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Lavagirl: Why She Quit Childhood Acting

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2023 3:02 am

Lavagirl: Why She Quit Childhood Acting

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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February 16, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, actress Taylor Dooley shares the story of when she played the role of Lavagirl at the age of 13. More than 15 years later, she has returned to acting to play the same role in the Netflix Film We Can Be Heroes. Take a listen to hear Taylor tell her story.

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What up, it's dramas from the Life as a Gringo podcast.

We are back with a brand new season. Now Life as a Gringo speaks to Latinos who are born or raised here in the States. It's about educating and breaking those generational curses that man have been holding us back for far too long. I'm here to discuss the topics that are relevant to all of us and to define what it means to live as our true authentic self.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. So you're in the garage working on your car and you need the valves you bought last week. You look in the cabinets and on the shelves. But the parts are never in the right place. eBay Motors has the car parts you need. Over 122 million of them all in one place and all at the right prices.

Find parts for everything from your classic coupe to your brand new truck at Let's ride. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories and we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between, including your story, send them to They're some of our favorites. And now we bring you the story of Taylor Dooley. She's an actress most known for her role as Lava Girl in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl, the 2005 film.

She has returned to acting today in the Netflix film We Can Be Heroes. Here's Taylor with her story. I was just a little girl with a big dream when I was probably 10. I want to yeah, I was about 10 when I caught kind of the acting bug a little bit.

I had been through a few modeling classes and was modeling and having fun. My dad saw this thing to be able to take some acting classes and thought, hey, maybe you might like that as well. So I did absolutely fell in love with it to my parents' dismay. They didn't know anything about the acting world or anything about it, nor wanted me really to be into it much.

But once their daughter fell in love with it, they kind of just really pushed me through that. We were living in Arizona at the time and my mom was crazy enough and wonderful enough to start driving me back and forth to auditions for commercials and and such. So we were driving like eight hours a day to come to California to go on an audition just to drive back home, which was absolutely insane. And then my agency suggested that I should go on theatrical auditions for TV shows, movies.

So they kind of switched me over to there. And that's when one of my very first auditions was the Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl. I ended up booking that, which was such a special, special thing. And that became kind of the catapulting thing that took my career over a little bit, which is absolutely amazing.

And I feel super, super blessed for. But growing up in the business is kind of very crazy. And I think that people don't touch on it as much. We kind of hear about it a little bit in the news and with people who grow up in the business, you kind of the media, I think, shies away a little bit from that growing up in and around with everybody around the same age as I was hanging out with everyone from Nickelodeon and Disney and all those shows and all those fun things after Sharkboy and Lava Girl came out, it was so much fun. And I had like such an interesting childhood getting able to meet all these fun people. But my parents the entire time had this thought that I just was a hard childhood. They thought that I should be able to be a kid and not be working.

And so that's kind of when people find me nowadays. On Instagram, everyone's like, where did you go after Sharkboy and Lava Girl, I kind of vanished a little bit from the entertainment industry. And it was because my parents had the want to take me out and make me live a normal regular life. When you're a child actor, you have usually I mean, even as an adult, you have a manager and an agent, usually. And when you're a kid, they don't, they don't really talk to you, talk to you, they talk to your parents. So I didn't really understand or know much of the business aspect of anything. It just was my parents handling everything.

So they behind the scenes knew of a lot of stuff that I didn't know that was going on, which is why I had I in my brain more license to be angry at them when they did pull me out because I didn't know all the business and stuff that came from it. But my parents just felt like it just didn't feel like you could have an authentic childhood if you were busy being a little adult at 10, 11, 12, even, you know, even as a teenager, because when you're a kid, you just usually have to worry about kid things. But when you're in the business, you start worrying about things like, you know, how many auditions did you have before you got a call back or how many times you, you know, you've booked something, all your friends are working and you're not working, but you're only 14. Most people aren't working at your age. So there's so many rejections that happen before you get one.

Yes. That as a kid, it's really hard to swallow that because you're not usually dealing with that amount of rejection. As you know, as an adult, you go on work interviews and you, you are prepared for that mentally and emotionally, but as a kid, you don't, you can't separate the, why didn't I get the, it's, you're kind of, you're selling yourself as an actor a little bit, you know, and it hurts when you don't get things consistently for a while. I also twofold had something else going on where I kind of grew really early and in the business that they want older kids that look younger, not younger kids that look older.

And so I had a lot of people want to book me for auditions right after Sharkboy and Lava Girl. And then I got so old looking that they would, where they were like, well, she doesn't look 14. And I was 14 at the time.

