Tag Archives: Hollywood

Don’t you want your kid to be famous?

3 Feb
@JustinBieber via Instagram

@JustinBieber via Instagram

Does your child want to be famous?

How many kids fantasize about starring in a Disney Channel show, appearing in the pages of fashion magazines or singing onstage in front of thousands of screaming fans?

Think about it Mom and Dad. Your immensely talented kid could be adored and idolized for her artistic gifts.  He could be raking in big money that can help support the rest of the family. All of you can rub elbows with the rich and famous.

Don’t you want your kid to be famous?

Thousands of those kids are pursuing those dreams right now. Well, let’s rephrase that. Mom and Dad are pursuing those dreams right now by uploading their kids’ videos on YouTube, shelling out thousands of dollars for the right headshots, moving to California so their child can be closer to the action, and spending hours in acting, singing and dance lessons.

All in hopes that their child will be the next Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber.

Lord have mercy! Why on Earth would you want that for your kid?

BBC radio recently ran a segment on “Would you want your child to be famous” * and invited a children’s talent agent, mother of an aspiring teen rocker and an American culture and parenting blogger to discuss the issue.  (Spoiler alert: I was the blogger.) Despite the recent headlines, many parents still pursue this for their children and swear/hope/pray their child will never let fame go to their head or act out in infamous ways. The other radio guests talked about “supporting their dreams” and being the voice of reason for them. I applaud these parents for wanting to help their kids attain these goals, but I could never do it. My children, who are entering their teens, are too immature to grasp the ramifications of some dreams, and as their mother, I sometimes have to protect them from themselves. I also have serious doubts  any parent can be a “voice of reason” when their talented child is surrounded by entourages made up of agents, photographers, directors, producers and others in the entertainment industry.

As history has shown us, the child entertainers who make the successful transition to well-balanced adult are few and far between. For every Justin Timberlake and Natalie Portman, there are dozens of others who fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, brushes with the law, outrageous behavior or diva-mentality – and it often starts while they are still in their teens. Even under the so-called “watchful eyes” of their parents and handlers, Drew Barrymore was snorting cocaine at 13, Demi Lovato developed an eating disorder at 8-years-old, and Joe Jonas smoked pot with Lovato and Miley Cyrus at 17.

Well-intended parents are encouraging their children to join a brutal business without understanding how it really works. I’m a veteran stage actor and video talent, and I can attest all is not bright in the spotlight. Auditions are grueling and time-consuming, and very few of them actually lead to anything; however, you keep trying in hopes that you’ll be the perfect fit for another project. If you’re not the perfect fit, you have to endure a producer or director ripping you to shreds over personal traits such as your voice, body, skin, height or weight. People in the business understand actors, models, singers and dancers are commodities that are bought, sold and packaged to meet a particular need, and those needs constantly change.

Performers tend to be highly creative and sensitive people, and it takes a lot of emotional strength to maintain the thick skin that is needed to survive the constant rejection and critiques. Most adults don’t have that kind of inner strength and stability, and yet stage parents expect an emotionally developing child or teen to have it. Without those traits, both child and adult performers can easily develop problems with insecurity, depression or narcissism.

For the rare performer that does “make it,” fame can be a fickle beast. Adored one moment and forgotten the next. It can be tough on adults, but even worse on a young person who isn’t mature enough to understand or deal with the changes. How will he react when no one is there to cater to their every need and offer endless praise, when the entourage leaves because the money runs out, or when good feelings can only be found in drugs or alcohol? How will his parents react?

For those parents who are encouraging their children’s fame dreams, I have no doubt your child is immensely talented, but I beg you to consider the real costs of fame – pressure, criticism, strained families and growing up way too fast.

They’re children for only a little while. Hollywood can wait.


What do YOU think?
Would you let your child pursue an entertainment career? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

*You can download the BBC’s “World Have Your Say Segment” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whys. Look for the Thursday, Jan. 30 WHYS link. The fame discussion is in the middle of the program. You can also get their podcasts off iTunes.


