When it comes to working for the Walt Disney Corporation, there is a lot to consider. Disney owns a lot these days, especially after their recent purchase from FOX. However, Disney used to be a company known for animated characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. They would eventually bring out new characters and even focus on content from older books like Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and more.
While animated movies might be what they were known for, they would get into television and open the Disney Channel. This has become a massive success today, but the channel features only kids shows and focused on the children far more than the adults. The purchase of ABC allowed them to focus on some content for the older teens and adults, but they would also keep things similar to their family friendly background.
The problem with working for Disney is that there are some major rules you have to keep in mind. Some of the rules over the years were crazy and others made no sense at all. Meanwhile, some might be understandable. Regardless of what they are, some may question why Disney wanted this from people. Some of these rules were only applied to certain people while others were even removed.
No matter what rule that happened to be in play, a lot needed to be considered for any actor or actress choosing to work for them. Careers can take off here, but they can also end here as well. The rules were often dealt with due to the opportunity. We decided to break down rules that Disney has implemented over the years that you may or may know about. Some will make sense to you while others may shock you. Enjoy.
25 Women Must Keep Their Look At All Times
This rule by Disney is mostly for people in live action films and shows, but is also used for cast members at their parks. Throughout the year, people are going to head to the parks and that means if you play a certain character you have to look the part. They hire women for Disney princesses that play the character well, but the biggest thing is that they have to BE that princess all the time. If that princess has certain color hair, a certain figure or look, it must be maintained the entire time you play the part.
This is much easier for actresses who play characters in movies or television shows. Most of the teenage girls on shows are naturally going to grow into young women and Disney likes to capture this. However, they do make sure those girls know severe body changes can be an issue. Movie actresses on the other hand only work in the part for so long. This allowed someone like Scarlett Johansson to be pregnant while playing Black Widow, yet not show it much as she was not too far along. It takes mere months to play the part, so she was fine.
However, if Scarlett would have shown up 5 months pregnant, the character likely would have been cut from the film. Simply put, figures must be maintained for long-running TV shows and movies in Disney policy, or you could risk being cut out of the product.
24 Disney Channel Starlets Cannot Be Caught In Risky Pictures Or Videos
While a bit of an unwritten rule yet obvious one for Disney is that they do not like when kids grow up too quickly. This is especially a big issue with the girls, since Disney focuses most of their shows on young women rather than boys most of the time. Even when there is a boy lead, they add a major female character as well. The issue Disney runs into is that many young ladies like to grow up too quick, and today this is an issue. Girls are caught in compromising positions due to the rise of camera phones and social media. This has led to leaked images of girls over the years.
Vanessa Hudgens was over 18 when a revealing image of her leaked to the public, but she was playing a high school girl in the High School Musical franchise. Disney was furious understandably. However, in 2011 Shake it Up star Bella Thorne simply was caught in a bikini that was no worse than what you would see at any beach. Her mom even picked this out for her. Disney threatened to fire her over this as it was said it was too risque for a young starlet. We get the Hudgens issue, but the Bella thing was no issue.
23 Disney Channel Shows MUST Have A Female Main Character
One of the most interesting things about Disney is that they have a heavy focus on women rather than men usually. The Disney Channel is known for a lot of fun shows, but think about every show on the network. What comes up more than anything else? Most shows have a female lead or a few of them. While those shows also contain boy roles, they can be diminished. Meanwhile on shows with a male or two male leads, there is always a main female character that is typically in every single episode in some capacity.
Even when Disney brought the Jonas Brothers to their network, as well as little brother Frankie, they had two female main characters. One being the beautiful Chelsea Kane. On The Suite Life shows, Ashley Tisdale and Brenda Song would be the two original girls. Eventually Debby Ryan would be added. All played huge roles in the show. Due to this, while the guys can miss a show a girl cannot. So women are often given larger roles and have to prepare for that. The rule really is that actresses have to prepare for heavy roles even when the show isn't necessarily "their" show if they're on a show with a male lead.
Ultimately, this would be why Ryan to getting her own show named Jessie after Suite Life on Deck wrapped. Chelsea would go on to star on the ABC Family/Freeform show Baby Daddy and have a big run on ABC show Dancing with the Stars. Meanwhile Tisdale and Song would be used throughout multiple ABC or Disney TV shows and movies.
