You! The Alternative Youth Magazine
Chad Allen: Best in the West
by Tom Ehart
September 1991

You may remember him as the face on the cover of every teen magazine. Maybe you were glued to the TV set watching his shows, "Our House" and "My Two Dads." Or you heard about his never-ending support and care of children who've run away or suffer from diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Then all of a sudden, POOF. He's gone...gone to high school just like you, putting his education and home life before his career.

And POOF. He's back again starring in CBS's critically acclaimed period drama, "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman."

But what you're seeing now isn't the kid he used to be. Self-confident, determined, mature and socially curious. Chad Allen has shed his teen idol image Hollywood created, and come into his own as a man of the world.

YOU! caught up with Chad on the set of Dr. Quinn and talked with him about his life over the last four years. Here's what it's been like growing up Chad.

Tom Ehart: You used to be plastered all over the "fanzines" back when you starred in Our House. Did you feel like you were being treated less like a person?

Chad Allen: Yeah. And I don't want to go back to that same image that I was represented as at the time because I no longer agree with it as a good thing.

TE: Did they try to make you into something you weren't?

Chad: All you ever saw was what was supposed to be good stuff. There's more to people than just that. The people that you see in them have real problems, real feelings and emotions. They don't want to deal with that, they just want to represent an image.

TE: Was there anything about yourself that you wanted to say to the readers of those magazines that you never got a chance to say?

Chad: Yeah. Life! Growing up as a teenager in L.A.; being in high school, peer pressure and family problems--real life. I wanted to say, "Hey, you know what? I'm a teenager like every body else out there--and it's not easy being a teenager and it's not easy growing up." And, "I'm acting and it's just great--I'm loving what I'm doing but I'm missing out on a lot of things too." They don't want to hear about that. Being a child actor, I missed out on a lot of things. Now I'm older, I've made up my mind this is what I want to do, but I did miss on those older things a lot of people take for granted.

TE: How did missing out on all that stuff affect you?

Chad: I think it would have affected me negatively had I completely missed out on a lot of those experiences. I kind of realized it in time, so I sent back to high school after my sophomore year and finished what I think were probably the most important years in high school. I let this business go and joined the swim team, was vice president of my school and just hung out with my friends. I had a normal, real life for a while.

TE: How did the kids in your school take it when you, a "star," started going there?

Chad: When I started high school--they didn't like me. They automatically assumed I was conceited. It wasn't a fun time for a while. Half the people would follow me around constantly. They were like "so cool" just being close to me. And the other half, the older kids, always wanted to beat me up. But I stuck to it. I could have said I'm not going to deal with this and just spent the rest of high school with a tutor like a lot of others have done. But I would have missed on an immense amount of growing experiences, things that you learn from tests, trials, and stuff like that.

TE: You were 15 when we last did a story on you. Four years later and out of high school, how have you changed?

Chad: I'm on my own now...a lot of things have happened since that have made me shape up and take a good look at life, and put things into perspective. I've seen friends die. I've seen people get caught up in things that got out of control...drugs. I've started thinking for myself instead of accepting what everyone else said was the right answer. When you're young, it's [the same] with everyone. You [ ] say that they are right without [thinking] on your own. Part of [ ] to do that on your [ ] well, maybe they're not [ ] I have my own opinion.

[TE: What] would you say is the [meaning of] life?

Chad: [ ] happiness, personal freedom...love. Love's a tricky thing because someone assumes that means for somebody else, but tricky part is loving yourself and understanding, accepting yourself so that you can love other people. Happiness is a thing that not many people understand or grasp or achieve. Not to say that I understand or grasp or achieve. Not to say that I understand it myself, but it's something to do with taking what's inside of you and being able to show the world for whatever reason. I think that's what art is for. I think that's why I do what I do because it comes from in here. Everybody has to have a way of doing that and if you don't, that's when you get into trouble.

