Throughout the years, The Walt Disney Company has soared to heights never seen before. It is currently one of the biggest media-centered corporations in the world and it is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. While they were initially known for cartoons and princesses back then, The Walt Disney Company is also known as the home and breeding ground for Hollywood’s next best talents.
The company began drawing in young talents when it launched the Mickey Mouse Club in 1955. Decades later, the company still houses young talent and it has launched so many careers since then. Thanks to shows like Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Wizards of Waverly Place, and so many more, countless generations grew up with role models to follow.
Of course, it should go without saying that Disney’s pool of young talents doesn’t stay with them forever. When they reach a certain age, and when they choose to do so, the actors typically part ways with Disney. After being a part of the company for a significant amount of time, some of Disney’s stars have a few revelations they revealed to the public at one point. Even our sweetheart Hilary Duff had a few things to reveal. Here are what Hilary Duff and 14 other actors and actresses said about Disney.
15 Hilary Duff: It Was Super Annoying
Hilary Duff starred in Lizzie McGuire and it was one of the most successful shows in the early 2000's. The Disney series was even awarded a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award for being the favorite TV show. The show was so popular back then that when one thinks of Disney at that time, it's often the first thing that would come into people's minds. Even now, many people still remember the show and recognize most, if not all, of its cast members. Almost everyone would think that having such successful show would be the most pleasant thing to experience in the world. However, it seems as though the spotlight wasn't that much enjoyable as we imagine, especially for Hilary.
In an interview with Pride Source in 2015, Hilary shared that she wasn't quite happy with how successful Lizzie McGuire turned out and being recognized as one of its stars. In fact, she shared that it was "super annoying" for her at first. To be fair, she said that she didn't feel like filming for the show was torturous— as a matter of fact, she even enjoyed being on the show. However, as the show wrapped up, people would still recognize her as the Lizzie McGuire in the series and not as the real her, even after several years which annoyed her so much.
14 Ross Lynch: Everyone Thinks That It's Who You Are
When an actor or actress is too good at playing their roles, it becomes harder for some die-hard fans to separate the actor from the character. People tend to forget that what they see on-screen is an act. What they hear from the actors are lines made by writers. Whatever traits or attitude the actor has on-screen, usually stays on-screen.
Austin & Ally star, Ross Lynch, tells of his experience in an interview, wherein people felt like they knew him personally because they were avid fans of the show. In the show, Ross is portrayed as a very good guy. While he is still a great person, people tend to forget that he is just an actor and Austin isn’t him. He said in an interview with CBS Philadelphia, "But everyone thinks that it's who you are like they found you. They like raised you. But really it's just a good job." Ross really did a good job playing his role so people sort of connected to him instantly. The least he could do is give himself a pat on the back for doing such an amazing job.
13 Dove Cameron: Everybody Is So Kind And Lovely
Disney fronts itself as a family-centric company. From its theme part to its shows, it’s obvious that Disney considers family values and connection as a big deal. It brings this similar thinking when it comes to handling its stars. While the pressure and stresses of being in the limelight will be tough for any new actor, Disney tries to counteract the challenges by providing its stars with a great environment.
Dove Cameron says in an interview with SheKnows that being a part of Disney is pretty much like being a part of a big family. "Everybody that works for the company is so kind and lovely that it really is like a big family and no one's telling anyone to say that." Disney and its staff isn’t all pure business as behind the camera and scripts and real people. Being a veteran when it comes to managing child actors, the company understands the needs of their talents. By being such a welcoming entity to its lineup of talent, the company is able to ease these people through a life under the limelight. This is actually a big surprise as many people think that Disney doesn’t care too much for its talent.
12 Brenda Song: I'm So Grateful For The Opportunities
Brenda Song is considered to be a veteran in the Disney scene. The actress devoted a huge part of her career to being a Disney tween, starring in roles on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Clueless, and eventually her own show, Wendy Wu. With years of experience devoted solely to her time on Disney, many would think that it will be hard to Wendy to shake off the innocent gal image that comes tied with being a part of the company, but for the actress, she doesn't even seem to mind.
In an interview with Kode magazine, the 29-year old actress says, “I’m so grateful for the opportunities Disney gave me.” She goes on saying that “they believed in me and I’m so thankful.” It’s good to hear that Disney is very supportive of the careers of the actors and actresses that leave their doors. She adds, “being an actor is difficult, period. There are obviously going to be ups and downs and for us child actors, that’s all being somewhat recorded because you essentially grow up on TV," she continued. "I think as long as you keep working on your craft and focus on the work, that’s all that matters.”
11 Cole Sprouse: I Had Social Anxiety
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was one of Disney’s biggest shows of the 2000s and it stars the bubbling twins, Cole and Dylan Sprouse. Both actors now have different lives to live, with Dylan focusing more on his studies, and Cole making a recent comeback into the limelight with his role as Jughead on The CW’s, Riverdale. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was a big part of the twin’s life and Cole had a few things to say about their experience while under Disney’s TV show.
