Happy 14th birthday, Joey King! Even though you’ve barely entered your teenage years, it’s likely you’ve already starred in more Hollywood films than I will in my entire life. For those of you who don’t recognize the wunderkind by name, Joey King is the adorable little girl who first caught some attention when she starred in a title role alongside Selena Gomez in Ramona and Beezus. More recently, she’s worked with names like Jennifer Williams and James Franco in Oz the Great and Powerful and Channing Tatum in White House Down.
With a resume like that, I think it’s safe to say, Joey, that you’re well on your way to a successful Hollywood career. That is, IF you pay attention and follow the advice I’m about to give you. You might be thinking to yourself, ‘What could someone whose only acting experience came 15 years ago when she had one line in the town Christmas pageant teach a rising star like me?’ But oh, Miss Joey, that just shows how much you need my help.
I’ve been watching child stars like you rise and fall since before you were born. I know that one day you’re a sweet freckled redhead starring with yourself in a classic remake about twins who meet at summer camp and scheme to bring their bicontenental parents back together again, and the next day, you’re Lindsay Lohan.
I don’t want that to happen to you, Joey. I dream of a future for you that doesn’t involve hit and runs, revolving door rehab stints, and a complete loss of credibility in the acting world. And that’s why for your birthday I’ve put together a little guide that I think you might find handy: Anna’s How-To Guide To Surviving Life As A Child Star: The Joey King Birthday Edition.
Rule number one: stay far, far away from Dina Lohan. And feel free to add a few more fars to that rule if it helps you remember. In fact, you shouldn’t just avoid Dina. You should steer clear of anyone who shares the last name, but especially if they’re a Lohan parent. As a child star, you need parents who want to, you know, parent you, not join you out at the club you’re not legally old enough to go to, and Dina Lohan and fam are just not the people to do that.
Rule number two: Don’t take naked pictures of yourself. Just don’t do it. No matter how safe you think you’re being, they will get out. Just ask Vanessa Hudgens. Or any other celebrity who has ever been foolish enough to think that he/she can take naked photos and keep them private. This is the Twitter generation. Nothing is private, especially if you’re a celebrity.
Rule number three: Don’t make some dark/tacky/trashy/not very well written movie in a misguided attempt to be taken seriously. At some point in time, you may decide that you don’t want to be seen as a cute little child star anymore. And your confused, not fully formed yet teenage brain may lead you to believe that playing a troubled whorebag in a movie will cause people to take you more seriously. Well, Joey, I’ve got some news for you. It didn’t work for your on-screen sis Selena Gomez, and it won’t work for you. As we learned in rule number two, taking our clothes off only leads to trouble, and this is equally true when you take your clothes off to appear edgy in a movie. So just stay on track and keep picking age appropriate roles and credible scripts, and you will continue on the path to success .
Lest you think surviving child stardom is just a long list of things you cannot do, rest assured that there is an equally long list of things should do. For example, you should always keep in mind the golden rule drilled into us by stores everywhere: No shirt, no shoes, no service. Long before your time back in 2004, Britney Spears famously broke this rule by using an LA gas station barefoot (Okay, I know Brit Brit wasn’t exactly a child then, but it was still gross. And you still shouldn’t do it). More recently, Justin Bieber has been setting a bad example for child stars everywhere by deciding that shirts are for squares. But if you take a nanosecond to think about some of the Biebs’ antics since he decided to forgo covering his chest, I think you’ll agree that the shirted Bieber was on a better path than the non-shirted one.
Whether or not you have to wear pants is still under debate. Miley Cyrus certainly thinks you shouldn’t have to. Not even on JImmy Kimmel’s couch. While she hasn’t actually fallen off the wagon a la the Biebs just yet, her recent affinity for twerking and completely nonsensical music videos could be the warning signs of a full-throttle meltdown. Thus, my advice is better safe than sorry, stick with pants.
Still with me, Joey? I know this is a lot to digest in one sitting. So, I’m going to finish by keeping it very simple. Ultimately, the most important rule to remember is that no matter how famous you become and where your career may take you, you still need to be a decent human being. That means that if you ever find yourself wondering, ‘Is it cool if I spit on this fan?’ or, ‘Hey, how about I attack him/her with a microphone?’ Stop and ask yourself, ‘Is this something that a decent human being would do?’ If the answer is no (hint: both situations fall into this category), then you shouldn’t be doing it.
If you can remember those rules, my dear, then years from now we’ll remember you as the talented actress that you are and not another Hollywood punchline. And, of course, I’ll expect some kind of repayment for saving your career. You can have your people call my people to work out the details.