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Former Child Star Christy Carlson Romano "Very Triggered" by Elle Fanning's Story

Elle Fanning recently said she lost a role at 16 for not being sexy enough.

After becoming a Disney Channel star at a young age, Christy Carlson Romano is now an advocate for other child stars and is hoping for change when it comes to the way minor actors are treated. In a new interview, Romano talked about her past as a young TV star, and how she feels about celebrity today.

The 39-year-old also commented on a story that actor Elle Fanning told recently, in which she said that she lost a role at 16 because she wasn't considered sexy enough. Romano said that she found Fanning's story "very triggering."

Read on to find out more of Romano's thoughts on child stardom, and why she was so disturbed by what Fanning shared.

READ THIS NEXT: Miley Cyrus Says "There's So Much She Doesn't Remember" About Being a Child Star.

Romano came to fame as a teen.

Christy Carlson Romano on "Even Stevens"
Disney Channel / YouTube

Romano began starring on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens in 2000 when she was 16 years old. She played Ren Stevens, the sister of Louis Stevens, played by Shia LaBeouf. For the same network, Romano also voiced the title character on the show Kim Possible and starred in the movie Cadet Kelly.

More recently, Romano has shared her experiences as a child star on her YouTube channel and on her podcast, Vulnerable with Christy Carlson Romano, which also features interviews with other former child stars.

Romano has opened up about topics ranging from losing much of the money she made when she was younger, to struggling with drinking and her mental health, to receiving inappropriate fan mail from adults.

Fanning recently talked about her own child star experience.

Elle Fanning at the 2021 InStyle Awards
DFree / Shutterstock

Fanning, who is now 25, became famous as a young girl and is known for roles in Maleficent, Somewhere, and The Great. During The Hollywood Reporter's recent comedy actress roundtable, Fanning told her fellow actors about being turned down for a role when she was 16.

"I've never told this story, but I was trying out for a movie," Fanning recalled. "I didn't get it. I don't even think they ever made it, but it was a father-daughter road trip comedy. I didn't hear from my agents because they wouldn't tell me things like this—that filtration system is really important because there's probably a lot more damaging comments that they filtered—but this one got to me. I was 16 years old, and a person said, 'Oh, she didn't get the father-daughter road trip comedy because she's un[expletive]able."

She added that being "immensely confident" helped her handle the comment, but she called it "disgusting."

Romano found the story triggering.

Christy Carlson Romano at the opening night of "Humans" in 2018
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

In a new interview with Fox News Digital, Romano was asked about Fanning's story.

"I'm so angry," she responded. "I felt very triggered, I felt very helpless and hopeless in some ways because I was like, 'This just keeps happening.' These are people I consider my community."

The mother of two added, "We may not know each other, and at times a lot of us are isolated from our own experience, because how are we ever going to come together and know, 'Oh did you actually start at four years old?' Oh yeah. 'Did you have a stage parent?' Oh yeah. It's like, there's no, there's no meeting rooms for recovered child actors."

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Romano wants change for child actors.

Christy Carlson Romano at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

In the Fox News interview, Romano said of the treatment of child actors, "Until there's any kind of changing of the fundamental infrastructure, things can't change."

She put forth that the change might have to come from the SAG-AFTRA union—which she says could be better at enforcing protections—or from the government.

"We have this industry that benefits off of convenience," Romano continued. "We want it loud, fast, funny and cheap, and we need it right now, and that's how productions work. It's not just a Nickelodeon problem, or a Paramount problem or whoever it is. It's not one particular network's issue. It's an entire industry issue. Which is why it comes back down to either SAG or even child labor on a federal level. That's what I have experienced. I think that that's valuable. So, if I'm talking about it, I'm not trying to whistle blow, it's more or less me just advocating for change."

She finds child acting unethical. 

Christy Carlson Romano and Alyson Stoner recording Romano's podcast "Vulnerable"
Christy Carlson Romano / YouTube

While interviewing another former child star, Alyson Stoner, on her podcast in 2022, Romano said that child stardom is unethical.

"I have been toying with just the concept of improving conditions, but simultaneously, I'm asking myself the ethical questions of: Is there legitimately an ethical way to do this if all of these factors coexist? And I'm not sure," Stoner, who is known for Step Up and Camp Rock, said. "With the current circumstances, and current conditions, and current system, can you justifiably say this is an ethical and healthy decision to make as a parent for your child?"

Romano responded, "No. I'll say that as the parent in the room. It's not ethical."

Similarly, in a 2022 interview with Yahoo!, Romano said, "I think that the industry is a workplace for adults. It's not geared towards protecting kids. It's not a kids' workplace."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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