Confessions of an Obsolete Child Actor
Being cast in ‘School of Rock’ was a defining moment in my life — for better or worse
A few months ago, I was in hair and makeup for a feature with one of my castmates, a 12-year-old girl. She was on set with her mom and little brother. He was playing games on a phone while the mother and daughter ran lines together. When the mom stopped her kid mid-sentence to give her a line reading, I was instantly transported back to my youth. I felt bad for my castmate. I felt bad for my sisters, who spent years waiting in the car with my mom while I was in guitar lessons or at auditions. I felt bad for all the other kids in all the waiting rooms of all the auditions. Did any of us really want to be there?
Of course, I was there by choice that day — if you don’t count all the choices that led me to pursue acting in the first place. Back in 2003, I was cast as Katie in the film School of Rock. Katie was 10 years old, played bass guitar, and had about five lines that mostly consisted of one word each. I got to meet some of my idols, attend the MTV Movie Awards (hosted by America’s then-sweetheart Lindsay Lohan), and travel the world — all before I got my first period. Then, after my brief break from obscurity, I fell into the classic child actor pattern. I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life trying to be anything but “that girl from that thing” despite the blunt reality: No one even cares that much.
Let me preface this by saying that I am absolutely grateful for the experience as a whole. For those who reach out to me expressing that School of Rock inspired them to pick up an instrument. For the femmes who let me know Katie was their first queer crush. (Does this make me a queer icon? If so, love that for me.) For all the opportunities that followed. And especially for my castmates, who I see as forever family. Nothing will ever diminish these factors. However, I do have some very complicated feelings about School of Rock, so let’s dive in, shall we?