The perception of being a child star is far from a good one. With the long list of former youngsters who’ve become famous only to grow up and become cautionary tales, it is no wonder that society has pretty much come to expect all of them to go down the same route. Fortunately, it turns out that it is entirely possible for someone to become renowned for their contributions to pop culture as a kid and become functioning adults later in life. They could find happiness in everyday jobs or could continue to make an impact in the lives of the public by continuing in the business, but the important thing is not all child stars have a tragic life. Of course, there are also plenty of them that do which is a sad thing. Still, once we realized that there are many different routes that former stars can take inspired us to put together a list like this one.
Considering that many of the child stars from the 2000s are of an age now where they will hopefully be just finding their stride as an adult, they seemed like the perfect subset to focus on. After all, seventeen years have passed by since the year 2000 which means that kids that were famous at that time will likely at least be in their mid-twenties if not older. Even the former stars from the year 2009 have had eight years go by since then, so they would at least be in their mid to late teens which is a time in life where you really start to see an adult form. Due to that, we bring to you twenty two-thousands kids stars and let you know where they are now.
In order for someone to be considered for inclusion on this list they first and foremost need to have been a star in one field or another between January first, 2000 and December thirty-first, 2009. We don’t care if they made their mark in the music industry, as an actor, or were even some kind of crossover star, as long as a large group of people knew who they were. We do want to make it clear that we will not be looking at the kid stars from this era that are superstars, like Selena Gomez, as everyone knows what they are up to. Furthermore, they need to have been fifteen or under at one point while in the public spotlight as that is the cut-off we have chosen. Finally, the last thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know any of these people personally, so we’ve done our best to figure out what they are up to now from public sources but can’t say with certainty.
20 Raquel Castro
Director Kevin Smith has one of the most rabid fanbases in all of pop culture and for that reason whenever you get cast by him in a major role it has the potential to be a star-making moment. Raquel Castro was given the titular role in his 2004 film Jersey Girl, which came out when she was ten. While the film was not a behemoth with moviegoers or the critics, it earned her a hallowed place in the hearts of a rather loyal fanbase. Continuing to act since, she has appeared in a handful of films since those early days but her most notable role is as Marisol on the show Empire. Outside of the acting world, she also garnered attention when she competed on a season of The Voice and had Christina Aguilera turn her chair around to choose her during the blind portion of the competition.
19 Malcolm David Kelley
Walt! Walt! Walt! We’re guessing that Malcolm David Kelley has had that name screamed at him multiple times in his day to day life due to the character he played on the show Lost. One of the only actors who was forced off the show for the most part due to aging, seasons of the show only took up a handful of dates so as he aged year after year it ceased working, he was still never forgotten. Continuing to act on shows like Saving Grace and Gigantic, his acting never really took off even though he has a 2017 film listed on his Wikipedia. He probably isn’t too upset about that though, as he has transitioned and is now focused on his pop music duo named MKTO, which had a hit song with their summer track “Classic”.
18 Isabelle Fuhrman
Isabelle was twelve when she starred in the horror film Orphan, and we have to say her performance was simply terrifying. A few years later she also played Clove in the first movie in The Hunger Games franchise and has since appeared in movies like After Earth and All the Wilderness. Set to make a return to the horror thriller genre in a movie called Down a Dark Hall, it is a high profile role for her as the movie is set to be produced by Twilight writer Stephanie Meyer. Based on the insanely good performance she gave in Orphan, we can’t wait to see what she can do now that she is nineteen.
17 Frankie Muniz
There are probably still lots of people who know Frankie only by the name of his titular character on the long-standing sitcom Malcolm in the Middle. A show that earned him nominations at the Emmys and Golden Globes, the series came to an end in 2006 but has never been forgotten. Also appearing in movies like My Dog Skip, Big Fat Liar, Deuces Wild, and the Agent Cody Banks movies, he made his mark on cinema. However, in recent years the contributions he’s made to the genre are either nonexistent or were as minor characters in maligned movies like his cameo in 2015’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! which is his last film to date. Seemingly living a calmer life these days, if you want to keep up with him we’d suggest following him on Twitter as the only headlines he’s received of late is for attempting to sell some of his cars. As a former race car driver who competed as recently as 2011 in the Toyota Pro Race, his passion for cars is obvious so those are probably some awesome vehicles.
16 Keisha Castle-Hughes
Over the years there have been several actors who were nominated for Oscars at a young age but in most of those cases, it was for a supporting role. When Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated for her work in the film Whale Rider, a film that came out when she was twelve, she was the youngest person to ever be nominated for Best Actress. Also seen in movies like Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, The Nativity Story, and several other films while still a minor, it seemed like she never had an issue getting cast in roles. That seems to still be the case considering she made an appearance on The Walking Dead and as of 2015 was added to the cast of Game of Thrones as Obara Sand.
