The cost of growing up in a spotlight is high — and so is the price of briefly finding child stardom only to become convinced it’s a peak that will never come again.
Following the February release of “Framing Britney Spears,” child stars from Mara Wilson to Tavi Gevinson have spoken up about their struggles with celebrity and the illusion of power it brought to them as young women. Now, “School of Rock” actor Rivkah Reyes has opened up to The Post about the hardships of early success, from addiction to bullying.
Reyes, who at 10 years old played the part of bass player Katie in the 2003 Jack Black film, told The Post they feel their story is “kind of parallel with Britney’s.”
The actor, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them, said that like Britney, they’ve “felt unsafe existing” because of obsessive fans — including one man who tried to take photos of them in sixth grade while they were at school. Reyes was sexualized as a minor, with grown men commenting about how they couldn’t “wait ’til she’s 18” on message boards when Reyes was barely double digits in age, they said.
Also like Spears, Reyes’ fame resulted in them being bullied as a child, but not by the media or their Hollywood colleagues. It was Reyes’ schoolmates who turned the “School of Rock” experience into a painful accomplishment to live with off-set.
“Especially after production wrapped, when I first came back to school, people were really nice or really mean. There was no middle ground,” they said. “I was literally followed around the school with people chanting ‘School of Rock.’ ”
They became convinced they’d never be anything but “the girl from ‘School of Rock,’” but that if they could just score a bigger role, the bullying would stop, and their troubles would disappear. Then “they’ll stop calling you Katie,” Reyes told themself.
Reyes became “a raging addict,” using food, drugs, sex, alcohol and self-harm to get through a dark period from age 14 to 24. “I spent over a decade terrified that I’d peaked at 10 years old,” they wrote in a Medium essay about their experience.
Through it all, though, Reyes never regretted their involvement in “School of Rock.”
“It was nothing but love and support,” Reyes said of the experience. “I have never lost gratitude for that, or wish that I wasn’t part of it.”
Reyes and the movie’s other child stars still maintain a group text, and have had multiple reunions over the years, some of which family has attended as well.
“I wish there was a reality-TV show for all the moms of ‘School of Rock’ — they’re their own cast,” Reyes said.
When their Medium piece published in March 2020, they shared it with their former castmates and was “met with nothing but love and support.”
Black, who didn’t respond to The Post’s request for comment on this story, has also stayed in touch, attending Reyes’ shows and getting them tickets and backstage passes to his own performances over the years.
“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,” said Reyes, calling Black “a great guy.”
In 2017, Reyes got sober and got back into acting, along with TV writing, music and tarot card reading.
After overcoming “a lot of demons,” Reyes has accepted that aspiring to accolades and recognition is not healthy, and their energy is better concentrated on the foundation of the industry: Telling stories and telling them well.
Now, they’re working on a podcast called “Where Are We Now,” set to come out this spring, in which they give other child stars a platform.
“To quote Britney,” they said, “I’m stronger than yesterday.”