The 1990s was a decade of crushed velvet, rollerblades, grunge and some of the most talented child stars to ever grace our screens.
Some ‘90s child stars like Ryan Gosling, Kenan Thompson and Christina Ricci are still acting in hit movies and television series today. Other stars, like Fred Savage, have moved primarily behind the camera.
We’ve also tracked down some former child stars you haven’t heard from in a while, like Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Leonardo DiCaprio Then
So many successful films later, it's easy to forget DiCaprio broke out as a child star in the early 1990s. His first major roles included guest-starring on The New Lassie, Santa Barbara and Roseanne.
The young actor had a main role on the NBC sitcom Parenthood and joined the seventh season of Growing Pains before being tapped to star with Robert De Niro in This Boy’s Life.
His most notable successes during the ‘90s were his roles in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Romeo + Juliet and Titanic, the latter two made after his 18th birthday.
Leonardo DiCaprio Now
DiCaprio has since received Best Actor Oscar nominations for The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Wolf of Wall Street, Revenant (his only win so far) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. His films have grossed roughly $7.2 billion worldwide.
Aside from the movies, DiCaprio is a major environmental activist. He created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which seeks to spread awareness of environmental challenges, especially climate change. He has continued this fight on many occasions, most notably during his acceptance speech at the 2016 Academy Awards when he called climate change “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.”
The pint-sized actress got her start when producers wanted to add an extra layer of cuteness to The Cosby Show. She starred as Olivia Kendall, the step-grandchild of the Huxtables. From there, she was immediately picked up for the ABC sitcom Hangin' With Mr. Cooper.
Her film credits in the ‘90s include Dr. Dolitte and the cult-classic Disney Channel original movie Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.
The star’s Zenon success no doubt led to her hugely popular Disney Channel show That’s So Raven and her part in their television film franchise, The Cheetah Girls.
In 2017, Raven-Symoné returned to her signature role for the Disney Channel sitcom Raven’s Home. Her character is now a fashion designer and single mother.
Jonathan Lipnicki Then
The adorable young actor broke into the Hollywood spotlight as the scene-stealing son of Renée Zellweger’s character in Jerry Maguire. This led to appearances on The Single Guy, The Jeff Foxworthy Show and Dawson’s Creek.
He then starred in the family film Stuart Little in 1999.
Jonathan Lipnicki Now
Still a young actor in the 2000s, Lipnicki appeared in The Little Vampire, Like Mike, Stuart Little 2 and When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.
Recently, he has appeared as himself in the reality television shows Drop the Mic, Celebs Go Dating and Worst Cooks in America. He continues to act in independent films.
Madeline Zima Then
Zima broke out in the sitcom The Nanny as Gracie Sheffield, the whip-smart youngest child of Max.
During the ‘90s, she also had parts in the romantic comedy ‘Til There Was You and the drama Second Chances.
Madeline Zima Now
In the 2000s, the actress had roles in the Hilary Duff movie A Cinderella Story and the horror film The Collector. She also joined the casts of Heroes and Californication.
Since then, she has guested on several TV shows including Twin Peaks, You, and Perry Mason. She also appeared in the drama film Bombshell and the Amazon Studios film Bliss.
Macaulay Culkin Then
Everyone remembers the former child star as Kevin McCallister in the two early ‘90s mega-hits Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
His success from those films earned him starring roles in My Girl, The Good Son, Getting Even With Dad, The Pagemaster and Richie Rich.
Macaulay Culkin Now
Culkin starred in a handful of movies in the 2000s including Saved! and Sex and Breakfast as well as guest-starring on Will & Grace and Robot Chicken.
In 2013, he formed The Pizza Underground, a comedy rock band that predominantly parodies The Velvet Underground songs with lyrics about pizza.
He will return to acting in the upcoming 10th season of American Horror Story.
Danielle Fishel Then
The talented child actress guest-starred on Full House and Harry and the Hendersons before landing her signature role as Topanga Lawrence on Boy Meets World.
She earned multiple Young Artist and YoungStar award nominations for her work on the series. It ran from 1993 to 2000.
Danielle Fishel Now
Fishel continued to act in movies including Long Shot and National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze and the television shows Nikki and Yes, Dear. In 2008, she began hosting Style Network’s The Dish.
