Perhaps Amanda Bynes could learn a thing or two from Mara Wilson.
Although both were erstwhile child stars, Bynes would eventually plunge into an infamous downward spiral that would culminate in her wigged-out arrest last week. Wilson, on the other hand, stayed on the straight-and-narrow—and she's got a few ideas why.
The now-25-year-old actress, who shot to fame as a 5-year-old in 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire and followed that up with turns in Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street—has penned an pithy and incisive essay for Cracked.com called "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)."
In it, Wilson discusses the perils of making the leap from child star to adulthood—a tricky proposition, given how life in the spotlight can provide all sorts of pitfalls for impressionable youngsters, especially when they're not guided by the responsible and conscientious adults.
Among her many musings, Wilson slams stage parents for pushing their kids into showbiz then later struggling to assert their authority in order to control the wayward youngsters.
"It was my decision," she says of her acting career, "and my parents tried their hardest to discourage me. When I insisted, they allowed me to act, but were always very protective of me."
Wilson also warns about the dangers of an industry that can readily sexualize children—or expose them to sensitive material they're not ready to see. At one point, she recalls looking herself up online only to discover "a foot fetish website dedicated to child actresses."
Still, Wilson credits her parents with helping her stay grounded.
"Combine the regular amount of free stuff celebrities get with all the presents people give kids just for being cute, and you've got a recipe for one spoiled-ass child," she notes, adding that her folks made "made me share a room with my sister, kept me in public elementary school, and encouraged me to think of acting as just a hobby."
In the end, Wilson says, being a child star "was generally a good experience, but every day I'm glad I wasn't Olsen twins famous."