Disney Channel Stars

Disney Channel Stars

Was it beneficial to begin a career on Disney Channel? Continue reading to learn about working on Disney Channel and if individual actors thought it benefited them in the long run.
Rules and regulations of working on Disney Channel

Working on Disney Channel has its perks, but many limitations come with it as well. To begin working with Disney Channel, the stars must sign a contract stating they will abide by their rules and regulations. Since Disney Channel has a targeted audience of young kids, the company has a huge responsibility on its shoulders to keep the content PG. Unfortunately, this responsibility goes beyond the company’s control and applies to the stars’ personal lives as well. Disney Channel must ensure their actors remain loyal to their contract outside of the filming studio to avoid scandals within the industry. Although these rules and regulations are necessary to protect the eyes of Disney’s young audience, some situations have gotten out of hand.

One of Disney Channel’s biggest restrictions for its stars is their appearance in and outside of the shows. Disney Channel wants the actors to maintain an innocent-looking appearance to set a good example for its audience. Disney implements these restrictions by controlling the actors’ wardrobe, hair, behavior, and how they talk.

Many stars have opened up about the struggles of maintaining these high standards all day, every day. Typically, actors only have to dress as their characters when filming, and they have the freedom to embrace their true styles on red carpets and at other public events. Meanwhile, Disney Channel stars must continue with their “goody two shoes” appearance outside of the set because the media prefers seeing the stars in this light. Miley Cyrus said that when she was 11, she was told, “You’re a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing,” (The List).

Another instance of this occurring was during Joe Jonas’ role in Camp Rock. Some Disney stars, like Jonas, didn’t begin acting until they were teenagers. Since they were acting as younger characters in a show targeting a younger audience, they were required to look younger. In Jonas’ case, he said that he “had to shave every day because they wanted [him] to pretend like [he] was 16 when [he] was 20. [Actors] went along with it at the time, because [they] thought Disney was [their] only real shot, and [they] were terrified that it could all be taken away from [them] at any moment,” (Buzzfeed).

Bella Thorne experienced this lack of freedom outside of the Shake It Up set shortly after the start of the show. Thorne explained how “one time [she] almost got fired off the Disney Channel because [she] was 14, and [she] wore a two-piece on the beach,” (Insider). Fans took photos of Thorne wearing this supposedly “skimpy” bikini on the beach which got spread around social media. Disney Channel felt that she was threatening their reputation and almost went to the extent of firing her. If it weren’t for Thorne’s fan base at the time, she would have lost her job. Thorne also spoke out about how she was instructed to speak at a higher pitch in interviews to maintain a younger appearance. Looking back on it, she realizes how ridiculous it was that she had to change the pitch of her voice outside of the set to fit her character.

Zendaya is one of the few former Disney Channel stars who moved on to greater things in her career. However, she experienced some difficulties while working with Disney Channel, and it all revolved around her hair. Zendaya is a biracial woman with naturally curly hair which wasn’t widely accepted on set. She constantly had her hair straightened to play Rocky Blue in Shake It Up which eventually led to long-lasting heat damage to her hair. Zendaya told PeopleStyle that she “was only 14 years old, and [she] didn’t know how to protect [her] hair, so it took over two years to grow it back.”

While some stars appreciated beginning their careers on a platform with a young audience, others felt restricted by their young-looking roles and wanted to make changes to their appearances. For example, Dove Cameron was often stereotyped as the dumb-blonde, fashion-obsessed, girly girl on Disney Channel. She played this role as Liv Rooney on Liv and Maddie and Kayla Morgan on Cloud 9. Since she constantly played these girly characters on TV and acted/dressed the same way off-screen, people only knew her in this way. After leaving Disney, she decided to dye her hair black. She viewed this hair change from blonde to black almost as an identity shift. She told E! News that she had “genuine, emotional pain attached to being blonde,” (US Weekly). As Cameron began to find her true identity, she came out as queer and began dressing in bolder, darker clothes. With Cameron’s shift from a blonde, girly girl actress to a dark-haired singer, she has broken free from her young, innocent, Disney persona.

Miley Cyrus went through a similar transition. Cyrus played Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana from 2006-2011. After the show ended, Cyrus felt like she needed to branch away from the pop star image and take on a new look. She told her hairstylist, “Shave my head, dye me blonde—we need to see change,” (Allure). After her hair transformation, she ended up with a blonde, under-cut hairstyle. She felt that this gave her an edgier look in contrast to her former childish appearance. Along with this change, she began focusing more on her music career which helped disassociate her from Disney.

Overall, Disney Channel provides newly discovered actors with a chance to begin a career with a well-established platform. However, lots of restrictions come with it in order to protect not only the new actors’ reputations but also the eyes of its young audience.