In 2014, she reprised her role as Topanga for Girl Meets World. She directed four episodes of the reboot series. She has gone on to direct for other Disney Channel shows including Sydney to the Max, Raven’s Home, Coop & Cami Ask the World and Just Roll With It.
In May 2021, she announced she was expecting her second child with her husband Jensen Karp.
Kenan Thompson Then
Thompson is seen here with his Good Burger co-star, Kel Mitchell.
The two met on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That and would go to star in the sitcom Kenan & Kel from 1996 to 2000.
Kenan Thompson Now
Thompson returned to sketch comedy in 2003 when he joined NBC’s Saturday Night Live. His 18 seasons on the series breaks the record for longest-tenured cast member. During that time, he’s been nominated for four Primetime Emmys, winning one for his contribution in the sketch “Come Back Barack.”
In 2021, he got his own sitcom, Kenan. He plays a widowed father trying to keep his family together while hosting a morning show in Atlanta. The show airs on NBC and can be streamed on Hulu.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Then
The talented twins together played the precocious Michelle Tanner on the sitcom Full House.
Beginning with To Grandmother’s House We Go in 1992, the pair starred in numerous made-for-television and direct-to-video movies that were popular and influential among ‘90s kids.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Now
The sisters returned to sitcom acting in the short-lived So Little Time. In 2004, they starred alongside Eugene Levy in the comedy film New York Minute.
It was around that time that they shifted their focus to fashion design, launching their own luxury fashion label, The Row. They were named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2012 and 2015.
Since they own Dualstar Entertainment Group, the company responsible for distributing their highly lucrative films, the two continue to rank among the richest women in the world.
Mara Wilson Then
The young star had a great run in the mid-’90s, appearing in Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street and Matilda.
She then starred in A Simple Wish and Thomas and the Magic Railroad before taking a break from acting in 2000.
Mara Wilson Now
Wilson attended Idyllwild Arts Academy and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in the 2000s.
She shifted her focus to writing, producing several viral articles and a book called Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame.
She returned to acting in 2016 when she appeared on the comedies Broad City and BoJack Horseman. Her most recent role was on Big Hero 6: The Series.
Haley Joel Osment Then
After minor success in Forrest Gump, Mixed Nuts and Bogus, Osment skyrocketed to stardom with his critically acclaimed performance in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.
He was quickly tapped to play the lead in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which further bolstered his child star status.
Haley Joel Osment Now
As a child in the 2000s, he lent his voice to The Country Bears and The Jungle Book 2 as well as starring in Secondhand Lions. Osment also voiced the lead role of Sora in the popular video game series Kingdom Hearts.
In his recent career, he has mostly worked in the comedy genre, including the film Sex Ed and the television shows Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Eric Andre Show, Robot Chicken and What We Do in the Shadows.
Fred Savage Then
The former child star is most famous for starring as Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years. Right before the ‘90s, he also starred in the video game-centric family film The Wizard.
Savage guest-starred in other ‘90s TV shows including Seinfeld and Boy Meets World. From 1997-1999, he starred on the NBC sitcom Working.
Fred Savage Now
Since the turn of the century, Savage has mostly worked behind the camera as a director and producer. His directing credits include teen sitcoms like That’s So Raven, Drake & Josh, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Zoey 101 and Hannah Montana.
He’s since moved on to directing mainstream adult sitcoms including Party Down (also serving as an executive producer), Happy Endings, The Goldbergs and, recently, The Connors.
Savage directed the upcoming reimagining of The Wonder Years, which follows a Black middle-class family in 1960s Alabama from the point of view of their 12-year-old son. Don Cheadle will serve as the show's narrator.
Lindsay Lohan Then
Did you know Lindsay Lohan had already signed with Ford Models by the time she was three? She became a regular on the soap opera Another World before breaking out in the Disney film The Parent Trap.
The film earned almost $100 million worldwide and earned Lohan a three-picture deal with Disney.
Lindsay Lohan Now
In the early 2000s, Lohan bolstered her teen idol status by leading the box office hits Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. She ran into trouble near the end of the decade and was forced to withdraw from several films to focus on returning to a healthy lifestyle.
A docuseries following her rehabilitation was released on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN in 2014. Her reality show, Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, followed her managing her Mykonos, Greece, nightclub. It lasted for one season on MTV in 2019.
She is reportedly working on a romantic Christmas movie for Netflix, which should be released in 2022.
