Showbiz is one of the only businesses to hire children as professionals, but how many people can really be sure what they want to do with their lives at that age? And even if their minds are fixed, opportunities could dry up when their voice and body start to change.
“Puberty made that decision for me,” says Jeff Cohen, who played Chunk in “The Goonies” and now works as a successful entertainment lawyer with Cohen & Gardner. His background helps him understand what actors need, and the new role allows him “to be an advocate for the rights of artists.”
While many young performers eventually leave the business, Cohen is just one example of others for whom the same passion that brings them to Los Angeles in the first place can steer them toward other careers in entertainment.
When Chris M. Allport (who voiced Tootles in Fox Kids’ animated “Peter Pan and the Pirates” series as a teen) transitioned into producing, he didn’t see it as a change in career, but an “addition.” Though he still acts from time to time, Allport enjoys the independence of filmmaking (he recently finished “The Bilderberg Club,” which premieres this month). Instead of chasing down work, he now has the power of making opportunities for himself.
For 21-year-old Chris Rossi, moving from acting to publicity was a natural step. “Everybody said, ‘Chris, you’re so great at interacting with people in the industry, it’s like you naturally just do the PR thing,'” says Rossi, who decided to open his own firm, Rossi Public Relations, in May of this last year mainly because he felt like with his own background in acting, he could better relate to what the actor wants and needs from their publicist.
Though many young performers focus entirely on acting, as these success stories show, other entertainment jobs await for those who keep an open mind — and they needn’t take the place of acting either. For Rossi, his new career actually makes auditioning easier. “Because I work with these people now, if the right part comes up, they will say, ‘Chris, come in for that,'” he says.