When John Ritter died suddenly, the world lost a great comedian...but Jason Ritter lost his dad. The Joan of Arcadia star says that his father left him with many valuable lessons about show business and life. “He was very good at teaching me what was important and what was not important. I feel an obligation to live my life in a way that will make the name proud -- be a good guy, not run around being a jerk,” Jason confides. “But at the same time I also feel that I have the responsibility to do what my dad did, which was follow his own footsteps. He didn’t try to be a singing cowboy like his dad. He made his own way.”
Ashlee Simpson, who’s almost as busy as her big sister Jessica these days with 7th Heaven and her new CD, says that her family really bonded when they went on the road with Jessica. “When we were back in Texas, my dad had his job, my mom did her thing, my sister went to high school.” Ashlee explains. “Then she got a record deal and we all went on tour and we got so close because all we had was each other. And you realize that’s all you need, the ones that you love.”
Chad Michael Murray, star of the new WB series One Tree Hill, plays a high school student living with his single mom. But in real life, Chad and his four siblings were raised by their father. “My mother left when I was seven,” he says, adding that he didn’t see her again till he was 18 and had already left Buffalo, New York for Los Angeles. “I was home for a visit, and I answered the door and it was really uncomfortable,” he remembers. Not surprisingly, having a mother on the show was a bit strange for him. “I was nervous about trying to create a relationship with a mother because I’d never had one. So I decided to play a little bit off my father. My father raised five kids and was there for me every day. I idolized my father and looked up to him.” Today, Chad says his dad is very proud and supportive of him. “He’s always excited for me.”
Arlen Escarpeta is the only boy in his family, but he’s still really close to his mother. “She’s tough,” he says. “She raised me tough and she tells me like it is. She doesn’t bite her tongue and she says if something happens, it happens for a reason and I have to deal with it. The best advice she ever gave me was: stay focused and be a hard worker. Don’t cut yourself short and always do more than you can do.”
Scott Foley's mother passed away when he was 15, but his two brothers were much younger at the time. "The younger you are, the more it shakes you. As an older brother you step up to the plate and help your dad," he says. "Any time you lose a parent, you can't not be affected by it. Every day there is a thought about them. But it happens to everyone eventually and I'm not a big believer in dwelling on the fact," he says, summing up his way of dealing with loss: "Think fondly of them, talk about them, but don't dwell on it."
Masiela Lusha plays Latina Carmen Lopez on TV's George Lopez, but she's really from Albania. She and her mom left that country when she was five, and lived in Hungary and Austria before they moved to the United States two years later. "I give my mom a lot of credit, she is one courageous woman," Masiela says about her mother. "She's my best friend and I can talk to her about anything."
It's no secret that Britney Spears and her mom are super-tight: "People are simply drawn to my mother, and the friends she has are her friends forever...and then some. That's why I'm so lucky that she's my best friend."
Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s dad, the famous comedian Freddie Prinze, died when his son was only 10 months old. Freddie says, "It hurt a lot growing up. As I got older, I sometimes became very angry because everyone I knew had an old man except me."
When we asked Sarah Michelle Gellar who her role model was, she answered: "My mother is my biggest role model, and she always will be!"
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Many girls look up to 7th Heaven's Beverley Mitchell, but Beverley has an idol of her own: Jodie Foster. "She was a child actress, she's now a major actress, producer, director and an amazing woman. I think she's so incredible. Gorgeous and determined. She doesn't ever let anyone tell her she can't do something," raves Beverley. "She inspires me when things get tough."
Milo Ventimiglia will never forget his first job in show business. The Gilmore Girls guy had a one-line part on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and his scene wasn't with the show's star, Will Smith. But Will went out of his way to make the young actor feel at home. "He stopped for 20 minutes and had a conversation with me. I was a nobody," Milo says. "It's so refreshing and inspiring. He's not too big for anybody. It makes me want to see any project he does."
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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star America Ferrera says she still faces discrimination as an average-sized actress in Hollywood. “I think there is an enormous amount of pressure to look a certain way to get certain roles and this trend towards anorexia is not healthy,” says America. “I don’t think there’s anybody who’s not affected by it. I think, ‘I can’t get these roles because of it,’ but I snap back to reality. You have to just constantly remind yourself, ‘That’s not happiness, that’s not success and it’s not healthy.’”
Laura Prepon of That 70's Show is 5’10” and proud of her height. She doesn’t hesitate to wear high heels when she gets dressed up. “I was always the tallest one in the class,” she says. “In middle school, that’s hard, because you’re taller than all the boys and they’re kind of intimidated by you. I had red hair on top of it so I stuck out like a sore thumb,” she remembers. “But now I love it, and I wouldn’t want to be any shorter.”