Timeline of Olivia Rodrigo’s career

Some might know her from her lead role in the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark, while others may know her from her hit single “Driver’s License.” Olivia Rodrigo, a 20-year-old singing sensation, has quickly taken over the world with her debut album, SOUR, and her latest album GUTS. Despite the billions of streams and rapidly growing fan base, Rodrgio has not always been known for her singing. In fact, she initially began her career as a Disney Channel actress.

She has been acting since she was little, but the first big role she achieved was the character Grace in An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success. This movie, although not related to Disney, draws much of the same audience. A year later, at 13, Rodrigo made her Disney debut on the show Bizaardvark and was cast as Paige Olvera. The series revolves around two teenage friends, Paige Olvera and Frankie Wong (played by Madison Hu), who create and post funny videos on their online channel known as “Bizaardvark.” These videos feature comedy sketches and parodies, and they quickly gain popularity on their channel. The show aired from 2016 to 2019 and is definitely credited with Rodrigo’s quick success.

After Bizaardvark, Rodrigo went on to star in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, a Disney + original series. She was popular in her role of Nini Salazar-Roberts, a talented and aspiring high school performer who auditions for the school musical production of “High School Musical.” Her character goes through various personal and romantic developments as the series progresses. Nini’s journey and her relationship with other characters, especially Ricky Bowen (played by Joshua Bassett), are important elements of the show’s storyline. She was popular in this role not only for her acting skills, but her singing as well. In addition to singing in almost every episode, Rodrigo wrote many songs for the show including “All I Want,” “The Rose Song,” and “Wondering.” All of these songs, along with others, began trending everywhere as the show gained immense popularity.

Now, Rodrigo is planning her second world tour for her sophomore album, GUTS. The tour begins in February of 2024. Even though it is only her second album, tickets for this tour were almost impossible to get and are reselling for extreme prices.

Should Rodrigo credit Disney for this tremendous success? What we do know is that at 20 years old, her career is only just beginning.

Timeline of Lindsay Lohan’s career

From the fan-favorite movie series Mean Girls to the notorious classic The Parent Trap, this Disney actress earned a name for herself in the 2000s due to her flawless acting skills. Lindsay Lohan, the former Hollywood “it” girl, has recently stepped back into the spotlight after overcoming numerous legal troubles.

The average 10-year-old kid would consider Lohan’s childhood “a dream,” as she was discovered in the early onset of her life. This teenage actress was destined to become a megastar; yet, as soon as her reputation began to rise, she went down the wrong path.

After modeling as a child, in 1998 Lohan starred as twins in The Parent Trap, which later resulted in getting a three-film contract with Disney. At 11 years old, Lohan played the part of two different people living completely different lives, even one with a British accent. In 2000, Life-Size premiered on ABC’s “The Wonderful World of Disney,” and the Disney Channel Original Movie Get a Clue premiered in 2002 which was just the start of her fame. Despite the fact that instantly after the films came out she became a star, Lohan strived to live a normal life like all her friends at school. In 2003, the world was once again stunned as Lohan took on the role of a 40-year-old mother and teenager at the age of 16 years old in the classic film, Freaky Friday. Lohan’s success in Hollywood quickly continued with the Mean Girls release in 2004. Her fans saw her as an all-around icon who had a natural gift for acting. Mean Girls went down in history as one of the best teen films of all time. The jokes and reality of high school in this series allowed Lohan to be known as a teen movie queen. Lohan scored several MTV Movie and Teen Choice awards for her Mean Girls work. Mean Girls secured Lohan’s fame for generations to come; the classic series will never get old. Soon after the Mean Girls debut, Lohan went on to star in Disney’s Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) and began making music, but her life changed when she started experimenting with a different lifestyle.

After starting to party hard and experiment with various drugs, Lohan drifted away from the spotlight. During the filming of Herbie: Fully Loaded, she was hospitalized from fever and exhaustion. Lindsay had family issues including an abusive father and in January of 2005, Lohan’s parents got divorced which was a long and painful process. In the summer of 2006, Lohan had lost focus of filming because of her partying behavior. Lohan stopped filming because she was not in the right headspace to perform as she used to. From 2007 to 2012, Lohan struggled with substance abuse and eating disorders that slowly took over her career. In the summer of 2007, Lohan went to rehab for the second time after being arrested and charged with drunken driving, cocaine possession, and driving with a suspended license. She had her first DUI and her first experience with drugs when she was 20 years old, following a night out clubbing with individuals she felt she shouldn’t have been with in the first place. Lohan admitted to being addicted to drugs, alcohol and breaking the law, and took responsibility by pleading guilty to the charges. Although Lohan believed in living with no regrets and instead learning from her actions, she took the initiative to take back control of her life and improve her health. As a result of Lohan skipping out on compulsory court hearings and educational classes in 2009, her probation was extended. Over the next year and a half, Lohan underwent extra rehabilitation as well as additional time in jail for her addiction problems, a shoplifting incident and missing psychotherapy appointments and community service hours.

