As far as I know, I was never a Disney star — but I've heard enough about being one to know it can be a difficult thing to outgrow. People like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, who each had their own shows on the network before their respective solo careers, have been vocal about the bumpy transition between child star and musician. As recently as this summer, Cyrus opened up on Twitter about the consequences she faced as a rebellious teen, and now in an interview for Elle, Gomez elaborated on the ways she felt paralyzed by her own public image.
"Once I broke those walls down, because I think being a part of Disney—which, by the way, was one of the best experiences of my life—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, so I was very hesitant to share with people," she revealed to the outlet. "So I would sit down, I’d give the politically correct answers, I would talk about things that I was working on, things that maybe people wanted to hear, and the moment I started realizing that feeling of letting go of maybe judgement or being that exposed to people, I think I realized it was a gift. I was scared of it. I didn’t want people to know, but the life that I was given, I believe that I had to share it."
But realizing Disney was something she even needed to break out of was a process all its own.
"When I was younger, it was all fun to me," she said in an interview with Business Of Fashion back in 2017. "When I did state fairs and 100 people would show up, I would be stoked. That was the best feeling in the world. But when I got older, I started to become exposed to the truth behind some stuff and that’s when it flipped a little bit."
By the time she was 18, during the last season of Wizards Of Waverly Place, she said she felt "violated."
"I didn’t like it or understand it, and that felt very weird, because I was a young girl and they were grown men," she continued to BoF, adding, "I didn’t feel like it was about my art as much."