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If you had a relatively average childhood in the ’90s, you likely spent your youth crimping your hair, eating Fruit Roll-Ups, and deciding which Spice Girl was your alter ego. But for the child stars who rose to fame during this decade, it was a different experience entirely. Now, several of their stories are being brought to light in the new Hulu documentary Kid 90, directed and produced by former child actress Soleil Moon Frye. And trust: You’ll want to step into your evening sweats (or keep on your daytime sweats, no judgment here) and watch the whole thing, um, TONIGHT.
The film centers on Soleil’s teen years, when she carried a video camera with her everywhere she went (this was before cell phones, mind you, so it was a legit commitment). The result was hundreds of hours of footage that she locked away until recently and then finally revisited more than 20 years later. Kid 90 includes appearances from celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and David Arquette, but since it mostly focuses on Soleil’s adolescence, let’s get to know her a little better.
ICYMI, meet Soleil Moon Frye
Most people know Soleil from her starring role in Punky Brewster, the 1984 sitcom about a charismatic foster child and the father who adopts her. Landing the lead at just 8 years old, she entered the limelight early, and it was only the start of a long acting career. Several years later, she would earn appearances on popular shows like The Wonder Years (1990) and Saved by the Bell (1992) before scoring the role of Roxie Hart in The WB’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch. From 2000 to 2003, she starred alongside Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) as well as the talking cat, Salem—who, TBH, stole the show with his incredible one-liners.
What’s she up to now?
After several years of voice acting and raising her four children, Soleil is stepping back in front of the camera in a big way. She recently reprised her role as a grown-up Punky for the Punky Brewster reboot, which is now streaming on Peacock. The reboot catches up with Punky as a mom, who (just like Soleil IRL) has four kids and is navigating co-parenting after a divorce. (Soleil separated from her producer husband, Jason Goldberg, in 2020, after 22 years of marriage.) Not only does she star in the show, but she’s also an executive producer on it, which means her work schedule these days definitely rivals that of her busy 8-year-old self.
How did Kid 90 come about?
During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Soleil explained that when she turned 40, she “really was wondering if my life had happened how I thought it had.” This led her to revisit her own coming-of-age story, or “open Pandora’s box,” as she puts it. Incredibly, between all her video recordings, pictures, and voice mails, she’s able to piece together the pivotal moments of her teen years. Considering this was pre–social media, when most of us were content with the occasional Polaroid, and not today, when we rely heavily on our camera rolls to remember what we did literally yesterday, this is very impressive.
What can I expect from the documentary?
The film covers everything from Soleil’s post-Punky life in Hollywood to her days as a struggling actor in NYC, and there are plenty of familiar faces along the way. She gets candid about the more relatable aspects of her childhood, like summer camp and the joys of puberty as well as the roller-coaster ride that is becoming famous as a teenager. Whether you come to Kid 90 for the Leo cameos, the ’90s fashion inspo, or the emotional journey that Soleil embarks on, anyone who lived through this decade will find something to be nostalgic about.
You love overanalyzing every celeb-related detail as much as we do, right? Let’s do it together when you unlock ~all~ of Cosmo.
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