In Hollywood, a lot of "stage parents" are heavily involved in their children's careers. Many of these parents keep their children's best interests at heart — but not all. Sometimes, these relationships result in legal drama.
Occasionally, teenagers who are working in the entertainment industry decide that it would best for them to legally separate from their parents. So, they file for emancipation, which is similar to a divorce, but for children and their parents.
Here are 13 celebrities who emancipated themselves from their parents:
1. Rose McGowan grew up in Italy, the daughter of a cult leader and one of his wives. They moved to the US when she was 10, and she emancipated herself at 15 because she "needed to have control of [her] own life."
She told the Guardian, "By then I was living in the back room of a friend’s house in Hollywood and had about 25 cents to my name, so I represented myself in court."
After becoming emancipated, she experienced homelessness for a year before moving in with a man 20 years older than her. She told the Big Issue, "I’d like to go back to that young girl and put my arm around her. And punch that man on the nose."
2. Drew Barrymore was emancipated when she was 14 because she "had to part ways from [her] mother because [they] had driven [their] relationship into the ground."
In her memoir, Wildflower, Drew wrote, "She had lost credibility as a mother by taking me to Studio 54 (so wrong, but so fun) instead of school. And I was out of control due to working since I was 11 months old and what that had done to my childhood, which made me grow up too fast."
Her mother fully supported her emancipation. She continued, "At the end of the day, the judge looked at me and said these words, which stuck with me: 'I can turn the clock forward, but I can never turn it back. Are you ready for that?'"
Drew got her own apartment in the same building her friend lived in. She got a job at the Living Room, a coffee shop nearby. She wrote, "People thought I was crazy, even though I wasn’t; I just grew up too fast."
3. Ariel Winter was emancipated from her mom at 17 after a three-year custody battle.
When she was 14, the Department of Children and Family removed her from her mother's home after finding evidence of emotional abuse. Her older sister, Shanelle Gray, became her legal guardian.
Celebrating her emancipation on Twitter, Ariel said, "I'm really lucky I have an amazing support system and lovely people in my life who have given me the support and guidance to have been given this wonderful opportunity. Most importantly I want to thank [Shanelle] and my father for their special support regarding this matter, I really couldn't have done it without them."
She continued, "Thank you to all of my family, friends, and fans who have supported me through all of my endeavors in life, and have encouraged me. Thank you for making my life so special! I can't wait to embark on my new adventures."
Ariel's mom appeared on The Dr. Phil Show to share her side of things. Addressing the episode on Ellen, Ariel said, "It just really didn't try and fix anything with me. It just tried to make herself look better, and I'm not interested in doing that. People can make their own judgments. I had to do what I had to do for myself."
4. Little House on the Prairie actor Melissa Francis emancipated herself at 15 to separate herself from her controlling stage mother.
In her memoir, Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter, she wrote, "I didn't have a driver's license, how would I get to school? I wasn't organized enough at 15 to pay the rent, manage my schedule, go on auditions, work and take care of my basic needs. It didn't seem possible to break free. ... But I realized if I was going to seize the reins from my controlling stage mother, I had to be able to take charge of my life."
Addressing how familiar Ariel Winter's story felt to her own, Melissa told the Hollywood Mom Blog, "I think that one of the flaws is that people blame the [entertainment] industry for what happens to these kids when various news organizations reach out to me to do interviews and they say, 'There are plenty of laws to protect kids that are in entertainment.' But [the reality is] their parents don’t follow them."
She continued, "I think that Hollywood attracts this certain type of mom or parent. It could be dads [too], it’s not just moms. But it can attract a certain type of, you know, narcissistic, unstable person. It takes a lot to be successful. Parents have to be incredibly clever, resilient, stop at nothing, able to figure problems out, dedicated to a point that doesn’t make sense; and somebody who’s willing to pour all of their energy and all of their focus and all of their hope into another human being. Whether that’s your child or not, that’s not normal, and I think the industry rewards [this behavior]."
5. Jena Malone was emancipated at 15 after alleging that her mom "squandered" the money she'd earned through "excessive spending and mismanagement."
At the time of her emancipation, Jena already had a court order to prevent her mom from following through on a threat to move her to Las Vegas against her will.
6. Courtney Love, who grew up with allegedly neglectful parents, emancipated herself at 16.
In her memoir, Her Mother's Daughter, she said that she lived off her "sizeable inheritance" before working as a stripper and then a musician.
She told Vanity Fair, "I swore I’d never be like my mother, but I’m just the same. She threw it all away, and I threw it all away."
7. Courtney's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was removed from her mother's custody three times. At 17, she emancipated herself.
Soon after, she met Isaiah Silva, whom she eventually married in 2014 but divorced in 2017.
On the RuPaul: What’s the Tee? podcast, Frances said, "I got married because I met a guy when I was 17 and newly emancipated from my mother [and he] gave me a sense of normalcy and stability."
She also said, "When my mom is on a right and healthy path, she is one of the most fulfilling, beautiful, intelligent and kind people I ever met. ... I want our relationship to be based on open communication and love and truth and awareness on how our actions affect the other person."
8. Not every case of emancipation in Hollywood is due to an unfit parent. When Alicia Silverstone was 15, she became emancipated as a workaround for child labor laws.
She told Rolling Stone, "If you’re emancipated, it means you’re legally 18 and can work crazy hours."
It wasn't Alicia's idea or her parents. Producers of The Crush — her very first movie — told her to do it.
She continued, "It’s too hard to get emancipated in LA, so my dad tracked down a place in Oakland. I had to stand before a judge and tell him I was living on my own, which was not true, and also tell him I was self-supporting, which was true. And then after sophomore year, I quit high school."
Her mother was against the emancipation, but Alicia's agents insisted that she wouldn't get the role in The Crush without it.
Alicia said, "My parents were a bit concerned. They were afraid I would hold it under their nose and say, 'You can’t tell me what to do, I’m emancipated.' But nothing really changed."
9. When Cape Fear actor Juliette Lewis was 14, her parents "helped [her] get emancipated from child labor laws."
She told HuffPost Live, "I know that sounds all radical, but when you start acting when you're younger, you talk to other actor kids and their moms, and they're like, 'Yeah, if you want to get a job, they like on your resume to say emancipated minor versus minor, because you then can work over eight hours.'"
10. Michelle Williams emancipated herself when she was 15 in order to pursue an acting career.
Her decision was inspired by headlines about child stars like Drew Barrymore and Macaulay Culkin (who didn't actually go through with his emancipation).
Michelle told the Times, "What teenager doesn't want total autonomy if they have the chance? I got the idea from reading about it in the papers. ... At the time, there were a lot of kids in Hollywood and in the news doing the same thing."
11. My Name Is Earl actor Jaime Pressly emancipated herself at 15 so she could go to Japan on a modeling contract.
She told NBC, "I felt for my parents. I apologized profusely years later, but I was just very strong-willed and strong-minded and had my own ideas, thought outside of the box. And coming from a small town, I really didn't fit in at all."
She continued, "I begged my parents to send me away to boarding school, and I don't know any kid that does that. And they refused, and I was like, 'Okay. I'll handle it myself.' So behind their backs I went and entered all these model searches, sent a bunch of pictures in, and long story short, I ended up becoming a spokesmodel for one of the searches."
12. When Laura Dern was 16, she emancipated herself so she could act without following child labor laws.
Her status as an emancipated minor enabled her to legally work longer hours on set, and she no longer required a tutor or chaperone to accompany her.