While on Disney Channel, child stars seem so innocent and bright. Most kids watching think that they must be on top of the world. Audiences see them smile and laugh, and it seems like they’ll stay young forever. Of course, everyone grows up at some point. Television shows end and actors move on with their lives. Being a Disney star can be a great first step towards a long career as an actor, or it can all end after that one show.
Growing up in the spotlight is never easy. Disney has a bad reputation for churning out child stars who are involved in scandals and have terrible meltdowns. Between drug abuse, explicit pictures being leaked, and DUI’s, it’s hard to look past the mess that many of these kids go through. However, some come out the other end healthy and happy, emerging into adulthood relatively unscathed. While these aren’t the actors who usually make the tabloids, they deserve recognition as well.
The spotlight can do strange things to young actors. Everyone matures into adulthood in different ways, and it’s even more difficult under pressure.
Whether they went through a rough patch or stayed squeaky clean, here are the 10 Disney Stars Who Went Crazy (And 10 Who Turned Out Fine).
20 Crazy: Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is probably the most predictable star in the crazy category. While she’s turning her image back around with the release of her single Malibu, everyone still remembers her twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs.
She’s come a long way since her time on Hannah Montana. After the show ended, she wasn’t shy about her drug use or sexuality. She cut off her hair and dyed it platinum blonde. Cyrus had no problem appearing partially nude or completely nude in photos, and wore revealing clothing on stage. Everyone was wondering what her next controversial move would be.
Now, it seems her days swinging on wrecking ball and grinding in bathtubs are over. She’s grown her hair out and is back to being a brunette, and she’s stopped smoking. Her music style has evolved from hip hop to folky-pop. She has said she no longer feels the need to prove herself. Everyone has to find themselves in different ways. Cyrus just took a unique route as she matured into adulthood.
19 Fine: Selena Gomez
Wizards of Waverly Place star Selena Gomez is dominating the music world. She went from an adorable Disney star to a global superstar.
While her relationship with Justin Bieber was always in the tabloids, she’s kept her career together without any major scandals. She starred in the edgy film Spring Breakers, which helped people see her as a mature adult rather than a child actress. She’s released multiple successful albums, and her songs are playing on radio stations all over the world.
Gomez has taken a few breaks from her career, like when she cancelled her tour to focus on her mental health and had to have a kidney transplant, but she’s always been able to take care of her issues privately. She is currently helping produce the second season of 13 Reasons Why and making music.
18 Crazy: Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne was one of the stars on Shake It Up. Since her Disney days, she’s starred in The Duff and Famous in Love. She has also made quite a reputation for herself.
Thorne has pierced her nose, dyed her hair various colors, and has frequently sported skimpy bikinis. She posts videos bragging about being drunk, overshares information about her relationships, and takes videos and pictures of herself naked. There are countless videos of her making out with boys and girls on Twitter. Rumors have also flown around about her cheating on different partners.
Thorne has even insulted her Disney past, insisting she never wanted to be a “Disney girl.” She has certainly tried to shed that image of herself. Despite all of the criticism, she isn’t ashamed of who she is and continues to live life the way she wants.
17 Fine: Raven-Symoné
Raven-Symoné was the star of the popular show That’s So Raven and also starred in the Cheetah Girls movies. She grew into adulthood without any major scandals and has been quite successful.
She was the star of Sister Act on Broadway. She is also an accomplished singer who has released multiple albums. Her last album was released in 2008, but she tweeted that she intends to release new music again. She was busy for a few years with the popular talk show, The View. She began as a guest host, but became a regular after Rosie O’Donnell left the show.
Symoné eventually left The View to focus on producing and starring in her new Disney show, Raven’s Home. It seems the Disney star has come full circle.
16 Crazy: Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan stole everyone’s heart in the Disney remake of the movie The Parent Trap. She went on to star in films like Freaky Friday and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, launching her into stardom. Now, Lohan is known for going to rehab and spending time in jail.
Lohan was one of the most popular child stars in the world, which, unfortunately, made her a magnet for paparazzi. She was always partying with scandalous stars like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, which pushed her further away from her squeaky-clean Disney image.
Controversial photos of the actress continued to surface, and they included everything from sexual poses to doing drugs and drinking excessively. Lohan admitted to having a drug problem, and was in and out of rehab and hospitals for years.
It seems as though all of those issues are in the past, now, as Lohan tries to get her life back on the right path. She moved away from her crazy Hollywood life to London, where she resides quietly. She seems to have found peace outside of the spotlight.
15 Fine: Hilary Duff
Who could forget the Disney show Lizzie McGuire? Hilary Duff played the lead role of Lizzie, and Disney fans were obsessed with her. Duff also released a self-titled album and sang on the soundtrack for the Lizzie McGuire Movie. She was a teen-queen.
While her image has remained relatively clean, there was some drama when she dated 25 year old singer Joel Madden while she was only 16. She also had to file restraining order against two male stalkers.
Other than that, though, her career was fairly scandal free. After her time on Disney Channel, she went on to appear in Gossip Girl, Community, and Two and a Half Men. She released her fifth album in 2015 and it made the Billboard Top 200.
