Hey! My name is Audrey. And to understand
my story …first you’ve got to understand my dad. When my dad was younger he was
sort of famous. Not Brad Pitt level famous, but he had parts in a couple of
TV shows, and he released a few songs as a musician that got into the top 100
chart. He never got the starring role, and his songs never made it into the top 50,
but he kept trying. That is, until he met my mom, and they had me. I was an accident,
but when Mom found out that she was pregnant, Dad proposed… and the rest is
history. When I was born he started working for
an IT company, but he never gave up his dreams of fame and fortune. I’ll be the
first to admit, I was a cute baby. I had soft ,chubby cheeks and golden
curls, even when I was only a couple of weeks old. I think that’s what gave Dad
the idea that I could be a star. The first thing he auditioned before was a
diaper commercial… it’s such a weird thought! A baby, in an audition. Anyway
they must have thought that I was cute too because I got the part, and my 10
seconds of fame. We still have a tape of the commercial somewhere- all I do is
giggle at the camera and crawl around happily my diapers. I find it kind of
embarrassing now, but it’s a fun fact to share during icebreakers. Anyway, Dad
really got the bug after that. He was spending his nights scrolling through
castings and sending my pictures out. He was emailing all the producers he knew
and asking around whether they needed a baby for their next project, and I was
getting jobs! I got pretty used to being in front of a camera by the time I was a
toddler. It was just little commercials and modeling jobs for a couple of years,
up until I auditioned for a role on a family sitcom. The part was for the
youngest daughter of the family -a silly, goofy, but charming little girl. I went
through the whole audition process and one night my family received a call… I
got the job! Filming was crazy intense. I was five, and should have been
starting kindergarten, but because I had to be on set for so long every day, I had
a tutor homeschool me instead. It was pretty cool, though ,because all
the kids on set treated me like I was their little sister, and the adults
treated me like I was their kid. I actually got really good at hanging out
with people who were older than me- the downside though was that I didn’t really
know any kids my own age. Our first season was getting amazing reviews, so as
soon as we had finished filming season 1, we were signed on for season 2.
People started to recognize me on the street as that cute little kid on TV.
Dad encouraged me to chat with them and take selfies with them if they asked, but
mom was always uncomfortable with her little girl talking to strangers. And
that’s the way my life went for years. I worked, I got tutored on set, I worked and
I went home. I was always the only person my age, so there was nobody to do little
kid stuff with, or even do homework or projects with. Thinking back I never
really had a best friend my own age. And I never really got to take it easy and
be a kid. I was either on set working, or I was studying, or I was at home, which
usually meant practicing my lines, eating, and sleeping. I think subconsciously I
really started to miss growing up like a normal kid -even though I didn’t even
know what that would be like. it’s just that deep inside I had this craving that
I couldn’t satisfy ,and I felt like something was wrong. I don’t exactly
remember how it started, but my cute, carefree personality started to change
too. I stopped being so comfortable in crowds
of new people; instead, they made me feel anxious. My heart would pound. Sometimes
it was so loud I could hear it in my ears. I started trying to avoid the meet
and greets. I would lie and pretend, I had a stomachache or a headache or a fever.
Sometimes, it worked (if Mom was there), but mostly it didn’t (if
Dad was there). Dad would sigh, look me up and down, and tell me that I was just
tired. “You got to get out there champ!” he’d say, patting me on the shoulder. But
then, more and more, Dad wasn’t even there. It was my manager who’d be pushing me. At
first I just had anxiety when I was in crowds of new people, but then it started
to affect my performance too. It sounds so weird to say that
“my performance” I was just a little kid! But I started stuttering and going blank
when I was in front of the camera, even though I’d practiced my line over and
over. It felt like it was never going into my brain. My manager and Dad got
more and more annoyed at me. Mom was concerned, but I insisted that, I was fine,
I was just tired. My breaking point came during a scene that wasn’t even about me.
All I had was one line and I just couldn’t do it. During some takes the
completely wrong thing would come out of my mouth, and during others, it would just
be a string of random jumbled sounds. Before I knew it, tears were streaming
down my face and I was choking on a lump in my throat so big that I couldn’t talk.
I knew there were people holding my shoulders and talking to me, but all I
could hear was my heart thumping in my ears and my breathing getting faster and
faster. Dad yelled at me and I just cried in silence. I couldn’t do it anymore.
I just couldn’t! When Mom was called to the set to take care of me, she was
FURIOUS. Not with me- with the directors, with my manager who had pushed me to
work too many hours, and ESPECIALLY with Dad. She picked me up like she used to
when I was a little baby, and just carried me away. She took me out for
milkshakes, and she let me have two because I couldn’t choose between
strawberry and caramel. I guess that’s a weird thing to remember but I really was
just a kid. I told her everything. “Do you even like acting?” she asked. I didn’t know.
I didn’t know what it was like to not be an actor. I just sobbed into my milkshake.
Mom reached across the table, held my hand in hers, and promised that I would
be just a normal kid from now on. I wasn’t there for the conversation
between Mom and Dad that night, but I know it didn’t go well. Mom was angry at
Dad for not being honest about how hard I was working, and how much I had been
struggling, and Dad was angry at Mom for “not letting me reach my full potential”
and told her “somebody like you, who never made it, will never understand show
business!” Mom stormed out of there and served him with divorce papers the very
next day. It sounds harsh but she had to make a choice- and she chose me.
They’d already had some other issues and this was the last straw. Adjusting to
life from acting was hard. I wasn’t used to spending so much time with kids my
own age, and at first, I struggled to make friends. But over time, I got less anxious
and learned what it was like to go out and have fun. And all of a sudden, I had
time for hobbies and to play sports- Photography! Swimming! Chess! I tried out
all the clubs at school except for one- there was no way you’d catch me in
drama club! My relationship with my dad is still pretty strained, but we’re
working on it. I know that deep inside he feels that
I’ve “wasted my talent” but I hope that he can learn that it’s better for him to
pursue his own dreams than to try and make me do it for him. My anxieties
gotten a lot better now, and I think he’s starting to see that fame just wasn’t
good for me. My mom and I are closer than ever.
She’s awesome, and I will always be grateful for her for doing what was best
for me, no matter the cost! Now it seems like my time as a child celebrity was in
a different lifetime. I don’t even get recognized anymore. My blonde baby hair
grew out to dark brown, and I’m much taller than I was then.
But when someone does ask, if I was on that show, I just laugh and I say “yeah I
was but acting wasn’t for me”. How about you? Did you ever have to do something
you didn’t want to do just so someone could live their dreams through you?
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