Bella Thorne understands what it’s like to be a Disney star—because she’s been one.
For three years and 75 episodes, the now-23 year old starred opposite Zendaya on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up!, catapulting the then-teens to household stardom. Following in the footsteps of fellow channel alums like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers, the actresses have since forged ahead in their own careers, shaping individual paths post-Disney. In September 2020, Zendaya made history as the youngest star to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her performance in Euphoria.
Nearly a decade after their days with the network, Thorne is critical of the perception of Disney stars. “No one gives Disney kids enough f–king credit,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “Like, come on, Dove Cameron is one of the hardest workers I know, and she’s an amazing actress. And people still wanna say, ‘She’s Disney.’”
As she continued, “It’s like an immediate ‘X’ mark that you have to work out of.”
It’s an experience the Jonas Brothers are familiar with. “I think generally what became challenging for us when we decided to grow, was that we had become known in a certain way for certain things and affiliations with Disney,” Nick Jonas told Wonderland in 2019. “It was tough for us when we felt like people had one perception of who we were and stories we were going to tell. I think just generally, Disney exposure made it tough for people to accept us as a real band at times.”
Now, after the release of a new docuseries episode from The New York Times and FX, the public is looking at another Disney alum through a different lens: Britney Spears. Following the premiere of Framing Britney Spears, the treatment, scrutiny and hounding the pop icon and fellow Mouseketeer has endured throughout her career is under a microscope. In the interview, Thorne recalled a similar experience in which paparazzi screamed “disgusting” comments at her and Kylie Jenner while they were hanging out as teens.
As for her predecessor Spears, Thorne extends the blame to anyone who made light of what she was going through. “People were joking about her mental health,” she said. “People were joking about very serious things that no one should be joking about.”