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17 Former Child Stars We Still Crush On

Entertainment
17 Former Child Stars We Still Crush On

How about a little trip down Memory Lane? If you’re in the mood for a bit of nostalgia, you’ve come to the right place. The actresses on this list are some of the ’90s and 2000s kids’ favorites. Whether you grew up watching Saved By the Bell and Boy Meets World or you’re slightly younger and grew up watching Disney Channel shows like Lizzie McGuire and The Wizards of Waverly Place, you’ll find your crushes from your childhood television shows and movies on this list. And you probably still have crushes on them because all of these women have aged gracefully (some even look better than they did as teens!) and would make any guy happy.

There are so very many examples of cute, sweet girls from television shows way back when, but what sets these ladies apart from the rest is the fact that they’re so memorable that people who crushed on them back then are likely to still have those lingering feelings — and probably always will. If you’re a girl, you probably watched these girls as teens and wanted to be like them. If you’re a guy, you probably watched these shows (whether you admit it or not) and were drooling all over yourselves. Well, history is about to repeat itself.

The following are 17 child stars whose careers early on made them targets of affection then and continue to do so now. They’ll be forever loved by those who grew up alongside them through those awkward teenage years, and, in some cases, even before that. Whether you were lusting after them, wanted to be them, or have never managed to get over that first crush on them, get ready for a flashback. Memory Lane, we’ve arrived.

17. Age Has Been Good to “Deej”

Thanks to the reboot of Full House, fans of Candace Cameron-Bure‘s have gotten to see a lot more of her since 2016. Fuller House, which recently released its third season on Netflix, continues the story of Candace’s childhood character, D.J. Tanner, although she is now the parent. The widowed mother of three young boys, D.J., and the rest of the gang (minus Michelle, a.k.a. the Olsen twins) live in the same house and do a great job of keeping up the cheesiness. Candace is now 41 and has three children of her own, but she looks even better than she did when Full House aired its final episode 22 years ago. She was slightly awkward as a teenager but is stunning as an adult.

16. She’ll Always Be Kelly to Us

Tiffani Thiessen (formerly credited as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) played Kelly Kapowski on Saved By the Bell and Saved By the Bell: The College Years, beginning at the age of 15. Before that, she had had smaller parts on various TV shows, but Kelly was her breakout role, and she played her from 1989-1994. When she was a little older, she played Valerie on 90210, but for the most part, she’ll always be in people’s hearts as Bayside High’s head cheerleader. She’s now 43 but still looking as good as ever. She’s just as pretty and just as fit as she was way back when. She’s had several recurrent roles on multiple television shows since her most famous roles of Kelly and Valerie, like in White Collar, Fastlane, and Good Morning, Miami!

15. Disney Starlet

Hilary Duff got her start on the Disney Channel show, Lizzie McGuire, as Lizzie, herself. It was a show about a middle school girl who has a sarcastic animated alter-ego. Hilary won the role of Lizzie when she was 14 years old. After two seasons and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Lizzie was retired in 2003, when Hilary was 16. Since then, she’s made tons of movies and been on lots of shows. Currently, she has a leading role on the series Younger. She plays twenty-something New York editor Kelsey Peters, and she looks every bit as good now as she did back then. As Lizzie, she was cute and sweet and a definite target for the affections of adolescent boys everywhere. Now, at 30, she’s doing her thing and any guy would be lucky to have her.

14. Kick-Ass Chloe

Chloe Moretz has made quite the name for herself in Hollywood, starring in movies like Kick-Ass, The 5th Wave, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Let Me In, and If I Stay. Now 20, Chloe is known mostly for the films she made as a teenager, but even before that, she was an actress. As a child, Chloe acted in films like The Amityville Horror, 500 Days of Summer, and Mean Creek, as well as several television shows, including Desperate Housewives and My Name Is Earl. The cute little girl from all of these productions blossomed into quite the stunning young woman, however, and now, she’s getting roles left and right. She started off in small roles on television shows at the age of four and, by 2010, had earned her breakout role in Kick-Ass. It was a violent movie that became a bit controversial, but she received critical acclaim for her work.

