Growing up as a public figure in the Hollywood limelight can be troublesome for young stars. Many child stars of yesteryear (Gary Coleman, Danny Bonaduce, Brandy) have faced tough challenges in their adult lives.
But this is nothing new.
The late, great Michael Jackson was a child star. And so was his baby sister, Janet, who starred in "Good Times" when she was six. And though she has had her fair share of ups and downs in the public eye -- while living in her brother's shadow -- nothing could be like the pressure of following in a famous parent's footsteps.
Whitney Houston is arguably one of the most successful talents to emerge from a parent's entertainment legacy; her mother, Cissy Houston, was a revered background singer for the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin, and garnered a cult following of her own with house and club tunes. On the other side of the spectrum, Liza Minnelli is the daughter of the late, great entertainment icon Judy Garland.
Now, more so than ever before, there seems to be more from where that came from.
Children of actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, rocker Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, and hip-hop diva Lauryn Hill have seemed to inherit their parents' talent -- and are riding high on it, too.
For example, 10-year-old pop sensation Willow Smith, who won the award for Outstanding New Artist at this year's annual NAACP Image Awards and tied her brother, Jaden, to win the Young Star Award at the BET Awards. Though Smith was discovered last fall by hip-hop mogul Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and has only released two singles ("Whip My Hair" and "21st Century Girl") from her upcoming debut album, she managed to beat out the likes of platinum-selling rapper Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars and B.o.B. for the Image Award.
Although it may be natural for Willow Smith, Zoe Kravitz and Selah Marley to keep their family name in the headlines, it can also make them more vulnerable to the pressures of society. "People tell me I have to follow in the footsteps of my mom and grandfather," Marley recently admitted to Teen Vogue.
"But it's a lot of pressure -- I can't really slip up and mess up the name," added the 12-year-old aspiring model, who grew up alongside four siblings in suburban New Jersey. "I wanted to raise her away from the Hollywood nanny scene," her Grammy Award-winning mother explains. "I didn't want my children to be a part of that."
For Ms. Hill, her decision to raise her family away from public attention has resulted in young Selah's accountability for her own career and family lineage. Even more so, it has taught Marley to focus more on her talent, instead of the glamorous lifestyle.
So who benefits more from having a famous surname?
Some may assume that it's based upon the parent's social position in pop culture. How likely is it that Keith Richards' daughter, Theodora (who was arrested earlier this month on minor drug charges), will land another big modeling gig over Selah Marley? Granted, the 25-year-old Richards has connections of her own in the fashion industry through her previous gigs with Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger. However, if the tables were turned, who would be at an advantage?
"Having well-known parents is kind of a double-edged sword," Zoe Kravitz admitted to the UK's The Independent newspaper. "It's given me wonderful opportunities, but people also like to knock you down because of it, too, and say that you have got things because of that."
Luckily, for the singer-turned-actress, the "sword" is swinging in her favor. This year Kravitz landed her 10th movie role in four years, portraying Angel Salvadore in the latest X-Men flick, "First Class."
Overall, living in the world of the rich and famous as an adolescent can be a great learning experience. No matter the race, class, name or age, a celebrity's actions should be judged by the same standards by which anyone is judged. Granted, they have made a conscious decision in their choice of lifestyle; however, that shouldn't dismiss the fact that they're human and will encounter various hurdles as they attain prosperity.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more