Disney has been churning out an insane amount of stars for decades. By now, we are all aware that Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling got their start on The Mickey Mouse Club. Even in recent years, the successful stars keep coming, and Disney has launched media sensations, like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Hilary Duff.
But, for some reason, it seems like a lot of these actors and singers leave Disney during their teen years—and sometimes, it’s NOT an amicable departure. Here are 15 stars who were either teens at their peak on Disney, or left Disney as a teen. We'll tell you what they had to say about their time with the most famous production company in the world.
15 Bella Thorne
14 Selena Gomez
You can’t turn on the radio these days without hearing a Selena Gomez song or hearing gossip about her personal life. But, before her drama with Justin Bieber and her battle with lupus, Selena was on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. The show, which was about a wizard named Alex (played by Selena) and her family, aired from 2007 to 2012. At the time of the finale, Selena was 19 years old and—despite (reportedly) being offered a spot in a Suite Life spin-off—wanted to move on from Disney. Soon after, two movies starring Selena, Ramona and Beezus and Monte Carlo, were released. In addition to this, she began breaking onto the music scene.
13 Miley Cyrus
Before her controversial performance with Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV VMAs and an explosive singing career, Miley Cyrus was just a sweet, country teen on Disney’s Hannah Montana. Billy Ray Cyrus, her father, also appeared on the show with her. But, after four massively successful seasons, the show came to an end in 2011. Miley also had a four-album deal with one of Disney’s labels, Hollywood. However, after her controversial third album, Can’t Be Tamed (2010), Miley parted ways with Disney. She wanted to focus on her film career.
12 Dylan Sprouse
If you're a millennial, chances are you know Cole and Dylan Sprouse. Yes, they're the twins that starred on Disney’s Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Suite Life on Deck series. Prior to that, they had appeared in Big Daddy and Friends (as Ross’ son). It seemed like the twins had a successful acting career laid out for them after their Suite Life series ended. However, they both ended up taking a hiatus from acting. They left Hollywood to pursue their education. Dylan (who played Zack on the hit show) graduated in 2015 from NYU, where he studied video game design with a double major in poetry and studio art. But, there was also another reason they left.
11 Cole Sprouse
Moving on to the other half of the Sprouse brothers, we have Cole (who played the brainiac, Cody, on the Suite Life). As previously mentioned, Cole and his brother left Disney to pursue their education and because they claim Disney stole their idea for a spin-off show. Cole graduated from NYU alongside Dylan, but he has actually stepped back into the acting world. No longer the innocent teen he once was, you can catch Cole on the new show, Riverdale (which he recently appeared shirtless in—a far cry from his Disney days).
10 Demi Lovato
9 Nick Jonas
8 Joe Jonas
7 Ashley Tisdale
6 Ross Lynch
4 Shia LaBeouf
Ah, Shia LaBeouf—where do we even begin? Well, let’s take it back to the year 2000, when Disney’s Even Stevens first aired. The show starred a 13-year-old Shia LaBeouf, as Louis Stevens, a mischievous child, who was always getting on his older sister’s nerves. We can all agree that these were the good ol’ days for Shia. But, when Even Stevens ended in 2003, Shia wanted to shed the Disney image. He says, “I went a whole different route. I never came out with a music thing, even though [Disney will] push you that way… I never really felt like I fit in there.”
3 Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff has grown up before our eyes—and thankfully, she didn’t go down the dark path that so many child/teen stars do. Can you believe she’s almost 30 years old and has a child? But, back when she was just 13, she starred in Disney’s Lizzie McGuire. The show followed Lizzie—a shy teen dealing with regular issues that teens face—and it often featured funny commentary from an animated version of herself. Thanks to the show, Hilary quickly became a teen idol and appeared in Disney movies (like Cadet Kelly) and on Disney soundtracks. She even released two successful albums through Disney Music Group.
2 Ashlie Brillault
1 Lalaine Vergara-Paras
Lalaine is yet another Lizzie McGuire star that quit Disney, but she didn’t even wait until the series was over. Lalaine portrayed Miranda Sanchez, Lizzie’s friend who appears as being edgy and confident but is actually self-conscious. Lalaine quit before the last season to pursue other projects and also chose not to appear in the Lizzie McGuire movie, leaving fans confused. So, what were these “other projects?” Well, she was very into music and released an independent album, Inside Story, in 2003. Then she was arrested for meth in 2007. She recovered and went on to play bass guitar in the band, Vanity Theft, until 2011. Since then, she’s fallen under the radar.
Sources: MTV, EW, TeenVogue, TheWrap, DailyMail
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