On May, 24, 2016, Alisan Porter was declared the winner of season 10 of The Voice. For her, it was an incredibly happy and moving moment, of a dream coming true. It was a chance for her to reinvent herself, moving from “former child star” to someone known for her powerful singing voice.
Ecstatically, she told People magazine that “Curly Sue is dead. I am now the girl who won The Voice.” In these comments, she was acknowledging that her triumph as a singer on the reality show was not her first time in the spotlight. At a very young age, Alisan was a well-known actress, best celebrated for the lead role in the 1991 film Curly Sue. Like many child stars, Alisan Porter has struggled with finding her own identity and coping with the pressures of fame. Since then, she has opened up about her struggles with addiction and her journey to sobriety.
After wowing all four judges singing Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou,” Alisan Porter told the judges that being a childhood actress was “not my passion. This [singing] is my passion.”
Speaking to Access Hollywood after her win, she spoke openly about how, even in the midst of her worst moments of addiction, she never gave up hope for change. “I would always hear myself saying if you could just stop this, you could probably do all the things you wanted to.”
She described the cycle of addiction as a “hamster wheel,” using alcohol as a way to numb her pain. She first reported her addiction publically on the parenting blog Lil’ Mamas.
In 2014, she told Inside Edition that, after her short-lived career as a child actor faded, she drank heavily, as well as using cocaine, marijuana, and “whatever pill people were taking at the time.” In an interview on Huffington Post Live, she reflected on why her story of addiction is especially common among her fellow child stars. She says she grew up “treated like royalty,” and expected that to continue even “after I decided to leave the business and become normal.”
Using was a way to cope with the tension of living a life with unexamined tensions. Reflecting on her experience, she pointed out in her blog that her addiction has less to do with the substances being abused itself, and was rather about unhappiness with life, about “living in your head ALL THE TIME, self-centered and all kinds of entitled.”
Porter told Access Hollywood backstage that “I knew if I really changed my life, like really honestly changed my outlook on things…something eventually would happen…I wanted for an opportunity to present itself for me.” With this powerful motivation in mind, she has been completely sober since October 28, 2007.
While living in New York, she simply reflected on the state of her life. “I was miserable and overwhelmed with life. I was heartbroken and realizing that what had always worked for me in the past was NOT working.” That was her “bottom” that proved to be enough to motivate her to change.
From there, she decided to enter treatment. This was a whirlwind of four years of working on herself and changing radically. “I went to meetings, worked the steps, got a sponsor, found a god of my own understanding, prayed, meditated and basically grew up….Unlike my old ways, this way was working.” With a newfound sense of purpose and hope, she never stops trying to grow and change for the better.
“Every day I work hard to not go backwards and keep moving forwards…I feel very blessed to be here and doing what I love.” She is now seeking to carry on her music career, with the release of her album Who We Are, as well as caring for her two children. We wish her the best of success as she continues to grow as a sober artist and human being, and hope that she continues to have an inspiring story to be a source of hope for others.