Child actor

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American actor Macaulay Culkin at the age of ten (1991)

A child actor is understood in film and television - less often in the theater  - an actor or singer in childhood .

In the United States , where children and young people in film and television are far more commonly used at the professional level as in German-speaking child actors are (Child Actors) sometimes of teenage performers (Teenage Actors) distinguished.

Health and safety regulations

In many countries, child actors are subject to special health and safety regulations. In film and television productions, it is therefore widespread to employ pairs of twins or triplets who take turns at work to portray very young children. If this is not possible, doubles are used in scenes in which the actor is not recognizable , in order to be able to shoot outside of the daily working hours, which are limited for child actors.


In California , the center of the American film and television industry, minors require a special entertainment work permit for any paid acting work . Other laws ensure that child actors' schooling is not interrupted while they are at work; A studio teacher is required at the location . Working hours are also limited by law, depending on the age of the child.

The "Coogan Act" named after Jackie Coogan , a California law that came into force in 1938, is intended to ensure that a portion of the income that an actor receives during his childhood will be retained until he reaches adulthood.

Awards for child actors

For some film awards , a category “best child actor” was or is planned, for example. B. the Academy Award ( Juvenile Award , USA, only 1935–1961), the National Film Award (India, since 1968), the Star Screen Award (India, since 1995) and the BFCA Award (USA, since 1997).

There were or are, however, their own film prizes, the awards of which are specifically intended only for child and youth actors. B. the Young Artist Award (USA, since 1979), YoungStar Awards (USA, 1995–2000) and The Joey Award (Canada, since 2014). There are also special awards, which are also given to adult actors, provided that their careers began in childhood.


Many former child stars are critical of their careers in autobiographical publications. They often complain of having been put under pressure by their ambitious parents and forced to make new appearances. For those parents who actively promote their child's career as a child star (e.g. by participating in talent shows and competitions), the term showbizz-parents has been coined in the USA , whereby it is often assumed that the parents themselves lacked success want to compensate for the success of their children or are primarily interested in the earnings of the child star (or their part as their manager).

It is also noticeable that many child stars cannot continue their careers into adulthood because they can no longer be cast as "cute" or "lousy", but on the other hand are not taken seriously as adult actors or cannot grow into the new role model. In earlier times in particular, school or vocational training that was neglected in favor of the child star career was a problem, as it made it difficult to enter another profession.

Well-known child actors (selection)




Great Britain





United States

Most American child actors have not been able to continue their careers into adulthood. Here are some exceptions:


Film literature

  • Diana Serra Cary: Hollywood's Children: An Inside Account on the Child Star Era . Southern Methodist University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-87074-424-0
  • Tom Goldrup, Jim Goldrup: Growing up on the set: Interviews with 39 former child actors of classic film and television
  • Joal Ryan: Former Child Star: The Story of America's Least Wanted . ECW Press, 2000, ISBN 1-55022-428-X


  • Nancy Carson, Jacqueline Shannon: Raising a Star: The parents guide to helping kids into theater, film, television, or music , St. Martin's Griffin, 2005, ISBN 0-312-32986-5
  • Lucia Forte: Acting up! How to get your kidz in the biz! Trafford Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-55395-165-4

Web links

References and comments

  1. Procedure for Obtaining Entertainment Work Permit by Minor. California Code of Regulation: Title 8, Section 11753; Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  2. ^ Coogan Act ( Memento of August 3, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  3. Only those actors are listed who appear by name in long films that were premiered before the age of 15.