Heroes star Hayden Panettiere celebrated her 18th birthday Tuesday, capping a week of paparazzi obsessively capturing her every step, likely in hopes that they’ll nab yet another child actress in the throes of coming-of-age hedonism. But thus far Hayden has bucked the trend, managing to keep out of rehab and in the squeaky-clean spotlight. To help her stay on this very right track, we suggest Hayden learn from the varied fates of those who came before her.
Don’t let your mom-manager use you as a springboard. TMZ recently polled its readers on whether they’d rather nail Hayden or her hot mother. Leaving aside how awkward that must have been at the Panettiere dinner table, it pains us that Lindsay and Dina Lohan’s tragic travails have taught us nothing. When the stage mother is egged into acting like a competing star, ahead lies nothing but rehab, rehab, carjackings, and rehab.
Find a (legal) hobby. Since they were mere tweens, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were the fixation of countless creepy Web pages awaiting their 18th birthday, spawning the deeply icky term “jailbait countdown.” Still, save for MK’s well-managed foray into anorexia, the pressure never seemed to drive the bajillionaire moguls to inject heroin into their eyeballs. Instead, they threw themselves into fashion and are now debuting a ready-to-wear line called Row. People actually seem to respect them rather than pity them. Fancy that.
Don’t date dudes who are just using you for exposure. Take a page from Hilary Duff’s book and stick to a reliable steady, keep your mouth shut, and stay in at night. Boys from The Big Book of Interchangeable Greek Shipping Heirs might seem charming, but usually they’re only trying to get their names in the paper.
Don’t shave your head. Even if you’re cracking up, try to keep it under your hat, so to speak. Britney’s maniac hair-razing incident was such a vivid visual of her out-of-control mental state that it’s all anyone can think of when they look at her now (due in no small part to her wigs, which look like roadkill). Also, this sort of behavior makes you look utterly insane.
Okay, maybe shave your head. But only for a role (a good role — no Tank Girl nonsense). Every guy in America crushed on Natalie Portman after Beautiful Girls, but instead of drinking away her success, she chose to balance Hollywood with Harvard. Her good reputation thus helped yield riskier roles like the buzz-cut heroine in V for Vendetta. Rather than being known for her underwear or lack thereof, Portman is defined by her career. We don’t even know if she’s dating. How refreshing.