With their acquisition of Star Wars and Marvel, Disney is quickly taking over the entertainment landscape, with many A-list stars flocking to become part of the popular franchises. It makes it seem like the company would be wonderful to work for. Well, some stars are here to shut those rumors down fast.
Some ex-Disney stars haven’t been shy about voicing their opinions about their time working for the mouse, and most of it isn’t good. Whether it’s creative differences, co-star drama, or the company stealing ideas, stars such as Miley Cyrus and Shia LaBeouf admit to hating their time working as a Disney star.
Selena Gomez Didn’t Know How To Be Herself Away From Disney
Singer and Actress Selena Gomez grew up on the set of Wizards of Waverly Place, playing the lead role of Alex Russo. And while the actress thanks Disney for launching her career, she can’t help but be angry with how they molded her into being someone she wasn’t, making it hard for her to break down walls.
During an interview with Elle, Gomez said, “I think being a part of Disney…you do portray an image, and you are required in a way to have that image and to be a role model or whatever you call it, but the moment I started breaking those walls down, I felt very exposed.”
Shia LaBeouf Felt Like He Was An Outsider
It’s not a surprise that actor Shia LaBeouf loves to experiment with his roles, going all-in as a method actor. As such, Disney was definitely not a fantastic fit, as they mold their stars into being triple threats with acting, singing, and dancing. Being on Even Stevens, he was lucky to get out without a music contract.
During an interview with MTV, LaBeouf said, “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.” Needless to say, he felt as though he never belonged in the “Disney family.”
Zendaya Was Forced To Compete
Zendaya broke into Hollywood as Rocky Blue in the Disney Channel series Shake it Up, opposite Bella Thorne. In the dance show, the two girls play best friends who win roles on… wait for it… a dance show! As such, Zendaya didn’t appreciate how they were pitted against one another; they wanted to be friends.
During an interview with J-14, the actresses said, “[we] were put in a very unfortunate position where we were kind of forced to compete against each other, which made the whole first season of the show just very awkward for us. It was, ‘Who’s better at this? Who’s better at that?'”
Demi Lovato Was Overworked And Miserable
Demi Lovato isn’t shy about voicing her opinion on the company that gave her her own show on the Disney Channel. While many believed Lovato’s title role in Sonny with a Chance was a dream come true for an up-and-coming actress, it was the opposite.
In multiple interviews, Lovato detailed her disapproval of Disney, mainly how they overworked their young stars to the point of exhaustion. During one interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the singer said, “I was so miserable and angry, too, because I felt like I was being overworked.”
Zac Efron Made Fun Of Disney And Walt
Like most of the stars on this list, Zac Efron got his big break from Disney. In his case, as the heartthrob basketball player Troy Bolton who didn’t know if he wanted to “keep his head in the game” or sing in High School Musical. You know, typical teenage dilemmas.
But even though he went on to make two more HSM films, he admits to not entirely enjoying his time with the mouse. The first glimpse about how he saw Disney was during a Saturday Night Live skit when he made fun of campy Disney Channel movies while portraying Walt Disney in a not-so-great light.
Disney Took Advantage Of Miley Cyrus’ Young Age
When it came to early-2000s Disney stars, none were quite as popular as Miley Cyrus. At the age of 12, the young actress and singer landed her own television show, Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, that young age is exactly what Disney took advantage of, according to Cyrus.
During an interview with Elle, Cyrus said, ” I was probably the least-paid person on my cast because I didn’t know any better…[also] my name was Miley on my show, but I didn’t own my name — we didn’t think about that.” Honestly, considering Disney took the rights to her legal name, it’s no wonder Cyrus doesn’t exactly like the mouse.
Bella Thorne Was Pressured To Talk Differently
Bella Thorne got her big break as CeCe Jones in the Disney series Shake it Up. Unfortunately, she became yet another young star that was swept up in Disney’s attempt to make female stars sweet, innocent, and artificial. According to Thorne, when she worked for Disney, people told her how to act, dress, and even talk!
During an interview with Nylon, Thorne said, “When I got off [the Disney Channel], I stopped listening to people telling me that I needed to be this and that. I literally would talk with a higher voice in interviews because that was the whole innocent Disney appeal.”
Vanessa Hudgens Had A Hard Time Breaking Her Disney Mold
Like Zac Efron, actress Vanessa Hudgens made her big break as one of the leading stars in the Disney Channel Original Movie High School Musical. But instead of being the conflicted singing basketball player, she was the good-girl science wiz. Apparently, the Disney stereotype of the innocent love interest was a mold Hudgens had a difficult time breaking.
While the company definitely helped Hudgens get her foot in the door, she has since admitted to not appreciating how the company closes people’s minds to her as other characters. Who can blame her? It’s not like she can play a singing high school student forever.
Raven-Symoné Was Forced To Hide Her Orientation
Disney is all about who they’re able to brand and market. And in the case of That’s So Raven‘s Raven-Symoné, it meant forcing an impressionable teenager to be someone else entirely. According to Raven-Symoné, Disney allowed her to do things that only elevated her brand, and coming out as gay wasn’t one of them.
During an interview with rollingout, Raven-Symoné said, “[I] had 15 people dictating what I should and should not look like. If I did whatever I want, it’s not gonna sell. I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn’t matter. It was only what was supposed to be sold as the Raven-Symone brand.”
Ashley Tisdale Didn’t Get Along With Her Co-Worker
Here’s another High School Musical alum, Ashley Tisdale. She played the role of Sharpay Evans, aka the mean girl who wanted nothing more than the cute basketball player and to be the lead in the school musical. According to People, that mean girl attitude translated over to real life.
