If you grew up during the 1990s and early 2000s, then you remember how popular all those old Disney Channel original movies and TV shows were, especially if you were among the majority of the youth back then that found those cheesy, dorky films and sitcoms the highlight of your after school hours. Looking back at the young actors that helped make those Disney originals so popular, it can be hard to imagine them as anything other than the adolescent and sometimes awkward pre-teens that they embodied.
Like all young kids, of course, they grew up. Some moved on to further their careers in Hollywood, while others faded out of the limelight. And like everyone else in this world, some aged with distinguished beauty, while others retained their youthful appearance. We all had our favorite Disney shows and movies, and while we remember them fondly, sometimes we tend to overlook the kid actors, and to see them in today’s world can give us a shock at how truly attractive they have become over the years. Some of these names and faces might surprise you, though those that never actually left the spotlight probably won’t.
So without further ado, here’s our list of the 20 Disney Kids That Grew Up And Became Hot AF.
20. Chloe Grace Moretz – Darby from My Friends Tigger & Pooh
Most child actors in Hollywood begin their careers doing a list of guest appearances on a wide range of shows. However, for Chloe Grace Moretz, although she did start with a role in two episodes of CBS’s The Guardian, her real first big impressions were made on the big screen. Her starting roles began with Heart of The Beholder as Molly and alongside Ryan Reynolds in the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror. After a respectable amount of success with her initial acting roles, Chloe landed a spot on the Disney animated series My Friends Tigger & Pooh, as Darby. Yep, she’s a Disney kid, folks.
Following these roles, she shocked Hollywood with a lead role as Hit-Girl in Matthew Vaughn’s film adaptation of the graphic novel series, Kick-Ass. As the years passed, the now-20-year-old has developed not only an actress, producer, and model, but also as an activist. In that time, the once adorable young girl has grown into one of the most beautiful celebrities in Hollywood.
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19. Nick Jonas – Nick Lucas from Jonas
Probably one of the more obvious choices for this list is one of the more popular of Disney celebs, Nick Jonas. The youngest Jonas bro is a songwriter, singer, producer, and actor, all stemming from his early start with his brothers in their first band, The Jonas Brothers, which became an instant attraction for millions of young girls in the mid to late 2000s.
Outside of their early music careers, Nick and his two older brothers’ guest starred on Hannah Montana in the episode “Me and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas”. The success of the episode eventually spurred them onto their very own Disney Channel series, Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream. From there, they continued doing works with other young Disney sensations such as Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez, among others, until they decided it was time to focus on their solo careers. It’s not hard to picture the adorable young boys, especially Nick, growing up to be handsome men. The picture above helps, in case you lack imagination.
18. Zac Efron – Troy Bolton from High School Musical
Zac Efron has been possibly one of the biggest successes of all the young child actors that grew up working with Disney. Making his film debut with the lead role of Troy Bolton in High School Musical, he instantly captivated the hearts of teens around the world with his good looks and impressive singing abilities. A trendsetter for young boys, it became quite common to see guys growing up in the 2000s to adopt the Troy Bolton hairdo as their own.
Since his days of starring in Disney musicals, Efron has polished off quite an impressive resume, which sports films such as 17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud, Neighbors 1 and 2, and, most recently, the Baywatch reboot. Luckily for him, he has only gotten better looking with time, and his hard work at the gym is definitely evident. He even landed an MTV Movie Award in 2015 for “Best Abs on Film”.
17. Selena Gomez – Alex Russo from Wizards of Waverly Place
Selena Gomez had quite the early start with Disney, kicking off with a small role in Spy Kids 3: Game Over, and making small guest appearances in shows such as The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana. Eventually, with enough experience under her belt, she landed the lead in the show that made her a star, the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place. She continued to make guest appearances on other Disney Channel shows as well, and eventually expanded her skill set to beyond acting when she signed her first recording contract with Hollywood Records.
While she wrapped up her roles on the Disney Channel with original movies, she switched gears and began to focus her career more on singing when she formed her pop-rock band. As time passed, she decided to focus more on her solo career, being a jack-of-all-trades sort of performer as she took on more serious acting roles and began recording solo albums. Currently, along with all the above, she has also become a producer as well as a model for publications such as Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and many others.
