If there was any hope that Miley Cyrus still possessed a sliver of that good girl, bubble gum image that made her character Hannah Montana so popular, that was quickly erased when she took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25. Shedding her mouse ears for a nude latex bra and underwear, Cyrus shook, gyrated and stuck her tongue out in all its glory for a performance that left those in the audience and at home wondering what had happened to the former Disney princess.
Like countless child stars before her, Cyrus has recently been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether it’s rebelling against their squeaky-clean images or just serving as cautionary tales of what happens when you achieve fame at an early age, child stars like Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears have been pushing boundaries for so long that it’s hard to see how one could come out of Hollywood unscathed.
It is, however, possible. While they might not be making headlines on a regular basis for their personal antics, the following female stars have shown that while growing up from childhood to adulthood in Hollywood can be hard, it doesn’t have to involve a sleazy image makeover, personal escorts to rehab or mugshots in the National Enquirer.
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With a career that spans almost 50 years, two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster, who first earned critical acclaim at age 12 in Taxi Driver, is more likely to have her name called out at an awards show than appear in the headlines of the tabloids. Keeping her personal life mostly private over the years, Foster has shown that talent and a good head on your shoulders will get you far in Hollywood.
When she landed the role as Hermione in the “Harry Potter” movie series, it was hard to believe that the then-9-year-old Emma Watson had never acted on-screen before. Despite her fast rise to fame, the now 23-year-old has maintained a low profile in Hollywood. She even managed to experience college life when she enrolled at Brown University in 2009.
Long before Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez put on their mouse ears, Disney’s reigning tween queen was Lizzie McGuire star Hilary Duff. Now 25 and a mom to 1-year-old Luca (her son with husband and retired NHL player Mike Comrie), Duff has spoken openly about her transition from Disney princess to adulthood, citing her family as the source for keeping her grounded.
Known currently as Carrie Mathison on Homeland, Claire Danes first popped up on our television screens as angsty teen Angela Chase in My So-Called Life (the role for which she won her first Golden Globe, at age 15). Fast-forward 19 years later, and Danes has continued to rack up numerous accolades all while steering clear of the pitfalls of fame.
Winning an Academy Award at the age of 11 can be quite overwhelming, but for Anna Paquin it was just one moment in a 20-year-long career marked with numerous achievements and not a single mugshot. Now 31, Paquin has continued to find success with her roles as Rogue in the “X-Men” movie series and Sookie Stackhouse in True Blood.
Growing up in the shadows of the famous Osmond brothers can be daunting, but that didn’t stop Marie Osmond from finding her success in the music business at the age of 14. With a career that has spanned almost 40 years and multiple endeavors (television, music, Broadway, etc.), Osmond has kept herself grounded by putting family first and fame second.
Though she found fame in the ’90s as Blossom Russo, Mayim Bialik gave it all up to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience. After a 10-year break from acting, Bialik proved that child stars can find success in adulthood (minus the drama) when she landed the Emmy-nominated role of nerdy scientist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Starting her career at the ripe old age of 4, Sarah Michelle Gellar first found success as Erica Kane’s long-lost daughter Kendall in All My Children. Moving from soap operas to starring roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gellar (who’s married to actor Freddie Prinze Jr.) seems to have found the secret to getting through the business unscathed.
Time will tell what career path Dakota Fanning, who first garnered noticed for her role in the film I Am Sam, at age 7, chooses as she ascends into adulthood. The 19-year-old actress (and current NYU student) has led a mostly normal, tabloid-free life off-screen. Choosing to opt out of home schooling, Fanning spent her high school years on the cheer team and as homecoming queen before graduating from the private Campbell Hall School in North Hollywood in 2011.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Long before she was Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker conquered the Broadway stage playing the title role in Annie at the age of 14. Now 48 and married to actor Matthew Broderick, the fashion icon and Emmy-winning actress has become one of a rare breed of child stars who have built long-lasting careers not riddled with rehab stints or acts of rebellion.