Hollywood is littered with the stories of child actors who, for one reason or another, didn't make the transition into an adult career. Norman D. Golden II knows that story; after wide exposure co-starring with Burt Reynolds in the 1993 comedy Cop and a Half, he's appeared in only a handful of projects since, with his last role coming in a Moby Dick miniseries in 1998. But Norman's version is a bit different: he stepped away from the film scene, learning new skills and waiting for the right roles, and now he's ready to mount a comeback the way he wants it.
"I'm actually planning my return to television and film, television primarily," he told us in an interview three weeks ago. "Film is one of those industries that, there's a lot of interesting business stuff that's going on with the film industry right now.
"I have a web series that I'm developing starring me, and it's a comedy and it's loosely based on some of my experiences in trying to basically translate the former child acting thing into now being [an] adult," Norman continued. "It's a challenge. Unless you're Macaulay Culkin, people seem to not be that interested in what you have to say as an adult. I want to put that into a TV show and just release it through the web."
While he has no regrets about the years he spent as a young actor - he appeared in projects that starred Oprah Winfrey, Patrick Stewart and Gregory Peck - Norman and his family made the decision to break from the high-pressure Hollywood world as he entered his teenage years.
"My parents, they were like we're not going to live in Los Angeles any more," he laughed. "I think that was probably the best thing for me and my sanity, in terms of figuring out who I am as a person."
During his hiatus from acting, he focused on self-improvement and exploring other career avenues. Norman graduated from college, found an interest in music - he now has a second career as the spoken word/hip-hop artist Enormus; and you can check out one of his performances here - became a writer, and devoted time to various charitable efforts. One of the subjects he's most passionate about is education.
"I'm a big advocate for educational equality," he told us. "I advocate for better school choice [and a] better teaching environment for children of color. It's really that gateway for a person to be able to do magnificent things, to get a really good quality education."
That's what sets Norman apart from other child actors. His career might not have been as successful as he might have hoped back when he was starring in Cop and a Half, but he took that speed bump in the road as a positive. He pulled the plug, and focused on improving his skills and growing up, rather than trying to continue to climb the fame ladder. Now armed with more tools at his disposal and an outlook free of Hollywood cynicism, he's ready for a second shot.
Having matured and become a more well-rounded person, Norman feels that now as an adult, the time is right for him to return to his true love: acting. "I've been fortunate enough to always know what I wanted to do," he reflected. "Being in front of the camera is just like heaven on earth. All the other stuff that comes with it, when the cameras are rolling and you're interacting with other people who have the same passion as you, it's like nothing else on earth."
For more on Norman, you can follow him on Twitter (@NormanGoldenII).