Why Child Models/Actors Terrify Me

I waited in some casting studio south of Santa Monica Boulevard , where the big rig trucks pull in and out, loading and unloading lighting equipment and such movie nonsense. This is the same area that a friend of mine was hit by one of those aforementioned trucks and nearly killed. I was there for some commercial audition that probably required I pretend to splash around barefoot in a giant fountain a la La Dolce Vita, only with cheesy smiles and in English.
The casting studio was also having a session for a children’s spot. I was surrounded by three foot tall people and their similarly sized parents, of whom most looked sunburned and paranoid. The children themselves were cute in a boring, accessible way. I find that “pretty” kids are simply those who possess certain adult qualities or standardized qualifications of beauty, but as they grow up and grow older these attributes are no longer adorable or charming. They grew out of that moment of beauty, as we all do in varying speeds, and thus doomed to exist in visual mediocrity. All of this made more difficult to deal with having been so lavished with compliments and attention as children.
This absurd scene continues in front of me, the crossing of potential with expired potential. I continue to silently attack them in my head. A little girl moves over to a white wall where it is her turn to be polaroided. The assistant counts down…1…2…3…And before he gets to three, the little girl hiccups out a giggle and smiles. The assistant says something about the picture not coming out so he goes to take another one. And on “3” comes the same exact contrived giggle from this five year old. It was more offensive than canned laughter on a terrible sitcom. This was the industry equivalent of an invisible cattle prod searing into veal in the making.
Today I participated in a fashion show in which kids were also involved. It was for Juniors and Super Juniors; at twenty-five I am apparently fresh faced enough to sell clothes intended for seventeen-year-olds wielding their parent’s money. A few silent little girls get their hair curled while they stare around the room at the big girls, the real models. I’m sure they think we are all thirty with husbands and children and a house with a dog; the same way I saw baseball players when I was young, unaware that I was watching twenty-three-year-old children knocking balls around.
I can’t help but think that these kids should be in class somewhere, reading Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery and pushing boys’ heads into water fountains. They should be planting sunflower seeds and eating cookie dough, leaning about cumulus clouds and scraping their knees on black asphalt. I look around the room. We’re in a windowless basement of a makeup room. The bathroom door as a handwritten note taped to it that says “Please Knock. Lock Broken.” The silver chairs are stained and dirty. This is categorically a toxic environment for a child’s spirit. Nothing about seems stimulating for children unless you count the premature development of body image disorders and egotism.
To be fair, a few of these girls seem to have a particular and unfathomable zeal for the limelight. One wearing low heeled Mary Janes and tight jeans practices her runway walk in front of her mom. She sprints across the blue carpet like Tyra Banks on crack. I express my distaste for all of this pageantry and a model friend comes to its defense, says she did it as a child and couldn’t get enough of it. The pictures, the clothes, the whole environment. And as much as I do respect her experience, all I can think of was that bitch in elementary school who would be inexplicably show ponied from room to room belting out “The sun’ll come out…to-MAR-OW…” and how much I loathed her.


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