22 Social Media Posts/Images Can Require Permission
Remember that issue over Bella Thorne we referenced? There's an issue for Disney stars from movies to tv shows. This rule is mostly for the kiddos, but it does happen at times for the adults too. Social media posts often have to get permission from someone within the Disney management system, mostly so nothing gets out. The first movie to get this with Disney was Shrek 2, a Pixar film but under the Mickey Mouse company. Mike Meyers and Cameron Diaz had to sign a part of their contract saying they would not say a thing about their characters in the movie without permission by Disney.
The funny thing about Disney is that they absolutely love when actors post online. Some do not use social media, so Disney has set them up with one that a social media manager helps with if the actor doesn't themselves. However, if they do happen to say something about the movie or show, then they have to get permission first. This is also a big deal like earlier when it comes to images. As some of them can be an issue, Disney does ask for people to ask them about the photos if they are not sure. Though this is hardly a written thing for the TV shows, but is now usually all in the movies. Someone like Dove Cameron may not see a social media issue at all for her Disney show, but likely would for the Decedents 2 movie. Marvel movie actors likely are more pressured by it than anyone though.
21 Disney Can And Will Own Your Real Name At Times
One thing that is often looked over is the contract you sign when you enter into acting for Disney in any way. These kids are getting the shot of a lifetime and Disney is in all of this to make money. So it goes without saying that Disney will do all they can to own all properties they use on their show. However, this sometimes goes overboard and Miley Cyrus likely knows this more than anyone from a Disney Channel show.
On the show Hannah Montana, she played Miley Stewart. It was great she could use her own name, but the deal she signed seemed to cause a problem. She no longer owned the name Miley, as Disney owned it. This became a huge issue when she used her name for CDs while working on the show. Often with music she did not use Disney for. Eventually she was able to retain the rights to her music and now does with her first name. But Disney will forever own "Miley Stewart" and the Hannah Montana material connected to the show. The rule an actor must keep in mind is that Disney will take your name, so don't use it!
20 They Have To Play Dumb For Direct Interview Questions
You ever watch a guy or girl from a Disney Channel TV show any movie from the Disney franchise in an interview? Have you ever noticed how they seem to perfectly dodge anything that seems it could be a tough question? They are taught to do this and often put in what is known as "media training" the moment they get added to a movie or show. This is mostly seen with the younger stars and not with the adults, of course. However, it can affect some adults depending on how an interview goes with them.
Disney teaches the people to play dumb with these interviews whenever a tough question comes up. This is not for questions on what happened in the Civil War. Rather, if they are asked for example how they feel about someone in the white house. This is avoided by a remark like "well, I don't really know." When it comes to Marvel movies, if someone is asked about something specific that they cannot answer they'll often claim they have not seen the movie yet or do not remember. Rather than expose something they likely know very well.
19 Disney Teaches Them How To Speak Or Act In Public Too
While Disney can ask someone to play a character on television, this is often an issue when they leave too. The idea of how someone talks on television or in a film should not determine how they speak outside of this experience. Nickelodeon has less rules and someone like Ariana Grande spoke differently as Cat on Victorious than she did in real life and Nick never cared. Meanwhile, Bella Thorne had no such luck. Thorne likely is acting out today due to all she went through, as you could easily understand now.
Bella had to talk a certain way for CeCe on Shake it Up than how she really spoke. She has a naturally lower voice than she used on the show, where she seemed to have a bit of a higher voice than really needed. Disney forced Thorne to keep this voice in public for interviews, and she even had to do it for other movies or programs she did for Disney. Even though she played a different role. The reason was because Disney felt the lower voice did not work for the "good girl" mentality they wanted to put off for her and other Disney starlets. She was not the only one either, as several other Disney starlets had similar issues. So it is not a wonder why many change so rapidly once departing Disney.
