In the ’00s, Christy Carlson Romano was one of the stars on the Disney Channel, with starring roles in the series Even Stevens and Kim Possible, plus the Disney Channel Original Movie Cadet Kelly. But though she was a popular teen performer and made a lot of money before even graduating high school, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. In a recent YouTube video, 37-year-old Romano explains how she “made and lost millions of dollars” of her child star money. The story she tells involves spending too much, not planning on the turn her career would take, and a sketchy situation involving a psychic. Read on to see what else she had to say about the financial perils of child stardom in her candid video.
Carlson didn’t even know how much money she had.
In the video, Romano explains that she started making money at 16 and notes that there are protections in place to stop the parents of child actors from spending all their money. She continues, “I was never told how much money I was making. Money didn’t have a purpose for me. I didn’t really know what it was. I just knew that I had it and didn’t care about it. That’s a problem. You got to teach kids the value of each single dollar that they make.”
RELATED: The Biggest Disney Channel Stars, Then and Now.
She spent her Disney money on expensive things instead of investing it.
Romano says that she didn’t buy a house or invest any of her money, other than what she used to go to college for a year and a half. Instead, she spent major dollars on “big ticket items” like cars, clothes from Ralph Lauren, and a psychic. “The biggest regret that I have is that a psychic came into my life and managed to get a lot of money from me,” she says, adding that she’ll explain more about this in a future video. Now, she’s telling others to make sure they “invest that money in ways that matter.”
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
She didn’t think the money would stop coming in.
“My biggest thing about child actors, you aren’t told that the work is going to slow down,” Romano says in the video. “In fact, I was told the opposite, specifically by my mom, some of my team, even my money manager at the time.” She says that this “tremendous amount of pressure” bred contempt. “I think I self-destructed, to be perfectly honest.”
Romano also says that feeling she “wasn’t good enough,” including in one of her relationships, made her use “money and buying things as a weapon” to feel better. Once she realized that she didn’t like the way her money was being managed, she parted ways with her family for a year at age 21.
Romano did collect residual money from Even Stevens and Kim Possible reruns for a while, but when she was out of money she ended up making choices she now wishes she didn’t have to. She made movies she didn’t want to, including one with a nude scene that she regrets.
Now, her net worth is not what fans might think.
Romano says that if you look up her net worth on the internet, the result says $3 million. According to her, this isn’t correct. “I am not a millionaire in any way, shape, or form,” she says, explaining that she is now a mom making sponsored content on social media. She says she now has student debt from going back to college in her 30s.
Romano has been married to Brendan Rooney since 2014, and they have two kids. She’s had acting credits as recently as 2019, including a small part in a live-action Kim Possible movie. Her YouTube channel features videos with other former child stars, interactions with fans, and videos about her past as a child actor.
RELATED: 17 Former Child Stars Who Have Totally Different Jobs Now.