"There are definitely a lot of pressures in the Disney eye"
Disney Channel stars may appear to have it all but it turns out things aren't as perfect as they seem when you go behind-the-scenes. Although the network has helped establish the careers of celebs like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, their rise to fame wasn't without some struggle.
Looking back on their early careers, these ex-Disney Channel actors have shared some not-so-nice sentiments about working with the Mouse House. From lack of creative control to just way too many rules, these former stars had something to say about Disney. And while they all acknowledge the amazing opportunity they had at such a young age, working with Disney definitely seems like it had a few downsides from which they were happy to break free.
Find out what these former Disney stars had to say about the network...
Disney Channel darling Selena Gomez starred in her own series, "Wizards of Waverly Place," from 2007 to 2012 as well as several of her own original movies. While she’s had positive things to say about her breakthrough roles in the past, some of her recent comments had fans questioning what her experience was really like while working with the network.
"I signed my life away to Disney at a very young age and I didn't know that's what I was doing. The level of the sophistication of the material is the reason why I wanted to do ['Only Murders in the Building'], but I don’t know? I was just a kid and I didn't know what I was doing. I was just running around the set,” Selena said during Hulu's recent TCA press panel.
The comment caused some raised eyebrows but Selena was quick to clarify her remarks. Selena let fans know that what she said had been lighthearted and she is "beyond proud of the work that [she] did with Disney" as it "shaped who" she is in a way.
Miley Cyrus hasn't been shy about the way her life was impacted by her starring role on "Hannah Montana." While it skyrocketed her to stardom, it also came with the pressure to be perfect and act like someone she wasn't. As soon as the show wrapped, Miley took the chance to be her true self, which was met with some criticism.
"I don't give a s**t [about haters]. I'm not Disney, where they have...to be politically correct, and, like, everyone has bright-colored T-shirts. You know, it's like, I'm not making any kind of statement. Anyone that hates on you is always below you, because they're just jealous of what you have," Miley told W Magazine.
Disney Channel was a huge supporter of the Jonas Brothers as they launched their music career and eventually, the brothers also landed their own movie and TV show with the network. Unfortunately, Disney's strict rules and pressure to protect their brand was a lot for the trio to deal with. Things only got more difficult when the show premiered and didn't align with who the band wanted to be.
"It just ended up being some weird slapstick humor that only a 10-year-old would laugh at. They took out the kissing scene that Nick had. I had to shave every day because they wanted me to pretend like I was 16 when I was 20...We went along with it at the time, because 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 wrote in Vulture.
Demi Lovato has been candid about their struggles throughout their life and they believe that their early career set them up for a "bit of a downfall." They even once joked that working with the network was like being at "Disney High" except everyone was "shooting shows and really overworking."
"I'm grateful for the opportunities that I got. Do I wish that I'd had more downtime? Yes. I think when you are a teenager and you're given your big break, you'll do anything to make it happen. I do feel that a lot of the way some of my life was handled and lived led to me kind of having a bit of a downfall, just because I was so overworked and I wasn't dedicating enough time to my mental health or my personal life," Demi later told Harper’s Bazaar.
Bella Thorne, who starred on her own Disney Channel show "Shake It Up," had one complaint when it came to working with the network and it was all about the impression their shows left on young viewers.
"There are definitely a lot of pressures in the Disney eye to be so perfect and I think that's where Disney in a sense goes wrong because they make their kids seem perfect. That image is very difficult. It's also never been me...I always just like to do whatever no one else is doing. Little kids growing up don't need to see perfect people. Kids need to see real. They need to see diversity, they need to see intriguing," Bella told Fox News.
6. Stefanie Scott
Stefanie Scott, who starred on "A.N.T. Farm" from 2011 to 2014, says she struggled during her time on Disney Channel, explaining that it was difficult "having to sugarcoat everything all the time." Not only that, but Stefanie explained that her role on the show made it difficult to find other acting parts.
"That's one of the hardest things, not being able to express myself in a certain way or being stuck having to promote something or say something you don't believe in. It's kind of hard after a while when you are feeling things and having a rough time in your personal life and you can't express your emotions through your work," Stefanie told Buzzfeed.
She added, "I wanted to tell stories of troubled girls where everything isn't perfect all the time. I didn't want it to stop there and be labeled as 'a Disney girl.' I quickly realized I wanted to do more. If you've been on a Disney show, people target you as being the 'sitcom funny girl' who can't take herself seriously and doesn't really have true emotions because they have to be perfect and pure — not shattered and torn in any way."
"High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens says she's "very thankful" for her "incredible" time with the Disney Channel but she unfortunately feels that her time with the network limited the kinds of roles she could take on in the future.
"It also closed people's minds up as to which characters I could portray. So for a while I was kind of struggling and fighting for these roles that I just desperately wanted. It was hard and it was a struggle, but then again life is always a struggle...Definitely crossing over and being able to tackle these grittier parts was a challenge but I feel like I've done it! It's a whole new chapter!" she told Untitled Magazine back in 2012.
Dylan Sprouse and his twin brother Cole were the stars of Disney Channel's "Suite Life of Zack & Cody" as well as the show's spinoff "Suite Life On Deck." Despite the series' popularity, the brothers were given limited creative control and it eventually got to the point where they decided they were better off walking away.
"I mean, we had a really awesome idea for where the show needed to go. We were 18. If that isn't old enough to know exactly what the show needs, then...well, I would beg to disagree. I don't think [Disney] were willing to work with us, really ever. So we stopped the show," Dylan told Vulture.
Nick Jonas grew up on Disney Channel with his brothers, from kicking off their music career to landing their own TV series. While Nick says he's grateful for the experience, he admits that there were some downfalls to working with the network.
"Disney doesn't create role models, it creates characters," Nick reportedly told Now, adding that the network "has its faults."