Duff is currently married to a hockey player and has an adorable child named Luca. She has said main focus now is her family.
14 Crazy: Shia LaBeouf
While Shia LaBeouf is well-known for the Transformers films, he was also one of the stars of the Disney show Even Stevens from 2000-2003. He was the perfect choice to play the mischievous little brother.
Since growing into adulthood, he’s had some pretty interesting moments. He’s had trouble with both alcohol and anger issues, and he’s been arrested multiple times. He’s been involved with trespassing, disorderly conduct, assault, and drunk driving. He once appeared on the red carpet with a bag over his head that read “I am not famous anymore.” When asked about it, his strange response was “I am a bag. Ask me a bag question.”
He has also been a part of multiple accusations of plagiarism. A short film he “wrote,” as well as some of his comic books, were copied from other artists. He created an “I’m Sorry” exhibit to apologize for plagiarism that included the same bag from the red carpet. He sat at a table with the bag over his head, saying nothing. LaBeouf also refused to shower for week while filming Fury. These are just a few of the odd, erratic things he has done the past few years.
13 Fine: Zendaya
Zendaya starred with Bella Thorne in Shake It Up on Disney Channel. While Thorne has endured her fair share of scandals, Zendaya has managed to stay out of trouble. After her time on Shake It Up, she became the lead of the show K.C. Undercover. The actress also appeared in the Disney films Frenemies and Zapped.
In 2011, Zendaya launched her music career with the release of her single “Swag It Out”. She has released one self-titled studio album, but she’s supposedly working on other music. She was also the youngest contestant to appear on Dancing With The Stars. The actress scored her first big screen movie when she was cast as Michelle in Spiderman: Homecoming.
The only scandal Zendaya has been involved in was when Giuliana Rancic made a joke about Zendaya’s hair smelling odd. She immediately took to social media to explain why the comment was racist and wrong. Mattel actually rewarded the actress for her response by creating a Zendaya Barbie.
12 Crazy: Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato starred in Disney Channel’s movie Camp Rock as well as the show Sonny With a Chance. While she is now dominating the music scene, she had a really rocky patch in 2010.
She made headlines when she punched a backup dancer while on tour with the Jonas Brothers. She then checked herself into rehab, where she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. The singer had been battling that, as well as addiction and bulimia, for years.
She couldn’t go half an hour without cocaine. While a lot of people would try to cover up these experiences or be ashamed of them, Lovato is very open about her mental health issues. She uses her fame to speak up about eating disorders and body image.
Since her Disney days, Lovato has voiced Smurfette for The Smurfs and appeared in Glee. She is about to release her sixth studio album. Although she had a couple rough years, she didn’t let it slow down her career.
11 Fine: Dylan and Cole Sprouse
Twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse were every Disney Channel fan’s favorite pair of brothers on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and later, The Suite Life on Deck. While fame proved to be a bit too much for some stars, the pair never really had any issues.
After their time on Disney, they kept a fairly low profile. When asked how they avoided the pitfalls of child stardom, Cole said he thinks a lot of it had to do with his education. Both Dylan and Cole attended NYU. They purposefully distanced themselves from the industry.
Now, Cole stars on the CW drama Riverdale as Jughead Jones. Dylan, on the other hand, isn’t going back into acting. Instead, he’s opening a mead brewery in New York. Both brothers are absolutely hilarious on their Twitters.
10 Crazy: Orlando Brown
Orlando Brown played the lovable character Eddie on That’s So Raven. While Raven-Symoné and Anneliese van der Pol are both back for Raven’s Home, Brown wasn’t asked to be on the show. That could have something to do with his controversial past.
While he has appeared in a few projects since his Disney days, he’s better known for making headlines. In 2014, he was charged with public intoxication and disturbing the peace when he threatened to kill a woman. Two years later, he was charged with battery and drug possession. He allegedly hit his girlfriend and was carrying meth.
None of the above charges are something that Disney wants to be associated with. Despite these problems, though, he appeared in Straight Outta Compton and he started a music label.
9 Fine: Christy Carlson Romano
Christy Carlson Romano was the voice of Kim Possible and the big sister on the show Even Stevens, where she starred alongside Shia LaBeouf. While he has been involved in lots of controversy, she has managed to keep her clean image.
While her career has quieted down, she did appear as Belle in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast. She also played Kate in Avenue Q. Romano was a part of multiple ABC Family films. She attended college, where she studied political science. The actress has also tried her hand at writing, directing, and producing.
It seems as though Romano has had a calm, normal life since her time on Disney Channel. While she’s not necessarily making it big, she’s still working in the industry and seems content.
8 Crazy: Lalaine Vergara
Miranda on Lizzie McGuire was the best friend every girl wanted. She was played by Lalaine Vergara, who has kept a fairly low profile since her time on the show. Except for what she calls her “dark years."
Vergara also starred in the Disney Channel original film You Wish. She tried to launch a music career in 2003, but her album was never released. Things went south when she was caught with crystal meth. In 2007, she admitted to possession of the drug. She managed to keep it fairly quiet, and her record was wiped clean after her drug treatment program was finished.
