30 Disney Starlets Who Grew Up Better Than We Anticipated

The Disney universe is an ever-growing one that continues to dominate the world of pop culture. Whether it is their use of the Marvel franchise or the sports world at ESPN, something is always going on. Most relate Disney to their animated universe, with movies like The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and many more. However, while many of us may have grown up on their animated movies....that was not what helped Disney out the last thirty years.

Their Disney Channel ended up becoming a major investment in 1983 that worked out very well for them. The original idea was that it would be a network that might show a lot of animated features, but executives quickly realized that original programming was the best way to go. They would begin this pretty quickly in.

However, their major shows began to come into place in the late 90's and through the 2000s. They focused a lot on their shows with the ABC channel when they took it over in 1995, where their Friday Night Line-Up became a prominent feature. Since then, it seems that Disney cannot lose. They have created hit after hit.

One of the main features of Disney, unlike other networks, is that they focused on female stars over male ones. This led to many top Disney starlets, which most fans loved to see. What became common was that Disney would hire girls quite young to play parts that connected to the kids of the day. Eventually, however, those girls would grow up. Many fans were surprised at how they would come to look compared to when we first saw them. There were so many amazing girls on these shows that we created a list of 30, so you can see what we came across.

This list was created with the idea of exposing that which we did not know: that many of these women turned out much hotter than most of us anticipated. Trust us, you're going to enjoy this one.


30 Zendaya

Most notably, she was in the recent Spider-Man film as Michelle Jones or "MJ." Funnily enough, this film was still part of the Disney banner. While she is becoming a hot commodity in the world, Disney surely enjoys using her as a go-to young actress. She has become one of the most beautiful young actresses in Hollywood, and many wonder when she will ultimately have a breakout role that will take her away from Disney. It could very well happen in the new movie, The Greatest Showman.

29 Hilary Duff


She started a huge craze this past summer with how she looked in a dress, with many people going nuts for it. She would do the movie Agent Cody Banks, A Cinderella Story, War Inc., and the Cheaper by the Dozen movies. Today, she stars on Younger and guest hosts on The Talk. Duff is still considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. It is a shock to many that she has not been picked up for a major movie role yet. We're talking to you, Hollywood!

28 Emily Osment

We saw Emily grow up on the show, so it felt odd to see. She started off as a pretty girl, but eventually, we saw someone who became a stunner. She would go on to have big chances for TV. She would appear on the TV Show Mom and eventually go to the Ashley Tisdale produced comedy Young & Hungry in 2014, where she remains today. This is also while she is pushing out her music, which has been getting buzz for years now.

27 Ashley Tisdale


Ashley would go on to do a number of TV shows. She would continue to voice Candace as part of the Phineas and Ferb animated show. Meanwhile, she would go on to work for the TV show Hellcats. She would also voice Sabrina in the new animated series Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch. She now voices Stealth Elf on Skylander's Academy. She has been a huge help behind the camera too, producing 5 projects. One including Young & Hungry, where she's also guest starred.

Ashley did not stand out immediately when we first saw her on Suite Life. However, she quickly became a fan favorite. Not only did she continue to get more and more beautiful, she also remained a good person on the inside. She continues to help as a philanthropist on the side of all she does. She also remains one of the most social media active actresses around.

26 Peyton List

She is clearly branching out with other roles, but she remains with Disney in the Bunk'd series. List has continued to become more and more attractive, and at 19, there is no telling what her ceiling is in Hollywood. We can surely expect List to become one of the big young actresses eventually. The only thing she needs is a breakout role, and her talent will do the rest.

25 Selena Gomez

[Images by Teen Idols 4 You, and Selena Gomez-Twitter[

Despite this, she used the Wizards show to prove she had what it takes to last in the acting world. During and after the show, Selena managed to pick good movie after good movie. She was in Another Cinderella Story, Horton Hears a Who, Ramona and Beezus, Monte Carlo, Neighbors 2, Spring Breakers, along with The Arther and Hotel Transylvania Franchises. That is not including TV shows and movies she appeared as herself in, such as The Muppets and The Big Short. Selena continues to excel in music as well, as she continues to push out hit after hit.

In total, Selena has been nominated 149 for an award and she has won 90 times. Including multiple Billboard Music Awards. Talk about a huge career!

24 Bella Thorne

Bella now works as the lead on the TV show Famous in Love. While distributed by Warner Brothers, it's actually on the Disney owned Freeform Network. Thorne has remained in the music world too, as she continues to put out her work to some critical success. She's also seemingly everywhere, as she somehow remains a social media must-see. Of course, this is not always because she takes a good picture on a boat, rather, it's for sometimes doing some not so "Disney" things. Thorne is clearly being talked about a lot, and that does not seem to be cooling down anytime soon.


