The director gave me a tablet while we were waiting for the next scene. I never questioned when directors gave me tablets anymore. This one was to give me energy and help me stay awake. It was just as part of being a child actress at Hollywood. The hours were long, and the tablets helped me concentrate and relax. To be honest, I never did think it was bad that they gave me tablets. I thought everyone got them. Sometimes I even asked for them and I have been known to go as far as to beg for a tablet.
I was a child star since I was 5. That is 8 years ago! It seems like a lifetime. I was a megastar in Hollywood and every girl in the country wished that they were me! They did not know what my life was like and I did not know what a normal childhood was. I thought every child worked in some way.
My life was controlled by my parents and agents and directors. They decided everything! When I worked and when I was home. They decided when I could take a break. I had to say the lines they wanted and smile and cry when they wanted. So being a good actress was just being able to take orders.
The film I was doing now was important. It was about a girl that became friends with a ghost. The ghost could not find the gates to heaven and she was very scared and lonely. So my character became her friend. The problem was that my character was teased and everyone thought she was crazy because she said she could see a ghost. So my character was put in a mental institution. However, she could still see the ghost. It was a sad film and we had to do scenes so many times, as the director was a perfectionist.
I was told that it was important that this film would be a success, as my last two films were a flop. I suppose that’s the danger of being a child actress. Everyone thinks you are cute and does not want you to grow up. Some were beginning to say that “Lourdes Aires is soon a teenager, and she is no longer the cute girl we all loved.“. This film was supposed to show the world that I can do a teen film and that I was just not cute, but I had talent. So I was told that the studio could not afford any more flops. This was a lot of pressure put on me.
As you can guess, my name is Lourdes Aires. I was 13 when all this happened. I spent all my life in Hollywood. My mom always wanted to be famous but never did get the chance to show her talent. I had an older brother that was 14 when I was born. That is right, Mom had me for one reason. She planned that I would be the next big thing in Hollywood. So from the day I was born, I was groomed to be an actress. Mom would brush my hair until it looked divine. I learned how to smile and dance. I learned how to look cuter than I was. Mom called this when I sparkled. She would tell me to “sparkle” when I needed to screw up the charm.
I did a few commercials when I was 5. This would have been enough for me, but it just made mom more of a stage mom. This meant I was taken from one audition to the next audition. This was not my favorite thing to do. There were always 100 other girls that wanted the same role. Most of them had a mom that was just as ambitious as mine. So we went to a few auditions every week, and every week we got several negative answers. The more people that said no, the more mom wanted to try. I found auditions to be very boring, but I did not know anything else.
I remember when I tried talking to another girl at an audition, then mom would get mad and say I should not be friends with the girl, as she was competition. This meant that I never had friends my own age, as they were all considered some form of competition. This made me lonely in a way and more dependent on mom, that was really my only friend. I suppose that is why I never complained to when she took me to all these auditions or spent hours so my hair looked perfect.
Mom assured me that one day I would be famous and everyone would know who “Lourdes Aires” was. I did not understand this, as I did not understand the concept of fame.
I was lucky, as one director like me in an ad I did. So when I was 6, I was in my first movie. I was staring along with the most famous actor in Hollywood. The film was a huge success, and people boasted that I stole the limelight from him. People thought I was the cutest child they ever seen on film.
The next film was important, as I would be the star. A film was written especially for me. It was a space film, where my family was traveling through space and the space ship crashed on the planet of the apes. My family was killed in the film and I was a slave to the apes. It ended up where the apes loved me as a daughter and I was adopted. This meant that humans were no longer slaves. The film was one of the top 10 grossing films ever.
So I quickly became a Hollywood star, and the movie studio cashed in the success. Since I was 6, I have been doing one film after another. I never had holidays. It was like when I started a film, the next one was already being planned. Mom got what she wanted. All the films were huge successes and the contract renewals kept on earning me more and more money. I was being paid more than any other actress in Hollywood. This made many jealous, as they wanted to know how a child can earn more than the adults.
Everything was going fine until I became 12. This is when a film flopped. Hardly anyone wanted to see it. This was so hard for me to accept as I was now only used to being the most noticed child in the world. I kept on asking myself why people did not like my films anymore. Everyone told me not to worry, as the next film would be like the good days.
That film flopped as well.
Now it was important that the ghost film I was working on would be a success. This was also because it was the last film on my contract.