Lohan was ready to start a new chapter in her life and get back to the good old days. Lohan appeared on Glee (2012) and The Canyons (2013) and realized how much she missed doing what she is best at. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2013 reckless driving and lying to police caused Lohan to enter rehab once more, pushing off her probation. After finishing her community service, Lohan moved into an NYC apartment and worked with a life coach to get back on track for real. In 2014, Lohan made the decision to live abroad as she grew up and changed. If she wasn’t fighting enough battles already, she was physically assaulted by her ex-husband in Greece and had to deal with the trauma. Lohan started opening up beach clubs and speaking out on her past, and in 2020 eventually decided to start filming again and move back to the United States. In 2020, she appeared with cast-mates in reunions for The Parent Trap and Mean Girls and hopped back on the social media grind as she joined in on viral TikTok and Instagram trends. Today, the star is doing personalized Cameos, appearing in commercials such as the 2022 Super Bowl Planet Fitness commercial and is back on the screens. Lohan recently played the lead role in the Netflix holiday film, Falling for Christmas, which marked her first major comeback in a movie. Lohan is an inspiration to many, and will always be an icon holding that natural gift on the screens. This is only the beginning of a new chapter in her life as she embarks on this new phase of development and change. It will be exciting to see how Lohan’s comeback grows as she still has a lot of life to live and wonderful opportunities ahead of her.

Timeline of Zendaya’s career

Many Disney Channel stars face obstacles when attempting to depart from their “Disney image.” Zendaya broke this image by creating a new identity for herself outside the walls of Disney Channel.

Zendaya’s initial fame can be traced back to working on Disney Channel. In 2010 at 14 years old, she got her first role on Disney as Rocky Blue in Shake It Up. She also starred in the Disney Channel Original Movies Zapped (2012) and Frenemies (2014). Zendaya starred in another Disney Channel series, K.C. Undercover, that ran from 2015 to 2018.

During her time on Disney Channel, Zendaya also focused on other projects outside of the network to assist her in creating a fresh image for herself. In 2013, she released her debut album, “Zendaya.” The self-titled album includes her hit song “Replay.” In addition to her singing, she also showcased her dancing talent in 2013 on the show, Dancing with the Stars. In 2017, Zendaya had major roles in The Greatest Showman and Spider-Man: Homecoming, launching her career even more.

In 2018, Zendaya officially left Disney Channel to pursue other projects. The following year she surprised fans with her role in the award-winning show, Euphoria. Straying far away from her Disney Channel roles, Zendaya plays Rue, a high school student battling drug addiction, anxiety, and depression. Her portrayal of Rue earned Zendaya her first Emmy nomination. In 2020, she became the youngest woman to win the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series award. After the success of the first season, another season came out and a third season is expected to be released in 2025. In 2021, Dune was released in which Zendaya played the role of Chani. In 2024, Dune 2 will be released and she will continue to play this role. She has appeared in many other films since her break away from Disney Channel to broaden her career.

In addition to her acting resume, Zendaya partnered with many brands and became a popular figure in fashion. She has a partnership with Valentino and is the face of Lancome’s new perfume, Idole.

Overall, Zendaya broke away from Disney Channel to create the image she is known for today. Since Disney Channel, Zendaya has been involved in numerous projects, brand deals, and TV films. Her career on Disney Channel was just the start of her continuously blooming career.

Timeline of Bella Thorne’s career

Bella Thorne, widely recognized for her role in Disney Channel’s beloved series Shake It Up, embarked on a career trajectory that distinctly sets her apart from the conventional path of child stars. Her journey began at an exceptionally young age. At just six weeks old, she started her career in modeling, and by the time she was six years old, she was already acting in films.

Unlike her peers who were attending their first day of school, Thorne’s childhood of memorizing lines on set was anything but the ordinary. Her strong determination and unwavering commitment to acting, along with the tough competition in the industry, helped her move ahead quickly. Her childhood was one of a kind; she became famous at six, grappled with the sudden loss of her father, and starred in a remarkable 78 episodes with Disney.

Upon parting ways with Disney, Thorne faced a challenging transition. Breaking free from the “Disney image” that had stereotyped her was no easy task and hindered her ability to secure new acting opportunities. Oftentimes, she tried to change her look and the tone of her voice to depart from people’s ideas about her innocent Disney appearance. In the end, she found her true identity and realized that her loyal fans would stand by her no matter what.

