Social Media: Are we all celebrities now?

No sage advice or feisty banter today. Just thought I’d sit down and chat about some random thoughts swirling around in this little head of mine.

When my daughter was a mere six months old, people encouraged me to get her into acting. I pushed off the relentless comments until she was about a year old and then took a stab at it. I thought, “Why not? If so many people keep making the same comment, then why not take a stab at it, and potentially bolster her college fund.” I was quickly put off by the pressure I saw parents and directors putting on diaper-bound toddlers, that I ended that chapter of her young life.

Fast forward six years and my daughter suddenly expressed a desire to go into acting and modelling. Ugh… here we go again. The comments about her potential success in the entertainment industry had never waned, but they fell on my deaf ears. I didn’t want that life for her.

In the hopes of making my child realize that she was not the right fit for that industry, I signed her up for a media kids program that would cover both modelling and acting. I figured that she’d realize it wasn’t for her, and we’d be done with it after the ten sessions were finished.

I was wrong.

Long story short, she was picked up by an agent and got on the fast-track towards getting her face on both the small and big screens. I cringed at every audition, hoping that she’d be chosen, but hoping that she wouldn’t.

You see, my feelings were completely conflicted because I saw how important it was to her, how hard she was working, and how damn good she was. Yet, I didn’t want that life for her. I didn’t know how her psyche would handle it.

Things got really intense when she was tied for the lead child role in a weekly TV drama series. The callback audition was that same day, and intense. She dropped a line. Her agent was told that because of how torn they were between the two candidates, they had to use the dropped line as their deciding factor. I don’t remember the name of the show now, but my mother used to watch it, and every week she’d call me and say, “Daniella would have been so much better in that role.”

Then the big one hit. Tied again, but this time to play Jennifer Lopez’ daughter in An Unfinished Life. Seeing as, for years, everyone called my daughter “Mini J-Lo,” we all held our breath. She was the spitting image of Ms. Lopez, so we thought that would tip the scales. Then we got the call from her agent. It was a dead heat again, and they chose the other actress because she already had a couple roles under her belt. They were nervous about taking a risk on a newcomer.

That rejection was it for her—she was tired. I was relieved but also felt so bad for her. She really was a good actress, and I had made sure to keep her grounded during the whole process. When she first started auditioning (and I saw the behaviour of the kids and their parents), I told her very firmly, “Acting is about becoming a character for the sake of the project. If you ever walk out of an audition or filming, and you are not Daniella, you are done.” Bottom line is that she knew going in, that a primadonna attitude would cause her to lose it all.

What if she had gotten one of those two roles? What if she had become famous? Would her type of personality have been able to handle being in the public eye?

With social media these days, we have all celebritized ourselves. With every selfie or post we put out into the cyberverse, we silently sign a permission slip for anyone to judge us publically. Thanks to social media, we’ve taken bullying and narcissism to a whole new level.

So now, as I hear the barrage of comments by strangers, friends, and family about putting my granddaughter into acting, I am having flashbacks.

My granddaughter has a lightning bolt personality—she is nothing like the calm, old-soul that my daughter was. When she walks into a room, it explodes. She is strong and feisty and has more wit, sarcasm, and attitude wrapped up in her almost-four-year-old pinky than Statler and Waldorf (the ornery judges on the Muppet Show) combined.

Since social media has enabled anyone to be a self-created celebrity, does that mean she’ll be better able to handle it? I really don’t think so.

We have watched so many talented people fall because of those pressures—why would I ever want to subject my little firecracker to that? Robin Williams, Marylin Monroe, Prince, Elvis, Heath Ledger… The list goes on of those who have passed tragically and far too soon. We also watch so many of our young stars unravel before our eyes. The likes of Britney Spears, Justin Beiber, Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes…

If these seemingly strong and talented individuals crumbled under the pressures of their celebrity, what can our family do to ensure that, if my granddaughter does go down that path, she will, instead, have a Betty White kind of career?

Only time will tell.

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