Whatever Happened To The Actor Who Played Curly Sue?

1991's Curly Sue was notable for many things. It was the last movie that John Hughes both wrote and directed, it marked the film debut of a certain Steve Carell (then credited as Steven) and despite countless terrible reviews ("a mix of childish gags and shameless melodrama" was perhaps the kindest), it was one of those rare wide releases that ended up making more money in its third week than its first.

The blatant attempt to replicate Home Alone's cute-kid success also gave a nine-year-old her only starring role. Alisan Porter had already appeared in the likes of Parenthood, Stella and I Love You to Death. But the story of two homeless con artists, one a middle-aged Jim Belushi and the other a precocious moppet, was the first and final time that the child star took center stage on the big screen.

Unlike her predecessor Macaulay Culkin, however, Porter disappeared from view after topping the box office charts. In fact, it would be another 25 years before she would grace our screens again. So what did she get up to during her lengthy spell away from her limelight and where is the not-so-curly star now?

Alisan Porter became a Broadway regular

Although Alisan Porter seemed to disappear back into obscurity following the role that launched her to fame, she continued to pursue her interest in acting. And singing, too. Yes, during her teenage years the Curly Sue star was a regular of high school productions. 

By the age of 18, she was performing as Urleen in the Broadway staging of Footloose and after relocating to the bright lights of Los Angeles she joined the likes of Adam Lambert and Val Kilmer in The Ten Commandments: The Musical. Then in 2006, she won rave reviews for her portrayal of Bebe Bensonheimer in the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre's A Chorus Line revival.

Bensonheimer was a role that Porter felt she was born to play, as she told Dance Magazine in 2007: "Chorus Line was always like another family member. "What I Did for Love" is the first song I ever sang. When I got the call about the show from my agent, in my brain there was no 'yes or no.' I had already planned my life knowing I had to get this gig. It was life or death."

Alisan Porter won The Voice

Anyone who'd seen Alisan Porter on the Broadway stage already knew she had an impressive set of pipes. But those of us who still only knew her as Curly Sue were left awestruck when she was first shown stepping on to the set of The Voice in 2016.

Indeed, Porter wowed both the judges, all four to be exact, and the audience at home with her blind audition performance of Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou" in the talent show's tenth season. And after selecting Christina Aguilera as her mentor, the double threat sailed to the finals with tracks originally recorded by the likes of The Mamas and the Papas, Demi Lovato, and Janis Joplin.

Porter proved her songwriting skills were equally impressive in the final when she sang the self-penned "Down That Road" before duetting with Aguilera on "You've Got A Friend" and performing West Side Story show tune "Somewhere." As a result, the former child star became a bona fide adult star when she was crowned the winner, making her the first victor to be coached by a female in the process.

Alisan Porter found it hard to cope with life after stardom

Having appeared in beloved sitcoms from the '80s and early '90s, shared the screen with Steve Martin, and starred in a box office number one all before the age of 11, a young Alisan Porter no doubt felt that she was destined for a life in front of the cameras. Inevitably, she was brought back down to Earth with a bump when things didn't quite work out that way.

Like many child stars before and after her, Porter struggled to deal with the idea that her career may have peaked at middle school. In 2016 she told The Wrap, "As a young adult I thought, 'What am I doing now'? Getting a regular job didn't feel like an option. My ego was definitely in charge a lot. Sometimes it takes going down the wrong road a couple of times. I found a way out and a way to harness what I want to do to get another chance."

During her successful 2016 stint on The Voice, Porter told People that she was initially worried about returning to the spotlight: "I was nervous about putting myself back into something so public and going back into a career, especially since I have kids now and I've been a stay-at-home mom for three and a half years." Luckily for the singer, she soon realized she'd made the right decision, adding, "I've just really enjoyed the process and it's fueled the fire again within me."

Alisan Porter became a recording artist

It's not just on the stage where Alisan Porter has shown off her singing talents. In 2009, the star took to the recording studio for the first time to make her independently-released eponymous debut album. Five years later she followed it up with Who We Are, a folky affair released through the indie label Friendship Collective.

And then in 2019, Porter made her most personal record, Pink Cloud, inspired by a particularly notable break-up: "Music is all encompassing," she revealed in a press statement (via Vents Magazine). "And music is such a great healer and such a great therapist. I wanted people to know that there was love after heartbreak. I wanted people to know that it was OK to be wild and free sometimes and to let your freak flag fly."

Porter has even made the US Hot 100... just. Following her talent show victory in 2016, the former child star peaked at No.100 with the self-penned country-rock number, "Down That Road." 

Alisan Porter struggled with addiction issues

Like seemingly almost every kid who finds fame very young, Alisan Porter developed an issue with substance abuse in her later years. In 2014 the Curly Sue actor came clean with a post on her The Lil Mamas blog. As reported by ABC News, the actor wrote, "Hi, I'm Ali, and I'm an alcoholic. Yup, bet you didn't see that one coming. Or, because you know that I'm a former child star, you totally did. Anyway, it's the truth. I've been sober since October 28, 2007 and I haven't touched a drink or a drug since."

So how exactly did Porter succumb to the cliché? Well, as she revealed to HuffPostit was the realization that real life isn't Hollywood: "As soon as you're anyone, you can kind of get treated like royalty ... especially living in L.A. and growing up here. Then, when I decided to leave the business and become normal ... you expect life to continue to be like that. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. You either learn how to cope with it, or you cope by using, and that's my story."

Thankfully, The Voice winner managed to overcome her battle with the demon drink thanks to the help of her family. She added, "I was lucky enough to find a really amazing way out. It's difficult to find, but once you find it, if you apply yourself, it gives you a really beautiful life."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Alisan Porter killed off Curly Sue

Don't expect there to be a belated Curly Sue sequel anytime soon. Well, not one featuring the now very grown-up original star anyway. Unlike peers such as Macaulay Culkin, Alisan Porter has little interest in reviving the precocious character that helped launch her to fame. In fact, she's even killed off the homeless moppet.

