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From their perspectives

Youngsters in TLC's 'My Life as a Child' liven up Pasadena's industry press summit with some straight talk.

January 12, 2007|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

Leave it to the children -- ordinary kids who have allowed the Learning Channel to film their lives for a six-part documentary and appeared on stage at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena -- to steal the show at the television industry's midseason press tour.

The 12-day-long series of press conferences got off to a ho-hum start Tuesday, with no juicy tidbits to pass on from celebrities who participated in various panels, not even press darling Courteney Cox, who is starring in and executive producing the new FX drama "Dirt."

But on Wednesday, the TV media met 8-year-old Cole Massie of Los Angeles; 11-year-old Drew Nelson of Plainsboro, N.J.; 11-year-old Lisetanne Scherschel of New York City; and 8-year-old Joshua Bynum of Baltimore, and what came out of the mouths of these babes was compelling, moving and downright entertaining.

TLC asked 20 children, ages 7 to 12, to tape themselves for four months to give their unfiltered views on parents, peers and growing up for "My Life as a Child," which premieres Feb. 26. The four who attended the press gathering described how their lives are different from other children's and discussed the lessons they gleaned from directing, producing and acting as a camera person for their own segments:

Drew: My life is different because I do ballet. I think boys can do ballet. I think they were meant to do ballet. King Louis XIV, if any of you have heard of it, he really liked it. He did something about it, I forget. He almost created it. It's a different form of dance. So I really like doing ballet and that's how I'm different because my life is different. Most kids my age, boys would be doing football. I think I'm going to be a dancer. Maybe I'll be a screenwriter and be on TV that way.

Cole, who has cerebral palsy and was on stage with his service dog, whom he called his "brother": You know how your average person does things -- you all know that, right? -- I'm in a wheelchair and all this stuff. I can do things your average person can, just in a different way. Any questions about that? (Cole was asked to elaborate) For one thing, I take theater class as well as Drew. And I also do horseback riding in a different way. Just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't make me any different. If you take some skin off, which you really couldn't do ... they're just the same inside. It doesn't matter our skin color. It doesn't matter.

Lisetanne: If we didn't have bodies and just our personalities were floating around, we wouldn't get criticized. So much of the criticism is how you look outside and not who you are.

Joshua: I think that since I did this, some of my friends won't think of me any different but will just congratulate me and everything. Some people who were mean to me in school will probably try to be my friend but I wouldn't fall for it.

Lisetanne: "My Life as a Child" has influenced my life a lot because in some form I have expressed myself to the world. Having the camera there was very helpful because it was like a person watching you without judging you. I look at myself differently.

maria.elena.fernandez @latimes.com

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