phrases seem creepy when they are uttered by their teenage selves.  “The road through all child stardom is strewn with carnage,” explains Robert Thompson, pop culture professor at Syracuse University. “Being a child star is a high-risk occupation, not unlike being a coal miner or an oil rig worker.”  If the parents don’t have a strong sense of how to handle the child who is a big shot on the set but just another member of the family when they get home with chores and an allowance,  these children get crushed in the Hollywood shuffle and have a hard time recovering and dammit – that’s just so sad.   No one should have their childhood stolen in the name of entertainment

There are the success stories – like Ron Howard who was smart enough to figure out after Happy Days that he wanted to direct and asked B-Movie film director Roger Corman to help him learn how to do it.  Jodie Foster decided to go to Yale to get an Ivy League education and came back a stronger actress for it.   Natalie Portman also went to college, can speak Hebrew fluently and once said that she would rather be a smart person than an actor – which is why that woman has a great career and a strong sense of self.  Other child stars like Christian Bale had smart adults around them who loved and nurtured them and were happy to have them step away from the spotlight for awhile and come back when they were ready. 

On a few of the reality shows, they have psychologists who counsel the contestants who get voted off to prepare them for life after their part of the show is over and they have to go back to their regular lives.  They also get an initial psychological assessment to see if they can handle the strain and instant celebrity that it might bring.  It seems like if they have that in place for the contestants who do Survivor and The Apprentice, they should do that for the children who have the potential to be cast in a big network or movie project.  You would avoid a lot of post production meltdowns years after the fact if the child actor and the family had the opportunity to find out if they were really equipped to handle it all in the first place.   As adorable as the cast of Diff’ent Strokes was, it would have been better for all of them if they had never had fame thrust on them so soon and having no way for their family  to handle the down times.  Someone other young girl could have been cast as the twins in The Parent Trap who had a stronger family support system then Lindsay Lohan.   My prayer is that the kids on Modern Family, The Middle and Suburgatory have family members who will step in if they see their children starting to lose their way.

So who are the next Joseph Gordon-Levitts, Kurt Russells, Leonardo DiCaprios, Mayim Bialiks? They are the ones who can survive the fame monster and come out stronger on the other side.   It’s the ones who have adults that treat them like children in a good way – setting boundaries, giving them discipline and not allowing them to run rough shot at home.   They get down time and a chance to hang out at the mall and go to movies with their friends and are encouraged to study either acting or any other subject in an academic setting.  They get to run outside instead of being paraded from one dingy casting offices to another grueling auditions.   They get to be kids.  You have only 18 glorious years to be a child and the rest of your life after that to be an adult.   Show business can be a very lonely industry but what every young actor needs is having an adult in their life who is willing to make their healthy childhood a family affair.