Today, Vergara says she’s living a better, more relaxed life. She did make a short cameo appearance in the film Easy A, which was hard to catch. While she’s not doing much acting these days, fans can keep up with her on social media.
7 Fine: Kyle Massey
As another That’s So Raven star, Kyle Massey had an uneventful transition into adulthood compared to his co-star Orlando Brown. The actor also played the lead in the spin-off, Cory In the House and voiced the character Milo on Fish Hooks.
After his time on Disney, he appeared on the shows Gotham and Comedy Bang! Bang! Additionally, Massey appeared in season eleven of Dancing With The Stars, suprising everyone with his dance moves. He and his partner were runner-ups on the show. Massey was recently a part of the action film Lowlifes, which comes out in December.
In 2013, there were some crazy rumors that the star was dying of cancer, but he quickly denounced them. He was actually upset that people would make light of the illness, and asked fans to stop spreading the rumor.
6 Crazy: Jake T. Austin
Jake T. Austin played the adorable little brother, Max, on Wizards of Waverly Place. After Disney, however, he’s had a few struggles.
After Wizards, he went on to star in the ABC Family show The Fosters. The role, it seems, may have gone to his head. In 2014, the actor has a meltdown backstage at the Teen Choice Awards. Witnesses claimed that Austin yelled because a worker didn’t know who he was. He even threw things at a staffer and stomped off.
On top of that, Austin was involved in a four car hit-and-run. His car slammed into three parked cars. People inside the car threw a bottle of vodka out the window, and called a service to pick them up before the cars arrived. One of them matched Austin’s description. The actor has also been arrested for drunk driving.
5 Fine: The Jonas Brothers
The Jonas Brothers were all the rage from about 2007-2013. They were in the original movie Camp Rock and had their own show, called JONAS, and released multiple studio albums. The band sported purity rings and were every girl’s dream. While they certainly don’t have purity rings anymore, they have all turned out okay.
Kevin was the oldest member of the band. He married his wife Danielle in 2009, and they starred in their own reality show called Married to Jonas. They now have two children. Joe is now the lead singer of the band DNCE. While he admitted to smoking weed with Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato during his Disney days, he never had any particularly crazy moments. Nick has continued his career as a solo artist. He’s appeared in the shows Scream Queens and Kingdom.
While neither Nick nor Joe have had any meltdowns, they’ve made it clear that they aren’t kids anymore. They’ve both posed as underwear models and aren’t afraid to sing about sex. They’ve moved past their innocent Disney days.
4 Crazy: Zac Efron
Actor Zac Efron got his start in Disney’s High School Musical. During his days as Troy Bolton, he became a teen heartthrob, as well as a millionare.
While the actor didn’t have a public meltdown like others on this list, he did have a drug problem. He quietly checked himself into rehab for a cocaine addiction. Sources said he was spiraling out of control and needed help. Efron even got into a fight with a homeless man. He also admitted to have an alcohol problem and stated that he was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He’s also seeing a therapist.
3 Fine: Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Tisdale played Sharpay in the High School Musical movies as well as Maddie on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. She also voiced Candace on Phineas and Ferb. She’s grown into adulthood and is still thriving.
Tisdale did pose nude, but it wasn’t anything super scandalous-- her pictures were in Allure magazine. She’s still acting in film and on television. She starred in the comedy film Amateur Night in 2016. The actress is also a producer on the show Young and Hungry and guest starred in one episode.. There are five seasons of the show right now.
She’s currently a voice actress for the cartoon Skylanders Academy. She’ll also voice a princess in the animated movie Charming alongside Demi Lovato, Sia, and Wilmer Valderaama. It comes out in 2018.
2 Crazy: Britney Spears
While Britney Spears is known for being a pop singer, she was actually a Disney star at one time. She was on the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera.
Everyone remembers when Spears had her major breakdown and shaved her head, but that wasn’t all she went through. Before her freak out, she overdosed on amphetamines. She was taken to a hospital and placed under psychiatric hold. She shaved her head days later and was in and out of treatment centers for a while. She also has a history of trouble with the police, including a hit and refusing to relinquish custody of her children.
Today, Spears has gotten her life back together. She was a judge on X Factor and has a residency in Las Vegas. Her last show there is in December of 2017.
1 Fine: Emily Osment
While Miley Cyrus was the star of Hannah Montana, Emily Osment played Hannah’s best friend Lily. Unlike her co-star, she has managed to keep her good-girl image since her time on Disney Channel.
Since her days as Lily, her acting career hasn’t slowed down. She attended college before returning to the small screen. Osment starred in the ABC Family film Cyberbully and she played the lead role in their series Young and Hungry, which was produced by Ashley Tisdale. She also appeared in the independent drama Love Is All You Need?.
Osment has attempted a career in music. Her most popular songs are “Love Sick” and “Let’s Be Friends”. While she did release an album, it received mixed reviews and didn’t do well on the charts. She hasn’t released new music for years. Osment seems happy focusing on her acting, all the while staying away from the spotlight in her personal life.
Are there any Disney Channel stars that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
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