Growth potential: Ricci offers tips to young performers

Youth Impact Report 2011: Looking Ahead - Junior Journos

From her early roles in such family films as “Casper” and “The Addams Family” to her starring turn on ABC’s “Pan Am,” Christina Ricci stands as a role model for young performers looking to create successful lifelong acting careers.

At age 9, Ricci made her screen debut in “Mermaids,” sharing the screen with Cher, and she has worked steadily ever since. In this interview, the now grown-up star offers her expertise to teenage pros looking to make the same transition.

At what point did you decide that you wanted to do this as a career?

“When I was 13, I was making the second ‘Addams Family,’ and we were on the Paramount lot, and I was having such a great time. I was starting to really pay attention to filmmaking, and I just looked around and said, ‘Yeah, I think I want to do this my entire life.’ It sucked me in, and I fell in love with it.”

Do you find that it was easier to get work when you were a child actress or today?

“It’s hard to tell, because when you’re a child growing up, your interests are so varied. I’d work, and then I’d be totally happy to go back to school and be with my friends and be immersed in that world. I maybe worked less, but being an adult and having your sole focus be on your job, it probably seems like I work less now. I’ve been very lucky in that as I’ve gotten older, my career has sort of grown with me, and the parts I’ve played have grown with my age.”

Do you have any advice for child actors looking to show they can do more heavy material?

“My advice would be to live life and know that the parts will follow you as you have more experience. The thing is, you can’t play adult emotions and adult scenarios until you actually have reference to draw on. So if you concentrate on living a life and gathering experience, those experiences will show in your acting, and they will naturally make people cast you in those kinds of roles. A really great director will see that there’s now more to you.”

Were there any detours or delays along the way? And is there anything you wish you could have told the younger version of yourself to avoid them?

“I think this industry does sometimes create insecurity. The thing I’ve learned over time is that no two actors are alike. There’s a role for everybody, and you have to trust that what you have is unique and not try to manipulate things so you can be more like some other actress who’s getting more parts. You have to trust that the thing that makes you special will be who you are — and that is the thing that will garner you success.”