Why are we afraid to speak out? The real America is bigger than you realize.

31 Aug

I’ve discovered an interesting fact over the last few days. I now know what America looks like. My graphic design skills are pitiful, but here’s the overly simplistic visual aid:

This is what America really looks like, and no, there is no hidden symbolism in the colors. I just like purple.

This is what America really looks like, and no, there is no hidden symbolism in the colors. I just like purple.

See the humongous section in the middle? That’s America’s Heartland – and it’s not based on geography. We’re talking about REAL America.  It’s the Average Joe and Jane who work hard to provide for themselves and their families. It’s ordinary people looking for work and seniors who are trying to get by after their working years are gone. It’s moms and dads doing their best to raise kids against a culture that thwarts their efforts. It’s volunteers who give their time, talent and money to make this world a better place. It’s me – and you.

See those people on the ends? They pretend we don’t exist. To them, our opinions do not matter.  We are woefully stupid, and they are supremely wise. Credibility comes only from Wall Street boardrooms, Washington’s elite, Hollywood studios and intellectual experts with no real world experience.

Maybe we really are that stupid.  We support these folks with our purchases, entertainment choices, votes and silent endorsement.  We don’t speak out for fear of being labeled or ridiculed. There are no state, racial, political or social boundaries in the Heartland, yet we allow them to pit us against each other, and then we blame each other for the fight.  Maybe they are right about us.

I confess I was stupid. I confess I allowed myself to be pitted against others. I never spoke too loudly because I was worried about the labels and ridicule, but then I was thrown into the spotlight when my Dear Daughter post struck a chord with millions of people. This was not something I sought or desired. I was content to write my little blog for friends and family and work a few PR jobs so I could help us meet household expenses. I had 15 minutes on the world stage, and those outside the Heartland called me every name in the book and ridiculed my opinions – but it didn’t hurt me. I was not psychologically destroyed nor scared into submission.

They did not hurt me because I knew my opinion DOES matter, and I am not stupid.  They did not hurt me because I knew I was not alone.

Here’s my take on things:  We need to stop beating the crap out of each other over our perceived differences and focus on what we have in common. This is our America, too. Our grandparents, parents, sons and daughters have fought for her and many paid the ultimate price. We have just as much of a right to be heard as a politician, CEO or actor.  So why are we just rolling over and taking it?

You have a voice, and it deserves to be heard. Don’t be afraid. Take it from a Heartland mama, the words may sting, but they will not destroy you.

You don’t have to write a blog or organize a protest. All you have to do is get involved in life. Take care of your family. Serve your community. Pray. Forget about all of these perceived differences and recognize the similarities. Do the right by others.

You are America’s Heartland, and you keep this heart beating.

Comment Policy: 
I welcome your feedback, but I will not tolerate personal attacks against me, my family or another commenter.

It’s okay to disagree, but be respectful. Attack the issue, not the person.  Vulgarity, racism, religion bashing, slams about sexual orientation, name calling, advertisements and generally being a jerk to others will send your comment to the trash bin.

5 ways media have got motherhood all wrong

9 May
Photo credit: Cheryl Hines in "Suburgatory"

Photo credit: Cheryl Hines in “Suburgatory”

A warning to Kay Jewelers: My husband would have his butt kicked if he ever gave me jewelry for Mother’s Day. I’ve been anti-frivolous-gift ever since I grasped the whole “your money is my money” concept of marriage.

I can’t blame Kay for trying. Their commercial showcases a beautiful and serene mother sitting quietly in a chair as her loving family rushes in to present her with a shiny bauble. The husband has shaved. He’s wearing a clean shirt. The kids’ clothes actually match. The house is inhumanly clean.

Kay, you are full of crap. I get the idea that you are trying to represent an ideal and convince men that their wives will be blissful if they receive something from your Open Hearts collection.