18 They Gain Millions Off The Passing Of Disney Stars
While this is not always considered to be as big of a deal as it has become, it is something that people look to as pretty insane. Disney does benefit off of someone dying, and while it does sound very sad....it does make sense. First and foremost, if someone like Hilary Duff were to pass away then Disney would not make any money off of this. Duff is not working with Disney any longer. However, if she would have sadly passed while playing Lizzie McGuire they would have been set up for a big payday.
This rarely happens, but actors have passed away while filming a television show or movie. Sometimes this can be expected but usually it is a rarity. Disney and many other companies put insurance on these actors and actresses to be paid back if they were to lose someone. This happened when Carrie Fisher sadly passed away before Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out. She was apparently set to be in the next instalment of the franchise, so due to this Disney was able to collect $50 million off of her death. While Disney does not cheer or hope for the death of an actor, they do make sure to have insurance to pay them if someone does pass.
17 You Have To Be Able To Sing And/Or Dance For Shows
Disney Channel has a very strict rule when it comes to the people they hire for shows and even movies at times. Disney is well known for their actors and actresses singing. It has happened in the animated movies for years prior and even Mickey Mouse sang a lot. Music is one of the biggest connections to Disney that everyone knows about. It is no shock that all the people they hire have some sort of musical ability. While some like Miley Cyrus were hired to play a singer, not all are required to sing as part of the show.
Yet for some reason, you'll see people who really have no reason to sing just...well....sing. For example, Zendaya played a dancer on Shake it Up. Yet both she and Bella Thorne sang a lot for Disney. Some like Selena Gomez, Raven Symone, and Miley Cyrus even sang the opening theme to the show they starred on. The rule for Disney is that if you play a main role in a Disney show, you must be able to sing. If not, your dancing ability should be very good. This has kept other great actors and actresses out of Disney shows over the years.
16 Purity Rings Were Pretty Popular In The Last Decade
One of the most popular things Disney stars seem to have in the last decade were purity rings. These rings were worn to show people that they abstained from relations until marriage, at least. This was popularized by the Jonas Brothers, but Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and even Vanessa Hudgens were seen wearing them over the years while working for Disney. With so many wearing them, some assumed it was a religious thing that all shared.
While the Jonas Brothers were from a religious family, their father even being a pastor, it made sense they wore one. Oldest brother Kevin actually held off until marriage as asked where Nick and Joe randomly stopped wearing them one day. Meanwhile the religious connection was not present for most of the starlets who wore one. While it is not ever claimed to be a rule, many believe Disney has an unwritten rule to wear one or at least they did for the longest time. The rings are still common today, but not as much as they were. The good girl and boy image is important to Disney, so it would be no surprise if they forced their actors and actresses to wear one.
15 The Long Hours Are Pretty Rough On These Child Stars
There is a rule in the world of television and movies that children are only allowed to work so long in a given day. This is mostly for children under 12, who can only work 8 hours. Weirdly, this is as long as a normal job or school day. Meanwhile, due to other rules the studio has to provide schooling for the child actors as well. Due to this, these children and teens are put through some pretty rough hours on top of school material. Hours are also pretty extreme too.
According to California acting rules, which is where all Disney programming barring a few has been filmed...children 8-18 can work anywhere between 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. upon being given 2 days notice. Most know in advance. While they are unable to work all of those hours, they have to work a bulk. Miley Cyrus was in the studio so often that she actually had a low Vitamin D count. She had to request a sun lamp be brought on set due to some extreme depression she would go through due to the long hours. This only worsened once she became an official adult. This is also why Disney often uses people who are older than the people they play on television, and frequently have stand-ins ready.
14 Song Lyrics Had To Be So PG That It Is Sickening
Disney is obviously a family friendly product, but Disney Channel is heavily G and PG at the worst. Saying curse words are rare, and programming that may be considered "real" by many audiences were sort of pushed away. Girl Meets World often fought with Disney over some important subject matters that Boy Meets World also covered. It was real, raw, and made kids think. Especially during such a critical time. However, song lyrics suffered from the same issues of Disney censorship.
The Jonas Brothers often wrote their own songs, with Nick and Joe writing many of the brothers' biggest hits over the years. Due to the boys writing a lot of their own stuff, as well as many other stars writing their lyrics as well, Disney had to hold them back. Even when it was regarding their label and off Disney TV, they could not sing about certain things. Joe Jonas mentioned that even something as simple as "being alone with a girl in a room" was considered too much by Disney executives. Others like Aly & AJ had to go through the same issues. The purity was over the top here, which is why the brothers are often seen writing and singing much further lyrics than this today.