23 Zoey Deutch


It would eventually land her on other TV shows like Ringer and Switched at Birth. She would also end up getting into well-known movies like Dirty Grandpa, Good Kids, and a starring role in Why Him? She continues to be more and more beautiful each time we see her. It is not a shock, however, as the genes certainly are terrific on her side of things.

22 Maiara Walsh

No one thought she was ugly to begin with, as she was a pretty girl on Cory in the House. Today? She's drop-dead gorgeous. After CITH ended, Walsh went on to have roles on Desperate Housewives and Switched at Birth. Despite being able to sing, she is one of the few Disney starlets who did not go on to record an album. I know, we were shocked too!

21 Danielle Panabaker


Panabaker did not seem like a girl that would turn out as gorgeous as she did, but it ended up happening. We were shocked by the transformation, but it seems she was someone that TV and movie producers fell in love with. She would go on to have recurring or one-off roles in Franklin and Bash, Bones, Mad Men, Justified, and Necessary Roughness. But she would also end up having main roles in shows like Shark on CBS. However, she is most known for her role as Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost in the Arrowverse, as part of The CW's Flash TV series where she remains a prominent fixture in the universe.

20 Brenda Song

She would appear in the Academy Award-nominated The Social Network. She would land a recurring role on Scandal. Then a main role in the TV show Dads and Pure Genius. She's now a recurring star on Superstore. Brenda's time in Hollywood seems to only be heating up, so we can surely expect to continue to see her for years to come. No one thought– seeing her work on Disney for the first time– that she would turn out to be so gorgeous, but she has surely surprised many and we're not complaining.

19 Madison Pettis


At now 19 years old, Madison continues to become more and more beautiful by the day. Who would have known that this cute little girl that we saw on Cory in the House would grow up to be such a gorgeous woman? We certainly did not anticipate this, and we all feel kind of old now. Do you feel old? YOU SHOULD!!

18 Debby Ryan

By the time the show ended, many people were into Debby and were sad to see her off the Disney Channel. Despite being older, Disney decided to center a show around her with Jessie. It was a show that centered around a babysitter who wants desperately to be an actress. The show lasted 5 seasons. While she would appear in a few Disney Channel movies, she would go on to do other movies outside of Disney. She enjoys her singing career, but despite singles being out, she does not have a big album of her own as of now. Despite this, Ryan is talented and beautiful, she is certainly not one to forget at this point.

17 Natalie Alyn Lind


She would turn her role on The Goldbergs into an opportunity to get onto other shows like FOX's Gotham series as Silver St. Cloud. FOX executives would clearly believe Natalie was a cannot miss prospect, which led them to cast her in their new Marvel series The Gifted. She plays a main character, Lauren Strucker. With Disney coming close to a buyout of 20th Century FOX, Natalie could end up getting a huge opportunity to make her character far bigger than she ever imagined it would be. When we say keep your eyes on this gorgeous woman, we mean it.

16 Christina Aguilera

She has 5 Grammy Awards, which is extremely good in the world of music. However, she has shown to have some great acting chops. Movies like Burlesque showed she can do it all, and we're all wondering when her next big acting performance will go down. Her work on The Voice has been quite popular as well. Truly Disney helped to create a giant in the music industry, but Christina's talent ultimately led her here. With vocals like that, it's impossible to not win some awards.

15 Alyson Stoner


However, her breakout role may have been in the Camp Rock movies as Caitlyn, and the Cheaper by the Dozen movies as Sarah Baker. Some even know her from the Step Up franchise as Camille Gage. She continues to be a major person Hollywood goes to for voice acting as she also voiced a role in Legend of Korra and Young Justice. She's also the voice of Kairi and Xion in the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Stoner is known as an amazing dancer, but she can sing pretty well too. Her music career is not off the ground yet, but she still has a solid career in animated material as long as she wants it.

14 Vanessa Hudgens

The idea behind her character was that she was supposed to be plain looking compared to Tisdale's character, Sharpay. This is why we misjudged her right off, and we have regretted ever since. By the time the second film rolled around, she was gorgeous and remains that way to this day. She has taken Hollywood by storm as well, starring in movies like Spring Breakers and Journey 2. However, her stage and music career has taken off far more.

13 Emmy Rossum


As she aged, she began to get more and more opportunities. While Shameless has been her home since 2011, it is expected that Emmy will rise out of this show. She is drop-dead gorgeous these days. Sometimes you cannot judge early, as the end result may end up being a lot different. In the case of Emmy, WOW!

12 Lindsay Lohan

Who knew that freckle-faced little girl would turn out to be the hot mess that is Lindsay Lohan today. Lindsay would go on to have some issues with the law, which we'll let you research. She would also, however, have a relatively successful music career. Sadly, Lindsay's career has started to wind-down and her looks have started to fade due to all of her issues. However, she was once a gorgeous woman that we could not avoid loving in the 2000s.

