Many people dream of seeing their name in lights, but what if you hadn’t quite reached double digits? The west end stage is a gateway to a life of performance and fame, but what if you hadn’t quite finished primary school? The long days of rehearsals and shows end in cheers and standing ovations, but what if you were only nine?

Child actors are undoubtedly talented, confident, and resilient – they have to be to get to where they are. Is it really their choice or have they been thrown into a life of fame and publicity without knowing if it would change their lives, for better or for worse?

There are horror stories of child actors going down the wrong path as a result of their fame and fortune. Take Lindsay Lohan, or Macaulay Culkin. However, thankfully these horror stories are few and far between, and are usually a result of Hollywood and its notorious lack of privacy.

What about the young actors of the west end? Take Fred Wilcox (11), who has starred as Michael Banks in the West end show of Mary Poppins for the last three years. He sings the west ends praises, literally.

Although Fred was “so nervous” at his first audition, the resilience he has built due to the rounds and rounds of nerves and stress has been phenomenal. He has learnt to tell himself “never to give up,” which is a value that all children need when entering into a world of pressure and anxiety.

Fred wants to challenge the stereotype that all child actors are taken out of school or get any type of difference in education, he says “it’s not true at all”. Missing school is one of the most concerning aspects of allowing children to go into show business, but Fred himself, a young, successful, and talented performer goes to a normal school just like anybody else, so he can achieve his highest potential in and out of the classroom.

Fred has met many new people with experience and expertise that have broadened his horizons and taught him an array of new things, he himself says that “the crew and the people [he] worked with were all amazing,” not many eleven-year-old boys can say that! He even said that his favorite part of being a west end performer is not the money, or the fame, but “everyone around [him]”. Fred has met people who he looks up to and admires and he will undoubtedly take everything he’s learnt from them and use it throughout his life.

As for the future, Fred has many roles in mind, but he says, “We will have to wait and see.”

There is an inside view of working as child actor at the west end, how do you feel about it now? Do you still feel that children should be kept out of the spotlight? Or do you think the spotlight could be just what they need? Well, whatever your view may be, it is clear that it takes a lot to be a child on the west end stage and young actors need to be able to be strong and resilient, as well as putting on a good show.