In an interview with ASOS Magazine, Cole revealed that being a part of the show and Disney gave him anxiety. He interacted with a fairly limited amount of people, which already includes his brother. "I started in this industry, on this huge platform that oftentimes psychologically disrupts many of the children that come out of it," Cole shared. "As a teenager, I had horrifying social anxiety. I was homeschooled, raised on a sound stage, I had absolutely no understanding of how to interact with people my own age." The good thing is that the actor didn’t let his problems stunt his career and now, he’s part of Hollywood’s stars to look out for.
10 Zendaya: I Can Say What I Want and Be Assertive
Zendaya is one of the newer actresses to be a part of Disney. She kick-started her acting career on Disney Channel’s, Shake It Up. Fans instantly fell in love with the newcomer and her show. Fans have been following Zendaya since day one, and now, she is starring in a new show called K.C. Undercover. Not many know this but Zendaya plays more than just the star on the Disney Channel original— she co-produced it too!
Surprisingly, Disney isn’t too strict when it comes to giving their child actors and actresses some creative power over some shows. This is good, as it helps the youngsters develop more skills beyond acting and it also helps them become a bigger part of their show. She says to Yahoo, "I can say what I want and be assertive. I can have a really, really strong voice and presence on my own show and be listened to. That's the coolest part. I have more control; I have more freedom to make K.C. Undercover— something that I'm proud of." This is actually pretty big knowing that Disney supports this kind of idea coming from its stars and hopefully, future Disney stars get a bigger presence on their show too.
9 Miley Cyrus: It Was Hard For Me to Balance Everything
Miley Cyrus is far from what she used to be, and her young fans have seen her development of the recent years. While she has drastically changed in terms of style and mindset, we can’t blame her for changing her ways, as she had to grow up at some point. Before her daring stunts today though, she was very popular in her role as Miley Stewart on Hannah Montana.
Being in the limelight at such a young age was tough for Miley. She adds that it felt like she was living a double life, which was a bit of ironic, as that was her predicament on the hit Disney show. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Miley says that "I knew I was getting to live what I wanted to do. I got to act at that time and be funny and wear a wig and that was awesome. And wear a lot of sparkly things.” However, when she grew more popular, things became harder. She began to realize that children shouldn’t be under such stress."Now that I’m older, I realize that’s a lot to put on a kid," Miley shared. "To have them have to get their makeup done and also balance school. I think what was hard for me was balancing everything.
8 Nick Jonas: It Was Like Summer Camp
Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas were in the hearts of teens worldwide back in the mid-2000's when the trio began their time as the band, Jonas Brothers. Though under Disney, the Jonas Brothers weren’t entirely focused on shooting TV shows. The brothers all starred together in the Disney original movie, Camp Rock. They focused deeply on concerts and musical tours. While it may sound stressful to be always on the go, Nick found it fun and exhilarating.
Other than their tours and concerts, the Jonas Brothers had the privilege to go on trips sponsored by Disney, along with other stars. Nick says that the trips were fun and things felt like summer camp most of the time. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Nick says, “We used to do the Disney Channel Games, which was a good time. They would collect all of us from the different shows and then put us together at Disney World. Really, it was like summer camp. We had the park to ourselves some nights.” Though they were on trips for work, it was good for Disney to make things feel light and fun for the starlets as they were still fairly young at the time.
7 Bella Thorne
For the most part, cast members in a TV show usually treat each other like family. This goes the same for the bubbly young actors and actresses of Disney Channel shows, or so we thought. Although they are still young and new to the industry, competition between co-stars could happen at any point in time. This adds to the pressure and worries of being in front of the cameras most of the time, but as long as it’s good competition, then there’s nothing too wrong about it.
Bella Thorne and Zendaya are besties on the Disney Channel show, Shake It Up. In their time spent together on set, the two have developed a strong friendship with each other, but there does come a time when it feels like they are being put up against each other. "Zendaya and I were put in a very unfortunate position where we were kind of forced to compete against each other," said Bella in an interview with J-14. "Which made the whole first season of the show just very awkward for us. We wanted to love each other, but yet we were constantly being put against each other. It was, 'Who's better at this?'" Luckily, friendship won over the two actresses and they were able to perform well with each other.
6 Joe Jonas: We Thought Disney Was Our Only Real Shot
Nick and Joe Jonas both have a few things to say about being a part of the Disney family. Nick sees it as a fun time because of all the trips they have taken. Of course, things have become even better as he gets to tour the world with his brothers. As for Joe, he has a more serious approach; not only on Disney but also on being a child actor in today’s celebrity-centric age.
