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5 Child Stars That Found Success Outside of Hollywood

Find out what these young actors did after Hollywood

Being a child star in Hollywood isn’t as easy as it seems. Aside from the grueling schedules that films and TV shows demand on these young actors, the profession has occasionally been known to lead otherwise normal children to lives of addiction and loneliness. A rare few child stars manage to turn their first gigs into lifelong careers, but most vanish into obscurity while chasing remnants of the spotlight. There are some, however, who willingly leave acting to pursue other passions and end up finding success in their own ways.

Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson, 28, is probably best known for her lead role in “Matilda” (1996), but cinephiles will also recognize her from films such as “Miracle on 34th Street” (1994) and “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993). Though she was a promising young actress, she left the business in 2000 and wrote in a 2012 blog post that “film acting is not very fun.” Instead, The Richest reports that Wilson now regularly contributes to the nonprofit organization Publicolor, and is actively pursuing a career as a young adult novelist, which seems almost too fitting given her character’s fascination with literature in “Matilda.”

Jeff Cohen

Though forty-one-year-old Jeff Cohen guest starred in a number of TV shows, he is most famously remembered as Chunk in “The Goonies,” a 1985 coming-of-age tale that sends a group of kids on a quest for hidden treasure. This film and Cohen’s other cinematic ventures often poked fun at his weight, so he eventually joined his high school football team to shed some pounds. In doing so, he abandoned his budding acting career. Now, Cohen is a highly successful entertainment lawyer based out of Hollywood.

Rider Strong

In the 1990s, teen heartthrob Rider Strong, 35, played alongside Ben Savage as Corey Matthews’ best friend Shawn Hunter on the hit ABC comedy, “Boy Meets World.” While Strong has made film and TV appearances since the show’s finale in 2000, including the spinoff “Girl Meets World” that is currently produced by The Disney Channel, he has mostly found success in other ways. For example, in 2008, Strong, his brother and his girlfriend submitted a commercial to in support of presidential candidate Barack Obama; the ad was aired on MTV and Comedy Central. Business Insider also reports that Strong studied at Columbia and now runs a literary podcast and blog, dubbed Literary Disco.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

The Olsen twins, 29, became Hollywood sensations as infants when they were cast to play Michelle Tanner (they shared the role) in “Full House.” They went on to star as individual characters in a number of films during the 1990s, including “Double, Double Toil and Trouble” (1993), “How the West Was Fun” (1994) and “It Takes Two” (1995). As they aged, the fraternal twins starred in fewer movies—“New York Minute” (2004) was their last big hit—but they still managed to find success with their own fashion label, according to the Daily Mail. In fact, the two have an estimated worth of $100 million.

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Black (1928 – 2014), known famously as Shirley Temple, was arguably the first “child star” to find success outside of Hollywood. After singing her way into the nation’s heart in films such as “Heidi” (1937) and “The Little Princess” (1939), Temple moved into the political arena. She first ran for Congress in 1967 but failed, so she then sought out roles in foreign service. Eventually, Temple served as the United States Ambassador to Ghana (1974 – 1976) and the Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989 – 1992), according to Time.

While not all beloved child stars go on to make movies and star in TV shows regularly in their adulthood, many do lead successful lives outside of Hollywood. To them, success is not measured by the number of films they star in but perhaps by the fulfillment of some other passion.

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