Joey King, one of the stars of the much-buzzed-about Wish I Was Here, has some words of wisdom for all of the former-child stars who are having trouble finding their footing. For an actress who has, before her 15th birthday, already appeared in some of Hollywood’s biggest recent projects, —Fargo, White House Down, The Conjuring, and Crazy, Stupid Love, to name a few— you might not expect such level-headed normality. But it’s definitely there, shining through as her third greatest charm (next to her incredible talent and noticeable intelligence).
And apparently, all it took for Joey to stay this way thus far was to have a legitimate life. When we chatted with her, she let us in on the secret that balancing childhood and Hollywood is actually a lot easier than it seems to be for her peers. That is, if you go about it in the right way.
“I still do normal things, like I get to hang out with my friends… I think it’s important to have fun acting, but not letting it be your whole entire life. You have to have something else that you love going on.”
That’s it! You just do other stuff, in addition to your job. So, like normal humans! That means that, when we begin to notice a young star publicly unraveling, we don’t necessarily need to point fingers in every direction possible: their parents, their professional handlers, their second cousin twice removed. Because there’s always the very strong possibility that they, themselves, simply weren’t involved in a life outside of the Hollywood madness. Surely, that’s a much larger part of the issue than we probably acknowledge, right? Like, if every child star just had the chance to turn off their celebrity and walk around a suburban mall food court like the rest of us, I’m betting that we’d see a lot fewer crash-and-burns.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the fact that 14 years old is much earlier than most of the child star spirals that we’ve recently witnessed had begun. But I also feel confidently that, with this maturely deliberate separation of her work life and her teen life, Joey’s career trajectory may well be a lot closer to that of Dakota Fanning than, say, Shia LaBeouf. Or Justin Bieber, or Amanda Bynes, or Selena Gomez — the last of whom she costarred with in 2010′s Ramona and Beezus. Because, if there’s one thing that couldn’t be said about any of their childhoods, it’s that they were able to leave their celebrity personas at home if they felt like it.
So, I’m glad that Joey appears to be combatting this phenomenon proactively, instead of all of us in 5 years wondering, “but what should have been done differently?” I feel like we’ve cracked the code, you guys.
Wish I Was Here is in theaters this Friday, July 18.
(Photo: Andres Otero/WENN)