13 Disney Often Makes You Pay For Damaged Property
Years ago during the height of the Mouseketeers, Disney used children like they do today but there was a weird twist. Disney was not as big as they are today, which means they lacked the funds to pay for anything the kids might damage on set. This included those mouse-ear hats we all know of today. Obviously in today's world, these hats cost nothing but back then it was a bit more as they had to be made and sent out with a much bigger overhead. The Mickey Mouse Club included some popular people, of course.
However, this was not always useful to Disney. So if those hats ever got damaged, they had to pay to replace them, which was $50. The show started in the 50's, so you can add a zero what $50 equated to back then. All for a hat. This is also common today. If an actor damages something, Disney has been known to bill them for it or take it out of their next paycheque. It's not as if Disney has the money to be replacing stuff, right? What can billions really buy anyway?
12 They Decide What You Wear
It is quite often that Disney or any studio pick out the clothes that the stars of their television shows or movies wear on screen. This is a common practice and most of the actors and actresses seem to enjoy it. The clothes are designed especially for them, so it can be a bit pressuring to keep the same figure to fit into the clothes. Overall, the idea of wearing stuff you did not have to pay for and even getting the chance to keep some of these clothes is a pretty cool thing. However, there is an issue there.
The designers often pick stuff for the show, but it does not stop there. Many stars from the TV shows are given a stylist who goes with them to any sort of other appearance they may do for shows. They like to keep the image a certain way, so it is quite rare that you see the real person underneath the Disney magic they put upon them. This is a bigger deal for the girls than the guys, but it can also be an issue for them too. The sad part is that many of these girls like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were known for being good with fashion. The issue is that for a while Disney does not trust you, and you're styled the way they want you to look.
11 While You Work For Them, They Control Your Acting Life
While working for Disney movies is often a one contract deal, this is not always the case. Marvel films typically force actors to sign multi-picture deals. While filming these can be pretty simple for actors, they're often held from signing on for other projects. Disney has a rule for most any movie that you can only work with them while in production. Many actors have worked on multiple projects at a time, so this is really not well-liked. The worst part is that the TV stars are also held back some.
You ever wonder why those Disney stars you seem to like are hardly seen outside of Disney TV shows? It is because Disney holds them back from doing anything. As long as their TV show is going on, they can block any talent from accepting an offer for something else. That is even if the Disney Channel show isn't in production! This is a pretty rough deal to take on, but sometimes Disney does allow them to do something depending on the project.
Selena Gomez would do mostly animated movies like Horton Hears a Who and the Arthur series of movies. However, she also was allowed to do live action movies like Monte Carlo as well as Ramona and Beezus. She would go on to do more adults projects like Spring Breakers when her Disney contract was up. The same has happened with many other Disney stars.
10 Sometimes They Own Your Acting Career
While Disney controls a lot of stars while they're under contract with them, Walt Disney likely did something many would consider absolutely horrible. Have you ever heard of an actress by the name of Adriana Caselotti? It is likely you have not, but this is not because she never made an impact in the world of acting. Rather, it is due to Walt Disney putting a stop to her entire career after she would add her beautiful voice to Snow White, where she played the title role.
Her Snow White voice is legendary. From how she spoke to how she sang, Adriana was absolutely terrific. Disney knew it, so he wanted to make sure he owned it. Adriana had to agree to a deal that she would never act again on stage, screen, or radio if she played Snow White in the movie. Disney did this to keep his Snow White character special. Adriana did manage to sneak her voice into a small scene in the Wizard of Oz however. She also was said to have had uncredited roles in other films too. Sadly, that would be the end of her acting career. However, she would do several promotional spots and songs for Snow White material over the years that followed.
9 If You Play A Younger Guy, You Cannot Have A Beard
While Disney understands how puberty works, it seems that they lack the full ability to understand the males of their shows. Disney has a pretty big clause with people under contract for their television shows regarding image. For women, there's a loaded list and we've already gone over some of them. However, boys often go through a very weird situation in that they have to make sure to keep their face shaved whenever working on the show so long as they are playing a young man on camera. The likes of Billy Ray Cyrus was never told to really shave, more so than keeping things neat.
