Child actor

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The term child actor or child actress is generally applied to a child acting in motion pictures or television, but also to an adult who began his or her acting career as a child; to avoid confusion, the latter is also called a former child actor. Closely associated is teenage actor, an actor who reached popularity as a teenager.

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Regulation of child actors

The activities of child actors are regulated by the governing labor union, if any, and state and federal laws. Longer work hours or risky stunts, prohibited in California, for example, might be permitted to a project filming in British Columbia. Some projects film in remote locations specifically to evade regulations intended to protect the child. In the United States, federal law "Specifically exempted minors working the Entertainment Business from all provisions of the Child Labor Laws." Any regulation of child actors is governed by disparate state law.

California

Due to the large presence of the entertainment industry in California it has some of the most explicit laws protecting child actors. Being a minor, a child actor must secure an entertainment work permit before accepting any paid performing work. Compulsory education laws mandate that the education of the child actor not be disrupted while the child is working, whether a child actor is enrolled in public school, private school or even home school. The child does his/her schoolwork under the supervision of a studio teacher while on the set.

Finally, the hours a child actor may work are limited. Generally, stricter time limits are imposed for younger actors. A very young infant might be allowed "under the lights" only a few minutes a day. It is common in television production for the role of a young child to be portrayed by identical twins or triplets to reduce each child's time on set. When the child turns 18, the legal limits on work time are lifted. (Citation Needed)

Issues involving child actors

Ownership of earnings

Many child actors never got to see the money they earned. Jackie Coogan earned millions of dollars from working as a child actor only to see most of it squandered by his parents. In 1939, California weighed in on this controversy by enacting the Coogan Law which requires a portion of the earnings of a child actor to be preserved in a special savings account called a blocked trust.

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