Tyler James Williams is having the comeback ride of a lifetime. The Everybody Hates Chris star was off the radar for years but resurfaced in The United States vs. Billie Holiday in 2021 before starring in the massive hit show Abbott Elementary. Williams is doing a lot of press these days and opened up about his journey from child star to primetime star and how he was affected along the way. His story mirrors that of many other child actors.
Hollywood has a way of discovering a cute kid and seemingly destroying them by the time they reach 18. The child star curse is well known, with many people working hard to make the transition without losing themselves. There are far fewer success stories than trainwrecks. Orlando Brown is a glaring example of one, having spiraled out of control after That’s So Raven and becoming known for his substance issues, outburst, and mental illness. Brown most recently cried for 5 minutes during an interview while alleging that someone had been after him and his family.
Amanda Bynes also suffered a similar spiral. Starting on Nickelodeon’s All That before scoring her own show, Bynes seemed like she had dodged the curse making the successful leap to a more mature show, What I Like About You. Things got weird when she began wearing wigs, tattooing her face, and tweeting insane things about Drake.
Lindsey Lohan took a swift fall from grace following a pretty successful transition from child star to teen idol. Unfortunately, as adulthood crept in more, so did an obsession with partying, substances, and tabloid headlines. Lohan has had a handful of mugshots over the years and even started talking in weird accents and trying to steal people’s kids on social media. In recent years she has tried to stage a comeback, but it has been nothing like her glory days.
Less tragic transitions have been the ones of Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez. While they clearly broke from childhood into pop stardom with some minor hiccups, they have managed to maintain pretty steady careers and success in their older years. Miley is still a force on the pop charts, while Selena Gomez has a hit television show and a cooking empire. Demi Lovato might be the most scathed from their generation, falling off the wagon every few years due to substance and mental issues. These days she seems to be on a steady path.
Tyler James Williams looks to go the way of the Mileys or Selenas. After Everybody Hates Chris wrapped, he starred in a handful of Disney projects in his teens before falling off the map. The stress of being jobless would impact his Crohn’s disease, causing him to lose six inches of his intestines. Tyler says he was terrified of the “child star curse” and was even more cautious because he briefly shared a manager with Lindsey Lohan and knew how bad it could get.
Tyler admits he became hyper-calculated in everything he did to avoid such tropes but ended up hiring a therapist to help him cope with his fears. “As a child, it’s really weird when your audience tells you that you did such a good job at something that they don’t want you to do anything else,” he recalled.