Halfways during doing the film, the director got mad at me when everyone was watching. Fans may have shown respect for me, but directors never did. I was just a small girl they could boss around, so they could add a hit film to their CV. They were always mad about something. Today he saw me drink some Pepsi during a break. He shouted that I should take care of my body and he did not want a plump child in the movie. He continued on how much I ate and how sodas destroyed the body. This was not the first time I heard this. I heard constantly the dangers of eating and becoming fat. This meant I was giving diet tablets and if I ate more than the movie studio liked, I would visit the toilet and tickle my throat until the food came out again. Mostly the movie studio gave me diet tablets and said if I was really thirsty, I could drink coffee.
The director told me that I was not to eat anything else that day!
Fans were not as harsh. This does not mean they left me alone. On the contrary, I could not go in public besides a group of fans standing around me. They would poke or try to touch me until I was black and blue. They would tell me how much they loved me and how great I was. This was all nice and it was nice that people thought I was talented. The problem is some were hard die fans. They knew everything about my movies and seen the movies countless times. They would camp outside where I lived or where I was, just for a glimpse of me. Some were scary, like sending fan letters that I was really their daughter or they wanted to marry me! Fans did not believe that I should have peace or a normal life.
One thing about fans is that they really did not know me. They knew the image that the movie studio wanted me to have. This meant that they thought I was an all American girl that was cute and innocent. I was a girl you would be proud of and love to cuddle or buy me dolls or teddy bears! They did not know who I really was.
The movie studio was no better. They did not care who I really was. They wanted me to have an image and did every trick they could think of to get the most money they could from my films. When I was 7, they changed the wardrobe that I had. Now I wore short dresses or skirts and the tops always came far down in the front. Dad did not like it if there was a glimpse of my panties during a film. However, the studio got what they wanted. I had a lot of girls that were my fans. Because they dreamed of having the life that I had. I also had a lot of men that were fans, for the wrong reasons.
Another trick they did was to give me tablets for everything. I had tablets to keep me awake. I had tablets to get rid of anxiety. I had some to help me concentrate. Some were diet ones, to keep me skinny and some were to make sure I was in a good mood. You can say I was a drug addict, as I really did need them as the years passed on. I even begged for them!
When I was 9, they started giving me injections. These were puberty blockers. The studio wanted me to stay young for as long as possible and they did not want my body to develop to a teen or a young woman. None one ever questioned if these blocker injections were ethical or if it was some form of abuse. It was all about money and they did not want to take a chance on fans accepting me that I became older. They thought fans liked me as a little girl and the injections would keep the money rolling in.
So as a 13-year-old girl, I was the size and had the body of a 10-year-old.
The ghost movie was over and mom was excited. It was time to negotiate a new contract. For my mom, this meant that she could ask for more money. She said it was also time she was demanding. She wanted better roles for me and she wanted the studio to help me from a child star to an adult star. My mom was a tough negotiator and usually got what she wanted.
I was looking forward to a small break until the contract was finalized and the next film was planned.
This was not to be the case. I had to help promote the film. This meant that I had to go from one talk show to another talk show and talk about the movie. This was hard as it meant that I had to smile and say things like it was the best film I ever did. I would get the same questions every time, like did I miss having a normal childhood and what it was like being famous?
One of these night shows asked if I ever took drugs. I played all innocent and told him drugs were bad. He kept on asking and even implied that he thought I was a little high. I just laughed at this. The truth was that the movie studio gave me an injection a few hours before because I was so tired and they said I was not smiling enough. So in reality, I was a small bit high and the TV host was not stupid. I just hoped that the whole world did not think I was a drug addict.
The ghost film flopped, despite the studio used so much money in special effects and advertising and promotion. The critics slammed it, saying I tried too much and at my best, it looked like I was doped. They could not understand what the film was about. They all agreed that I lost the “sparkle” and was no longer cute. I became too old at the age of 13!
After the film flopped, Mom was told that they would not be renewing my contract. They explained that I was now costing too much money and the fans did not want me to be an adult star. The movie boss explained that cuteness fades. He suggested that I retire and lead a normal life. I have my place in history and people would always love the films that I have done.
All good things must come to an end.
Mom could not accept this, so over the next few weeks, she was ringing to everyone she knew in Hollywood. They all gave her the same answer. My time in the spotlight was over and it was too much of a risk.
For the first time in 8 years, I had nothing to do. Most retire when they are over 60. I retired when I was 13! I always wanted some rest and a chance to just play and things. The problem was that I did not know how to play. I only knew how to act. I missed the work and I missed the attention.
I asked mom one day how I would be a normal girl? Would I now go to school? Could I meet girls my own age and be friends with them?
Mom told me not to give up. She was still ringing around in Hollywood.
I was so confused. I had a stack of tablets that I saved over the years. They were in a box hidden behind my desk. I took two tablets and sat in the corner of my room.
For the first time that I could remember, I was afraid. I was afraid of the future.