Child Stars Try to Make It Big...Again

The transition from child star to adult actor isn't easy.

ByABC News via logo
November 8, 2008, 1:13 PM

Nov. 9, 2008 — -- Making the transition from cute kid to adult star can be difficult.

Even for those who steer clear of the perils of drugs and alcohol -- so often the Achilles heel of child stars gone wrong -- early fame is no guarantee of long-term success.

Among many taking on the challenge is Keshia Knight Pulliam, whose latest role, a heroin-addicted prostitute, is far cry from the role that made her famous -- little Rudy Huxtable of "The Cosby Show."

"When I was little it was like 'this is what I do… I go to work, and I go to school and I play with my friends,'" Keshia recalled. "It was normal."

But when the show ended, Keshia was ready for a new normal. She traded in her scripts for books as a college student at Spellman University.

"I really, really enjoyed college," she said. "I had fun, went to the parties, met lots of people, and I'm glad that I did it. I'm glad that I had that experience because it's that ultimate time in life before you really know what bills are, before you're really an adult. I'm definitely happy that I did that and took the time off after 'Cosby.'"

Now, sixteen years after the show's final episode, Keshia's ready to be a household name again.

Her return to acting started out small, with bit parts in music videos, TV shows and movies. But it is her upcoming role in the new Tyler Perry movie "Madea Goes to Jail" that could make her dream a reality.

"This is my first time in a feature film as a leading lady. It's a role like none that i've ever done before," said Keshia. "This isn't Rudy. This is Keisha Knight Pulliam, the actress. I think that it can be a good turning point in terms of people seeing me in a whole other light."

And Keisha's not the only one making a comeback.

Anna Chlumsky found success on the big screen in the movie "My Girl," starring alongside famous child actor Macaulay Culkin.

But Hollywood eventually stopped calling Chlumsky when she transitioned from cute kid to awkward teenager.

"You start to look a little weird. You're not comfortable in your own skin. You look very strange and you do not get roles. You just don't. And it became really hard for me," Anna said.