Kay is not alone in their inaccurate portrayals of maternal life. Pretty much everything from Hollywood and Madison Avenue is quite excretory. Allow me to share some examples:

Every mom portrayed in commercials and television shows has beautiful hair. The hair is clean and shiny, the style is perfect, and beautiful bangs swoop gently over the face.

In real life, most women look like this only a few times a year. This coincides with when we actually have time to hit the salon. For the most part, we’re lucky if we can wash it a few times a week, and the hairstyle can best be described as “there.” Forget the beautiful swoop. Real moms know you can’t see a stinking thing with hair in your eyes. We rely on the headband, clip or immortal scrunchy to keep it out of the face.

I’m 43, and I still have yet to master the application of liquid foundation. My eyeliner always bleeds within a few hours, no concealer makes me look “untired,” and I use the tiny brush that comes with my square of Maybelline blush.

I am a troll next to media moms. Of course, they can look flawless because they have professional make-up artists who airbrush their faces and do touch ups every 15 minutes. They also benefit from gifted camera men, lighting artists and Photoshop. If I had that benefit, I’d be taking the whole tech crew with me when I went grocery shopping. I would look totally HOT loading mega rolls of toilet paper into my cart.

Media moms have a stylist who picks out their clothes. They benefit from the latest styles that are custom-fit, coordinated and clean.

A real mom’s stylist is usually another mom in the Target dressing room who says, “That looks really cute on you.” We don’t spend $200 on a pair of jeans. (See the prior note about “your money is my money.”) Most moms I know wear t-shirts, yoga pants and tennis shoes on a frequent basis – a fashion trend you never see on television. Our kids think we’re dressed up when we put on a sweater and khakis.

Have you ever noticed that media moms cut a lot of vegetables? Every time a woman is in the kitchen, she’s cutting carrots, tomatoes or something green during the entire scene. Media families must eat a lot of salads. They must also be talented chefs because they can make chicken covered in cream of mushroom soup look like it came out of a gourmet restaurant.

Sadly, I don’t cook like that. I’m not saying that I can’t cook. Some of my stuff is actually pretty tasty; however, a camera crew would be horrified if they came into my kitchen. Most of my vegetables come pre-cut and frozen. My chicken covered in cream of mushroom soup looks like a white heap of meat covered by a white heap of soup. After 15 years of marriage, most of my dinner plates have chips. We drink out of plastic sports-themed cups because I’m tired of cleaning up broken glasses.

Media moms benefit from having their children via casting call. Real moms get pregnant or jump through thousands of hoops to adopt. Media moms’ children are always model-perfect and camera ready. Real moms have kids with self-done haircuts, scraped up knees, braces and mismatched clothes. Media moms’ children always behave and have great one-liners. Real moms yell at their kids at Wal-Mart and lock themselves in the bathroom to have 10 minutes of peace. Forget witty one-liners. We just want our kids to say more than two words about their day at school.

A Look at Real Motherhood
Media moms sometimes hit the mark. Look at Debra Barone from “Everyone Loves Raymond.” Her kids were normal kids, she kept a normal house, and her husband was much funnier than a normal husband. I also loved Leigh Anne Tuohy from “The Blind Side.” Sandra Bullock portrayed her just like the real-life Leigh Anne – the Mama Bear who fights for her cubs. (Granted, Leigh Anne does have a rather awesome house and wardrobe, but let’s not lose the main idea, folks.)

The fact is that real motherhood can never be captured with a camera. Real motherhood is the calm that replaces the gag reflex when your baby pukes curdled milk all over your clean shirt. It’s the anger and hurt you feel when some punk 8-year-old knocks your son off his bike. It’s the willingness to drop everything and learn to sew because your daughter needs a poodle skirt tomorrow morning.

It’s the love that means you would literally sacrifice yourself for the little people God entrusted to your care, no matter how old those little people are.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the real mamas.


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