TE: You seemed to find that self-acceptance on Dr. Quinn, when your character was trying to prove his manhood by going out on a wilderness survival trip. Do you think that's something every guy's gotta do?

Chad: It's something every guy has to do whether they realize it or not, but not necessarily out in the woods. The important thing about that episode was what Matthew came up with, which was, "I don't know." He saw who he loved and the things that were important. In the end they asked him, "What are you going to do?" He said, "You know, I don't know...and that's okay." It's a place where every person is at, especially when you're young. So many of my friends are saying to me now, "I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and I'm not going anywhere." I say "You know, me either. I don't know where I'm going but that's okay."

TE: So what's your definition of a "real man"?

Chad: Joe Lando [who plays Sully on Dr. Quinn] (Laughs) A real man? What's a real person? A real person is someone who is able to accept themselves and everybody else around they. Agree or disagree, they're people just like you. That's real.

TE: Do you think young people today have a good view of what a real man it?

Chad: Usually, no. Not from a lot of things that I see, definitely not from a lot of things on television...definitely not from things that make millions in a movie theater.

TE: Why not? What do you think TV's telling us?

Chad: It's not saying anything! It convinces people that it's okay not to think, that we can go through life and be entertained. Our minds get lazy. It doesn't encourage people to think. Great literature makes you think. Great film makes you think. Great art in general will make you think. That's not to say that TV can't be art, because it can. It just usually isn't.

TE: So who would you consider "real men" who have helped you use your mind?

Chad: One of the most influential men in my life was my father. He worked hard to take care of his family. He didn't make himself happy, but he showed a lot of love. For that I admire him.

I also look up to a teacher I had in high school. His name is Mr. Cross, a literature teacher. He believes in the passion of teaching. He believe in helping young people think. He experienced and looked at things from all sides. He had a very big impact on my life and my education as far as learning to express myself.

TE: Have you found it difficult through the past couple years, all the changes now with Dr. Quinn, to have a good relationship with God?

Chad: From my point-of-view it's not easy. I feel like I have a good relationship with God because I spend a lot of time in prayer, in personal contemplation on how we fit into this whole thing. As you grow up, so many things keep changing the way you view things. I was always brought up with a set view on how religion and how God was supposed to be and how I was supposed to act and relate to God. A lot of those views have changed, but the strength and my convictions are still there.

As far as getting close to God, it's important to understand that we all have a different idea about communicating with God, being close to God. I'm closest to God when I step 20 feet away from here and I'm alone, think about my life and myself. When I go backpacking in the Santa Ynez Mountains, for example, I'm close to God. Or if I walk into my trailer and close the door. It's also knowing that I can walk out to the set and in the midst of all this stress and everything else, I can still be close to God.

TE: You used to do anti-drug videos and a lot of volunteer work. How did you get into doing all that?

Chad: I got into the videos because they asked me to. Back then I was maybe doing it because I knew it was bad and somebody told me we should say no to drugs. In the meantime I've seen people get totally screw[ ] where [ ] other [ ] back [ ]ing yo[ ] emotion[ ] reach for drugs, eating disorders trying to fill a void.

TE: Are you still doing charity benefits?

Chad: I'm going to a cancer one on Saturday. I wish there was a way people would get out there and start working with kids. I wish there was a way where people went into the schools and said, "Look, you can work in the environment here, or old people. You want to try it? Sign up. Meet me on Saturday and try it." That would be an ideal way to do it. Otherwise there's too much stuff in-between that will make kids say, "Well...."

Everyone should find something to give their heart to and try it. It's just an amazing feeling to be out there to have a goal and a purpose. I'm in love with these kids. I like kids, that's me. We have whole lot of people working on the show and we just have the best time playing with all these kids. I like kids, that's me, but there's something for all people out there and it changes your life.

* unfortunately the copy of the article that I transcribed was missing a couple small sections of the text. Those gaps are indicated by "[ ]'s" within the text. Sorry for the gaps if any one can fill them in for me let me know. -- Webmaster

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