“I don’t identify as a celebrity at all, by the way,” Romano said in an interview with Fox News Digital. “I think ‘public person’ probably makes more sense, or now content creator. I think that the term celebrity is so gross and outdated.
“And it’s also just extremely triggering because it adds that element of who are you and what’s your relevancy and what’s your value in life, and it’s just extremely dehumanizing in some ways.”
Romano has been redefining herself as a “public person” with her podcast company, PodCo, which she runs with husband Brendan Rooney, as well as her YouTube channel, social media and a podcast she hosts called “Vulnerable with Christy Carlson Romano,” in which she regularly shares intimate details about her life as a child actor.
“I’m not making these decisions spontaneously. I’m very specific about what I’m talking about because I can back it up,” she said. “If I can’t back something up or if I’m impulsive, I think as a female in media, you know, people can be pretty … I’m trying very hard to keep my wits about me these days. So, yes, I’m vulnerable, but I’m also protected.”
One subject Romano can speak confidently about is being a child actor.
The 39-year-old rose to fame on the Disney Channel series “Even Stevens,” playing older sister Ren Stevens to Shia LaBeouf’s mischievous Louis Stevens.
She also voiced the title character on the animated series “Kim Possible” for Disney.
Romano has spoken passionately and openly about the pitfalls she faced after beginning her career so early, from personal to financial, and admits she still feels the effects.
When she heard the story about Elle Fanning’s recollection of not getting a part and being called “unf—able” at age 16, it upset Romano.
“I’m so angry,” Romano said when asked about the story. “I felt very triggered, I felt very helpless and hopeless in some ways because I was like, ‘This just keeps happening.’ These are people I consider my community.
“We may not know each other, and at times a lot of us are isolated from our own experience, because how are we ever going to come together and know, ‘Oh did you actually start at four years old?’ Oh yeah. ‘Did you have a stage parent?’ Oh yeah. It’s like, there’s no, there’s no meeting rooms for recovered child actors.”
Romano has done her part as an advocate, vocalizing her concerns and experiences, but notes that change is slow.
“I don’t think things are changing in that. I think until there’s any kind of changing of the fundamental infrastructure, things can’t change. Because we’re working on outdated information on how kids are being treated on sets,” she said.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. And it may not be something that’s handleable amongst the union. It may be something that needs to be a little bit more in the federal space. I’m not quite sure what we need to do for change, but there’s definitely options.
“Look, at the end of the day, these kids are union-paying members. And they’re not getting protected by the union. They’re not getting schooled enough directly from the union. They may have little workshops here and there, but they do not have enforcers. They don’t have people that are enforcing protections, and that’s the biggest problem.
“We have this industry that benefits off of convenience. We want it loud, fast, funny and cheap, and we need it right now, and that’s how productions work. It’s not just a Nickelodeon problem, or a Paramount problem or whoever it is. It’s not one particular network’s issue. It’s an entire industry issue. Which is why it comes back down to either SAG or even child labor on a federal level. That’s what I have experienced. I think that that’s valuable. So, if I’m talking about it, I’m not trying to whistle blow, it’s more or less me just advocating for change.”
Even if change is slow, Romano is feeling a greater sense of camaraderie with her fellow child stars, including those who have podcasts with her company, like Joey, Matt and Andy Lawrence on their “Brotherly Love” podcast, as well as rewatch podcasts about “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Ned’s Declassified School Survivor Guide,” hosted by cast members of those series.