Contrary to popular belief, not all of the child actors’ stars in Hollywood fade after their meteoric rise into the limelight – sometimes they continue in films. Of course, the old aphorism “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long” can remain true. (Actually, that’s from “Blade Runner.")
The kids that go to the Oscars are almost always nominated in the Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress categories. There have been more girls nominated for Oscars than boys, and no boy (defined as under eighteen) has ever won an Oscar. While we're not counting her in the child actress category because she's 22, Jennifer Lawrence is one of the youngest actors or actresses to ever win an Academy Award as a lead in a movie now that she won her Best Actress Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook."
In the Best Supporting Actress category, three girls have actually won the award: Tatum O’Neal won for “Paper Moon” (1973) when she was ten, Anna Paquin won for “The Piano” (1993) when she was eleven, and Patty Duke won for “The Miracle Worker” (1962) when she was sixteen.
O’Neal’s career was somewhat short. However, Paquin currently stars in "True Blood," a show centering on vampires that airs on HBO, and you may also recognize her as Rogue from the "X-Men" films. Meanwhile, Patty Duke went on to a career as one of the most respected actresses in television, appearing on "The Patty Duke Show" and "Armstrong Circle Theatre," among others.
Two younger nominees you may remember from recent awards ceremonies, Saoirse Ronan of “Atonement” and Hailee Steinfeld of “True Grit,” have both continued working at a steady pace. Ronan, an Irish actress, has won multiple acting awards in Ireland post-"Atonement" and will be playing the lead role in the movie “The Host,” which is based on the Stephenie Meyer novel of the same name. Steinfeld was cast as Juliet in an upcoming adaptation of Shakespeare’s play directed by Carlo Carlei and will appear in the new “Ender’s Game” movie, which is due out in November.
As for the boys, Haley Joel Osmont of "The Sixth Sense" had a high-profile career as a child actor, appearing in “Pay it Forward” and “A.I.," which then morphed into him acting in movies such as "Montana Amazon" and doing voiceover work for the video game series “Kingdom Hearts.” Actor Justin Henry from “Kramer vs. Kramer” has continued working as an actor but may be still best known from his early role. In total, only six boys have ever been nominated for a performance, while more than twice as many girls have either won or gotten a nod.
It definitely appears that the star power gained from an Oscar nod gives young actors and actresses a short career boost – whether they are defined by the nomination or manage to emerge from its shadow is another matter entirely.
(To see some slightly silly child acting, check out this video by the website Jest, in which kids interpret this year's Best Picture nominees for other kids.)