Hollywood divorces are so common that they hardly surprise anyone anymore. The same cannot be said for underage entertainers who legally separate from their parents to work longer hours without violating child labor laws. Here’s a look at this particular brand of celebrity scandal, and five young celebrity kids who did just that.
Most states, including California, have child labor laws that are quite specific when it comes to underage workers. Minors aspiring to the Hollywood entertainment industry must present the Labor Commissioner with appropriate documentation from approved school districts to obtain theater work permits, the Department of Labor (DOL) explains.
Other extensive requirements for the employment of minors in the theater include a cap on school absences and a limit on the number of consecutive working days allowed. When a young actor is emancipated, these strict child labor laws no longer apply.
Sometimes underage celebrities reach legal adulthood to devote more time to their craft. However, this route to circumventing child labor laws isn’t necessarily the first choice of most young celebs.
Alicia Silverstone told Rolling Stone that when she was 15, film producers demanded that she be emancipated to take on the role of creepy nymph Adrian Forrester The swarm. At the time, her only screen credit was a one-off appearance in a 1992 episode The Wonderful Years.
Obtaining legal emancipation for minors in Los Angeles was fraught with bureaucracy. So the aspiring actress and her father appeared before a judge in Oakland, California, where Silverstone told less than the whole truth.
Silverstone went on to earn her GED. The San Francisco native also received two awards at the 1994 MTV Movie Awards for her performance in The swarm.
Juliette Lewis is another talented young woman who legally separated from her parents so she can work 8+ hours a day. Lewis admitted her personal life was fine and that her parents were “radical, hilarious and artistic.”
In fact, her parents helped her break free when she was just 14, reports TooFab. Lewis was already a staff actor portraying Kate Farrell on the television series I married Dora. After being amicably emancipated from her parents before she was 18, Lewis has directed numerous TV shows and films, including her powerful role in Martin Scorsese Cape Fear.
Born to actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Laura Dern was raised in the Hollywood counterculture, making her first screen appearances as a young child. With her father more or less out of the picture, Ladd objected to her teenage daughter spending time on it Ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous spots movie set. Because of this, Laura sought and received emancipation at the age of 13, according to her IMDb bio.
The story of 1980s child star Melissa Francis is different, as her emancipation at age 15 involved both work schedules and an unhappy personal life. In her 2012 memoir Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A MemoirSeen on Amazon, Francis revealed a neurotic, controlling mother who was more of a competitor than a caring presence.
Years before she came of age, Michelle Williams, with the blessing of her parents, commuted from San Diego to LA for auditions and acting jobs. By age 15, she had her own apartment in the San Fernando Valley and legal control of her own affairs.
Williams’ emancipation admitted she “didn’t know what she was up to,” and had nothing to do with poor parental relationships, it had to do with working longer hours. She told GQ that by the time she was 15, she no longer needed a tutor and was ready to do adult lessons.
In 2003, Aaron Carter’s parents split, leading to the discovery that his manager mother, Jane, had misappropriated many thousands of his hard-earned dollars. Carter, 16, was emancipated that same year, CNN reported.
Drew Barrymore was born into the proverbial Hollywood royalty, but her childhood was an admittedly bummer. In fact, her single mother’s domestic lifestyle was so unacceptable that at the tender age of 14, Barrymore filed for emancipation.