Anna Paquin Then
Few actors win an Academy Award with their first feature. Paquin did it when she was 11 years old and starred in the romantic drama The Piano.
She followed that with roles in Fly Away Home, Jane Eyre, The Member of the Wedding and A Walk on the Moon during the 1990s.
Anna Paquin Now
The Oscar-winning actress never slowed down. Since the turn of the century, she has appeared in 27 films, her most notable role being Rogue in the popular X-Men franchise.
Paquin also led the ensemble of the hit HBO vampire show True Blood. Recently, she appeared in the movie The Irishman and on the television shows Flack and The Affair.
Jaleel White Then
White’s character, Steve Urkel, was so popular when he was introduced to the ‘90s family sitcom Family Matters that the writers began building the show around him.
You may not know White’s other signature and iconic ‘90s role. He voiced Sonic the Hedgehog in a series of cartoons starting in 1993.
At the end of the decade, he starred on the UPN sitcom Grown Ups.
Jaleel White Now
White continues to appear in B-list movies and appear on network TV shows today.
His longest-running gig was as host of the Syfy game show Total Blackout, where contestants compete in challenges in the dark.
In 2019, he reprised his role as Urkel for an episode of Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
Mayim Bialik Then
Bialik appeared in the horror movie Pumpkinhead and the TV shows Beauty and the Beast, The Facts of Life, Webster and MacGyver as a budding child star in the late ‘80s.
By the 1990s, she was a highly sought-after actress who ended up booking the lead on two sitcoms, Molloy and Blossom. The latter went on to be a popular sitcom for NBC and led to Bialik booking guest-starring roles on the cartoons Hey Arnold!, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Recess and Johnny Bravo.
Mayim Bialik Now
Bialik continued to guest star on shows through the 2000s including 7th Heaven, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Bones before earning herself a lead role on the long-running comedy series The Big Bang Theory.
Starting in 2021, she appeared as the titular character in Call Me Kat, a Fox sitcom about a woman who tries to find a fulfilling life while running a cat café in Louisville. The series has been renewed for a second season.
Amanda Bynes Then
The comedic child actor worked in commercials and onstage before being cast on Nickelodeon's sketch series, All That. This led to the spinoff sketch series The Amanda Show.
She pulled double-duty on Nickelodeon, serving as a panelist on their game show Figure It Out.
Amanda Bynes Now
Bynes continued acting in television, starring on What I Like About You immediately after The Amanda Show ended in 2002. She also made a jump to the big screen.
By 2010, she had starred in Big Fat Liar, What a Girl Wants, She’s the Man and Easy A. However, that same year, Bynes took an indefinite hiatus from acting to curb her issues with substance abuse and to focus on her mental health.
Her mother became her conservator in 2013, which was still in effect as of 2020. The star has also shown interest in one day returning to television acting.
Danica McKellar Then
The young actress rose to prominence portraying Winnie Cooper opposite Fred Savage on The Wonder Years. From there, she landed roles in the Lifetime TV movies Cradle of Conspiracy and Justice for Annie.
Her other ‘90s appearances include guest-starring on Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Babylon 5 and Walker, Texas Ranger.
Danica McKellar Now
McKeller played Freida Goren in Static Shock and had a recurring role on The West Wing after the turn of the century. She appeared in numerous dramas and sitcoms up until 2015 when she started primarily acting in Hallmark original films.
The star also earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from USC that she has put to good use. She has written several books about mathematics for young girls, some of which became New York Times best-sellers.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas Then
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (or JTT as his adoring fans call him) appeared on the short-lived Brady Bunch sitcom sequel The Bradys and played fellow ‘90s star Macaulay Culkin for sketches on In Living Color before he was cast as Randy Taylor on Home Improvement.
The role earned him national recognition and led to him voicing young Simba in The Lion King. He subsequently starred in the Disney movies Man of the House, Tom and Huck and The Adventures of Pinocchio.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas Now
The star continued acting through 2005, appearing in episodes of Ally McBeal, The Wild Thornberrys, Smallville, The Simpsons, 8 Simple Rules and Veronica Mars.
After that, he took a break from acting. In the early 2000s, he studied at Harvard. He continued his education and graduated from Columbia University in 2010. Besides reuniting with Tim Allen for a few episodes of Last Man Standing, the actor has kept his life private and has no social media.