While Amy Davidson was popular in high school and danced on the “pom line” dance team during halftime at football games, she still can identify with her troubled 8 Simple Rules character Kerry. “Insecurities are within everybody, we all have them,” says Amy, who’s 24 but plays a teenager on the show. “Kerry is the middle child and she feels second best. There are times in my life when I felt that way. That’s why I love Kerry. People relate to her.”
Tyra Banks has made millions from her beautiful face and figure, and is the woman behind TV’s America’s Next Top Model contest. But Tyra knows it’s what’s inside that counts, and makes sure that the girls who spend a week at T-Zone, the summer camp she runs each summer, understand that. “I spent the whole year working on this model show which deals with outer beauty, but three of the prettiest girls left first. It’s about personalities. Personality and who you are is so important. If you’re pretty but you’re ugly inside, you’re ugly outside too.”
When we asked Nick Cannon where he gets his self-confidence, he told us: "Probably my father. He told me
I could do anything. My father and God. Whatever happens, keep your head up and do your thing."
There's no doubt that Bow Wow has the self-confidence thing down to a science. Where does it all come from? "From myself and from my mom," he told IML. "I'm a strong believer. It's just me. I don't know where I get it but I'm smart up in the mind. As you mature and grow up in this industry you're going to learn a lot of things and more than your average teenager."
Smallville star Kristin Kreuk has her own theories about how to build self-confidence: "I think it comes with growing up, and the people around you that love you for who you are through all your faults, and have worked with you through those things and you can just be who you are and be happy with it. It's never easy for anybody, especially when you're working in show business. People are very mean sometimes. You just have to find it within yourself."
Vin Diesel sums up the source of his self-confidence with two words: “New York.” Being from the Big Apple taught him how to stick up for himself, but Vin says it was also his parents who helped make him who he is. “My parents are very confident people,” he told us. “I had a lot of love growing up. I think self-confidence is a necessity. I think you have to have self confidence in order to believe in anything as far fetched as becoming a movie star.”
Drew Barrymore has been a star since she was four years old, and has had her share of battles in life. But she's won them all and says, "I never realized what a decent companion I am to myself!"
Rose McGowan showed some of the same kick-butt attitude of her Charmed character when she said: "You can't do things based on what other people are going to think, because that's what's going to lead you nowhere."
Aaron Carter doesn't seem to have any trouble with self-confidence, even growing up in the shadow of his brother, Backstreet Boys' Nick. He says, "You always have to take care of yourself. That's the number one thing!"
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Kristin Kreuk plays popular Lana Lang on Smallville, but her own school experiences were very different. She told IML: "High school was difficult for me at times, like it is for anybody. It's when you're really finding who you are and finding your place and you're all kind of awkward and uncertain. Even though it was difficult, I made lifelong friends and I learned a lot about myself over those years."
We asked Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel what her school experiences were like, and here's what she told us: "I went to private school my whole life. It's pretty sheltered but it's good. I was kind of anti-crowd and I didn't have a crowd. I was just doing my own thing with a couple of friends and my best friend from high school is still my best friend."
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Ashlee Simpson is four years younger than her famous sister Jessica, but the two might as well be twins. “We’re super-close. It’s awesome,” raves 7th Heaven star Ashlee, who loves to shop and hang out with Jessica. But don’t look for the two to record together, at least not for now. While both girls sing, Ashlee wants to establish herself as a singer on her own, and says that her style has a little more of a rock edge than Jessica’s. Keep an eye out for an Ashlee single soon!
You might think that playing competitive tennis (often against each other!) would turn Serena and Venus Williams into major sibling rivals. But Serena says, “It’s not as tough as it would seem to be because we’re so close,” though she welcomes the chance to play on the same side of the net as her sister in doubles tennis whenever she can. Serena is also very close to her parents, Richard and Oracene, who divorced last year but remain very involved in their daughters’ tennis careers. Says Serena, “I always say my mom is the backbone and my father is the body. They work together.”
When he’s not making movies, Daryl Sabara enjoys favorite pastimes like soccer,Tae Kwon Do (he has a brown belt), video games, and ballet and hanging out with his fraternal twin brother, Evan. They usually don’t work together or at the same time, but Daryl shot Spy Kids 3: Game Over in Austin, Texas while Evan worked on Raising Helen with Kate Hudson in Los Angeles. “It was the first time we’d ever been apart, really, and it was crazy for my mom because she had to shuttle back and forth.”
7th Heaven brothers Geoff and George Stults work together, share an apartment, and have common interests, particularly outdoor activities like swimming, rock climbing and camping. But as close as they are, there’s some friendly competition between them often fight about video games and food. “I dominate at hockey and football,” George announces, but Geoff, the taller of the two, claims to be “a better eater.” There’s no fighting over girls, however. “We’re alike in what we think is attractive but the girls we end up with are usually different,” George says. But they’re in agreement about what’s important to both of them: someone “secure in herself who’s mentally stable. After that we can work with whatever!”
