11 Former Child Musicians Who Talked About Mistreatment And Exploitation They Faced Growing Up In The Spotlight,Willow Smith admitted that, "I honestly feel like I lost my sanity at one point," after "Whip My Hair" went viral.
11 Former Child Musicians Who Talked About Mistreatment And Exploitation They Faced Growing Up In The Spotlight
Becoming famous at a very young age is really overwhelming for child musicians. Because of their youth, famous kids regularly get taken advantage of and have a harder time coping with the pressures of fame. Many former child musicians have opened up about the struggles they’ve had while the world watched them grow up in the spotlight. These are some of their stories:
1. Justin Bieber has opened up several times about the pressures and stress he faced over childhood fame. “Have you noticed the statistics of child stars and the outcome of their life,” Bieber wrote in an Instagram post. “There is an insane pressure and responsibility put on a child whose brain, emotions, frontal lobes (decision-making) aren’t developed yet. … You notice a lot of touring bands and people end up having a phase of drug abuse, and I believe it’s due to not being able to manage the huge ups and downs that come with being an entertainer.”
“After the tour and the promotion and all of that, they wanted me to finish my album, and I was just like, ‘I’m not gonna do that,'” Willow explained. “And after all that kind of settled down and it was like a lull, I was just listening to a lot of dark music, and it was just so crazy.”
“I was just plunged into this black hole, and I was, like, cutting myself,” she revealed.
3. Miley Cyrus has stated how the fame from starring in Hannah Montana and touring as the persona probably caused her some serious psychological damage. She enjoyed acting and being on the series, but once she started to tour as the Hannah Montana persona, it became too much.
She explained how because she toured as Hannah in real life, people didn’t distinguish Miley Cyrus from Miley Stewart, the TV character, and it became harder for her to do so herself. She said, “I think that’s what’s probably a little wrong with me now. I mark that up to doing some extreme damage in my psyche as an adult person.”
4. Joe Jonas wrote in an essay for Vulture that being a Disney star made him feel like he was being controlled. “Being a part of the Disney thing for so long will make you not want to be this perfect little puppet forever,” he wrote. “Eventually, I hit a limit and thought, ‘Screw all this, I’m just going to show people who I am.'”
He recalled the pressure he and his brothers were under to never make mistakes, especially after they heard about how Disney was trying to keep Vanessa Hudgens on lockdown after she was hacked and her nude photos were leaked online.
“We were just kids,” he wrote. “That’s the reality. We were frightened, little kids. So, you got all this responsibility that’s foisted upon you, and you’re expected to be perfect.”
He also said that their level of stardom was sometimes frightening. He recounted a meet-and-greet in Spain where 100,000 people showed up and chased them through the mall, and another incident in South America where a hotel staff member snuck their kid into his room.
5. The Jackson 5 experienced physical abuse from their father. Michael Jackson revealed that their father Joe Jackson would physically abuse them to work longer and harder.
He shared that if there were any mistakes during the group’s rehearsals, Joe Jackson would beat them with a tree branch, a belt, or an electrical cord.
6. Aaron Carter claimed that as a teen pop star, his family spent $500 million of his money on 15 houses and 30 cars. He claimed that when his parents sold the houses, he didn’t get a cut of the profits.
He also talked about being forced to do things he didn’t want to do. “It got bad when I was about 15 years old, because when I did MTV Cribs, the day that I had to go show off that house, my mom and my dad told me, ‘We’re getting a porce, but you still have to go do this.'” He broke down in tears, saying, “I had to go show off all the stuff, my whole life, that was gonna be taken away from me.”
7. Greyson Chance revealed how controlling and abusive Ellen DeGeneres was to him while he was signed to her music label after he went viral online.
He said she would control everything about him, including what he wore. “My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her,” Chance said. “That was horrible. If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed. She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, ‘This is what you’re wearing on the show.'”
He explained that Ellen wanted him to study and mimic the career of Justin Bieber, and he recounted a time when Ellen got angry at him because he didn’t watch an advanced copy of Justin’s Never Say Never documentary.
8. Billie Eilish has spoken about how she hated becoming extremely famous at 15. “I hated going outside. I hated going to events. I hated being recognized. I hated the internet having a bunch of eyes on me. I just wanted to be doing teenager shit,” she said.
9. Raven-Symoné has been very open about the body-shaming she experienced while growing up in the entertainment industry. She revealed that as a teen, she was told she was “too big” to go on a concert tour.
“[They said] I was too big to be doing an hour and a half concert. ‘I don’t know how she can dance being that big.’ And I was like, ‘I still did it!'” she shared.
10. Selena Gomez expressed how she felt violated when paparazzi photographed her as a teenager. “I remember just feeling really violated when I was younger, even just being on the beach,” she recalled. “I felt very violated, and I didn’t like it or understand it, and that felt very weird because I was a young girl, and they were grown men. I didn’t like that feeling.”
She further expressed how she had no privacy while growing up in the public eye. “It’s disgusting because it’s interesting to grown adults that these kids go through weird things because they’re figuring out, ‘Do I like this? Do I love this? Maybe I love this person. Oh, I’m exposed to do this, people are reporting my every move and this and that because of Instagram and Twitter, and you can find out everything,'” she said.
11. And lastly, Demi Lovato has been very vocal about the hardships of being a child musician and actor. “I’ll always look at child stardom, at what I went through, as something traumatic for me,” she said. “No child should ever be in the limelight. It’s too much pressure. There’s an absence of childhood that you never get to experience.”
“In your teens, people who aren’t in the spotlight are still trying to figure themselves out. They’re going to parties. They’re making mistakes. And it’s, like, if you’re a 15-year-old and you’re making mistakes, it’s magnified,” she said.
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