16. Ryan Gosling – Mouseketeer from The All-New Mickey Mouse Club
Ryan Gosling. If you haven’t heard the name then you probably have never heard of Hollywood. Starting his career on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club back in the 1990s alongside big names such as Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, Gosling has turned into one of the biggest hunks of his time. His breakout role as an adult (and the one that won over the hearts of pretty much every woman alive) came when he played Noah in The Notebook. His hopeless romantic performance will remain one of the hallmarks of his acting career.
One of the no doubt, hands down examples of a Disney kid who became hot AF, Ryan Gosling has proved he can not only shine in any role he chooses, but he’s got some modeling chops as well (clearly). What makes him even more appealing is his humble attitude, not only towards his career, but to his blatant good looks — an outlook which was made clear when he turned down People’s Sexiest Alive award in 2011.
15. Demi Lovato – Sonny from Sonny With A Chance
Paralleling the rising career of her former real-life bestie, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato started alongside her in her first on-screen acting job on Barney & Friends. It’s almost freaky how alike the two women’s careers have proven to be, both moving on from Barney to take star-making roles in Disney Channel original movies, both signing recording contracts with Hollywood Records, and both acquiring lead roles in their own Disney Channel TV series. While Lovato isn’t quite the major name that Gomez is these days, she has certainly blossomed into quite the beautiful young woman, and she’s become quite a success on and off screen.
You may remember the now-24-year-old best from her lead role as Sonny from the Disney Channel series Sonny With A Chance, where she played an eccentric but sweet young actress who also landed her own spot on a TV show. More recently, Lovato has become a pop sensation in the musical world, and she’s also become a dedicated activist, trying to be a positive voice for people with ongoing personal struggles.
14. Justin Timberlake – Mouseketeer from The All-New Mickey Mouse Club
When people think of famous boy bands, two big names come to mind: N’Sync and Backstreet Boys. Setting a precedent for modern day boy bands, Justin Timberlake and his band-mates had concert halls and arenas full of guys and gals of all ages screaming for them. For some people, that is the earliest memory they have of the young artist, but those of us who are a bit older remember his first on-screen job as a Mouseketeer in the 1990s on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Alongside young celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, and Britney Spears, it wasn’t easy for one to stand out amongst all the young talent, and it wasn’t until his teen and twenties that Timberlake truly began to make a name for himself.
These days, we see more of his acting career taking fruition, since N’Sync disbanded back in the early 2000s, but we have seen that he isn’t afraid to use the pipes that helped him rise to fame in his films. His good looks never faded, winning him awards such as the People’s 2015 Sexiest New Dad and #1 in Company Magazine’s Top 20 Sexiest Men of 2003.
Oh, and his career as a solo artist went okay, we guess.
13. A.J. Trauth – Twitty from Even Stevens
A name not everybody will remember is the actor who played Twitty, Shia LaBeouf’s character Louis’ best friend on the hit Disney Channel series, Even Stevens. Also providing the voice for Josh Mankey on the animated Disney series, Kim Possible, A.J. Trauth doesn’t quite sport the resume of most of the people on this list, but he’s definitely turned into quite a hunk in Hollywood.
Trauth has made guest appearances on a variety of TV shows since his days at Disney, most notably in shows like House, Numb3rs, 7th Heaven, and Rules of Engagement. Overall, the 30-year-old has kept his career pretty low-key, and he hasn’t had any big roles since his time with the House of Mouse. After getting married to actress/singer Leah Pipes in November 2014, he’s stated that the plans to focus on his family. For being such a laid back, goofball of a kid, he sure has turned into quite the handsome husband, that’s for sure.
12. Zendaya – Rocky Blue from Shake It Up
Zendaya Coleman, known professionally as Zendaya, is another great example of a Disney kid who grew up to become flat-out gorgeous. Starting her career with the main role as Rocky Blue on Disney’s Shake It Up, she eventually expanded her career to singing as well as making various guest appearances on popular TV shows. She also did her fair share of modeling, while also appearing in advertisements for iCarly‘s toy ads and the popular Kidz Bop accessories.
Her work with Disney continued with another major role in K.C. Undercover, but when we look back in 20 years, her true claim to fame may well prove to be her work as Michelle (who totally doesn’t go by any other name) in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. The 20-year-old has slowly but surely taking over the limelight of young, upcoming stars, and with a bright MCU future ahead, we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the coming years.
