It's rare that we get a look at Bella Thorne beyond her Instagram. The 20-year-old has a heavily curated social media presence that comes from years of feeling shackled by her own Disney stardom. After getting her start on Shake It Up in 2010, the actress and singer is finally ready to branch out, and Vogue went behind the scenes of her life with Broadly to give us almost 18 minutes of Thorne's true self, sans Instagram filters, and it's eye-opening.
There are a lot of things I learned watching the mini-documentary that sound pretty on brand for the Thorne we see in videos and online. For instance, her dog's name is Tampi the Tampon, and she apparently has twelve cats. Her house is like one giant teenage bedroom, complete with a statue of the Babadook and a giant dinosaur. But the most surprising thing is that none of this is an act. The eccentric Bella Thorne "brand," which earns her $65 thousand per sponsored Instagram post, is really the most unfiltered thing about her.
As she reveals in the documentary, a lot of how she expresses herself now is a reaction to years of feeling trapped by her childhood stardom. She recounts an anecdote of when a fan was taking pictures of her kissing her then-boyfriend, which ended up changing everything.
"When I turned 18 and I was kissing my boyfriend and someone was video recording us, and I was like 'Hey. Come up to me and ask for a photo. But I can't have this out. Something like this could be very, very bad for me.' People could say, 'How could you do that, you whore? How could you kiss your boyfriend in a coffee shop?'" she remembers. "And I take this phone and I'm going to delete the photo and I look at her and I'm like, 'I'm 18. Have it!'"
This spurred a whole new mindset that informs all of the Bella Thorne we see today.
"I'll do what I want. If I want to wear the shorts, I'll wear the shorts, cause I feel like it," she continued. "So that's why I constantly have to put out my image — the realer, grittier side."
She knows, however, that this is what brings in the backlash. Her loud outfits, her off-the-cuff personality, it can sometimes rub people the wrong way, which is why she ends the documentary with this plea:
"If you're sitting here judging me, which you are, everyone is, for one moment just try and stop," she says to the viewers, flanked by her real cat and cat-themed pillow, in front of a giant dinosaur and popcorn machine. "Maybe close your eyes, and open them again. What do you see now?"
Watch the full mini documentary below:
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