According to the article, Tisdale didn’t get a lot with one of her co-stars, her on-screen brother Lucas Gabriel. In the spread, the actress said, “[we] would hardly talk to each other.” That sounds like an awful work environment for a network with an amusement park that’s considered “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Rowan Blanchard Didn’t Like Her Co-Star
While Rowan Blanchard had an overall good experience working on the Disney Channel spin-off show Girl Meets World, there was one aspect that ruined her experience. Blanchard didn’t exactly care for Uriah Shelton, her former co-star known for liking anti-feminist posts on social media.
Naturally, his stance didn’t sit well with the young actress, who just so happens to be one of the most outspoken feminists in Hollywood. Once Instagram user even asked Blanchard to “end Uriah publicly.” Her response makes it very clear how she sees her former co-worker: “[I] don’t have time for him and his stupidity.”
Ross Lynch & Laura Marano Constantly Fought
Ross Lynch and Laura Marano were the two lead stars of the Disney Channel series Austin & All. And while their characters got along swimmingly, apparently there was nothing but drama between the two young actors. Multiple times, the two admitted to fighting like an old married couple.
And while that might sound sweet in a weird sort of say, they often made their co-workers uncomfortable with their intense yelling. Even though the two stars chalked it up to friendly fighting, when you’re making co-stars uncomfortable in the workplace and onset, it’s a major problem!
Dylan And Cole Sprouse Weren’t Heard
Dylan and Cole Sprouse had one of the hit Disney series during the early 2000s, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Well, the two stars actually had a great spin-off idea for the series they pitched to the network. It didn’t stick, or so they thought.
A while later, Disney came back to the twins, pitching them the same idea! According to Dylan, “They pitched us our idea, in Miami, with Selena Gomez. And Cole and I turned to each other…we basically laughed in their face and walked out.” They weren’t going to let Disney take their idea.
Joe Jonas Felt Like A Disney Puppet
While Joe Jonas was part of the Camp Rock cast, he and the Jonas Brother were more famous for their musical contributions. Apparently, it didn’t matter if he was acting or singing, though, Disney controlled him just the same. But especially when it came to his lyrics.
According to Jonas, Disney forced the band to sugarcoat a majority of their lyrics, stifling their creativity as artists and making them feel like nothing more than puppets. In an introspective piece he wrote for Vulture, Jonas said by the end, he hit a wall and literally said, “screw all this.”
Emily Osment And Miley Cyrus Weren’t Friends
Apparently, being friends on a hit Disney series isn’t a necessity. Just ask Emily Osment, one of the child stars to come out of Hannah Montana. While her character Lily was best friends with one Miley Stewart, aka Hannah Montana, the actresses couldn’t find common ground when they weren’t filming.
In her book, Miles to Go, Cyrus spoke about her time working with Osment, saying, “There were times when I didn’t think we could ever be friends. We just couldn’t figure out how to get along.” Seriously, you two were 12. How hard could it have been to find a similar interest?
Tim Allen Had Interpersonal Drama On Home Improvement
While Tim Allen isn’t technically a “Disney star,” he starred on an ABC show. And that network is owned by Disney, so it works. Anyway, Allen had a bit of an issue with interpersonal drama on the set of his show Home Improvement, where he plays the lead Tim Taylor.
More accurately, he felt betrayed by his co-star Jonathon Taylor Thomas, who decided to leave the show to pursue other interests. Their beef with one another got so bad that Taylor Thomas refused to return for the show’s final episode. Talk about a toxic work environment.
America Ferrera Clashed With Her Ugly Betty Co-Star
Growing up as the sweetheart of Disney, it was probably a blow to Lindsay Lohan’s ego to surrender her “queen bee” status to America Ferrera on the set of Ugly Betty. Well, Lohan, it wasn’t exactly your show now, was it? Regardless, Lohan’s attitude was so bad on set that she was fired after filming a few episodes.
According to an interview Page Six did with one of the producers, “[Lohan] refused to go on set until America was there – it was a power play.” Needless to say, Lohan made working on the ABC series a bit of a nightmare for all involved, and she was asked to leave.
Hilary Duff Didn’t Know Who She Was Outside Of Disney
The teen sitcom Lizzie McGuire shot actress Hilary Duff into superstardom among the tween crowd. Her character was clean, fun, and oh-so relatable. And yet, the long hours wore her down to the point where she didn’t know how she was outside the character. Nothing like an identity crisis at the age of 14!
During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Duff said, “I grew up in the spotlight and on tour and with everyone just knowing me and knowing me a certain way. At some point, I was like, “I don’t even know if I’m that person anymore, and I don’t even have the time to figure that out.'”
Jake T. Austin Threw Some Major Shade At A Co-Star
Like many Disney stars, Jake T. Austin grew up on the set of a series. In Wizards of Waverly Place, Austin played Max Russo, the younger brother to Selena Gomez’s Alex Russo. And while the two actors’ relationship was stellar during filming, everything changed for Austin when his on-screen sister wanted to pursue other avenues.
In one particular tweet, the young actor said, “When an artists’ definition of ‘growing up with their fans’ is creating content they aren’t even allowed to see…” Yea, he wasn’t too fond of Gomez for a while, making life on set not fun, to say the least.
Jo Marie Payton Didn’t Appreciate The Show Switching Gears
When it first aired, Family Matters was centered around the sassy and straight-talking character of Hariette Winslow, played by Jo Marie Payton. But once the series started shifting gears, focusing more on the story of Steve Urkel, Payton took a step back.
Midway through the last season, Payton up and left the show, with multiple rumors saying the reason was because of the storyline shift. But when interviewed by TV Series Finale, Payton set the record straight, saying, “I didn’t want to do it anymore. I had been offered an opportunity to do the Mahalia Jackson story, and I wanted to do something else.”