Being a Disney Channel star is the dream for many young actors. You become an idol to kids everywhere, fame and fortune knocks at your door, and you will forever be associated with one of entertainment’s most enduring brands. But what if the reality of working for Disney isn’t as fun as it looks? Over the years, many former child stars have opened up about the pressures of trying to follow the House of Mouse’s strict rules and attempting to live up to the perfect, family-friendly image that it loves to promote.
1. Jenna Ortega
Wednesday star Jenna Ortega is a huge name these days, but when she started out as a child actress in the Disney Channel show Stuck in the Middle, her lack of social media presence was seemingly an issue for the House of Mouse.
“When I first started acting, it was told to me by my first agency that I had to have a public platform,” Ortega revealed durning an Actors on Actors conversation hosted by Variety. “When I did television shows when I was younger, they’d take us to media training, or they would call it Disney 101.”
You must post three times a day on social media
Ortega continued, “They would say, ‘Okay, you’re gonna post three times a day. This is how you get the most engagement. This is how you get likes. This is how you build followers. Download these apps as well. Promote our show.’
So, you know it became a business. I would go into some sort of audition or meeting, and it was, ‘How many followers do you have?’” Forcing a child to focus so much on building her brand might sound problematic to many, but it’s clearly something that works for Disney, so it will probably keep doing it.
2. Dove Cameron
The image of Dove Cameron presented in her Disney Channel efforts Liv and Maddie and Descendants is a far cry from reality, but she would argue that’s how Disney wanted it. In 2022 she released a single which took YouTube and Spotify by storm.
Fans especially enjoyed the queer anthem’s ironic title. She told the Los Angeles Times, “I really wanted to call it ‘Boyfriend’ because I’m very aware — painfully aware — of the sort of concoction of who I am in the public eye.”
You have to fit into the Disney mold
Cameron continued, “People are like, ‘But you were blonde, and you were dating men and you were on the Disney Channel.’ Yes, but there were always so many more dimensions. It’s just that the space I was in would never have allowed me to express those dimensions.”
She added, “Arriving at the person I am now; I’m relaxing into the freedom to poke fun at who people think I am.” Of her time at Disney, she added, “I was always the strange outlier who doesn’t belong and who will never fit in.”