[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Framing Britney Spears has started a conversation surrounding how we treat famous women, but it opened the door for a conversation about child stardom, too.
After all, Britney Spears was thrust into the spotlight at a young age, quickly going from pageant princess to Mickey Mouse Club kid to pop star in a few short years. After the documentary, other former child stars came forward with their own experiences, such as Matilda’s Mara Wilson. And now, School of Rock’s Rivkah Reyes is adding their voice to the mix as well.
The performer, who played Katie the bassist in Jack Black’s band of kid rockers, told the New York Post that their story was “kind of parallel with Britney’s.” From a young age, their “textbook definition of toxic stage parents” encouraged Rivkah’s musical talents but also pressured them into supporting the family.
Booking School of Rock was an exciting experience, but came with intense baggage. Rivkah recalled:
“Especially after production wrapped, when I first came back to school, people were really nice or really mean. There was no middle ground. I was literally followed around the school with people chanting ‘School of Rock.’”
But it wasn’t just their peers that presented problems. In a Medium essay in March 2020, they wrote:
“On message boards (what a time 2003 was), grown men would sexualize me, commenting, ‘The bassist is going to grow up to be hot’ and ‘Can’t wait ’til she’s 18.’ My mom would read the comments online for hours on end, relaying all of the negative ones to me. When I was in sixth grade, a strange man in a trench coat came to my school and tried to take photos of me, and absolutely nothing was done about it. For the first time, I felt unsafe existing.”
After seeing themselves on the big screen around age 11, Rivkah “developed an eating disorder” and eventually became “a raging addict.” They admitted:
“From the age of 14, I used drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and self-harm to numb all of this pain. I’ve survived dozens of toxic relationships and three suicide attempts. I’m not saying all of this is because I played bass in a movie when I was a kid but because I spent over a decade terrified that I’d peaked at 10 years old.”
Luckily, they got help and have been sober for more than two years. And despite the difficulties that surrounded School of Rock, the 28-year-old remains grateful for the experience, particularly for the cast that they’re still close to today. They added that Jack Black is “a great guy,” sharing:
“When one of the castmates was falling into some legal trouble, [Black] reached out and asked me if [I knew if] he was OK and if I could send along his contact info.”
In recent years, Rivkah has worked as a musician, performer, and comedian, appearing on NBC’s Bring the Funny. They are active on social media, and plan to launch a new podcast called Where Are We Now about the experiences of child actors.
They quipped to the Post:
“To quote Britney, I’m stronger than yesterday.”
What an incredible story — and one we’re sure has lots of similarities to other child actors out there. We’re grateful Rivkah was willing to open up, and look forward to hearing more of these stories on their podcast.
[Image via HBO Max & Rivkah Reyes/Instagram]