Alternative Youth Magazine
Chad Allen: Best in the West
by Tom Ehart
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
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
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?
[ ] 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
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
TE: So who would you consider "real men" who have helped you use
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
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