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Kids in the entertainment industry: The set’s a safer space, now

Erika Rosenbaum is a film and TV actor who lives in Ormstown. With many credits to her performing career, it comes as no surprise that she’s passed the talent gene down to her children. Rosenbaum has four children aged 12 and under. The three oldest (Jack, age 12, Harriette, 10, and Matilda, 7) have all jumped headfirst into their own acting careers, with her youngest daughter, Beatrice (3) having already started to express interest in getting involved as well.

Rosenbaum explains that having four kids close together as a young actress isn’t super common. But because casting directors knew she had children and had seen how they behaved on set, it became a no-brainer that the kids could get involved as well. “I was a resource for our local casting here in Montreal; they knew I had kids who are confident and comfortable being on set.” On top of that, throughout the pandemic many filming companies were looking to cast full families to maintain a COVID bubble. This led to the whole family (even Rosenbaum’s non-actor husband!) having even more opportunities and chances to work together.

The kids have been making a name for themselves, with several projects in the works. The two oldest (Jack and Harriette) are currently in the new show Three Pines with another Valley native, Sarah Booth. Matilda got to walk the red carpet in her best sparkly dress for her movie The Swearing Jar which premiered at TIFF. She also recently worked on an episode of Locke and Key. Even Beatrice, who is almost 4, is getting involved: “This morning, Harriet was preparing for an audition, and Beatrice said, ‘When am I going to audition?’ So, I’m sure she’ll follow the gang if she feels like it,” says Rosenbaum.

She Said  hires survivors

Earlier this month, the movie She Said was released. It’s based on the book of the same name which recounts how journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey worked to build a case against film producer Harvey Weinstein and his countless acts of sexual assault against women in Hollywood. Rosenbaum is among the survivors who came forward and helped this case be made loud and clear.

Though she is not in the movie as an actor or a character, she says, “They did a really good job of consulting with people who share this story … I see myself reflected in it and, and I know the efforts that they made.” One particular thing that resonated with Rosenbaum was that many survivors were consulted for the movie, and some survivors of Weinstein’s crimes were actually cast. Rosenbaum emphasizes the importance of this: “My friend, Sarah Massey, who is also one of the silence-breakers – she started an organization called Hire Survivors Hollywood, which advocates to end the workplace retaliation against people who step forward about sexual assaults in our industry.”

 

 

Something that Rosenbaum reiterates is the way that women support and protect each other. “I wish we would talk more about the men who make us feel unsafe; but, for now, at least the women are talking amongst themselves about this and what we can do about it.” The current political climate means women must stick together in order to ensure their safety; “If you look around the world, Roe vs Wade, and the rolling back of some of these rights, we need to be stronger than ever. We need to keep talking. I love that art reflects that.”

Raising children who are involved in the filmmaking industry comes with its own challenges. But the fact that her kids are being introduced to this industry in a world where these conversations are happening provides some reassurance. “I do think that the industry has changed; [it] has a long way to go, but it’s changed as a result of this story in a very profound way. It’s simply that when young actors are going to theater school now, and young actors growing up in my house are going on set at any age, they’re doing so after this huge, ugly secret has been exposed.”

Conversations about consent are much clearer and much more consistent these days, especially around anything involving physical touch, like attaching a microphone pack to an actor. These open conversations allow new actors to feel safer on set. “We have a lot of brutal honesty out there, and that serves a purpose for these young people. This changed the industry that they’re growing up in.” Rosenbaum feels like we’re moving in the right direction even if the industry still isn’t 100 per cent perfect. “I am very watchful and present, but I have seen a shift.”

Keep your eyes open for what this family gets up to next. Rosenbaum has a new movie coming out called Home, as well as working on two new video games this year. Her kids seem to be popping up everywhere and will surely cross your screen in the near future. They are entering the world of entertainment at a time of massive change, but that change that will create a safer space for them to be able to do what they do best.

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