13. She’s Still Out of This World

Nowadays, 33-year-old Kirsten Storms is known mostly for playing Maxie on the long-running soap opera, General Hospital. She’s been on the show for an impressive 12 years. During that time, she’s not done much else, and she’s still remembered as her most well-known teen role, that of Zenon in Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. It was a television movie about a teenager who lives on a space station and winds up on Earth. The bubbly blonde went on to make two more Zenon movies, as well as have recurring roles on shows like 7th Heaven and Days of Our Lives. She was 15 when she became famous for playing Zenon, and she was so cute and likable that boys crushed on her and girls wanted to be like her.

12. From a ’70s Chick to an Elegant Black Swan

You probably don’t think of her as a child star, but Ukrainian beauty Mila Kunis actually was! Her very first role was at age 11 on Days of Our Lives, and throughout her childhood, she made appearances on shows like 7th Heaven. But it wasn’t until she was 15 that she got her breakout role as Jackie Burkhardt on That 70’s Show, and from there, her career skyrocketed. Hollywood loved her, and they still do, as do we. Most recently, she played Amy in Bad Moms, a role she’ll reprise this winter in A Bad Moms Christmas. And in real life, she’s a mom, too, to little girl Wyatt and boy Dimitri with husband Ashton Kutcher. The two were co-stars on That 70’s Show and had been longtime friends before a romance finally developed a few years ago.

11. She’s Still Got It!

Christina Ricci‘s childhood work in film was extensive. From playing Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family movies starting at the age of 11 to playing Patti in That Darn Cat when she was 17, Christina was a favorite among ’90s kids. The girls loved to watch her in movies like Casper and Now and Then. Boys did, too, and probably still do. Christina hasn’t left the Hollywood scene and has portrayed different kinds of people. She played serial killer Aileen Wuornos’s lesbian lover in Monster, and axe murderer Lizzie Borden in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. Her versatile work has made her a respected actress with an impressive repertoire. But talent is not all she has going for her, because physically, she’s still got it!

10. Amanda Is What a Boy Wants

For a while during Amanda Bynes‘s childhood, it seemed like she was really going places; she was cute, was funny, was a good actress, and had a great shot at a very successful career. She had a real shot at the big time, but something went wrong, and now she’s known more for her mental breakdowns and drama than any recent work. Still, it’s hard not to have a lasting crush on the girl who got her start as a comedian. The funny gal first became famous on the comedy show All That, and then went on to host her own show, The Amanda Show. From there, she made a bunch of teeny-bopper movies like What a Girl Wants and She’s the Man. But her most recent film was 2010’s Easy A. Amanda is now 31 and hasn’t been working in Hollywood, but she’s still crush-worthy in our eyes!

9. Harriet the Spy, All Grown Up

Remember Eurotrip, one of the greatest movies ever? Michelle Trachtenberg was 19 when she played the girl who made out with her twin brother under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug Absinthe. By then, she had already made quite a name for herself as an actress. At eight years old, she got the role of Lily on All My Children, and at 14, she was in the movie Inspector Gadget. She was Harriet the Spy at 11. For three years, she played Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, until she was 18. Now 32, she’s done numerous movies and shows since. Six Feet Under, Weeds, Gossip Girl, and Guidance were some of the shows she was on. Her last role was in 2016 as Dallas in the television movie Sister Cities, and as far as we can tell, she’s still the girl-next-door type.

8. Baby-Faced Pop Princess

Selena Gomez, now 25, got her start on the most innocent of television shows, Barney and Friends. She was just 10 years old when she played Gianna on the show, and she would go on to become a Disney Channel star as leading lady Alex Russo in The Wizards of Waverly Place when she was 15. She also took part in other Disney shows like Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Selena is also an actress on the big screen, having been in lots of teeny-bopper movies like Princess Protection Program. And even though she’s all grown up now and a major pop princess, she still has that gorgeous baby face fans fell in love with so long ago, and if anything, she only gets prettier the older she gets.

7. She’ll Always Look Like a High-Schooler

Party of Five actress Lacey Chabert was 12 years old when she began playing Claudia Salinger in 1994. For six years, she would portray the youngest Salinger sister in the show about five siblings left to fend for themselves after their parents are killed by a drunk driver. One of her biggest roles since then was the ditzy popular girl Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls, which was a huge success. Lacey was 22 at that point, but thanks to her perpetually youthful looks, she pulled off playing a high-schooler with no problem. Even today at the age of 35, Lacey appears much younger, although, perhaps, the squeaky, childlike voice she’s known for also plays into that younger image.