15 Abigail Breslin
A former Oscar nominee for her work in the indie darling Little Miss Sunshine, which came out the same year she turned ten, she didn’t take home the trophy but had the hearts of millions of movie fans. Sticking around the acting scene ever since, Abigail is also memorable for her work in movies like No Reservations, Definitely, Maybe, Nim's Island, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and Zombieland, which all came out by 2009, the year she turned thirteen. Fortunately for all of us, she is set to make appearances in three movies that will be released in 2017, including a TV remake of Dirty Dancing, in which she will play Baby. If that weren’t enough for you, she also plays Chanel #5 on Scream Queens and while her character name may make it seem like it is a minor role she is actually one of the show’s stars.
14 Daryl Sabara
Best known as the kid from the Spy Kids trilogy of films, Daryl Sabara has done a lot more in Hollywood that you may not be aware of. Providing his voice for films like Finding Nemo and The Polar Express, he also acted on camera for movies like Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween, World's Greatest Dad, Machete, and much more. Most recently added to the recurring cast of shows like Resident Advisors, Zombie Basement and Ben 10, he isn’t going anywhere considering the latter of which is set to return in February of 2017. However, despite continuing to be cast in roles, he has garnered more attention for his love life than anything else as he has been romantically linked to singer Meghan Trainor.
13 Kiernan Shipka
AMC's Mad Men is almost universally hailed as one of the best shows television has seen in recent years and a key factor in that is the performance of Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper. Starting out as a fairly simplistic character, the daughter of lead character Don Draper, by the time the series ended it was her opinion of him that arguably meant the most to Don and the audience. She’d also undergone a huge character transformation and become a young woman trying to make her way in the world and cope with the dysfunction of both of her parents. Appearing in several sitcoms since, including Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, she has also tried her hand at voicing characters for video games. She is also set to appear on the show Feud in 2017, which is an anthology series created by Ryan Murphy, the mind behind shows like American Horror Story, Scream Queens and American Crime Story.
12 Jeremy Suarez
One of the three kids that go to live with their Uncle Bernie and Aunt Wanda throughout the run of The Bernie Mac Show, Jeremy’s character Jordan, was a real handful. A nerdy character that enjoyed science experiments in the early years but becomes more of the type of character that would be popular as the series progressed, the actor matured alongside his character. Continuing to act up until 2015, we haven’t heard from him since but you never know when he’ll pop back up. After all, he voiced characters in animated movies like Brother Bear and its sequel in the past and has spent years of his life in front of cameras.
11 Amanda Bynes
We mentioned in our intro that there is an expectation that some former child stars will struggle in adulthood but we have to say we were shocked by how things went for Amanda Bynes. A Nickelodeon star throughout her childhood years due to shows like All That and The Amanda Show, she also starred in a WB show in her teen years called What I Like About You. Also a fledgling movie star, movies like What A Girl Wants, She’s the Man, Hairspray, Sydney White and Easy A all depended greatly on her skills. Then, seemingly, out of nowhere, she announced she was retiring from acting in 2010 and was involved in a number of controversies. Reckless Driving, tampering with evidence, possession of marijuana were all things she was arrested for and her parents fought in court to gain control of her through a conservatorship. Fortunately, there seem to be signs that her mental state has improved and she reportedly has turned to a life coach to help her find her way through these troublesome years.
10 Taylor Momsen
From one shocking transformation to another. Highly memorable for her role in the live-action version of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, released in 2000, Taylor played the sticky sweet and innocent character of Cindy Lou Who. Able to break the hearts of much of the audience due to the memorable moment where she sang about yearning for Christmas to arrive, nobody could have known how different her image would become. Spending her teen years on the show Gossip Girl, by the time she departed the show and focused on her music career, she had blossomed into a young woman. If anyone hadn’t realized that was the case yet, she was sure to force the revelation as her stage shows often involved flashing the crowds with only tape covering her nipples. Additionally, the music videos for the band she sings for, The Pretty Reckless who she continues to tour with are not for the faint of heart.
9 Jonathan Lipnicki
A child actor the world fell in love with from the moment his character in Jerry Maguire discussed the weight of the human head, Jonathan beat the odds by receiving notable roles after the 1996 movie. Between Stuart Little 2 and Like Mike, we got to see more of him in the 2000s but after 2004 he all but disappeared. Now twenty-six years old, he doesn’t look anything like what we expected as he has clearly worked hard to have a ripped body. A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he is back at it in acting, working on four projects from 2016, and has a powerful friend, Tom Cruise who he says has “really been there for me”.