I'm like, but I am 14. So my parents were just looking around and just seeing all the, how all this rejection was like devastating my confidence in who I was. And I was such a, my parents always describe me to myself. They'll tell me that I was like a really self-confident, super outgoing.

They would say, and I was like a little spark plug and a few years in the business. And it was really, I was getting depressed and I was getting sad because when you love something that much, I couldn't understand why I wasn't working when some of my friends were or things weren't happening for me. And it just was really devastating to who I was. So my parents didn't like that. And they were really worried about what that would look like and translate to into adulthood or young adulthood, just having that self doubt. And so they wanted to put me in high school to just take a break from it and not worry about it and to be a normal kid so that I could come back as an adult and be able to handle the rejection and everything that comes with being an actor at the time.

I didn't agree with them. And I think I, my mom put me in high school and I remember crying in the front office, telling her that she did not love me because she was making me stop acting and go to school like a normal teenager. And I remember just being such a wreck in the front office of this high school. Like if you leave me here, I promise you, you just hate me.

You must hate me. I was so upset with her. And you're listening to Taylor Dooley tell the story of her experience in Hollywood as a child. By the way, everything she's saying applies to grownups too. It's a tough, tough life.

It is a life filled with rejection. And by the way, her parents, luckily for her, saw the change in her life, the depression from a spark plug to a depressed teenager. And so the family interceded, intervened, and protected their daughter. When we come back, more with Taylor Dooley, her story here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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eBay motors. Let's ride. And we return to Our American Stories and the story of Taylor Dooley. She played Lavagirl in the adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, but her parents decided that the acting business was not a good environment for a 14-year-old girl. So they took her out and put her in regular high school. Taylor was upset at first, but now more than 15 years later, she has a different perspective.

Back to Taylor. In hindsight, it ended up being the best thing to ever happen to me because I got to kind of live not such a sheltered life and do some of my other life goals before I was able to get back into acting now. So I'm thankful that they did that because I definitely learned a lot about myself. And I had a few years, I think, that after leaving the industry that I kind of got really upset and mad at God for a while because I would say to him, say to him, why did you put something so deep on my heart? Like, why do I love this so much, but yet I can't do it? Like, my friends are working and I'm not.

Why is that? And I realized throughout the years that it was just because I had already always prayed and wanted an adult career and to be an adult actor because I never really wanted to do the kid fluff stuff. I was always so much older than my age acting.

I was like 13 and I used to tell everyone I wanted to be like Natalie Portman. I was always very, I just wanted a very serious adult career, which doesn't happen when you're a kid usually. So it kind of was, I think, God's way of answering my prayer in a roundabout way.

You just never know when you're in it and it feels emotional when you're in it. And now that I'm on the other side of it, I'm thankful that I didn't work through those years and that my parents pulled me out and I was able to take that break because it allowed me to, as I said, it allowed me to kind of grow as my own person and heal from some of the wounds that I feel like as a kid, child actor, I got from the rejection and all that stuff and to be able to just kind of have a basis of who I am. And it also helped shepherd kind of more of a faith I've always, my family has always been. I kind of grew up, my parents found God when I was young-ish.

I think I was like five or six when we started going to church, my parents started learning a little bit more about God. I am originally from Michigan. My whole family, my parents had never left Michigan until we moved for my brother's health. And my brother was a twin, born insanely prematurely. He was born three and a half months early. But we ended up losing one of the twins, one of my brothers. But my brother was a miracle baby, my other brother who did make it.

His name's Andrew. He made it and his lungs were just severely underdeveloped. And the cold from Michigan was really hard on his lungs. So we needed to move someplace warm. So my parents found Arizona, which is insanely warm.

So it worked out perfectly. And my brother who could barely walk because his lungs were so horrible. I think we moved when he was four and I was six. And by the time we moved to Arizona, we were there like two weeks and he was already being able to swim and dive in the pool. His lungs had just developed so much better in the warmth, which was such a blessing in and of itself. But that's my brother is kind of how my parents found God because with the tragedy of the twins and not knowing my brother was in the NICU for over a hundred days, because when he was born, he was born just over a pound.

He was just the tiniest little thing. They kind of through that experience and losing my other brother and trying to worry about whether my brother Andrew was going to live, they found God and found their faith and kind of kept it through all those years. They really were what showed me what faith kind of looked like, but was kind of crazy is that we were kind of all learning to do it together. My parents where they called themselves baby Christians at the time because they didn't really know anything about it. So they just, we all kind of were learning together as a family, which I think made it so much closer for all of us.