Yes, after emerging victorious on the tenth season of NBC's premier talent show in 2016, Porter remarked to People magazine, "I have retired Curly Sue, she is dead! I am now the girl who won The Voice. I would like you all to know. I've waited 30 something years for that! She's dead!"

But before all the Curly Sue fans throw their VHS copies in the bin in disgust, Porter was keen to point out that she's still very grateful for the role: "It's so cool that's how my career started and I'm honored to have had a great career when I was young." However, she also acknowledged that it had been 25 years since she starred alongside Jim Belushi in the John Hughes comedy and that it was now time to move on.

Alisan Porter got married and divorced

In 2012, Alisan Porter walked down the aisle with fruit exporter Brian Autenrieth in front of 100 of their nearest and dearest in a ceremony staged at Californian ranch Diablo Dormido. The Curly Sue star told People at the time, "We've been friends for 13 years and it's the most incredible feeling to know you're marrying your best friend."

The happy couple took to the dancefloor for the first time to "The Second Time Around" by Frank Sinatra, an apt choice considering they'd previously broken up before getting back together. Sadly, it didn't prove to be a second time lucky.

Just five years after getting hitched, Porter took to Twitter to reveal that she was now a single woman: "In a sad and honest note Brian and I ended our relationship in March. We remain close friends and are committed to always doing our best for our amazing kids." The singer later began dating Justin de Vera, a dancer who subsequently appeared on her The Voice mentor Christina Aguilera's tour.

Alisan Porter is now a mother of two

In news that may well make you feel old, the one-time child star of family comedy Curly Sue now has two little sprogs of her own! Alisan Porter and then-husband Brian Autenrieth first became parents in 2012, the same year they got married, with the birth of son Mason Blaise. And then two years later they welcomed daughter Aria Sage into the world.

And it seems as though Mason and Aria have inherited their family's showbiz genes. In 2016, Porter told The Wrap that her two youngsters were already showing signs that they were natural performers. The Voice winner, whose dance teacher mom Laura Klein also graced the Broadway stage, was keen to point out, however, that she wasn't a pushy mother, adding, "It's part of that waiting to see if they want to do it."

Porter hopes that whatever path they choose to take, they can take inspiration from her own journey. In 2017, she told People, "I always felt like it was important for me, as a mom, to show my kids what it means to have a passion and have drive for it and follow it and fully pursue it to the ends of the earth, which I have."

Alisan Porter became a mommy blogger

After learning that she was pregnant with her first child in 2012, Alisan Porter took to Facebook to form a closed group with those friends who were going through the same experience. But as more expectant mothers joined in with the discussion, the Broadway regular and her pal Celia Behar decided to turn the group into a fully-fledged resources website available to all named The Lil' Mamas.

As quoted by Heavy, Porter explained how the idea and her choice of collaborator came about on the site's mission statement: "So, I decided to create Lil' Mamas the website, based on the Facebook group but a little more 'legit.' Just like all things motherhood, I knew I couldn't do it alone, so I asked Celia Behar to run it with me. Why Celia? Well, I've known her forever, she's a mom of two, and she was my babysitter. And by that I mean — she babysat ME!"

But if you thought The Lil' Mamas was all nappies and baby formula, think again. Porter and Behar prided themselves on opening up conversations about the areas of motherhood that other sites may have believed were taboo. And it's also the place where the former revealed that she was an alcoholic. Sadly, the 404 message on its homepage suggests that the site is now defunct. 

Alisan Porter became BFFs with an American Idol

Alisan Porter didn't just have Christina Aguilera fighting her corner during her triumphant run on The Voice. The singer could also call upon the BFF no stranger to talent shows himself. Porter and American Idol graduate Adam Lambert became close after working together on The Ten Commandments: The Musical in 2004. Several years later they shared the stage again at The Zodiac Show, a Los Angeles glam-rock production, while in 2009 they co-penned the song "Aftermath" on Lambert's first LP, For Your Entertainment.

The Queen frontman proved to be a valuable source of advice when it came to The Voice, as Porter explained to Yahoo! News: "He has always, always supported me, always wanted me to continue trying to do this work, so I think just having him as a role model, seeing what he's been able to do and knowing that he wanted the same for me ... those are the things that true friends really care about through all of this."

But the gushing hasn't all been one-way. In 2019, Lambert told AP how much of a positive influence the Curly Sue star has been on his own career: "Alisan encouraged me to write a song aged 23 — it was the first time I'd ever done that. I didn't believe I could become a songwriter and a recording artist because if you come from musical theatre, people make assumptions about the type of artist you are. Alisan is one of the reasons I made it."

Alisan Porter has a net worth of $500,000

It's unlikely that Alisan Porter was ever short of pocket money while growing up. After all, she'd taken center stage in a box office hit that grossed more than $33 million worldwide. Of course, her early fame didn't last, and judging by the post she uploaded to The Lil' Mamas blog in 2014, the former child star was forced to rely on her parents for financial support.

As reported by ABC News, while detailing the changes she'd made since becoming sober, Porter noted, "I got married, I had kids, I got a new house, I re-did the floors (I love my floors), I got a car that my dad didn't pay for, I got a life (that my dad didn't pay for). I became a better friend, a better daughter, a better artist, better sister... I just got better."

Having since won The Voice, released several albums, and gone on the road for several tours, it seems fair to say that Porter has remained financially independent. According to reports, her net worth currently stands at $500,000. It's an impressive figure for sure, but it still falls far short of the $4 million that the most successful The Voice graduate, Cassadee Pope, has allegedly earned.