However, several stars for Disney expressed how tough this was for them due to playing people younger than who they are. Joe Jonas and Zac Efron expressed that keeping shaved can be annoying, as you have to keep this shaved look the entire time for show filming or movie filming. However, due to the promotional work as well as other things a guy may do for Disney, they have to shave then as well. If Disney was not aware, boys start to grow hair on their face as soon as 12 to 13 and up. So a 16 year old kid can have a slight beard! This isn't crazy policy, as for the longest time Walt Disney did not allow men at his parks to have a beard either. What does Disney have against the beard?!?
8 Disney Pressures And Forces Talent To Compete On Camera
A lot can go into a production, and we all know that this can be a rough situation for any studio. New shows are the worst, as not only do you have to make sure a good pilot is done to be picked up at all....but you also have to make sure the first season is great too. New shows can truly make things rougher than they have to be. Bella Thorne mentioned that she and Zendaya were often put against each other regarding "who was better at this or that."
This meant that Bella was forced to be as good as or better than Zendaya. For those unaware, Bella had no formal dancing background before Shake it Up. Zendaya had years of work since she was 8 in dance. So competing was rough in this area. This was not uncommon either. There is a constant pressure to be great, so Disney often makes rivals out of their talent. Especially in the early going. This has had negative side effects, such as in a case of Hannah Montana drama. Co-stars Emily Osment and Miley Cyrus practically hated each other the first few seasons seemingly due to how they were put against the other. They became great friends around the time of the Hannah Movie. The better shows seem to release this tension to see a much better product than others.
7 Your Opinion Means Nothing To Disney
In some worlds, Disney does care about the opinion of an actor. For example, Robert Downey, Jr. is simply irreplaceable as Tony Stark. Disney has no real choice but to pay him well and listen to things he may want to try out. Downey is also an Academy Award nominated actor, so the ideas he may have are not crazy. However, RDJ does not work for Disney Channel but merely the Disney corporation. The Disney Channel stars do not get much say-so in their shows.
This was a big situation with the Sprouse Twins, Dylan and Cole. They were 18 years old and wanted to have some say in ideas for the show they were the stars of. They claimed they had a great idea of where the show could go. But Disney executives quickly shut them down. It is claimed that the reason for their decision to wrap the show was truly due to both boys no longer wanting to do it after Disney seemed to constantly refuse to do anything the boys had in mind. They claimed Disney never took them seriously, ever.
While we can see Cole Sprouse on Riverdale each week on The CW, Dylan is not doing the acting thing very often. It feels both were a bit jaded after they wrapped up The Suite Life on Deck. Neither have been seen on Disney since. This situation is rampant on Disney for most shows. However, it does appear the stars of Girl Meets World felt included in a lot. So this could be changing some.
6 Showing Skin Is Considered A Disney Sin
We spoke of Bella Thorne's issue where Disney almost fired her over a simple social media picture where she was wearing a bikini. However, she is not alone in this issue. Disney is very conservative with the girls on their shows. If they are wearing a swimsuit, it is often a bodysuit covering most everything except the legs. However, when they are allowed to wear a bikini, it is a very high-waist version of it. Basically, the girls show off no more than shorts and a couple ribs.
The boys are allowed to be shirtless on camera here and there, but the women are rarely given skin freedom. For TV, this does make sense. Disney is a kid-friendly company with the network being all about the kids. So showing off skin could be bad here. However, not being able to be photographed or really even seen by Disney wearing anything that shows off skin outside of Disney is considered to be a sin by them as well. Truly, the girls are put through some horrific rules that make sense in some ways. Meanwhile that is not the case for things outside their television or movie product.
5 Females Cannot "Develop" Too Early Either
Remember the earlier area of the list where we pointed out that guys have to shave quite a lot, despite playing people who could easily grow facial hair in teen times? This is not the only thing Disney does to keep their teenagers forever young. Years ago on the original Mickey Mouse Club, Annette Funicello would sort of develop earlier than the other girls on the show. Due to that, she was forced to bind her chest because of her development in the area. She was not alone, as other girls were forced to do this over the years.