Tia and Tamera Mowry Then
The sisters were cast in a couple of roles in the early ‘90s, including on Full House, where their brother, Tahj, had a recurring role.
They broke out in 1994 when they were cast on Sister, Sister, which ran for six seasons on ABC and the WB.
Tia and Tamera Mowry Now
The duo's next biggest project together was the popular Disney Channel original movie Twitches, which spawned a sequel. They reunited again for the reality show Tia & Tamera.
The two wrote a four-book series called Twintuition, a story about psychic twins.
Tamera was a co-host on the daytime talk show The Real from 2013 to 2020 and recently competed on The Masked Singer, where she was Seashell.
Christina Ricci Then
The celeb made her film debut in 1990 when she acted in Mermaids. She then raised her profile by playing Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and its sequel. She stayed in the supernatural comedy genre by starring in Casper before lending her talents to the coming-of-age drama Now and Then.
Ricci transitioned into adult roles, playing the provocative role of Wendy Hood in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. She continued appearing in indie and offbeat films in the late ‘90s including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pecker and The Opposite of Sex.
She ended the decade by starring opposite Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s film, Sleepy Hollow.
Christina Ricci Now
Unlike most child stars, Ricci never slowed down. The 41-year-old continues to star in movies and television shows every year.
Some of her biggest theatrical hits since 2000 include Speed Racer and The Smurfs 2. She also became a formidable television star, leading the shows Pan Am, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and Z: The Beginning of Everything.
Ricci is set to appear in the highly anticipated Matrix 4.
Ryan Gosling Then
Gosling appeared beside the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Keri Russell on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club.
He guest-starred on kids’ shows such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps and Flash Forward before leading the shows Breaker High and Young Hercules.
Ryan Gosling Now
In 2000, he was part of the cast of Remember the Titans. The following year, he starred in The Believer, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and launched his career as a leading man.
Since then, Gosling has appeared on the big screen in The Notebook, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Drive, The Big Short, La La Land and Blade Runner 2049 and has received two Oscar nominations. He has two children with his partner, actress Eva Mendes.
Melissa Joan Hart Then
The lifelong thespian acted in commercials and various TV shows before booking the lead role on Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All.
She then starred for seven seasons on the ABC/WB sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Melissa Joan Hart Now
Hart’s longest role since then was on the ABC Family sitcom Melissa & Joey, which she also executive produced.
In 2009, she lasted six weeks on season 9 of Dancing With the Stars. Her most recent roles have brought her back to children's television for shows such as Pickle and Peanut, The Loud House and The Casgrandes.
Bryton James Then
You may remember Bryton James as Richie Crawford on the wildly popular sitcom Family Matters.
Besides that, he was a guest star on Tahj Mowry’s sitcom, Smart Guy, and appeared on The Kids From Room 402.
Bryton James Now
For the past 16 years, he has played Devon Hamilton on The Young and the Restless. He also had the lead role in Nicktoons’ Zevo-3 and Hero Factory as well as a recurring role on the supernatural teen drama The Vampire Diaries.
His most recent roles have been as Virgil Hawkins/Static on Young Justice and as Corey on the Netflix anime Pacific Rim: The Black.
Michelle Trachtenberg Then
Trachtenberg had a recurring role on All My Children before breaking out as the lead in the 1996 Nickelodeon movie Harriet the Spy.
She appeared on other TV shows such as The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Figure It Out before returning to the big screen for Inspector Gadget.
Michelle Trachtenberg Now
Trachtenberg joined the main cast of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Dawn Summers. Her next major role was as Georgina Sparks on Gossip Girl.
Since then, she starred on Mercy and had guest roles on Weeds, Criminal Minds and NCIS: Los Angeles. She recently led the Facebook Watch series Human Kind Of.
Tatyana Ali Then
The actress is best remembered as Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Before that, she had a recurring role on Sesame Street and was a contestant on Star Search.
Her film roles during the ‘90s include Fakin’ da Funk, Kiss the Girls, The Clown at Midnight and Jawbreaker.
Tatyana Ali Now
Ali had a recurring role on The Young and the Restless from 2007 to 2013. In the midst of that run, she played the lead role on the TV One sitcom Love That Girl!. Soon after, she had a main role on BET’s Second Generation Wayans.
Recently she has been appearing in independent and made-for-television films and had a main cast role on the Disney cartoon Fancy Nancy.