Confessions Of A Retired Child Actress: I Was Frenemies With An Ex-Disney Star

Photo: Courtesy of Author Jaycee Levin / Instagram
Jaycee Levin
Entertainment And News

Don’t be alarmed when I say that I am a retired child actress.

I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago when I was 10 years old, and went into retirement at age 19 — mostly because as a child, acting was too intense for me.

Although, out of habit, when I meet people I say, “I’m Jaycee Levin and I’m SAG-AFTRA.” When I go to a job interview, I instinctively bring my headshot along with my resume. 

Confessions of a retired child actress:

Keep reading to learn all the juicy details about what it was like to be a child actress, and why I retired before my twenties.

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Auditions were serious. 

I am pretty sure that I was the only child actor that wasn’t homeschooled.

I actually went to a regular high school and would have to get pulled out of school to go to auditions during the middle of the day. I sometimes even went to two auditions a day, and it was another opportunity to run into other actors I was friendly with.

On the weekends, I went to acting classes and basically was in an acting class with everyone that skyrocketed to fame on Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and more.

I actually went to acting class with an actress who's been in popular movie franchises, and recently went to go see Hamilton with her in New York.

I have known her for a long time and in 2008, we both went to audition for a popular horror film. At the audition, I went up to her and and tried to give her a hug hello.

I was shocked when she literally gave me the silent treatment and wouldn’t even acknowledge me.

After she auditioned, she apologized to me and said that she was preparing for the role by not talking. It clearly worked, because she booked the lead role.

Actors tended to be very nice and friendly at auditions, but most people took auditions very seriously.

I auditioned for Suite Life of Zack & Cody, (500) Days of Summer, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and so many episodes of Criminal Minds. However, to this day, I can’t watch an episode of Criminal Minds without knowing at least one crying kid who booked a role over me.

Being a Nickelodeon starlet was a positive experience.

I acted in Nickelodeon shows like iCarly and True Jackson VP. 

I was even an American Girl Doll in an ad once (which you can see below), and one time someone told me “I look better as a doll,” which I still don’t know how to take. 

I had a lot of fun filming these shows and it was especially fun to take time off from school, although I would have to go to school on set.

For iCarly, I was tutored alongside some of the stars. I also played the role of Becca, which was a speaking role on the episode, “iLost My Mind.”

So, I was on the set of the show for a whole week and attended the table read, rehearsal, and even had my own dressing room. Jim Parsons was also a guest star, and it is the infamous episode that features Sam and Freddy kissing. 

It was definitely a fun experience, but it felt very professional.

I had to go to school on set and basically stayed in my dressing room until I had to film, and the other actors were always very nice and welcoming. 

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My arch nemesis was a popular ex-Disney Channel star.

Like most child actors, my arch nemesis at the time was a popular Disney Channel star.

If you were acting around the time that this particular Disney star got her big break, then she was undoubtedly your acting nemesis. In fact, many child actors have a crazy audition story that involves the star or her parent being rude to other kids at auditions, which is wild to me. 

This particular actress and I both auditioned for a popular game show at the time. That didn't stop the Disney star's mom from telling the other kids at the audition that they shouldn’t even try, though, because her daughter "will be the one to get cast." Neither of us moved forward in the casting process. 

The actress was a friend of mine at the time, but that didn’t stop her from always insulting me and saying rude comments to me.

She would ask me questions like, “Where did you get your ugly outfit from? Limited Too?” which still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

There were tons of parties for child actors. 

In the acting world, everyone knows everyone.

Every week there would be different events that all the same kid actors would go to. We would go to birthday parties, go mini-golfing, go to the movies, or go ice skating. It gave us a sense of community and normalcy, and it was nice to do things kids my own age were doing with their own friends.

However, the event that everyone would go to would be a party hosted by YouTube boy band. They'd host a house party every single Wednesday and there would be security at the door — so you had to know someone to get in. 

I decided to retire from acting when I was a kid.

After being on iCarly in 2011, I decided to retire from acting. It lost its excitement for me and I didn’t enjoy missing school as much for auditions. I was participating in my high school theatre department, and I didn’t want to miss out. 

I also just wasn’t totally passionate about the things I was auditioning for. However, I did make a comeback in 2014 when I went to my final audition.

I am obsessed with comedy, and my idol is stand-up comedian Bo Burnham. At that time, he was having an open call for his music video called “Repeat Stuff.”

I didn’t even have an agent or manager anymore, but decided to attend because I was so passionate about him and his work. It was the only audition I truly cared about and I gave it my all.

The same night of the audition, I got the call that I booked the role in the music video, and I got to spend all day on set with Bo Burnham.

It was the greatest day ever, and Burnham even sat next to me at lunch. He was extra nice to me because he sensed how much the experience meant to me. He let me sit in his director’s chair and checked in on me in between takes. It was the best ending to my acting career I could've asked for.

Although I stopped acting, I still want to be on television in some capacity. Now, I am more focused on getting on reality TV. I was even almost on Matt James’s season of The Bachelorand I'm currently auditioning for other competition reality shows.

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Jaycee Levin is a writer, influencer, and blogger living in New York who loves celebrities, fashion, and reality television. She covers news and entertainment for Yourtango. Follow her on Instagram.