11. Shia LaBeouf – Louis Stevens from Even Stevens
Everybody remembers the young, spastic boy that played the infamous Louis Stevens from Disney Channel’s popular series, Even Stevens. The curly haired whirlwind took viewers by surprise with his boyish charm, and he made the world his stage after finishing the show as well as a spin-off movie. Taking on big projects such as Holes, Disturbia and Transformers, LaBeouf quickly made a name for himself while he developed a hyper-successful early career.
Despite his good looks (and recently ripped physique), what makes Shia attractive are the genuine, real performances he has given, as well as the extremely challenging and sometimes controversial roles he has undertaken. Some may say that’s what has led to his extreme and sometimes dark personal life, but the man has indisputably transformed himself from the dorky, curly haired nutball we all know and love as Louis into the man that he is today.
10. Vanessa Hudgens – “Gabriella Montez” from High School Musical
Look up the definition of sweetheart and you very well may find a picture of Vanessa Hudgens. She got her start alongside Disney sensation Zac Efron in High School Musical, and together, the two could be considered Disney’s first ‘dream couple’. Besides her singing and acting on film, Hudgens is quite the accomplished stage actress, performing in plays such as Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, and The King and I.
Taking a step back from her accomplished singing career, she began to pursue roles in movies, most definitely showing her physical beauty alongside Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson in Spring Breakers. The scandalous film’s modest success banked heavily on the fact that it had these three beautiful women running around Daytona Beach in bikinis, but Hudgens fans weren’t complaining. They probably weren’t too happy to see her starring in the recently cancelled NBC series Powerless, though.
9. Anneliese van der Pol – Chelsea Daniels from That’s So Raven!
Born in the Netherlands, Anneliese van der Pol has a unique backstory compared to most Disney Channel celebrities. At a young age, her start began with theater, when she won a Bobbi Award in 1999 for Best Actress in a Musical. Following that, she received positive reviews from the Los Angeles Times for her performance as Eva Peron in a production of Evita, making her the youngest actress in theatrical history to play the role professionally.
Not only did this success lead her to her working relationship with Disney Channel, but it also paved the way for her expansion into recording music, as well as opened the door for her to begin performing on Broadway. More recently, Anneliese has been signed to be a part of a That’s So Raven! spin-off called Raven’s Home, alongside former co-star Raven Simone. The series is scheduled to premiere July 21, 2017.
8. Bridgit Mendler – Teddy Duncan from Good Luck Charlie
Singer. Humanitarian. Philanthropist. Probably the only accomplished actress running around Tinseltown with a degree in Anthropology, Bridgit Mendler is quite the unique celebrity. Starting her career with an animated Indian film, The Legend of Buddha, she eventually found her way to working with Disney, landing small roles here and there until she finally landed her first big one on Good Luck Charlie. Not only was she an adorable young lady, but she maintained a great reputation throughout Hollywood with her integrity and high sense of morals.
Forbes Women chose her as one of the ten hottest young female artists in 2013, proving to the world that she is the total package; beauty and brains. To this day, she continues her humanitarian work, as well as her acting roles, starring in a new Netflix film, Who Do You Think Would Win?
7. Dan Benson – Zeke from Wizards of Waverly Place
Who doesn’t remember the nerdy but hilarious Zeke? Whether he was talking in his “alien speak” or doing his thing on the cheer squad, Zeke was always a character that could be relied on to help lighten the mood in Wizards of Waverly Place. Surprisingly enough, he actually had his start in the industry doing guest appearances on Disney and Nickelodeon shows like Zoey 101, Phil of the Future, and Drake and Josh.
He’s been relatively quite acting-wise since his days at Disney, only appearing in a few movies here and there, having seemingly decided to stick to small time TV appearances. Nonetheless, Dan has evolved over the years from a geeky teen into quite a handsome man. He recently wrapped up production on his latest supporting role in Killing Diaz, which is currently without a release date.
6. Mandy Moore – Lana from The Princess Diaries
Rising to fame with her debut single, “Candy”, Mandy Moore has made quite a name for herself over the years. She toured the country with pop boy bands such as N’Sync and Backstreet Boys in the late 1990s, opening up a doorway for her to release multiple albums with both Gold and Platinum certifications. With her amazing talent and clearly recognizable good looks, she won over the hearts of many young fans of the era.
