8 Former Child Stars Who've Moved On to 'Typical' (and Impressive!) Day Jobs

From 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory''s Peter Ostrum to 'Wizard of Waverly Place''s Jennifer Stone, see how these stars pursued careers away from Hollywood

<p>Jennifer Stone/Instagram</p> Jennifer Stone

Jennifer Stone/Instagram

Jennifer Stone

While some entertainers who begin their careers at a young age continue to work in Hollywood for life, these former child actors opted out of the business.

Though some haven't gone far — hosting a podcast or working as an entertainment lawyer, for example — their time in front of the camera took a backseat as they pursued other passions.

From Jennifer Stone working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, to Peter Ostrum saying goodbye to acting after just one role to become a veterinarian, meet some former child stars who have taken jobs outside of the spotlight.

Peter Ostrum as a Veterinarian

<p>Wolper/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock; David Livingston/Getty Images)</p> Peter Ostrum

Wolper/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock; David Livingston/Getty Images)

Peter Ostrum

Peter Ostrum's singular acting credit came in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as Charlie Buckett. Following a lifelong love of animals, Ostrum went on to become a veterinarian — receiving his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, per Veterinary Practice News.

He worked at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville, New York, for 37 years before retiring in December 2022, the website explained.

Jennifer Stone as a Nurse

<p>Jennifer Stone/Instagram</p> Jennifer Stone

Jennifer Stone/Instagram

Jennifer Stone

Jennifer Stone's first big role came in 2007 when she landed a gig playing Selena Gomez's onscreen bestie, Harper Finkle, on Wizards of Waverly Place. After the show wrapped in 2012, Stone continued acting, though changed career paths later on and decided to go to nursing school.

Stone announced her graduation in December 2019 and in April 2020 revealed she was officially a registered nurse working on the frontlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to her work as an ER Nurse, as noted in her Instagram bio, Stone also co-hosts the Wizards of Waverly Pod with her former costar, David DeLuise.

Kay Panabaker as a Zookeeper

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty; Instagram/kaypanabaker</p> Kay Panabaker

Frazer Harrison/Getty; Instagram/kaypanabaker

Kay Panabaker

After years working as a child actress with roles on Summerland and Phil of the Future, and later on the series No Ordinary Family, Kay Panabaker has since taken a step back from the spotlight and instead turned her attention to animals.

In a post shared to Instagram in May 2022, Panabaker said that it had been seven years since she had become a zookeeper at Walt Disney World.

In an interview with Naperville Magazine in 2016, Panabaker opened up about her role at the Disney park, explaining that she works with various animals including goats, sheep, elephants, porcupines, skunks, donkeys, cows, parrots, birds of prey and opossums.

In talking about why she decided to leave show business, Panabaker said she felt herself losing enthusiasm for the job — specifically after an experience on set with a producer asking her to lose weight. She said while she continued to audition in L.A. a bit after that, "the passion wasn’t there."

Charlie Korsmo as a Professor

Everett; Courtesy Case Western Reserve University School of Law Charlie Korsmo
Everett; Courtesy Case Western Reserve University School of Law Charlie Korsmo

After landing roles as a kid in films like What About Bob?Hook and Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty, Charlie Korsmo decided to take a step back from acting in high school.

“After Hook, that was my last movie as a kid, we really had a sort of choice to make,” he told PEOPLE. “But I hadn’t been in school for a few years. I suddenly found I didn’t really have friends my own age anymore.”

While studying physics at M.I.T., he felt the urge to return to acting and reconnected with his old agent, who got him a role in 1998’s Can’t Hardly Wait. Despite his foray back into the business, Korsmo would ultimately graduate from M.I.T. before attending law school at Yale, and later became  a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Per IMDb, the former child star has landed two roles in recent years: 2018's Chained for Life and 2024's A Different Man.