As Thorne stepped out of Disney and into the film industry, she seemed to have a bright start with roles in movies like Blended and The Duff. In Blended, Thorne played the role of Hilary Friedman and worked alongside successful actors Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Thorne’s career is impressively versatile. She has explored many different paths in her life including acting, music, songwriting, and directing. Although she has had some successes in her career, she also went through some controversies when she joined OnlyFans in 2020. She promised fans that she would post explicit photos online and that the money she raised would go to charity, but this left many of her fans uncomfortable and questioning her intentions. Her fans from the start were most shocked to see her doing this since they remembered seeing her on Disney Channel and often looked up to her. Despite facing criticisms and controversies, Thorne is still very talented and can continue to further her career in the entertainment world.

Timeline of Sabrina Carpenter’s career

Almost 10 years ago, Sabrina Carpenter starred in the Disney Channel original series, Girl Meets World. Although she started her career on Disney Channel, she later immersed herself in larger projects to create a new image for herself outside of the “Disney bubble.”

The star is most known for her acting on Disney Channel in Girl Meets World, but she actually began her career on Disney Junior as the voice of Princess Vivian in Sofia the First. Carpenter voiced the character of Vivian for 16 episodes from 2013 to 2018. In 2014 after the first episode release of Sofia the First, Girl Meets World had its debut where Carpenter played the leading role of Maya Hart, a headstrong high school student. The show ran from 2014 to 2017. While still working on her Disney projects, Carpenter also starred in the Disney Channel original movie, Adventures in Babysitting (2016).

One way Carpenter began to break loose from the Disney Channel mold was when she released her debut album, “Eyes Wide Open,” in 2015. The following year she released her second album, “EVOLution,” which included the hit song “Thumbs.” This was the start of her independent career away from Disney Channel.

In 2018, after the end of Girl Meets World and Sofia the First, Carpenter officially separated from Disney Channel projects. Her first project away from Disney Channel was The Hate U Give. In the movie, she portrayed Hailey, an antagonist character. This was the first film that truly set her apart from her Disney Channel image. In the following years, Carpenter starred in Tall Girl (2019), Work It (2020), Clouds (2020), and Tall Girl 2 (2022).

In addition to her acting skills, Carpenter continued to show the world her talent in singing. Two years after her second album, she released “Singular Act I,” her third album. Then in 2019, Carpenter released “Singular Act II.” Most recently in 2022, Carpenter released “emails i can’t send.” This album includes the hit songs “Nonsense” and “because i liked a boy.” Her singing career has expanded as she began to develop her personal style and image after Disney Channel.

From Disney Channel star to singer and actress, Carpenter has departed from the Disney Channel image for the best. Since her breakaway, she has been in numerous acting projects. In addition to her acting career, Carpenter expanded her music career by releasing five albums and going on tours. Disney was only the start to her still-growing career.

Timeline of Demi Lovato’s career

Demi Lovato, singer/songwriter and ex-Disney Channel star, was brought into the spotlight by Disney Channel in 2007 and is still maintaining her fame. Although she faced many obstacles and struggles throughout her career, Lovato continues to show her talent and passion in 2023.

Lovato made her grand Disney debut in the 2007 Disney Channel short series, As the Bell Rings. Although this series did not gain a huge following, it helped her achieve bigger roles within Disney Channel. A year later, she had her big break when she was cast as the lead role, Mitchie Torres, in Camp Rock. Her character, a young aspiring musician, sang in the film which showcased Lovato’s talent and led to the release of several original songs as a part of the movie’s soundtrack. Camp Rock was so successful that a sequel, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, came out a few years later.

Later, in 2008, Lovato played the lead role of Princess Rosalinda in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Princess Protection Program. This film allowed her to showcase her acting talents as she portrayed a young, sophisticated princess from Costa Luna.

Following the success of Camp Rock and Princess Protection Program, Lovato starred in her own Disney Channel series, Sonny with a Chance, which premiered in 2009 and ended in 2011. She played the character Sonny Monroe, a young girl who joins the cast of a popular sketch comedy show. This series was wildly successful and helped Lovato gain fame internationally.

Lovato’s music career also took off during her time working in Disney. She released her album “Don’t Forget” in 2008, which was followed by several other successful albums including “Here We Go Again” and “Unbroken.”

However, Lovato’s career hasn’t always been “perfect.” She has been very transparent in her struggle with addiction and mental health issues. During her time on Disney Channel, she could not share this side of her life.

In 2021, she released a documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, which dove deep into her history of substance abuse, relapse, and overdose.

Although Lovato’s career started on Disney, her talents in singing and acting were what brought her to be internationally recognized. Lovato is still producing music today and will possibly revisit acting in the future.

Awards recieved by former Disney Channel stars
Facts About Disney Channel Stars Quiz
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