On top of a wildly successful music career, Moore continued that success with a supporting role in Disney’s The Princess Diaries before breaking out with a headlining role in Nicholas Sparks’ film adaptation of A Walk To Remember. After the success of these two films, she continued her career balancing both acting and singing. These days, the 33-year-old continues to have great success in her life, and she currently stars in the smash hit NBC series, This Is Us. Playing a struggling young mother, Moore’s hard work was rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.
5. Brenda Song – London from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Brenda Song was always an adorable young girl, starting her career as a child fashion model. She continued that line of work as well as small TV appearances during the late ’90s until she finally signed a contract with Disney Channel. She starred in a few Disney Channel originals, in addition to roles in shows like Stuck In The Suburbs, and not long after, she landed the lead female role in both The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and later, The Suite Life On Deck.
After her time playing London, she moved onto more demanding roles in movies and TV shows such as The Social Network, New Girl on Fox, and ABC’s Scandal. She has also been a great role model for young girls everywhere, being labeled by Time Magazine as one of three Disney Starlets who never became a victim of the party girl scene. She was also named the “Queen of Disney” in 2006 by Cosmogirl Magazine.
4. Keke Palmer – Mary from Jump In!
Keke Palmer began her acting career with a supporting role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, playing Queen Latifah’s niece. After the success of her role, she moved to California, where she began to pursue more opportunities in Hollywood. Eventually signing a contract with Atlantic Records and Disney, she had a rough start, landing several acting jobs in projects that were eventually canceled. She persevered, and not long after, she scored a big role in a Disney Channel original movie, Jump In!
After more small roles on TV and film, as well as releasing her debut album So Uncool, she received a starring role on Nickelodeon as True Jackson in True Jackson, VP. She ended up expanding her career to even hosting her own daytime talk show, Just Keke, on BET. To this day, she continues her acting career on the big and small screens alike.
3. Keri Russell – Mouseketeer from The All-New Mickey Mouse Club
Another one of those early 1990s celebs that grew up around The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, Keri Russell is definitely up there on the list of most accomplished actresses in Hollywood. Racking up awards varying from Golden Globes, Satellite Awards, and Teen Choice Awards, Russell has made a huge impact on the film and television industry.
Like many others on our list, her skills extend well beyond the realm of acting, given her abilities in dance as well as modeling. Modern fans of the small screen have taken notice of her standout work in the critically acclaimed FX series, The Americans, and she continues her work in film as well, most recently in the 2016 success of Free State of Jones and before that, Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. Take one look at the successful celebrity now, and it’s easy to understand why she’s mentioned here; she’s proven time and again that she’s not only intelligent and driven, but timelessly gorgeous as well.
2. Aly Michalka – Keely from Phil of the Future
Aly Michalka may not necessarily be a household name, but she is without question another example of a young Disney star that’s turned into a prominent, sexy woman of Hollywood. She began acting for the Disney Channel with a supporting role on Phil of the Future as Keely, Phil’s best friend and eventual girlfriend. After a few seasons, she went on to pursue original movies, some of which she starred in alongside her younger sister AJ. Together, the two formed a musical duo in 2004, Aly and AJ.
Over the years, she has been nominated for a few awards for both singing and acting, racking up nods at the Teen Choice Awards, American Music Awards, and Young Artists Awards. Michalka continues to act to this day, in some settings not being afraid to show off the gorgeous body she has grown into over the years. You can currently catch her co-starring in iZombie over on The CW.
1. Jennifer Love-Hewitt – Robin from Kids Incorporated
Possibly one of the most iconic and gorgeous Disney kids of all time is none other than Jennifer Love-Hewitt. If you grew up during the late 1990s or early 2000s, there’s a decent chance that you had a poster of her in your room. Actress, singer, model, director; the woman has done it all, and she continues to topple celebrities in Hollywood to this day, not only with her work ethic and resume, but with her physical beauty.
As she grew up, she continued her work with Disney, doing voice-overs for animated films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. She definitely began to show the world she wasn’t a kid anymore when she headlined the teen horror franchise I Know What You Did Last Summer, and she’s gone on to a solid career in the years since her scream queen days. She will without a doubt go down in history as one of the hottest women to emerge from the Disney Channel.
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