How Ariel Winter Survived a ‘Rotten’ Childhood as a Child Star

Ariel Winter in a white shirt

Ariel Winter is best known for her role as Alex Dunphy on the hit sitcom Modern Family, but her journey to fame was not an easy one. The 25-year-old actress recently revealed that she started acting at age four and her ‘experience was rotten’.

Winter opened up about her childhood on the reality show Stars On Mars, where she and nine other celebrities are living in a simulated Mars habitat in the Australian Outback. She was asked by fellow ‘astronaut’ and former UFC champion Ronda Rousey if it was her decision to get into acting.

‘I was four,’ Winter said. ‘You don’t really decide anything at four.’

She added that her experience was ‘rotten’ and that it depended on the parent. Winter was emancipated from her parents at age 17 after her older sister Shanelle Gray took over her legal guardianship. She accused her mother Chrisoula of physical and emotional abuse, which her mother denied.

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Winter’s family drama became public in 2012 when she was just 14 years old and Shanelle, who is 20 years her senior, asked for and obtained guardianship of her little sister. After the agreement was reached, they jointly said: ‘The family has moved beyond the conflict.’

Winter announced that she was officially emancipated in May 2015. She has since been vocal about her struggles and how she overcame them. She has also been praised for her body positivity and confidence.

Winter’s co-star on Stars On Mars, singer Tinashe, said she was impressed with Winter’s strength and resilience.

‘I’m really impressed with Ariel. You really have to be a strong personality and a strong woman and have a really strong sense of self to be operating in the entertainment industry. I relate to that,’ Tinashe said.

Winter is one of the 10 celebrity ‘astronauts’ who remain on the show, which challenges them to live together in a habitat located in the desert locale of Coober Pedy. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon said some of the ‘astronauts’ were starting to get cabin fever.

Stars On Mars airs on Fox on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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