Disney does not do this as often as they used to, especially due to the female movement in Hollywood today. However, Disney has attempted in recent years to hold back any sort of adult-looking material. So what they often do instead of binding a girl's chest down is to force them to wear clothing that does not show them off. The female body is beautiful and Disney does not want to hide that. However, they also do not want a teenager to look like she is in her 20's. Even if a 20 year old actress is playing a teen. Check it out when you get the chance. Sweatshirts or any sort of baggy clothing being worn by an actress is an easy thing to look out for. Then you know who Disney feels is being "too adult."
4 Don't Think You Can Negotiate Much On Your Salary
Miley Cyrus was never truly able to catch a break at Disney. As you can tell by the list, she and Bella Thorne often had issues with Disney management. It is not a wonder why they were so rapidly different upon departing the Mickey Mouse brand. Cyrus found out that she likely was taken advantage of by Disney in many ways. While rules might suck, at the very least we know she was being paid well, right? Not really. Miley was the lowest paid regular actor/actress on the entire Hannah Montana show. Her own show, people!
When trying to fix this, Disney was not willing to budge on pay. They never planned to restructure her deal, and it was not until Disney decided to do other things that they decided to change things up and pay. Such as going back 65 episodes or 3 seasons, both a standard with Disney for some time. This on top of the Hannah Montana movie, which they had to pay her well for. Miley does not seem to be too upset these days with such a major music career going on, as well as a still steady acting career. However, it is odd that Hannah Montana herself was paid less than everyone else.
3 Keep Dating In The Disney Family
Likely one of the creepiest things you'll ever hear is the words "keep it in the family." It may remind you of something from Gone with the Wind for example. However, Disney is known for sprouting up random romances. It seems weird that a lot of Disney actors and actresses end up dating, right? Some say proximity leads to this. In that these kids are always around each other, so it is no shock they might end up dating. What you may not know is that these people are often in Hollywood or Los Angeles, around several other people in the acting or music world.
Disney prefers their stars keep from dating around, as it could be a bad look. However, they are told if they do....be with another Disney star. This is not technically a forced rule, but heavily implied. This is often why you've seen so many together. From Selena Gomez and Nick Jonas to stars from the past like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. It is very common, and though there is no written rule about it, Disney wants them to do it this way. The thought is that it actually works better from a marketing perspective.
2 The Infamous Disney Morality Clause
Disney did not always have a morality clause, but it became quite common for Disney Channel stars over the years. The company wanted to keep the purity of Disney going, but they realized they would be dealing with teens and young adults. These girls and boys have gotten in trouble a lot in Hollywood. The entire child star dilemma has been a huge issue in Hollywood, so we can understand why Disney has the clause somewhat. However, it extends far more than you think. Remember that Bella Thorne bikini photo? Disney could use this clause to fire her.
The same could have happened with Vanessa Hudgens when her leaked image came out. There was even a thought that Demi Lovato would run into an issue when she entered into a clinic for mental health issues. Disney chose not to remove her, but she did not completely stay with the company much longer after. The problem with the clause is that Disney can use it for just about anything. Ultimately, this keeps most of the stars out of bad publicity but also makes them fear for their job far too much. Often, for simply having a normal life that Disney keeps them from living.
1 Nothing Too Hard On Disney Products
Disney is obviously a family company and due to this, they make sure all their material relates to the entire family. They are even very big on showcasing same love relationships here and there. Even pulling this out for the Disney Channel with TV Show Good Luck Charlie a few years back. However, there are rules Disney tries to never cross. The one that is considered to be the TOP rule is that smoking is never allowed for movies or TV shows.
While smoking had been used in movies in the past like Pinocchio, it is banned today. Disney did say that they were open to smoking being allowed when it comes to historical figures who smoke. As they realize it works for the character. However, even when this was done Disney put in a comment from a character on how it was bad for them. In an interesting note, people like Nick Fury smoke in the comics but do not in the movies. We have to wonder now that they own Wolverine if he'll ever be allowed to do it either.