Jonathan Lipnicki took to Instagram on Monday, March 13, to open up about the bullying and depression he experienced after gaining worldwide fame as a child actor in Tom Cruise’s 1996 film Jerry Maguire. (Watch him in his iconic role in the video above!)
Lipnicki, 26 — who played Ray Boyd, the adorable son of Renée Zellweger’s character, Dorothy Boyd — said that the aftermath of working on the movie was tough to handle.
“As a kid/teen I was made fun of relentlessly by some people who are now even my friends on FB,” he wrote. “I was told I was a has-been and would never book a job again. I was made to feel like garbage every day of middle school to the point where I had a panic attack every night before school, because I wondered how I would get through the next day. In high school a certain kid called me a has-been in front of my Econ class. (Tempted to tag him). It was humiliating.”
Lipnicki, who also starred in 1999’s Stuart Little, concluded his post with a message of hope for those who have also been bullied.
Im sharing a little of my experience. It gives me anxiety being this open, but being bullied is a universal problem. I am not a victim, but rather empowered because I was able to turn to my art. I am grateful for the amazing life I have and I hope I can pass on that it DOES get better. As much as it is easier said than done, overcoming being bullied is a reality and I hope this resonates with all of you ❤️❤️❤️❤️
“Chase your dreams,” he wrote. “It’s amazing how mean people peak in their teens. Thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support me. I love you and I hope that sharing this can shed a little light in a positive way.”
Not long after he posted, the Little Vampire actor’s comments section was flooded with encouraging words from his fans.
“Your attitude determines your altitude Brother and I know that you are doing what you are meant to do in life. Rock on!” one wrote, while another shared: “Wow. You have no idea how much I needed to read this. I hope to have the strength to do what you did. All my respect to you.”
In a follow-up Instagram, Lipnicki revealed that he has never publicly addressed his “lifelong battle with anxiety and depression” but is hoping that he is able to help others by telling his truth. “I’m not a victim,” he wrote. “I’m a survivor and kids will hopefully see that they can be too.”