Why Are so Many Millennials Cast As Teens in Film?

Op-ed

It's far from uncommon to see people in their twenties and even thirties portraying teens on television and in movies. While teenagers continue to look for "real" and relatable teens on-screen, there is a dearth of actors and actresses their own age.

So what's the big deal? Why do so many adults portray teens?

School Work vs. Acting Gigs

Even if you're famous, you still have to go to school. If you combine the pressures of high school with the demands of a full-time job, it's downright overwhelming.

When you have two priorities that take up so much time and brain space, it can lead to a breakdown. By hiring actors and actresses who have already graduated high school, this pressure is alleviated.

So many child stars have said that the moment they became famous, their childhood ended. They were expected to be adults in a much younger person's body.

The same applies to teens. The minute they hit the big time, no longer are things like hanging out with friends or going to high school dances considered priorities. Instead, their days are filled with meetings, auditions, various appearances on TV, and otherwise.

Experience in Acting

Although teenagers are on the cusp of becoming adults, a lot of them still have some growing up and maturing to do. By hiring actors with a little life experience under their belts, the producers and directors know that they are (hopefully) hiring someone who is more professional on-set and for promotion events.

Child Labor Laws

Yes, those "pesky" little things that dictate how long someone under the age of 16 is allowed to work. These laws came into place during the Industrial Revolution when child labor was common in the harsh working conditions of factories. Now they play a major role in preventing children and teens from being exploited.

Labor laws vary from place to place, but generally, actors under the age of 16 must follow the child labor laws of the state where the filming is taking place. They may also have to obtain a special permit to film, depending on the state.

Parental Consent

In order for someone under the age of 18 to participate in the entertainment industry, their parents must give consent and sign paperwork saying that they will allow their child to participate. However, in the past few years, concerns have been raised that Hollywood may not be a safe place for teens.

So many abuse scandals have rocked Hollywood in the past decade, from Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby to the many different actors and actresses tied to Jeffery Epstein and Lolita Island. These are only a few of the skeletons in the movie industry's closet.

Often, physical and mental abuse in Hollywood will be disregarded because of who the abusers are in the entertainment industry. In fact, many victims were confronted with threats of being blacklisted if they publicized what had happened to them.

Creative License

Sometimes it's just the producer or director's vision for the project. When a director or producer starts working on a TV show or a movie, they usually have an idea of what each character should look, act, and sound like.

With that idea in mind, they set out to find someone who would fit with their vision. It's not always easy to find what they are looking for, so they will extend their search outside the target age group.

Conclusion: Should Millennials Play Teens?

Short answer: yes, sometimes. Whoever does the best job should get the part, regardless of age. It shouldn't matter how old the actor or actress is, as long as they make us fall in love with the character or hate the character, because not everyone can be a hero. That should be their only job. The actor's real-life age doesn't matter to me, as long as they can convince me that they are their character's age.

In some instances, it's better to have people who are older take on teen roles, especially if the role is particularly demanding mentally or physically. However, sometimes the lack of life experience works well for the role. Because of this, there really shouldn't be a set list of rules about who can play which ages.

Movies and television have a huge impact on us and who we become. When we're older, we will look back at the movies that helped shape us and all that will matter is that we love them.

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Cassandra Stinger
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Cassandra Stinger is a journalist and aspiring author from central Kansas. When she's not writing, she can be found reading, cooking, or pursuing photography.