Talented Child Stars of the Past and Present

October 19, 2011  |  
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Just because a child’s cute enough to land a role in a film doesn’t mean he or she is exceptionally talented. But on the flip side a child actor’s performance can be so moving he or she can steal the show away from the adults. Check out the talented child actors who managed to do this and then some. See which ones are still acting and those who have gone on to pursue other things…

1-Jurnee Smollet

We’ve watched little Jurnee since her days on Full House. While she was a cute and spunky sidekick to the Olsen twins but she really debuted her talents in Eve’s Bayou as Eve Baptiste. It was refreshing to see that she hadn’t lost her skills when she played “Samantha Booke” in The Great Debaters.

2- C.J. Sanders

You remember C.J. for his portrayal of a young Ray Charles. The boy played the role like he was wise beyond his years. Think about it, this boy had to accurately convey the stress and frustration of losing his eyesight and he did a magnificent job! Since then he starred in Ice Cube’s movie First Sunday. His character wasn’t so complex in this role but he still portrayed the appropriate emotions. He’s no so little anymore. This is what he looks like today.

4-Brandon Hammond

I’m so surprised that we didn’t see much of Hammond after he played the role of Ahmad in the movie Soul Food. After all, it’s hard to stand out and be memorable in a cast full of stars like Vanessa Williams, Nia Long and Mekhi Phifer. But Brandon did just that, stealing scenes and narrating the entire plot of the movie. His last role was in the 2002 Showtime film Our America. Last we heard, the 27 year old was pursuing a degree.

3-Aaron Meeks

After the success of the movie I guess the people at Showtime figured it was time to get a piece of that money and duplicate the movie in the form of a series. Knowing how essential the original “Ahmad” was in the success of the movie they had to cast this character right. And they did that in hiring Aaron Meeks. After Soul Food was canceled, Meeks went on to play a role in Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story. We last saw he and the rest of the Soul Food cast on the Mo’Nique Show. See what he looks like these days…

 

5-Yara Shahidi

When I first saw the previews for Eddie Murphy’s Imagine That I thought the premise was a little far fetched but I still wanted to see it. Unfortunately none of my family and friends did so I didn’t push it. But then it came on tv on day and I absolutely loved it! It was a very cute movie about a daddy-daughter relationship that we don’t often see in mainstream media. It saddens me now that I didn’t support it when it was in theaters. Either way, the movie was the success that it was because of the talent of Yara Shahidi. Not only is she cute as all get out, with her wide eyes and curly hair, she also acted very well. Now Shahidi is a 7th grader who, among other things, studies martial arts.

6-Eleanor & Emma Henry

Do these two little angels look familiar to you? Eleanor and Emma played little “Mobley” in the summer blockbuster The Help. This was the twins’ first feature film but if they maintain the talent they showcased in the movie we’ll most definitely see them again.  They were just too cute and very talented.

7- Emmanuel Lewis

In the 1980s Emmanuel Lewis was probably the cutest little boy on television– no contest. While Lewis is often compared to Gary Coleman, he’s managed to keep a lower profile than Gary did over the years. Lewis did step into the world of reality television when he joined the cast of Vh1’s Surreal Life in 2003. Since then Lewis, who is now 41, has kept a pretty low profile and lives in Brooklyn.

8- Jonathan Lipnicki

Oh my gosh! Jerry Maguire was a pretty good movie. But it was made that much better by the absolutely adorable Jonathan Lipnicki! And we weren’t the only ones that noticed. Lipnicki was ranked #8 in E’s most cutest child stars all grown-up in 2005. We got so caught up in how precious he was that his actual acting skills might have slipped our minds. He was pretty good in that movie too. He didn’t have any iconic lines like “You complete me” but Lipnicki was bound to steal the scenes he was featured in for that film. After Maguire, Jonathan went on to star in movies like Stuart Little and Like Mike with Bow Wow. Today Lipnicki’s a producer. His film Broken Roads is in post-production and is set to be released next year.

9- Dakota Fanning

I remember first being struck by little Dakota’s talent when she played Lorraine “Ray” Schleine in Uptown Girls … and then I saw I Am Sam! If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s brilliant and I spent a third of it sobbing. But it’s been apparent that little Dakota would never have to worry about eating in Hollywood. She’d become a star before she’d hit puberty. But now she’s taking a break from all of that. Fanning, believe it or not, is college-aged now. She’s a freshman at NYU. But she still manages to take advantage of the perks associated with her stardom. Fanning was seen out and about during NYC’s fashion week with her younger sister Elle.

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