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Robert and Barbara Cameron


Parents of Kirk and Candace Cameron

You may remember Kirk and Candace Cameron from two of the most popular sitcoms of the late 80s and early 90s.  Kirk was an instant teen-idol who starred on Growing Pains and his younger sister Candace played DJ Tanner on the hit show Full House.  While both young actors were starring on wholesome, family-centric shows, their parents Robert and Barbara were working hard to make sure that their lives off screen were just as stable and supportive.  

In her book appropriately named “A Full House of Growing Pains,” Barbara recounts her life as a typical Christian mother raising two not-so-typical children.  It wasn’t an easy task attempting to guide her children through the pressures and insecurities of a Hollywood lifestyle, nor was it easy balancing a normal home (the Cameron’s have other siblings as well) with life in the limelight.   

By the age of eighteen, Kirk was making $50k a week and had gained the admiration of thousands of young teens.  His sister Candace, after her role on Full House, drew significant critical acclaim for taking on challenging dramatic roles in films like No One Would Tell.

In 1990, Kirk reaffirmed his faith after struggling internally to find himself for many years – a personal revelation that had a profound effect on him.  While it initially caused some friction on the Growing Pains set, Kirk had the strength to remain true to himself.  In 1991 he married costar Chelsea Noble.  Today Kirk and Chelsea have six children and Kirk has partnered with Way of the Master Ministries.  In addition, he has stared in the Left Behind movies and continues to take on acting roles.

Candace Cameron was introduced to NHL hockey player Valeri Bure by former co-star Dave Coulier and the two were married in 1996.  They have three children and currently reside in Florida.  Candace speaks at various churches, colleges and outreach events in addition to being involved in organizations like the Starlight Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Compassion International, Children’s Hunger Fund and Sheridan House Family Ministries.

Kirk and Candace will never forget their Hollywood roots, but their well-adjusted, successful and fulfilling adult lives are a true testament to the family-based upbringing their parents valued years ago.  They continue to be walking examples of how a supportive upbringing and the development of personal esteem is invaluable in the lives of children growing up in the industry.
 

 
 
INTERVIEW WITH  BARBARA CAMERON

On Getting Started in Entertainment

CIF: What were the early signs that your child was meant to be in the limelight?
BC: There were no early “signs” that our children were meant for this business.  It was something that just happened.  Another showbiz mother, and friend of mine, encouraged me for years to get the kids involved.

CIF:  How did you find your first agent?
BC: We lived in the same apartment building as Adam Rich’s (“Eight Is Enough”) family. For years, Adam’s mother Fran encouraged me to get my children in the business saying that I should really take my kids in to see her agent, Iris Burton.  I trusted Fran and her opinion. Finally, I agreed not thinking that anything would ever become of it.  A few days later Iris Burton was our agent.  Today, however, I would encourage parents to interview the agent just as much as the agent is interviewing them and their child. Find the one that you feel good about representing your child.

CIF:  How many auditions did you go on before the first job?
BC: Kirk booked his first commercial after about the 6th audition.  I don’t think it was more than a dozen before Candace booked her first commercial.

On Making it in Show Biz

CIF:  What was your first big break?
BC:  Though there was a progression of “big breaks” everyday, because small roles led to bigger roles, I guess Kirk’s would be “Growing Pains”. It was during the years of Growing Pains that Kirk became one of America’s teen stars and through this show, he became very popular.  Candace’s break came from her role on a feature film, “Punchline” with Sally Field, John Goodman and Tom Hanks.  It was during this film that the audition came in for “Full House”.

CIF:  Any funny/interesting stories from when you were first getting started? 
BC:  One story that I can remember was an event at the Disney Studios.  We were invited to attend and Kirk brought along a girl friend of his. They found a bicycle and rode tandem. There were paparazzi taking pictures of all the celebrities that attended. They spotted Kirk and followed him trying to capture a photo. Kirk was very good at dodging the media and did his best to find refuge.  But the photographers were insistent and so his dad had an idea! They were able to find an abandoned building on the lot. It was there that they exchanged clothes, coat, and hat and “Kirk” (really his dad) rode off on the bicycle with Kirks friend. The paparazzi saw the two of them and yelled, “There he is!” Robert, disguised as Kirk, rode off, paparazzi’s chasing them, leaving Kirk free to escape into the crowd. It was a fun idea for awhile, but the photographers eventually got smart and realized that they were “had”.

On Education


CIF:  How did you school your children?
BC:
During Kirk’s high school years, we were able to have him attend his school for a class or two before filming (on set he had a studio teacher). This would give him the opportunity to stay connected with his classmates at his regular school. He graduated with his class with high honors.   Candace was tutored on the set for a number of years and when she entered high school, we enrolled her in a private school so that she could develop a social life outside the studio. She missed being among her peers and there were a few kids at her regular school that were making it difficult for her to attend there on a regular basis. Being able to attend this school was wonderful, and helped her connect with friends that she still has today!