6. The Girl-Next-Door

Actress Danielle Fishel is probably one of the token young actresses we remember when we think back to our childhood. She starred as the girl next door, Topanga Lawrence, for seven seasons in the late 1990s on Boy Meets World. And she was so awesome that she’s now reprised her role as Topanga in Girl Meets World, in which she and longtime love, Corey Matthews, are parents to a daughter about the same age as they were when Boy Meets World first aired. Boy Meets World followed Topanga and the gang from middle school through college, and many people grew up right along with them. Now, Danielle is 36 years old and has wrapped up filming for good on Girl Meets World, which lasted for three seasons but will not have a fourth. It wasn’t as big of a success as its predecessor, but at least we got to see some more of Danielle, who still looks amazing!

5. Child Star on The O.C.

26-year-old Shailene Woodley is known nowadays for being a hippie who got arrested protesting the Dakota Pipeline, and, of course, for portraying Tris Prior in the Divergent films. But long before any of that, she made many other movies and television shows. Her first big role was playing Marissa Cooper’s little sister, Kaitlyn, on The O.C. when she was 12, and a slew of smaller roles followed until she was 17 and landed the lead role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. For five years, she played teen mom Amy Juergens even though, for most of that time, she was already a legal adult. She wound up becoming a star of the big screen later in her career. Besides the Divergent movies, she had large or leading roles in films like Snowden, The Descendants, and The Fault In Our Stars.

4. A Witchy Little Thing

Any true Harry Potter fan probably had a crush on Hermione Granger, a.k.a. Emma Watson, especially if you grew up alongside her watching the movies. From the age of 11, Emma took on the role of the persnickety Hermione, a witch learning her craft at Hogwart’s alongside Ron Weasley and Harry Potter himself. The trio of actors grew up along with their characters and all their fans. Emma was 21 when the last Harry Potter movie came out in 2011, and since then, she’s starred in movies like The Bling Ring, Beauty and the Beast, and The Circle. Emma is 27 now and will always have Harry Potter in her heart. As she said, “I could be 100 years old and in my rocker, but I’ll still be very proud that I was part of the Harry Potter films.”

3. The Nanny Was Her First Big Role

Madeline Zima started acting in small roles on television when she was just seven years old, and it wasn’t long before she got her breakout role as Grace Sheffield on The Nanny at age eight. For six years, she worked on the sitcom alongside Fran Drescher. Now, she’s 32 and all grown up, but she’s just as easy to crush on now as she was as a teenager. Other shows she’s been on include Heroes, Californication, Betas, and the remake of Twin Peaks. She’s also made movies. And she’s buddies with other crush-worthy child stars, like Hilary and Haylie Duff. Madeline said, “I grew up with a lot of people who are famous now. I was friends with Hilary and Haylie Duff. They are such lovely girls. I have watched their careers blossom, which I am really happy for. I grew up with Ashley Tisdale; we both used to live in Valencia, so we used to hang out back in the day.”

2. We Can’t Help It; We Will Love Them Forever!

Despite their increasing weirdness over the past decade or so, we loved Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen so much as kids that it’s hard not to have a crush on them forever. They were so darn cute on Full House, which they were on since nine months old, and throughout their childhood making mystery movies, slumber-party movies, and fun kid movies like Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble. Then, as teens, they went around the world making teeny-bopper movies like Passport to Paris, When in Rome, Winning London, and Holiday In the Sun. They’ve kind of disappeared off the face of the Earth (Mary-Kate acted slightly longer than Ashley), focusing on their fashion careers. But they’re still petite and cute and successful, so we’ll love them forever! It must be said, however, that we’re a little pissed they refuse to return to their Full House family for its Netflix reboot. What’s up with that?

1. Miley Just Does Miley

The daughter of country swooner Billy Ray Cyrus was the one and only Hannah Montana. She started out her career as a Disney Channel starlet from 2006-2011. When the show started, she was 14 years old, and Hannah Montana defined her for a long time. But as she grew up, she branched out more into her music career. She still dabbled in acting, making movies like The Last Song and The Night Before, as well as appearing on other Disney Channel shows. But for the most part, her career has been about music in recent years, although in 2016, she played Lennie Dale in six episodes of the TV show Crisis in Six Scenes. Miley went from a sweet little girl to a controversial pop star right in front of our eyes. One of the most appealing things about the grown-up Miley is that she really just doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her; she just does Miley.

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