Sometimes referred to as The Brady Bunch of the ’90s, the classic sitcom Step by Step introduced a new generation of viewers to the joys of the blended family comedy. The show followed two sets of radically different siblings forced to live under one roof after their parents spontaneously tied the knot. Step by Step (which ran for six seasons on ABC before moving to CBS for it’s seventh and final season) has managed to stand the test of time, according to Bustle, but it isn’t just the show itself that’s aged well — child star Christine Lakin is in her 40s now, and she’s gorgeous. The Dallas-born actress appeared as tricky tomboy Alicia ‘Al’ Lambert in 160 episodes of Step by Step, though she never saw it as work.
“When I began acting professionally I was 8-years-old, so it really wasn’t in my mindset that this was a career,” she told Cryptic Rock. “I sort of say I fell into the business because it was something that was just really for fun, then it became something I started to do professionally, make some money as a child, but it was still always for fun.” The young actress learned some important lessons from her on-screen parents Patrick Duffy (who taught her the subtle art of hiding lines underneath household objects on set) and Suzanne Somers, star of ABC’s Three’s Company. “They were an incredible part of my childhood,” Lakin told Today in 2018, two decades on from her final appearance as Al Lambert. “They were, honestly, two of the most genuine, very generous and incredible people. And I think it’s why I am so well-adjusted as a former child actor now.”
Lakin landed small parts in various TV shows after Step by Step was canceled. She had guest roles on 3rd Rock from the Sun, Veronica Mars, and CSI: Miami to name but a few, though she wouldn’t hold down another regular role until 2008 when she was cast as novelist Kate Providence in Valentine. Sadly for Lakin, the romantic dramedy failed to impress and was axed before the first season had even finished filming. This blow came on the back of the critical and commercial disaster that was The Hottie and the Nottie, a crass comedy in which Lakin was uglied-up to star alongside Paris Hilton. “Imagine the worst movie you’ve ever seen,” the Miami Herald said in its review. “Got it? Now try to think of something worse.”
It was around this time that a friend introduced her to Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane. The pair hit it off and Lakin wound up getting invited to a table read, during which she clearly made an impression. “One day when I was in New York, Seth called me to ask how I felt about joining the show as a newscaster,” the actress told Hollywood The Write Way. She started voicing Quahog 5 News co-anchor Joyce Kinney in 2009 and has reprised the role on numerous occasions since. “It’s a huge honor because it’s a huge franchise and I love Family Guy. Every time I go in, I have a blast.”
Family Guy wasn’t Lakin’s first-time voice acting — in fact, if you play video games, you’re probably pretty familiar with her voice by this point, even if you don’t know it. From beloved fantasies (World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy) and classic first-person shooters (Rainbow Six, Medal of Honor) to Hollywood tie-ins (Star Wars, The Walking Dead), Lakin has worked on some of the biggest franchises in gaming. She also added her name to the annals of Mass Effect history when she voiced the popular character Peebee in 2017’s Mass Effect: Andromeda, though despite her success in this field she’s never stopped courting live-action roles.
While most child stars tend to do everything they can to distance themselves from the tag, Lakin has embraced it. In 2012 she starred as an “egotistical, flighty, and totally un-self-aware” version of herself in a mockumentary-inspired web series called Lovin’ Lakin (via Entertainment Weekly), which documented her attempted Hollywood comeback. She got to expand on this idea in 2017 when cable network Pop picked up Hollywood Darlings. The unscripted docu-series follows Lakin and fellow former child actors Beverley Mitchell (7th Heaven) and Jodie Sweetin (Full House) as they tackle life post-stardom. “Being in the business for so long and having these friendships is a weird sorority,” Lakin told TV Insider. “We have this shared history of what it was like to grow up on television. It’s a path that we will never escape, nor do we care to.”
Lakin clearly uses her former child star status to her advantage, but the mother of two is very much aware that you have to “diversify” if you want to remain relevant. She got the chance to flex her acting muscles in 2019 when she appeared in I Am That Man, playing the wife of a Navy SEAL struggling with his transition back into civilian life. “Obviously it is a competitive business and for longevity, in the business, you really have to work at your brand,” Lakin told Cryptic Rock. “You have to find other roles, sometimes to go a little bit outside the box to have a career that is long lasting and one that you continue to make a living at.” Sounds like little Al has it all figured out.