We were always very close. So I kind of was always grown up knowing about that, but I kind of really took my faith as my own as I was able to step out of the business and kind of be a teenager away from everything. And when you're kind of that age of angsty, wanting to know like what this world is about, it was nice to be able to be away from the industry and being away from that, to be able to kind of cultivate my own faith in my own identity as to who I am. Because when you're in the business at such a young age, it's like such a sheltered, people kind of tell you who you are because it's like an oxymoron. You have to grow up so quickly and be a little adult at like 11 years old, but then they also tell you who you are.

It's like as a kid, it's really hard to muddle through what's what. And so it was nice to be able to take a step back. And then when I went to high school, I didn't, I tried theater for a little bit and I loved it, but it just didn't feel like, there was like always this cattiness because I was an actress that the, and because I used to work that I felt like some of my theater, the people in theater were so catty with me about that. And I didn't, I didn't want to deal with all of that.

So I was like, yeah, I'll quit that and not do that because I just didn't have the time or want to do that. So I instead found my own group of friends, which I still have to this day from high school and was able to, in the very beginning, they were, I got made fun of because I was Lava Girl and it was usually in an endearing way. People would call me Lava Girl. It was like they were ribbing me, but you know, in high school, everyone likes to make fun of everybody. And at the same time, Taylor Lautner who played Sharkboy was going to high school with me. So people would make fun of us because Sharkboy and Lava Girl went to the same high school. Knew that people were just ribbing us when they all, you know, loved the movie.

So it just rolled right off my back. And I was able to make friends that, like I said, I still have this day. And then all that space and time from the acting world allowed me to be able to make friends and people with people who kind of had no idea who I was in a certain way, because sometimes some of the people when they were older didn't necessarily watch Sharkboy and Lava Girl. I actually, when I met my husband, funny enough, he, people used to call me Lava Girl and he had no idea because my husband's 10 years older than I am.

He had no idea what a Lava Girl was. So he thought it was some really weird nickname from high school. And finally one day he was like, why do people call you that? And I had to break, I was like, I'm an actor.

I was a child actor and I was this character, Lava Girl. He had absolutely no idea for like the first, I think like five months that I knew him, which was nice. It was nice to just be, you know, a normal human being. Went to college, graduated college, met my husband, which all of which would have never happened. And I had two beautiful, amazing, wonderful kids and was able to kind of somewhat live a normal life until Robert Rodriguez called me in 2019, because we shot in the fall of 2019 for the new movie, We Can Be Heroes. I had just had my daughter and she was two or three months old when I got a phone call from Robert telling me that he was wanting to bring back Sharkboy and Lava Girl for this new film and that we'd have a daughter and all this really fun, exciting stuff about this new movie and was asking if I'd be willing to come back and play Lava Girl again after all these years. And it had been 15 years since Lava Girl first appeared in my life.

So I was totally gung ho for it. I was able to go right back to work a few months later. I got my butt in shape after being pregnant.

So I had a few months to get back in shape and was in the fall filming We Can Be Heroes with Robert getting to be Lava Girl again with my crazy pink hair. And they were so sweet to let my entire family come to Austin, Texas to film. So I had my kids with me and it was just such a wonderful kind of reintroduction back into the business. And to me, just such a beautiful way that I felt like God was telling me that after all these years, I did the right thing by stepping away.

And my parents actually, who made me, did the right thing by making me step away because I was able to come back into the business from a new perspective as a mother, as an adult, as a wife, as an adult woman, to be able to make more decisions and know who I am now after all of these years. It was just such a beautiful thing. And I told Robert this, but I have like such special feelings for Lava Girl because she kind of, she started my career twice now. She is light. That's her character. That's like her superpower is that she's not just that she's lava. If you've seen the first movie, it's all about the fact that she discovers that she is light. And it's just to me, such a beautiful kind of symbolism in everything to be able to come back as Lava Girl all these years later, who's just light. And I just kind of feel like that's what I'd love to be in this world if I can. Just would like to spread love and light. And wouldn't we all, and a special thanks to Robbie and to Faith for producing and putting together that beautiful piece. Go to Netflix, We Can Be Heroes is the movie, and you get to see Lava Girl 15 years later. The story of Lava Girl, the story of Taylor Dooley here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-19 15:25:10 / 2023-02-19 15:33:20 / 8

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