Former child actor Mara Wilson is speaking out about the negative effects of fame at a young age.
In an interview with The Guardian, Wilson, who rose to fame with her role in Mrs. Doubtfire at the age of 6, discussed the sexualization she experienced as a child star. She acknowledged that being a child actor often leaves lasting damage. While she felt safe on film sets due to working with wonderful directors, she faced sexualization from the outside world, including receiving inappropriate letters and encountering online posts about her.
Wilson highlighted the weight of constant media attention during her childhood. Even at the age of 7, she was asked by journalists about mature topics like French kissing and her perception of attractive actors. Wilson also addressed the challenge of living up to the beloved character Matilda, whom she portrayed in the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book.
She noted that fans had high expectations of her, assuming she would possess Matilda’s intelligence, kindness, and power. However, Wilson described herself as a nerdy and occasionally angry teenager who couldn’t match the fictional character. This discrepancy caused disappointment among some fans.
As Wilson entered puberty, she felt that Hollywood was no longer interested in her. She recalled a director asking her to wear a sports bra at the age of 12 to flatten her breasts, which had a lasting impact on her self-perception. She connected her worth with her appearance, believing that if she wasn’t cute or beautiful anymore, she would be considered worthless. This association with the decline of her career affected her for a long time.
Wilson admitted struggling with body dysmorphia and an obsession with her appearance. She believed that her looks played a significant role in her success and felt rejected when she no longer fit Hollywood’s beauty standards.
Throughout her career, Wilson has been an advocate for fellow child stars. She has written essays criticizing the sexualization of young actors, such as Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things, and the mistreatment of singer Britney Spears.
By speaking openly about her experiences, Mara Wilson aims to shed light on the challenges faced by child actors and contribute to discussions about the industry’s impact on young performers.