CIF:  Did you have one Studio Teacher that you felt really stood out?
BC:
We were very fortunate to have a number of wonderful studio teachers, but a couple of very special studio teachers come to mind! Kirk's teacher on the set was Ben Friedman and he had another teacher at one point named, Glenn Woodmancee who was also wonderful! When Candace got the role of D.J. we were able to request a studio teacher for her. Glenn was available at the time and so he ended up being her studio teacher on the set for most of "Full House".  Both these teachers were serious in their teaching and made it not only educational but interesting and fun! Some of the fondest memories they have is with these two wonderful teachers!

On Parenting Child Actors

CIF: What were the challenges of having some of your children involved in entertainment and others who were not?  How did you balance all the activities and the “egos” to ensure that all of your children were living balanced, fulfilling lives?
BC: 
The two children involved with the entertainment industry were no different than the other two kids. Kirk and Candace were very generous with their siblings, Bridgette and Melissa. They commented on how weird it was to see their sibling’s pictures pasted in school lockers and written on their notebooks, but they understood and took it all in stride.  We also did our best, especially when traveling, to make sure that we did as much as we could as a family. When the studios paid for the events that Kirk and Candace were to attend, we would trade in the first class tickets and buy six coach tickets.

CIF: What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a parent in entertainment?
BC
: I made a lot of mistakes as a mom. And we learn from our mistakes, so I don't necessarily think that they are mistakes. Thinking about this question was difficult. I believe that if things didn't happen the way that they did, and if they didn't happen at the time that they did, then this whole life in the entertainment industry wouldn't have taken place. I believe that God has a plan for our lives. And our life was all in His perfect timing!

CIF: What is your definition of a good “stage parent”?
BC:
I believe that a good “stage parent” is being a “good parent” first! There are so many temptations and influences that surround your child. Kids grow up very quickly in the business because they are around adults most of the time. Listening to adult conversations and the influences of those around them shapes who they are going to be as adults. It was important for me as a mom to make sure that my child didn’t get swept away in the egos and the lifestyles of those around them.  As parents we too can get swept away with all the glitz and glamour and money of Hollywood! It is imperative that we understand that the money isn't ours, it's the children's, and we have been entrusted to make sure that they money is invested well for them, not for ourselves.  As parents it is our responsibility to make sure that our children grow up to become well adjusted adults.  This is not the job of the studio, studio teachers, nannies or the cast.  The training starts at home! 

CIF: How did you keep your children grounded?
BC: 
I have to give a lot of the credit to my husband Robert. I think we balanced well.  He really didn’t support all of this in the beginning. He was determined that his children would be college graduates. I remember him telling me in the beginning that when Kirk made is first $10,000.00 then maybe he would think about all of this seriously. Well, after Kirk’s second commercial, he had hit the mark. We raised our children to be kind, loving and giving children. They weren’t treated special just because they were on television. They were our children obeying the rules of the home and discipline was part of our training them up. Our children did not rule the home, mom and dad continued to be the parents shepherding their hearts the best way we knew how. 

CIF: Were you ever afraid that your child would fall inline with the negative image of some child stars?
BC: 
I think whether my children were in the entertainment industry or not, I worried about their future. I was aware that outside influences and who they were hanging out with were all very important aspects of molding my children.  We are a close family and my children didn’t go anywhere or do anything without us knowing about it. They knew that there were rules, curfews, etc. and if they disobeyed there were consequences for their disobedience.

CIF: What advice would you give other parents just starting out?
BC:
My years of experience have shown me that although Hollywood can be a very exciting place to be, it is full of trappings that can take any person of substance and deceive, discourage, and destroy them and their families.  My advice to parents who are considering their child for a career in Hollywood is to take a serious inventory of your motives - What are you looking to accomplish?   Could it be the lure of the glamorous life? Are your dreams to come here to make your child a star?  How will you handle the times when Hollywood requires your child to curse, compromise their morals and values as a family? Are you willing to possibly destroy the innocence of your child all for the love of money? The reason I ask is because you need to think these decisions through before you are faced with them at a time when the temptation is great.  It's a big decision.

 

Closing CIF Statement:

Today Barbara Cameron works for "Image Development"a Talent Promotional Company helping those interested in getting into the entertainment business.

She is also the author of the book “A Full House of Growing Pains” A Hollywood mother's journey, which isn't just about Hollywood. It's about the daily struggles of an ordinary woman attempting to keep all her kids real in an extraordinary world. It's a story of family life, faith, and the power of stardom.

Information about her book can be found on her website at  www.barbaracameron.net
 
 
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