by Nickie Wang
Seeing adorable kids portraying difficult roles on television is a better entertainment than watching adult actors who cannot even act or deliver their dialogue well.
Primetime television offers a slew of programs featuring young and talented child stars. Few examples are those that are currently airing on GMA-7 and ABS-CBN like the family dramas Munting Heredera, Futbolilits and 100 Days To Heaven. Also, we had those successful series like Trudis Liit and May Bukas Pa that recently made indelible mark on television history.
Moreover, these programs became the springboard of the showbiz careers of Xyriel Manabat, Jillian Ward and Zaijian Jaranilla, few of the more important child stars of their generation. Xyriel, as we all know, is the star in 100 Days To Heaven. At age seven, she has done more than a dozen television projects. Zaijian, on the other hand, is known as the miracle boy that endeared the audience in May Bukas Pa. The 10-year-old kid has more than a dozen television projects under his belt, not to mention five awards and recognition for his acting performance. Meanwhile, Jillian is regarded as Kapuso station’s prized child talent. She has been the favorite star to portray kiddie roles in different GMA-7 program. She has managed to clinch leading roles for several projects like Namamasko Po, Trudis Liit and the latest Daldalita.
Over the years, we have seen many child stars, some disappeared in their adult years, while some have continued to grow acting before a camera. There are times when a casting agent finds it difficult to include a certain talent when he or she has reached puberty age, the awkward stage for most child stars. At this stage, the child stars transition to doing more mature roles. This is a rather difficult situation since the talents have to deal both with the physical changes in their bodies and the image they are known for. But sometimes, it’s the viewers who are not yet prepared for these changes. They still want to see their child stars portray child roles and they tend not to accept that their child stars are not children anymore.
In Hollywood, we heard numerous stories of former child stars whose lives went down the drain. Even they are no longer active on television or in the movies, the media still follow their whereabouts chronicling every mishap that happens in their lives. Back on the Philippine shores, it’s the other way around. If a child star had left showbiz, no news is heard about him or her.
You see, being a child star is not a glamorous job. At an early age, he or she has to deal with working for long hours, even sacrificing time to play or sleep. Some if not most of the bankable kid stars do not go to school. Instead, their parents opt for a different kind of educational program that allows their kids to study at home or at the set while waiting for a scene to be shot. Prime example is Jillian Ward. The six-year-old kid, who speaks both English and Tagalog, does not go to school. She only studies through the aide of modules and books her mother, who acts as her teacher, gives her.
Similarly, Zaijian is not like any other student you know. He has a special arrangement with DepEd. He does not attend school like normal kids do. In previous interviews, the young star said that when he goes to school, it’s the time when his classmates are about to go home.
What most people see on television is just quarter of the story, or even less of the story most celebrities have. Child stars may consider or even claim that working in [the harsh world of] showbiz is the same as just playing. Little these little actors know, their childhood is being corrupted. Their early exposure to scripts, throngs of fans, and large crowds does not allow them to grow normally.
Or probably the author is wrong and that television is actually a better place for young talents, given its exploitative nature. But then again, parents consent is not enough to make sure children will be treated fairly on television because that just screws up their children’s normal. And no laws and or regulations can be applied to make sure that it will be an easy life for child actors. Maybe history can speak.