Former child star Anna Chlumsky returns to the spotlight this week, playing the chief of staff to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ vice president in HBO’s new political sitcom, "Veep."
Best known for her role as Vada Sultenfuss in the 1991 film "My Girl," Chlumsky found fame as a child star; but as for many young performers, transitioning to more adult roles proved difficult. The 31-year-old actress tells New York magazine that she didn't want to stop acting, but as her body matured, casting directors mistook it for fat and offers for roles dried up.
She continued to audition throughout college at the University of Chicago, but realized her career wasn't going anywhere and decided to focus on her education. At her last audition she "totally froze," she told the Chicago Tribune in 2010. "'I was like, 'You know what? I don't know how to act, I'm not good at this, I don't know what I'm doing, and it's not my calling.'"
Chlumsky took a nine-year break from Hollywood, graduated from college, moved to New York and found unfulfilling jobs in media and publishing. But unlike fellow former child star Mara Wilson, Chlumsky found that she began to miss acting.
Chlumsky credits legendary singer-songwriter Roberta Flack, whom she randomly met in a nail salon, for encouraging her to get back into the business. But it wasn't until she had a long talk with her husband that she realized she wanted to start acting professionally again.
“I can’t be the grandma with my grandkid on my knee telling them to follow their dreams and have them say, ‘Did you?’ and go, ‘No, I didn’t, but you should,'" she told the magazine.
But following her dreams wasn't so simple. She signed with a new agent, enrolled in acting classes and eventually began to land small roles on "30 Rock," "Law & Order" and "White Collar," before landing the role on "Veep."
Though she's eager to move beyond her fame as a child actor and prove herself as an adult, she tells New York she understands she'll always be tied to "My Girl."
"People look to you to replace a part in their lives that they can't get back," she explains. "You can't get the past back, you can't do it. We've all tried."
For more with Anna Chlumsky, click over to New York magazine.
Child stars all grown up: