Six former child stars reveal the challenges of growing up on screen on the Disney Channel set

by Asfa Shakeel

While many Hollywood celebrities stepped into the industry as young children and that helped them grow successful as they grew up, working as a child isn’t as easy as it seems. Here are personal stories from six Disney stars that prove otherwise, revealing how being on the screen at a young age affected their mental health and their childhood.

1. Cole Sprouse: It can make socializing outside of Hollywood difficult

In an interview with ASOS, Cole Sprouse said that being on set from a young age gave him major anxiety in social groups outside of the acting world. Disappearing to go to college to pursue his other passion of photography was his escape from the challenges. He said, “One of the reasons that I wanted to go was so that I could fade out and people could forget about me for a bit. And if I ever chose to return to acting then I could reintegrate without a preconceived understanding of myself.

Disney child actors

Sprouse left for college as a coping mechanism. (Image source: Cole Sprouse)

He added that while he does not have anxiety like he used to before, it took a great deal of confidence in himself to stop caring about what people said about him. He explained, “I don’t have to deal with anxiety as much as I used to. It’s the scariest thing, but you have to look it right in the eye and understand it’s not going anywhere. Once I found a confidence in myself and how I interacted with the world around me, all of a sudden, people weren’t criticizing me the way they used to when I was consistently thinking about it.

2. Miley Cyrus: You can become confused about your real-life identity

While talking to CBS Sunday Morning, Miley Cyrus explained that the double life she lived on her show translated to her day to day reality.

She said, “I think people loved Hannah Montana because Hannah did seem real. And it’s because I was under there. I think it got harder when I started touring as both – I toured as Hannah Montana and as myself…” She added, “Now that I’m older, I realise that’s a lot to put on a kid. To have them have to get their makeup done and also balance school. I think what was hard for me was balancing everything.

Miley Cyrus bunny

Cyrus said her actual and on screen personality often got confused. (Image source: Instagram/Miley Cyrus)

She said not being able to separate her real and fictional lives did some damage to her personality. She explained, “I think that’s what’s probably a little wrong with me now. I mark that up to doing some extreme damage in my psyche as an adult person.

Disney child actors

Singer Miley Cyrus is seen carrying her dog Emu in Soho on August 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Watch part of the interview below:

3. Hilary Duff: People start thinking you are your character – even after the show is over

While speaking to Between the Lines, Hillary Duff revealed that after Lizzie McGuire ended, getting people to see her as anything but the iconic character was torturous.

She said, “I just didn’t know what success the show was gonna be, and after that – four years, five years after that – and I was still Lizzie McGuire to people and that was super annoying.” She says that now that she is older and has done a bunch of acting since her time on Disney, she does not care when people reminisce about her character. She said, “Now it’s not annoying. I don’t care now. I’m grateful for it.

Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff got confused with her character even after the show ended. (Image source: Instagram/Hilary Duff)

Hilary Duff

She said she doesn’t mind the comparison so much anymore. (Image source: Instagram/Hilary Duff)

4. Joe Jonas: You do not have much creative control over the content you perform

While talking to New York Magazine, Joe Jonas explained how the distance from the creative part of the shows induced a fear of being disposal to the channel. Talking about the show Jonas that he appeared on with 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.”

Joe Jonas and Nick Jonas at Golden Globes award (Source: Instagram)

Nick, Kevin and Joe of the Jonas Brothers pictured in 2013 in Waikiki, Hawaii. (Photo by Norman Shapiro/CBS via Getty Images)

5. Bella Thorne: The rules for behavior (even while off set) are very strict

In an interview with Under the Influence, Bella Thorne revealed that Disney Channel freaked out when she wore a smaller bikini than usual, and she was fired for it!

The former Disney princess, now dubbed a ‘wild child’, said, “Somebody took a photo of me in a bathing suit – yeah, it was a sexy bathing suit. It was black and it’s got a little bit of fun little lace underneath. My mom picked it out. It was cute, then I don’t know… They said, ‘You’re lucky Bella has such a fanbase that we can’t afford to fire her at this moment in time, but if she does one more other thing, we will.

Bella Thorne stars as CeCe Jones on Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up.” (Photo by Craig Sjodin/Disney Channel via Getty Images)

Disney child actors

Bella Thorne meets and greets fans in 2011 in Weston, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)

6. Selena Gomez: Going through puberty on screen is not easy

While talking to Huffington Post, Selena Gomez revealed that it was both wonderful and awful to have to grow up and go through normal day to day experiences in front of the world. She said, “It was beautiful and tragic. It was everything that every teen goes through, just on a bigger scale. It literally was like high school.

Actress Selena Gomez in 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Disney child actors

Actress Selena Gomez poses with “Shep” in 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)

All these stars have since then moved on to projects independent of Disney Channel.

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