Actress and podcast host Christy Carlson Romano discussed her challenging experiences growing up as a Disney Channel star at TheWrap’s fifth annual Power Women Summit in Los Angeles Wednesday.
“There is a difference between a stage parent and a parent who has a child in the industry,” Carlson said. “You have to be the parent first. I think that’s something that I just realized, and I would probably not put my kids in the industry.”
The actress first came to national attention via a supporting role on the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” in the early 2000s. The show, in which she played the older sister of the Stevens family, became a star-making vehicle for Shia LaBeouf. She also voiced the title role on “Kim Possible,” a generational Disney Channel favorite about a high school cheerleader who’s also a supervillain-thwarting spy, that aired from 2002 to 2007.
Carlson discussed her own youth in relation to the current generation of YouTube stars, noting, “[They] are so influential to so many peoples’ kids and yet [these kids] are suffering in so many ways in which you’d never want your own kids to suffer.”
The struggles and challenges of kids in the industry is the subject of her ongoing podcast, “Vulnerable,” during which she invites guests, including former child stars, to discuss the burdens and challenges of being young in show business.
While stressing that it’s so important than the arts are there for children, the actress feels that the infrastructure as it exists exploits and commodifies the imagination and love of the arts among its would-be child performers, in a way she described as “almost oppressive.”
“It’s a double-edged sword,” she declared.
Carlson, who recently appeared in a live-action “Kim Possible” movie (starring Sadie Stanley as the titular teen spy), also discussed relying on her husband as her mental health emotional support partner.
The other panelists in the Elijah Gil-moderated panel discussed other related challenges. Corinne Foxx shared the trauma associated with spending nine months in fruitless doctors’ appointments before being correctly diagnosed with endometriosis, while Olympian Nastia Liukin discussed the peril of defining success by accomplishments.
At the conclusion, “Handmaid’s Tale” actress Genevieve Angelson jestfully stated that she was cured. Gil asked each woman to just take some time to smile, which caused (mocking, tongue-in-cheek) rebukes.
Angelson quipped, “Did a man just tell us to smile?!”
The Power Women Summit (PWS) is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “A Time to Unite.” Learn more here: thewrap.com/pws.