Actress Christy Carlson Romano: Child Stars Need More Protection

Photo from Christy Romano’s Instagram

Actress Christy Carlson Romano: Child Stars Need More Protection

By Movieguide® Contributor

Former child star Christy Carlson Romano is redefining what it means to be a celebrity, being vulnerable and honest, rather than holding herself as better than others. 

“I don’t identify as a celebrity at all, by the way,” Romano told Fox News Digital. “I think ‘public person’ probably makes more sense, or now content creator. I think the term celebrity is so gross and outdated.” 

“And it’s also just extremely triggering because it adds that element of who are you and what’s your relevancy and what’s your value in life, and it’s just extremely dehumanizing in some ways,” she added. 

Romano rose to fame in the early 2000s, playing the older sister Ren Stevens on the Disney Channel series EVEN STEVENS, as well as voicing the titular character in the animated show KIM POSSIBLE.  

Using her podcast company PodCo, along with her YouTube channel and other social media, Romano now talks about the difficulties of working as a child actor. On her podcast “Vulnerable with Christy Carlson Romano,” she details the life of a Disney Channel star. 

“I’m not making these decisions spontaneously. I’m very specific about what I’m talking about because I can back it up. If I can’t back something up or if I’m impulsive, I think as a female in media, you know, people can be pretty… I’m trying very hard to keep my wits about me these days. So, yes, I’m vulnerable, but I’m also protected,” she said. 

Through PodCo, Romano has provided a space for other former child stars to share their experiences as well such as Joey, Matt, and Andy Lawrence on their “Brotherly Love” podcast, or a rewatch podcast of NED’S DECLASSIFIED SCHOOL SURVIVOR GUIDE. 

“They all came out here to Austin, Texas, where I live, and we had a party, and it was a blast,” Romano said. “And it was like, ‘Wow, guys, look at what we’re creating, we’re creating community.’ And it’s community based on authenticity and being able to talk to each other about these fast-paced lives that we’ve all had. 

Although it is important to have young actors in Hollywood, Romano believes that the fast-paced life of a child star is too much and believes that the industry needs to do more to protect children from being exploited. 

“It’s not going to happen overnight. And it may not be something that’s handleable amongst the union. It may be something that needs to be a little bit more in the federal space. I’m not quite sure what we need to do for change, but there’s definitely options,” she said. 

“Look, at the end of the day, these kids are union-paying members. And they’re not getting protected by the union. They’re not getting schooled enough directly from the union. They may have little workshops here and there, but they do not have enforcers. They don’t have people that are enforcing protections, and that’s the biggest problem,” Romano continued. 

“We have this industry that benefits off of convenience. We want it loud, fast, funny, and cheap, and we need it right now, and that’s how productions work… It’s not one particular network’s issue. It’s an entire industry issue. Which is why it comes back down to either SAG or even child labor on a federal level. That’s what I have experienced. I think that that’s valuable. So, if I’m talking about it, I’m not trying to whistle blow, it’s more or less me just advocating for change,” she added. 

Romano moved to Austin two years ago in part to protect her two daughters Isabella, 6, and Sophia, 4, from the fast-paced Hollywood life. She does not want to bar them from ever getting into the arts, rather, Romano wants her daughters to organically find a love for the arts instead of having it forced upon them from a young age. 

“I want my kids to have a genuine relationship with the arts. Because the arts were not created to basically be commodified, especially for children,” Romano said. 

“I think kids need to believe in the magic of arts and just to find their way into their different skill set, whether it’s singing or dancing or performing,” she explained. “Even if they’re not that good at it, that’s OK too. It’s the rejection bit and the marketplace elements and the ambition that really kind of sully this otherwise beautiful experience of having a relationship with the arts.” 

Movieguide® previously reported on actors that left Hollywood to protect their children:

Mark Wahlberg is one of the many celebrities choosing to leave Hollywood and raise their families outside of the entertainment capital.  

The action star recently revealed that he was selling his Los Angeles home and moving his family to Nevada in pursuit of a “better life.” 

“I want to be able to work from home,” Wahlberg shared. “I moved to California many years ago to pursue acting, and I’ve only made a couple of movies in the entire time that I was there. 

“So, to be able to give my kids a better life and follow and pursue their dreams whether it be my daughter as an equestrian, my son as a basketball player, my younger son as a golfer, this made a lot more sense for us,” the actor continued.  

Wahlberg and his wife Rhea have four children: Ella, 18, Michael, 16, Brendan, 13, and Grace, 12.  

“We came [to Nevada] to just kind of give ourselves a new look, a fresh start for the kids, and there’s a lot of opportunity here,” Wahlberg said. “I’m really excited about the future.”