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Gilmore Girls star Alexis Bledel likes to keep fit with Pilates workouts. “I exercise feel better, to have more energy, to feel stronger,” she says. That strength helped Alexis when it came time to get ready for her role in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which has a scene where she gets trapped underwater. “You have to learn how to use scuba equipment in order to dive into the water on a movie so I had to do that, in a swimming pool with scuba gear and a wet suit,” she explains. Alexis also had another challenge on the movie: she had to learn how to ride on both the back of a motor scooter and a live donkey without falling off!
Will Estes plays football star J.J. Pryor on American Dreams, but off screen he's never played on a team. "I've always liked to play sports with my friends, but I'm not quite the athlete J.J. is," he says. "I did a little bit of gymnastics. I like to surf. I'm athletic. But I had to work at it a little bit."
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Jason Ritter had to learn to use a wheelchair for his role on Joan of Arcadia, and he’s able to get around very well. “I’ve done a lot of practicing, and I can go up and down a few steps,” says Jason, who gets involved in causes for the disabled -- something he did long before the hit TV series. “My parents were huge supporters of United Cerebral Palsy because my dad’s brother had it. We’ve always been in the disabled world and helping people,” he explains. “And now a whole new world has opened up to me. I’ve been going to charity events and we’ve hired a lot of disabled actors on the show. It’s all good.”
All That star Lisa Foiles likes to help good causes whenever she can. “I’m doing a charity right now called Kids for Kids. I sing at that and try to raise money for families,” she says. “Also the Make a Wish Foundation. I sing at those events and do the Christmas programs. That’s just a blast. I love giving back, giving back to the community and helping out,” says Lisa.
Figure skater Michelle Kwan talks about giving and getting in return: "There's nothing like helping others to remind you that you're not the only one in the world with problems."
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Lisa Foiles of All That once turned the tables on a bully. “There was this one bully in my school, a boy who always picked on me,” she relates. “One day I got him back. I just decided to chase HIM around. I freaked him out and he stopped chasing me. I just started messing with him, and he was like ‘Whoa!’” She never had a problem with him after that.
One Tree Hill star Chad Michael Murray may be “in demand” now, but he wasn’t always so popular. Chad told us that he was bullied as a child, “ever since I was in kindergarten. I had my two front teeth knocked out by a sixth grader in first grade. He picked me up and jacked me in the mouth. My house got egged, and all that stuff that happens to you when you’re growing up with people who don’t understand what’s going on.” Things didn’t get much better when Chad got to high school. “I hated high school, to be honest,” he says. “I enjoyed the educational part of it; my teachers allowed me to be creative. But I didn’t have any friends, because I didn’t fit in.” But he didn’t let that stop him. “I thought past high school to what I wanted to do.” One bonus: “I dated a girl from a different school,” he says, “so she didn’t know that I was a nerd!”
Jennifer Freeman, who plays Claire Kyle on My Wife and Kids, remembers being bullied in school: "It was sad and I started crying every day. I had really bad acne too, which didn't help. It was a phase in my life and I got through it and it made me a better person. Now I understand what my younger sisters will be going through and I can understand where people are
It’s hard to imagine that American Dreams star Arlen Escarpeta was ever bullied, but he was! “Once I was bullied as a kid, and it was by a girl,” he told us. “It was okay though, because I liked her. Her name was Tiffany and I think she bullied me because I was really short and skinny in school. I even wrote her this little note but she did not like me at all. It worked for me because the little attention I got from her was enough!”
When we asked Rosario Dawson if she was ever bullied as a kid, this is what she told us: “Absolutely. It was always about how I physically looked. Growing up, a lot of the girls in my school started developing quickly. My mom has a very pronounced bust line and I was a late bloomer. One of my worst memories is getting all dressed up for a school activity and having the girls pick on me because I was flat chested. I was very much a tomboy for a long time.”
Would you believe MTV's Carson Daly was bullied as a kid? Yup! He says: "Fourth grade was my gawkiest period look-wise. I had buckteeth and a school uniform. They'd call me 'jughead' because of my huge head and helmet hair. I was a human Chewbacca!"
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Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Melissa Joan Hart on dealing with friends who have used drugs: "Talk to them and open up communication. Don't alienate them, cause they need help and guidance."
Hilary Duff says, "I've never done any drugs in my life. Party means for me hanging out with my friends and having a good time. You don't need drugs to have a good time and I hope none of you guys ever take any drugs and if somebody offers them to you just say NO!! People don't need drugs to be cool or hip, please guys don't do any drugs!!"
Freddie Prinze Jr. likes to stay clean and sober: "I've never done drugs or even smoked a cigarette. I don't like the idea of being controlled [by drugs]. "