“I was not out there looking for parts, but he said there was a part in there for me, so I said, ‘We can do it in a very short shoot because I’ve got a job and I’ve got young kids,’ ” Korsmo told PEOPLE of working on Chained for Life with an old director friend of his. “But I really loved the script and the timing seemed right.”

Bridgit Mendler as a CEO

<p>Adam Taylor/Disney Channel via Getty; Derek Martin/Young Hollywood/Getty</p> Bridgit Mendler

Adam Taylor/Disney Channel via Getty; Derek Martin/Young Hollywood/Getty

Bridgit Mendler

Bridgit Mendler stepped into a starring role on Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie in 2010 as a teenager — though her first acting credit was on a 2006 episode of General Hospital. Good Luck Charlie wrapped in 2014, and during her time on the show Mendler also appeared in 2011's Lemonade Mouth and performed several songs for the movie's soundtrack. In 2012, the star would release her debut single "Ready or Not" before her first album Hello My Name Is…. Her last EP and tour to date came in 2016 with Nemesis, before she put her career in music on pause.

After attending the University of Southern California for a few years, Mendler was announced as one of the 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab's Director's Fellows. The following year she shared that she had started a graduate program at MIT.

Since earning her master’s degree from the prestigious institution, she is also working toward receiving a Doctor of Philosophy - PhD from MIT, though clarified in a post on X that that had been put on pause. In the same post from March 2024 she explained that she was two months away from completing her Doctor of Law - JD.

In February, the former Disney star made two more big announcements, one being that she is now the CEO of Northwood Space, a startup with the mission to create a "data highway between earth and space." She also shared that she is a mom after fostering and then adopting a now-4-year-old boy.

Clayton Snyder as a Real Estate Agent

<p>Walt Disney/courtesy Everett Collection; Instagram/heyclayton</p> Clayton Snyder

Walt Disney/courtesy Everett Collection; Instagram/heyclayton

Clayton Snyder

Clayton Snyder landed his first role in 2001 as Lizzie McGuire's crush Ethan Craft on the Disney Channel show opposite Hilary Duff. Snyder played the character on both seasons of the show as well as in the 2003 movie, and despite a brief gap on his IMDb page, he continued acting into the 2010s with his most recent role being a 2021 TV movie entitled The Maltese Holiday.

Before the highly anticipated reboot of Lizzie McGuire was ultimately scrapped, Ethan's character was said to be making an appearance.

These days, Snyder works as a real estate agent in California, per his Instagram.

Andrea Barber in Education

<p> ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty; Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Netflix/AP Images</p> Andrea Barber

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty; Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Netflix/AP Images

Andrea Barber

Before stepping back into the role of Kimmy Gibbler on the Full House reboot, Fuller House, Andrea Barber thought she was done with acting.

“It was a pretty seamless transition for me. And I was ready,” she told PEOPLE. “I never looked back, and I know that sounds crazy, but I had a lot of success as a child actor, and it really doesn’t get better than Full House for me.”

After starring on the original show from 1987 to 1995, Barber graduated from Whittier College, interned at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and earned a master’s degree in the U.K. She then went on to pursue a career in education.

In addition to her return to the Full House universe, more recently, Barber appeared on Nickelodeon's That Girl Lay Lay.

Jeff Cohen as a Lawyer

Warner Bros/Everett; Joshua Blanchard/Getty Jeff Cohen
Warner Bros/Everett; Joshua Blanchard/Getty Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen's first film role came in 1985's The Goonies as Chunk, alongside Ke Huy Quan's Data. Nearly 40 years later — though Cohen stepped away from the spotlight, with his last credit being 1991's Perfect Harmony — the two worked together again when Quan was ironing out his contract for Everything Everywhere All at Once, and employed Cohen, now an entertainment lawyer, to represent him.

"When the producer of our movie was trying to make my deal, he said he never imagined that he'd have to talk to Chunk and Data for his movie," Quan joked of the unlikely reunion in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

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