8 Madylin Sweeten
You probably don’t recognize her name but the show Madylin Sweeten played a pivotal part in was a television mainstay between 1996 and 2005. Cast as Raymond Barone’s daughter Ally, in the comedy behemoth sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, she spent the early years of her life growing up in front of the world. Set to appear in a Mini-Series named Mildred & Maggie as well as a handful of short films that will likely come and go, her acting career seems to have hit the skids. Thankfully, she has spread her wings and become a producer and writer since so you never know what production she will play a part in going forward.
7 Dakota Fanning
One of the most talented child actors in the history of film, Dakota Fanning’s immense acting skill impressed from the moment she became a star. First coming to prominence due to her major role in the 2001 movie I Am Sam, she brought a shocking amount of maturity to the role despite only being seven which resulted in a SAG Award nomination. Even more impressively, she was the youngest actress to ever receive such a nod at that time. Also known for her supporting role in the Twilight franchise of films as Jane Volturi, it seems like we haven’t heard much of her since then despite a long list of credits. Perhaps her decision to receive more schooling in between 2011 and 2014 has a lot to do with that. Whatever the reason, she seems to have a big role on the horizon as she received a part in the highly anticipated film, Ocean’s Eight.
6 Haley Joel Osment
Unless Haley Joel Osment does something radical or shocking it seems unlikely that he will never cease to be known as the kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense. While that movie came out in 1999, Haley still made our cut due to starring in big films from the 2000s like Pay It Forward, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Secondhand Lions. Pretty much gone from the spotlight for years on end, between 2004 and 2013 he only acted in four films, something changed in 2014. He befriended Kevin Smith, a director who has spent his entire career cultivating lengthy relationships with actors, and Haley’s career is on an upswing now. Appearing in Tusk and Yoga Hosers for Kevin and other movies like Entourage and Me Him Her, in the last few years, we hope this career renaissance continues.
5 Alyson Stoner
A former child star who seemed to be good at pretty much all aspects of the business, if you check out Alyson’s list of credits, be prepared for a lot of information as she is incredibly accomplished. Her debut film was in Cheaper by the Dozen for instance but she also showed up in Step Up and many, many TV shows in the 2000s. However, if you are anything like us you will always think of her as the dancing kid from music videos put out by Missy Elliott, Eminem, Will Smith, and Outkast to name but a few. Continuing to do her thing in movies like Step Up: All In, shows like Voltron: Legendary Defender, and even video games like the Kingdom Hearts series, she continues to be a multi-faceted performer.
4 Bobb'e J. Thompson
A former child star who played parts in movies like Cellular, Idlewild, Fred Claus, and Columbus Day all before receiving his breakthrough part, he had years of experience already under his belt. Perhaps that is why he was convincing in the movie Role Models where he played a foul-mouthed kid who carried himself like a much older and more cynical child. Currently twenty years old, he seems to still be trying to make as an actor. Looking at his IMDb page, he is set to appear in a show later this year and has a movie on the books for 2018 already. If you want to check out his most recent work that is already released then you need to track down the indie darling film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Someone whose debut single, “Leave (Get Out)” reached the top of the Billboard Pop Songs chart when she was just thirteen, Jojo became an overnight sensation. Due in large part to the aforementioned song that would go on to be certified gold, her debut album has sold more than four million copies since its initial release which is an impressive achievement for anyone. Unfortunately, she didn’t release any albums between 2006 and 2014. For those wondering why she gave an interview where she claimed that is because she was “trapped in a contract for seven years”. She says that she consistently submitted songs for possible release during those years but Blackground Records showed no interest. Finally, her deal expired in 2014 which led to her signing with Atlantic Records and releasing an album called Mad Love in 2016, which debuted at number six on the Billboard 200.
2 Tom Felton
When deciding who to put on this list it dawned on us, we could probably just populate it with former stars of the Harry Potter franchise, wipe our hands of it and walk away. However, we knew that our readers already know what is up in the lives of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe and there are loads of lists like this one about the Potter kids. Instead, we’ve opted to only include Tom Felton, the kid millions loved to hate due to his convincing performance as Draco Malfoy. Sticking it out in the acting world, his biggest role to date came in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. However, that may change soon as he is credited with having a part in the upcoming X-Men spin-off film, Logan.
1 Alexa Vega
Best known for her starring role in the Spy Kids trilogy of films that were made by Robert Rodriguez, Alexa also appeared in movies like The Glimmer Man, Little Giants and Sleepover as a youngster. Oftentimes going by the name Alexa PenaVega these days after marrying former Nickelodeon star Carlos Pena Jr, Alexa has continued to keep a career in the spotlight as an adult. Still working with Robert Rodriguez in both Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, between 2010 and 2015 she appeared in twenty-two different films and several shows. A contestant in the twenty-first season of Dancing with the Stars in 2015, her Hollywood career continues these days as evidenced by the fact that she is set to appear in the 2017 movie Sleep Away.
Sources: hngn, mirror, dailymail, etonline, moviepilot