11 Christy Carlson-Romano


She would get other opportunities to shine in live action after this, such as in the movie Cutting Edge: Chasing the Dream. Her role in the music industry started off fine but she never truly stuck with it enough to keep it moving, and the same can be said for her stage career. Christy has mostly focused on her daughter since 2016, as she was born in December of that year. When she will return to the world of acting is anyone's guess, but it can be said that a Kim Possible return would be cool. When asked about a return, all the main stars of the cast said this past summer that were "sooo in." Come on, Disney!

10 Danielle Fishel

When we first see the sweet Topanga, most guys thought she was a bit out there. She had long hair that seemed to be put through a perm. She was wearing crazy outfits, and no one seemed to understand her. Eventually, her style would change, as did her hair. She became every man's crush as the show went on, and she remains it to this day. She would reprise her role in Disney Channel's Girl Meets World, this time as the mother of the main star, Riley. She remains as gorgeous as ever. We need to know what she's doing to keep looking amazing. Tell us!!

9 Miley Cyrus


Not only did she accomplish this, but she was able to make a huge splash. She completely threw away her good girl from Disney persona to seem more adult, and she did a lot to make this happen. She would grind on Robin Thicke at the MTV Music Awards and do very scandalous music video performances. However, her music was massive. She kept putting out hit after hit. She has multiple gold and platinum songs and albums. She has been nominated for a Grammy as well as multiple AMA nominations. She has been nominated for several Billboard Music Awards and has won 2 times.

Expect Miley to rule the world of music for years to come. It'll be interesting if she ever decides to get back into acting on a regular basis, however.

8 Demi Lovato

She would end up as a coach and judge on X-Factor for a few years but remained as a solid musician. She has had a ton of hit songs since and was even nominated for a Grammy. She has had multiple songs and records go gold or platinum, and her tours also seem to continue to succeed. Who knew the career for Demi would turn out so well? Like Christina before her, it seems Lovato has a limitless range as a singer, making her someone that is amazing live. It is not a shock those tours sell out.

7 Kay Panabaker


She would eventually go on to have roles in CSI and No Ordinary Family. She would even be part of the film Cyberbully. Kay is still making her way through Hollywood, and at only 27 years old, she seems to be doing quite well for herself. The question is, what is the ceiling for Kay Panabaker when she finally gets a breakout role? Many think there isn't one.

6 Aly Michalka

She would break away from Disney to take on the lead role in Hellcats and a recurring role on Two and A Half Men. Eventually, she would land on the show iZombie in a recurring role for a few seasons. She is now part of the main cast for Season 3. Her movie time has also been pretty good. She has been in Easy A, The Roommate, and Grown Ups 2 just to name a few. Along with her sister, she has performed in the group Aly and AJ for some time.

The duo has had some big hits that have gone gold and platinum, showing their musical chops are pretty big. Aly is as gorgeous as ever and still remains a must-see actress.

5 Bridgit Mendler

Since leaving Charlie, she has gone on to star in TV shows like Undateable in a major role, as well as Nashville. However, her hit songs have helped her truly break into the music industry. She has continued to rise in the world of music. She is certainly another Disney Channel starlet to keep an eye on. Thankfully, she seems to be one of a good few top stars from the network who have not gone crazy since leaving. Good on you, Bridgit!

4 Carly Schroeder

Her TV time came to an end in 2009, as she would last appear as a one-off character in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. While Carly may not be getting a ton of TV roles these days, she is still working in Hollywood. She took part in a film called Not Alone that she worked on this year. Carly has shown potential in the past to do big things, so there is a hope she gets a breakout role soon.

3 Ashley Leggat

[Images by FanPop and Life With Derek.wikia

She seemed to get cast a lot for TV shows, but most were one-offs. She also appeared in 9 TV movies since Life with Derek ended. She is now mostly known for her work in The Good Witch franchise of TV movies. She would also appear in a few episodes of the TV show of the same name. While Ashley still has the potential to do well. One thing is for sure. No one ever knew the girl we first saw in Life with Derek would end up as gorgeous as she became. What we did know is that no matter what part she gets, she seems to always excel in it.

2 Olesya Rulin

She would change her look and shock us all with the gorgeous looks she had been hiding. Ultimately, she would land a good role on the TV show Greek and eventually the main role in Powers. While she may not be doing a whole lot today in the world of acting and music, it is thought that she will be picked up somewhere soon. Talent like hers is hard to find, and producers certainly know it.

1 Sabrina Bryan

One of the biggest things she ever did was perform on Dancing with the Stars, stunning everyone with how great she was. This show would help to make her a star on the dance floor, but in both seasons she appeared on the show (seasons 5 & 15) she was eliminated in week 6 despite getting 10's across the board both times. Despite this, she may not be appearing in a lot of TV shows or movies, but she's involved in philanthropy and helping people stay healthy. Truly becoming a woman whose beautiful both inside and out.


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