As I watched the final installment of the Harry Potter saga last weekend, I was in awe. It wasn’t just because the film was great or because of its record-breaking profits or even because of the enthusiasm of its fans—although each of those things did impress me. What I find most remarkable is that in the 10 years of filming, not a single member of the casts’ slew of child actors turned into a train wreck.
Think about it. Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin, Danny Bonaduce: There has been a long list of child stars full of promise who seem to have been sucked into black holes of disaster. And yet Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and the rest of their young cast mates seem to have avoided this fate entirely. Follow these tips to ensure that your star power at work doesn’t fizzle out early:
- Surround yourself with good influences. After winning their roles, the kids’ biggest lucky break was that they didn’t grow up in Hollywood, with all of its temptations and distractions. Instead, they were surrounded by some of the top, most serious British actors: Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Gary Oldman, to name a few.
Cut the complainers, distracters and unethical people out of your life so that you can stay focused. Find a mentor you look up to, and network with people who have similar goals and values.
- Push yourself. The Potter kids weren’t sitting idly around between movies. Radcliffe took on some serious roles and brought new confidence and skills back with him when he returned to the HP sets. Emma Watson studied architecture at Brown University.
When you’re always striving to stretch yourself and improve, you don’t have time to be distracted by negative temptations. Put your energy toward productive outlets such as learning and exercise.
- Admit your mistakes and make the necessary changes. In an interview with GQ U.K., Radcliffe discussed his struggles with alcohol, explaining that he’d become reliant on it to have fun. Unlike the typical child star, though, Radcliffe had the wherewithal and support to recognize his problem and put a stop to it before it spun out of control. He has abstained from alcohol since last summer.
Make time for reflection. Think about your weaknesses and any habits that could hold you back in your career or life. Seek assistance from others if you don’t feel you can make those changes on your own.
What advice do you have for ensuring a long and prosperous career?