This Child Star Is Revealing the Damage of Being Sexualized at a Young Age
"School of Rock" actor Rivkah Reyes suffered from addiction and bullying after the film.
In 2003, Rivkah Reyes played the young bassist named Katie in the Jack Black movie School of Rock. Now, the former child actor is revealing how the experience led to her being sexualized and stalked at a young age and bullied in school. In light of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, which documents the pop star's own rise to fame at a young age, Reyes, who uses gender neutral pronouns, spoke to the New York Post about how they can relate to Spears and the struggles they faced after appearing in the movie.
Reyes told the publication that they were teased in school and received inappropriate comments from adult men. The now 28-year-old went on to suffer from various forms of addiction while coping with the trauma they experienced. Read on to see what Reyes has said about their experience after becoming a child star and what they are up to today. And for more on the pitfalls of child stardom, read How Mary-Kate & Ashley Stopped Elizabeth Olsen From Being a Child Star.
Reyes said the experience of making School of Rock was "nothing but love and support," but things changed afterwards.
In a 2020 essay published on Medium titled "Confessions of an Obsolete Child Actor," Reyes shared that they were asked to audition for School of Rock after appearing on an NPR show about kids who played classical music.
They enjoyed being around the cast and crew of the movie and the experiences it gave them, such as traveling and attending award shows. "It was nothing but love and support," Reyes told the New York Post. "I have never lost gratitude for that, or wish that I wasn't part of it." They shared that the cast has an ongoing group chat and that Black has remained supportive over the years, calling the actor "a great guy."
On the 17th anniversary of the film, Reyes posted then-and-now photos of the cast on Instagram and noted that while their relationship with the movie is "complex," they are glad School of Rock brought the young actors together and that the movie "has inspired so many underdog kids like us to pick up an instrument."
For more on what Britney Spears endured, check out This Diane Sawyer Interview With Britney Spears Has People Outraged.
They were bullied at school and stalked by adult men without support from educators.
"When I first came back to school, people were really nice or really mean," Reyes said. "There was no middle ground. I was literally followed around the school with people chanting 'School of Rock.'"
On top of the bullying, Reyes was also harassed and sexualized by adults. They told the Post that they "felt unsafe existing." In one instance, a man tried to take photos of Reyes at school when they were in sixth grade. Reyes also had inappropriate comments written about them online. "On message boards (what a time 2003 was), grown men would sexualize me, commenting, 'The bassist is going to grow up to be hot' and 'Can't wait 'til she's 18,'" Reyes wrote on Medium. "My mom would read the comments online for hours on end, relaying all of the negative ones to me."
Reyes says that they transferred schools more than once, but at each school, they would be bullied again. One principal said of the man stalking them with a camera, "I guess that's the price of fame."
And for another star whose treatment is being reexamined, check out This Resurfaced Paris Hilton Radio Interview Has Fans in an Uproar.
Reyes suffered from addictions in their teens and early 20s.
Reyes said they became a "raging addict" in the Post interview. "From the age of 14, I used drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and self-harm to numb all of this pain," Reyes wrote in their essay. "I'm not saying all of this is because I played bass in a movie when I was a kid but because I spent over a decade terrified that I'd peaked at 10 years old."
Reyes also wrote that they developed an eating disorder after seeing themselves on screen and beginning to critique their body. "Upon seeing myself on the big screen at the premiere, I judged myself for being the tallest girl in the cast, for having bags under my eyes and weird teeth, for having a fat belly and no breasts," they wrote.
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Reyes is still an entertainer today and doing a lot of healing.
In the 2020 essay, Reyes said that they work for a skincare company and still perform. They wrote, "I've traveled the country as a stand-up comedian and performed in several plays, web series, indie feature films, and bands. I've been fortunate enough to be welcomed into Chicago's theater and comedy scenes. I've competed on NBC's Bring the Funny." Reyes celebrated being three years sober on Instagram in Dec. 2020.
Reyes told the New York Post that they are starting a podcast about former child stars called Where Are We Now, which is set to debut in the spring. Find out about the current lives of other child actors in The Biggest '90s Child Actors, Then and Now.