There’s a reason why so many people would do (almost) anything to be a star: who wouldn’t want to be rich, famous and adored? For child performers, however, being cast in the celebrity lifestyle at a young age doesn’t always translate into lifelong stardom. Some young celebs get too famous, too fast — and their star power burns out before they come of age. For others, another talent takes over, and they end up choosing a totally different career direction. Whether they found another passion or simply shunned the showbiz lifestyle as they grew up, here are 10 child stars of the ‘90s who are no longer acting, singing or performing — but instead are living (relatively) regular lives today.
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Mara Wilson played precious (and precocious) to perfection in many iconic ‘90s movies, from Mrs. Doubtfire to Miracle on 34th Street to Matilda — but you won’t find her on screen these days. Instead, Mara has turned her storytelling talent to the written word. In addition to writing plays and online content, Mara published a book of essays, Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, exploring her experience as a former child star.
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All That actress Amanda Bynes was one of the biggest teen stars of the late-’90s and early 2000s, but she quit acting in 2010. While the past decade has been rocky as she dealt with some serious challenges with her mental health, Amanda graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2019
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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen might be famous as fashion designers today, but the twins’ empire started when they began their acting career as babies on Full House. In the ‘90s, Mary-Kate and Ashley starred in countless films, but both had largely stopped performing as actors by the mid-2000s. Instead, the sisters turned their focus to the business of fashion, heading fashion lines including The Row and Elizabeth and James.
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Hocus Pocus aficionados will remember Omri Katz for his role as Max in the iconic ‘90s film, but the former child actor retired from the biz two decades ago. Now all grown up, Omri works as a hairstylist in Los Angeles.
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Leelee Sobieski was everyone in the late ‘90s, starring in Blockbuster movies like Deep Impact and teen comedies like Never Been Kissed. While she continues to act in the early 2000s, Leelee found a new calling as an artist. Today, Leelee has a new career as a painter, sculptor and even VR artist.
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Transitioning from a career as a child performer to an artist is a natural move for many creatives, including child actress Ariana Richards, who famously played computer-whiz-kid Lex Murphy in Jurassic Park. Since leaving acting behind, Ariana has become an accomplished painter.
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Jonathan Taylor Thomas
If you had to define “1990s teen heartthrob,” in just three letters, all you’d need is this: JTT. Jonathan Taylor Thomas rose to incredible child stardom on the ‘90s sitcom Home Improvement and was the original voice of young Simba on The Lion King, but he walked away from fame in favour of a more normal life by early adulthood. In the 2000s, Jonathan turned to academics, studying at Harvard, Columbia and St. Andrews University in Scotland. While he made a few guest appearances on his TV dad Tim Allan’s show Last Man Standing, he’s otherwise stayed away from the limelight.
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Is there any role more important than the BFF? On the ‘90s television hit The Wonder Years, Josh Saviano played the best friend to star Fred Savage. Post-Wonder Years, Josh largely moved away from acting, and became a lawyer in New York.
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It seems that the law is another popular post-acting profession for former child stars. Charlie Korsmo played the son of Peter Pan on Hook and had a role in the iconic ‘90s teen movie Can’t Hardly Wait, but left the acting world to pursue the law — becoming a lawyer and law professor.
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From playing Malcolm on Malcolm in the Middle to Cody Banks in the Agent Cody Banks movies, Frankie Muniz was a huge child and teen star. As a young adult, however, Frankie turned his attention away from acting and became a race car driver. Now in his mid-30s, the former performer recently purchased a premium olive oil shop in Scottsdale, which he co-runs with his fiancé.