Becoming famous at a young age can be exciting, life changing, and can lead to long successful careers. Just look at Leonardo DiCaprio, Anna Paquin, and Natalie Portman as proof positive that there is life after child stardom.
But all too often, young actors and models fall prey to harmful work environments and bad influences as the people who should be looking out for them take advantage of their age and naivety. The problem is so pervasive, in fact, that the cause of young performers is now being taken up by those at the top of the legislative food chain in Congress.
This week, Congresswoman Grace Meng of New York introduced the Child Performers Protection Act of 2015, a new bill that will provide federal-level protection for performers under the age of 16.
“Working as a child model or actor can be an incredible opportunity and lead to success for a lifetime,” Meng told the New York Times. “However, the work can come with much risk. Although there are a patchwork of disparate state laws, these regulations offer inconsistent protections. That’s why we need a national standard.”
The potential law comes after a renewed interest in underage models on runways and revelations that many of the child protection laws put in place outside states like California and New York hardly offer children the resources they need to make it out of child stardom whole.
Under the new law, there would be a nationwide standard for salary, savings, working hours, and various protocols should a child performer experience sexual harassment while on the job. In other words, child performers would gain the same rights as their adult counterparts and then some.
There’s no word yet on when the bill will be put to a vote, but it is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Education and the Work Force, where, according to Congresswoman Meng, the plight of some child performers has been met with no small amount of empathy.
Here’s hoping this bill passes.
[Image via Shutterstock]