Hayden Panettiere appears to have dodged the ex-child-star bullet. The Nashville star started out doing soap operas at age five, and thanks to the sci-fi TV hit Heroes, she was a household name at age 16. Lindsay Lohan, 26, and Amanda Bynes, 27, had similar trajectories. So how does 23-year-old Panettiere have her life together while her fellow child stars are scraping rock bottom? In an interview with BBC Breakfast, Panettiere credited her success to having the right support network.
"I'm no different to anyone else and those same doors were opened to me and they were very easy to walk through—drugs, alcohol, being in inappropriate places where you shouldn't be at a certain age—it's a very tough position to be in, but I had great people to pull me back from it," Panettiere explained.
"Being a young female growing up in the industry is tough," she continued. "I grew up in the generation of the wild child—I was guilty by association. So everyone sits there and waits for you to fall off your horse. But as long as you have people who are willing to tell you the truth and are not afraid to tell you the truth and give you a reality check, it makes a world of difference."
It does seem like both Bynes and Lohan are totally alone in this game: Their parents are distant and/or exploitive, and they're surrounded by fame leeches and enablers. Bynes' dependency on Twitter is a perfect example: whenever she gets in trouble, she tweets her own personal version of events, and gets responses like this:
Who needs a reality check when you're somebody's "personal Jesus"?
At this point, Panettiere may have all the respect, but troubled starlets like Bynes and Lohan have all the attention. And we're not sure that Lindsay and Amanda know the difference. Maybe Amanda is flattered that Snooki thinks she she should have her own reality show—when in fact, if you've become a Jersey Shore star's "guilty pleasure," it may be time to rethink your life. Perhaps Amanda is hitting on Liam Hemsworth, not to annoy Miley Cyrus, but because she thinks she actually has a shot. (As it turns out, they may have hooked up four years ago—but it's been a looong four years.)
As for Lohan, she's trying to repair her shattered reputation by doing time in rehab. Amazingly, she actually seems to be taking it seriously this time around. According to TMZ, the actress is attending her counseling sessions, getting along with the Betty Ford staff, and generally being a model patient.
If only her parents had gotten the memo that Lindsay was trying to change. While their daughter has been avoiding drama, Michael and Dina Lohan have been courting it—reportedly accepting a $50,000 payday to have a blow-out fight about Lindsay for a new reality show. We're thinking that Lindsay could use some of those "great people" that Hayden was talking about. Maybe she could loan her some?
Donna Kaufman is an iVillage contributing writer. Find her on Google+.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.