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Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:48 am

Snippets from Article:

An NDP private member's bill designed to protect child performers in the entertainment industry passed Second Reading in the Ontario Legislature on Thursday.

So does Shirley Douglas, a Canadian television, film, and stage actress and activist who's worked in the entertainment industry for 60 years.
"I will never be happy until the children are treated with the respect and the care that we (adults) can demand," said Douglas at a press conference in the Queen's Park media studio earlier in the day.

"I can say to the director that something has got to stop and they stop it. But a child can't do that. And so we have to protect children from the very freewheeling behaviour that can take place in the theatre and in film."

When Douglas starred in Wind at My Back, the acclaimed television show set in the 1930's during the Depression in the fictional town of New Bedford, Ontario that ran from 1996 to 2001, she said it was the first time she worked with children in film.

"Who looks after the children?" asked Douglas.

She was appalled to find out they're left on their own.

"We have to see that all the children -- not just ACTRA and Equity children -- are in an environment that is safe and safeguarding their education. Because if they're not going to get an education, then they shouldn't be in the film."

Source: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/johnbon ... nd-reading
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Hmm... left on their own? :???:

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hannikan
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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:22 pm

Did they interview Dylan and Tyrone or any of the children about this? It was my impression from reading/hearing interviews with child actors from RTA that they were well looked after by the production. They mostly all had tutors who worked with them on set except for Gema, who continued to go to her home school throughout her time working on RTA. It was exhausting for her, esp since she lived in Hamilton, but she and her family decided it was best for her.
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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:28 pm

Yeah, and in the behind the scenes of WAMB even, Tyrone showed the room with their tutor, so it looked like they had a place to go to and schooling to complete while they were off-camera. Maybe she meant they had too much freedom roaming around set? It does seem kind of strange. Or maybe the reporter exaggerated and mis-used the word "appalled"?

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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:34 pm

It's possible she interpreted that to mean they had no structure. If there's anything I think they're the strictest about it's making sure the child actors do get an education. The main thing former child actors complain about is that they have to work such long hours. But to be fair, they would be doing much the same working in stage, too. Stage actors work very long hours, too. So if they want to act as a child, as at any age, that's part of the package. The question is whether the child is really deciding or if the parents are pushing them. I did theatre when I was a teen and some of the kids I was in productions with had been acting since they were very young. Most of them had very aggressive stage parents, but some of them had just always loved doing it and couldn't imagine their lives with it. So it varies.
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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:58 pm

Since she's so opinionated, I'm assuming she would have said something if she thought they were left on their own too much, and they might have altered what they did. But I would think Sullivan Entertainment would have pretty much perfected the system of educating child actors due to the experience from RtA, so they would be the company to work for in the case of child actors. I suppose in Season 1, it would have been more difficult with so much shot on location. Maybe the kids were sometimes wandering the streets? By the time they had a backlot, I think the system would be similar to RtA, where they was a permanent set.

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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:13 pm

Yeah, that's possible. From the interviews I've read with the former child actors, they thought working for Sullivan was basically the best experience they could have as child actors. Their parents were supposed to be on set when they were young, too. I know Gema's parents (at least one of them) were always on set with her when they were young. Her father had had bad experiences himself as a child actor, so he wanted to make sure the same things didn't happen to her. Sara's dad was often around in the early seasons because he played Dr. Blair. I'm not sure about Zach or the other children's parents. I know the children said they felt protected by the older actors, too. Those actors seemed to feel a responsibility toward the children based on the interviews with them on the subject. Of course, in the first ep of WAMB, Tyrone's dad was around because he played Jack. That's one way to have a parent around, of course. Perhaps their parents weren't around as much as they could have been. Wasn't Dylan from Montreal? Maybe his parents couldn't come out as often because of that. I know the children on RTA did run around a lot because they had all that open, outdoor space to roam around. But that would have been quite safe as long as the adults weren't far away. The WAMB set would have been more enclosed. Maybe she's thinking of them running around under the frame sets. That could be dangerous, I suppose, since those structures were not that stable. If they'd played around and been rough something could have fallen on them.
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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:10 pm

Shirley may be exaggerating a bit but I think her heart is in the right place. It's possible that some child actors (and I'm not necessarily referring to the ones involved in Sullivan productions) don't have the protection and care that they should have, although, by law, a minor must have at least three hours of schooling a day and have a parent or guardian on the set with them. Maybe some kids slip through the cracks.

With the revelation in recent years about sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry, it does make you wonder, in some cases, just how "involved" some of these parents, guardians, set teachers are. Take the late Corey Haim - he was molested multiple times on sets and otherwise by people in the industry, and it happened under the nose of his parents, who had no idea what was happening to him. Sarah Polley has talked about how she was mistreated and exploited on the miniseries "The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen" (1988). So I think it's important to look at it as a whole. Some child actors have had better experiences than others, but their welfare should always come first.
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Re: Shirley Douglas Supports Child Actor Bill

Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:45 am

Is Shirley Douglas the mother of Kiefer Sutherland?


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