According to an interview with Vulture, he felt as if he and his brothers didn’t have any other responsibility on the set of Jonas other than to act. He wanted more creative freedom for him and his brothers. He said, “We thought Disney was our only real shot, and we were terrified that it could all be taken away from us at any moment.” The pressure and the limelight were too much to handle for Joe and it was made even worse by the fact that he wanted to become a bigger presence on their show. As with most actors and actresses at a young age, the brothers were pushed into pressure by adults around them but lucky for the Jonas Brothers, they grew up pretty well, despite everything they have been through.
5 Selena Gomez: It Is Really Dysfunctional
There is no doubting that the life of a child actor or celebrity is far differing from the life of other kids. It’s a stressful lifestyle, and it’s not something that kids will adapt to easily. Disney is one company that handles a handful of child stars annually so it understands the worries and issues that comes with it. Despite their expertise in handling child actors and actresses, the pressure and stress of the limelight still prove to be a big challenge, even for the likes of Selena Gomez.
In an interview with In Style, Selena says that being a child actor is not recommended. "I think it is really dysfunctional to be in this industry at a young age where you're figuring out who you are," she said. " I don't recommend it... When I was on Disney, it was like, 'Oh, they didn't like it?' It hurts your feelings." Other than the hectic schedules, part of what makes being a child actor is the harsh scrutiny and criticism they often get for others. As for Selena, she believes that parents should consider the well-being of their child first before putting them in the limelight.
4 Christina Aguilera: Starlets Have Crush On The Same People
Before propelling into the music industry, Christina Aguilera was a part of the growing Disney family, as she was a part of the Mickey Mouse Club revival that ran between 1989-1994. Being a part of the Mickey Mouse Club was a major dream for many kids back in the day and it helped launch the career of many stars we know and love today, including Aguilera and several other pop artists.
It was a very exclusive club, and of course, there were bound to be a few issues here and there. During her time on Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, Aguilera spilled a few beans regarding her time on the Mickey Mouse Club. According to the diva, there were big chances for starlets to crush on the same people as was the case between her and Britney Spears. She said during the segment, "Um, I think, well there was like a—me and Britney were, you know, like… well, you know, there was like a thing back then." She said, "I know Ryan actually, pretty much, he did have actually have a crush on Britney. I mean, I think so! I think so. I don't know..." At least they got along in the long run.
3 Debby Ryan: The More I Learned, The More They Encouraged Me
Regardless of how these starlets cope with the hardships of being a young actress, there’s no doubting that being one under the employ of Disney Channel has a few perks that are rather hard to pass up. Say what you will about Disney Channel, they certainly do know how to take care of their stars. Based on what Debby Ryan says, it seems like being a part of the Disney Channel family is a must for those who want to have a lasting career in showbiz.
In an interview with Lady Gunn, Debby admits that the Disney Channel has helped her understood not only the art of acting but also of many other things regarding showbusiness. She adds that she has learned skills she uses to this day. "They have such a system in place to where it's really difficult to fail, but it's not going to be done for you.” She goes on saying, "On my relationship with Disney, the more that I learned, the more they encouraged me." The skill set she has developed throughout her stay with Disney helped her bag roles and other opportunities from beyond the company. Needless to say, Disney basically set her career ahead for her.
2 Alyson Stoner: It's Like They Don't Know Me
Alyson Stoner was cast on Disney’s Super Short Show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Phineas and Ferb, and then Camp Rock. You would think that it would not be that hard for her to book roles, however, Alyson said that it’s the exact opposite.
"The assumption is that once you're in with the Disney Channel, you're in. But I still auditioned for every single thing I got with them," she said in an interview with The Night Time Show. "In fact, I was still sent on first calls with people who had never been on an audition in their lives, up until the end. Which was kind of frustrating. I was grateful, but then I was like, man, I've been on 12 shows for you and I'm coming in here auditioning for three different roles and not getting any of them and it's almost like you don't know who I am or what I'm capable of."
Despite the frustration, Alyson still feels fortunate that she wasn’t trapped under Disney contract and that she can still include her dance in her career.
1 Shia LaBeouf: Disney Will Push Actors Toward One Direction
There’s a rather obvious pattern between Disney Channel stars and the path they take for their careers— The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus— all of them were actors first, then musical idols. It’s apparent that the next step for these talented actors and actresses is the music industry and that seems to be the case with almost everyone.
Many tend to forget that Shia LaBeouf was once a star on the Disney Channel. He was one of the leads on Even Stevens, a role that helped propel his career to where it is today. In an interview with MTV, Shia was asked whether he thinks he’s the male version of Hilary Duff to which he humorously denied. He adds that he never even got into music. He goes on saying that Disney will push their actors and actresses towards that direction at one point. This shouldn’t be a big surprise though as almost all of Disney’s stars get into music. The Walt Disney Company might’ve seen it as a good direction for their careers but not all of their stars are going to be singing and dancing for the rest of the world.