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How Mary-Kate & Ashley Stopped Elizabeth Olsen From Being a Child Star

"What I saw my sisters do was work, not play."

From the late '80s to the early '00s, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were two of the most popular child stars on the planet. First they starred on Full House, then came their self-branded movies, books, more TV shows, and every type of merchandise imaginable. But now that the twin sisters have switched careers and become fashion designers, who live largely out of the spotlight, the most famous Olsen actor is their sister Elizabeth Olsen. Elizabeth started her career as an adult, rather than as a kid, and that's thanks in part to her older sisters.

In a new interview with Parade, Elizabeth talked about how seeing her sisters working as children made her reconsider jumping into acting at a young age. Read on to see what she had to say about Mary-Kate and Ashley's influence. And for more on celebrity siblings, check out Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Siblings.

Read the original article on Best Life.

She caught the acting bug early, but her parents explained what she'd be giving up.

Elizabeth Olsen 2012
DFree /

Elizabeth knew that she wanted to be an actor when she was a kid. "Besides the camps I did, and being in my dance class and singing classes, I loved Frank Sinatra musicals, and I really wanted to do that as well," she told Parade. So, her parents told her that she could try acting, but made sure she understood what she'd be sacrificing.

"My parents said, 'OK, well if that's what you really want to do, then you have to know that you are going to risk not being a part of the sports team, you're going to have to risk not being a part of ballet after school.' And so, I did that for three months of my childhood, but it wasn't worth it to me to work for a living."

Elizabeth did sometimes pop up in her sisters' projects, which she talked about during an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. But she mostly lived life like a regular kid.

For a look at another child star, check out What the Actor Who Played Cindy Lou Who Looks Like 20 Years Later.

Watching her sisters helped her make her decision.

mary kate and ashley olsen, vintage red carpet photos
Vicki L. Miller/Shutterstock

"What I saw my sisters do was work, not play, and I really enjoyed ballet, and I really enjoyed playing sports," Elizabeth told Parade. "It took away from that experience."

Mary-Kate and Ashley began working on Full House in 1987 when they were only six months old, and shared the role of Michelle Tanner due to restrictions about how long children can work. So, Elizabeth, who was born in 1989, spent all of her childhood watching her older siblings working consistently.

"My dad quite literally asked me to write a pros and cons list so that I could make an informed decision at the age of—I think I was in fourth grade, so you're 9 I think," Elizabeth continued. "So I wrote a pros and cons list and I decided that it was more important for me to be able to do extracurriculars."

For another look back at young stars, check out The Biggest Child Actors Ever, Then and Now.

She also had "shame" about wanting to act.

Elizabeth Olsen 2011
Featureflash Photo Agency /

"[A]s I got older, I think the desire to be an actor while living in L.A. was embarrassing, because when you're from L.A. you're kind of like, 'Oh, yeah, everyone wants to do that. Do something more interesting,'" Elizabeth explained in the interview. "I was a really academic student, so I had a lot of shame about that. I just pretended like I didn't want to do it. I was like, 'I'll just be an accountant,' because I was good at math. I'm 14 saying these things."

Her perspective changed as she moved on in high school. A good drama teacher made Elizabeth see that acting can be academic, too. "[I]t was more about the process, and the history, and the intellectual experience of what it means to collaborate and tell a story," she explained. "And through thinking about theater from an academic perspective, I allowed myself to be OK with it. Which is sad that you have to give yourself a better reason to do something you want to do, but that's what allowed me to want to pursue it in college."

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Mary-Kate and Ashley have shared other advice with their younger sister.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
lev radin/Shutterstock

Elizabeth has since become a huge star, known for playing Wanda Maximoff (AKA Scarlet Witch) in several Marvel movies, including Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. She will reprise her role as the character in the upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision. She's also starred in several independent films including Martha Marcy May Marlene and Ingrid Goes West.

But in a 2017 interview with Modern Luxury (via W Magazine), she said that her sisters gave her advice that changed the way she interacts with the media. "I was not caring what I was saying [in interviews] because I'd assumed no one would read it," Elizabeth explained. "That's when we'd have conversations. [Mary-Kate and Ashley] would say, 'You know, even if you don't think anyone's going to read this article, someone might pull the quote later for [something else].' It's all part of how you hope someone interprets you, and how they frame who you are and the work you do. They're very tight-lipped—notoriously so."

Elizabeth said that after hearing this advice, she decided to no longer share information about her personal life that involved anyone else. "If it only involves me, then I'll share it, but if it involves another party ever, then I won't."

To read about a couple of other child stars, check out Jada Pinkett Smith Regrets Doing This One Thing With Her Kids.

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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