There are no rebels quite like Disney stars who've turned on Disney. Some of these onetime boys-and-girls-next-door asserted their independence by imaginatively playing up their sexuality, and some preferred to dish dirt on the mega corporation Hedda Hopper style; but either way, ex-Disney stars who have it in for their old employer are, increasingly, a force to be reckoned with.
Gone (mostly) is the old-school world of Mickey Mouse Club traditionalism. Nowadays, Disney stars who don't support the company take the form of aspiring avant-garde artists like Miley Cyrus, or mainstream-stars-turned-indie-vixens like Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. Then there's Shia LaBeouf - the onetime lead of the Disney Channel show Even Stevens ... who has forged a decidedly unique career out of both Hollywood blockbusters and breakout artistic performances.
Though not all former Disney stars have spoken out against the corporation, those who have are becoming more and more flamboyantly visible. And they've plunged the company's image straight into controversy's proverbial mud bath.
Few have been as critical of Disney as actress, singer, and songwriter Demi Lovato. The former star of the Disney Channel's Camp Rock and Sonny With A Chance has gone on record to accuse both shows's creators of exacerbating her eating disorder (and eating disorders in general). Lovato recently expressed her disapproval of the channel's insensitivity towards the subject in a series of tweets:
I find it really funny how a company can lose one of their actress' from the pressures of an EATING DISORDER and yet still make joke about..— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) December 24, 2011
And is it just me or are the actress' getting THINNER AND THINNER.... I miss the days of RAVEN, and LIZZIE MCGUIRE.— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) December 24, 2011
According to Lovato, Disney's aggression didn't stop there: she's also accused them of putting too much pressure on their young stars overall, and of insisting that she remove the gap in her teeth.
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America
Credits: The X Factor, Frozen, Princess Protection Program, Camp Rock
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As former stars of Camp Rock and JONAS, the Jonas Brothers (Nick, Joe, and Kevin) are seemingly well acquainted with the pitfalls of teen heartthrobbery. As Joe recalls it in his memoir, My Life As a Jonas Brother:
"Disney is great at creating fame. They've done it with so many pop stars and young actors... 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... we were working with Disney in 2007 when the Vanessa Hudgens nude-photo scandal happened. We heard that she had to be in the Disney offices for a whole day because they were trying to figure out how to keep her on lockdown. We'd hear execs talking about it, and they would tell us that they were so proud of us for not making the same mistakes, which made us feel like we couldn't ever mess up... so we put incredible pressure on ourselves, the kind of pressure that no teenager should be under."
The trio also famously wore purity rings, though Nick admits that they began sporting them "without a full understanding of what [they] were stepping into." Eventually it started to become all too much for the company's most famous (contemporary) crooners. The brothers have subsequently gone solo, and seem comfortable in their own skin these days.
Birthplace: Casa Grande, Arizona, USA
Credits: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, Camp Rock, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
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Actress Raven-Symoné became a household name after starring in both The Cosby Show and Disney's hit program That's So Raven. When she came out as gay in 2016, she told It Got Better:
"I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn't matter... it only mattered what could be sold as part of the Raven-Symoné brand... if I did whatever I wanted, [it wasn't] going to sell because it didn't go with the brand. I had the number one show on Disney... I didn't want to deal with that. Even if I got sick, I probably would’ve been like, ‘I’m taking this to the grave.’ But that eats at your soul."
Fortunately, Symoné fell in love and went public, and Disney debuted their first same-sex cartoon kiss in 2017.
Birthplace: Georgia, USA, Atlanta
Credits: The View, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Dr. Dolittle 2, Doctor Dolittlesee more on Raven-Symoné
In 2007, Shia LeBeouf, onetime star of the ultra-popular Disney Channel series Even Stevens, did an interview with MTV. When asked why people saw him as "a male Hilary Duff," he responded:
"I went a whole different route. I never came out with a music thing, even though [Disney will] push you that way... I didn't just want to be a churn-'em-out guy. I never really felt like I fit in there... [my] plan was to do something completely bipolar."
LeBeouf has subsequently taken on challenging roles in films like Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac and the acclaimed American Honey, and delved into the worlds of performance art and activism. He's also become known for his bizarre stunts, like attending premieres with a paper bag over his head that reads, "I Am Not Famous Anymore."
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Credits: Transformers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Fury
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