There’s no doubt that Disney knows how to find and produce the most talented kids all over the world. We’ve also witnessed how so many of these celebrity kids want to break away from their Disney personas so bad that they’ll do whatever it takes to do so—even though it means slashing their images completely. Still, most of these stars have made it out of Disney unscathed and ready to tackle on everything that is Hollywood. Here are 20 of the biggest celebrities that came our of Disney.
Gone are the boyish looks and the overgrown hair. Zac Efron has transformed before our eyes from the boy next door to a successful young man. The amazing thing about his transformation is that he achieved it without having to get arrested. He’s somehow maintained his wholesomeness outside of Disney, even though he’s also successfully transitioned into adult roles. He’s come a long way from High School Musical, where we first witnessed his talents. Efron can delve into drama, comedy, and even action without flinching, and as we witnessed recently in his latest movie, The Greatest Showman, he can still pull off a musical number like no other. Efron has proven to be one of the best actors in his generation, and his career looks like it’s heading in the right direction. No matter what role Efron takes, it’s likely to be a guaranteed hit.
He’s in and out of the Hollywood scene, a representation of his love and hate relationship for the culture. There’s no doubt that LaBeouf is a talented individual. We knew this back then when he played Louis Stevens on the Disney Show Even Stevens. He was really good back then as a young kid, but as soon as he transitioned into adult roles, we knew that his potential is essentially limitless. However, LaBeouf mars his career with undesirable behavior and almost odd tendencies that many people tend to shy away from the young actor. We know that LaBeouf can handle being on the spotlight, and we know that he likes being on the spotlight even more. He’s given us some pretty great films in the last few years including Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Lawless, and franchise films such as Transformers and Indiana Jones.
It might not have been Disney that discovered this young woman, but Disney definitely propelled her to stardom. We’ll always remember Raven-Symoné as young Olivia Kendall. But for the early 2000s, Raven was the star of the Disney show, That’s So Raven. This is really where we saw her take off with her acting. She swiftly transitioned into adult television and movies after that show. She’s starred alongside Eddie Murphy in the Dr. Doolittle movies, College Road Trip, and Revenge of the Bridesmaids. She’s also a recurring cast member of the hit TV show Empire. She joined the ABC panel show The View in 2015 but left a year later to focus on a new show called Raven’s Home, essentially a spinoff to That’s So Raven. This young actress has already achieved so much during her lifetime, and she’s still going strong. Who can forget about The Cheetah Girls after all?
Lately, Lindsey Lohan has been known more for her notoriety than her talent. That’s truly unfortunate considering that she was once one of the brightest young actresses that have ever crossed the Disney platform. Her breakthrough role came in 1998 in the movie The Parent Trap when Lohan was only 12 years old. Shortly after that time, she starred alongside Jamie Lee Curtis in a 2003 remake of Freaky Friday, and the following year she starred in another teen movie called Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. That same year, Lohan gave us what will turn out to be this generation’s cult classic, Mean Girls. That movie propelled her stardom and probably fueled her crazy antics because she slowly started to spiral after that. She made Herbie Fully Loaded in 2005, but since then she hasn’t made another blockbuster film. She’s appeared on TV many times, though, but we don’t suspect a full movie comeback anytime soon.
Who would have ever thought that the Camp Rock star would be giving us hits after hits just a few years later. We already knew she could sing, but the lungs on this singer. She’s one of the few most outstanding voices that have ever come out of Disney. Lovato acted in a couple of other Disney films apart from the Camp Rock movies. She starred in another Princess Protection Program and the TV show Sonny With A Chance. However, after she left Disney she focused on her music career instead. Her music skyrocketed with hits such as Heart Attack, Skyscraper, Cool for the Summer, Confidence, and Give Your Heart a Break. She continues to tour and make music, using her battles against mental health issues as her main agenda. Recently, though, it seems that her fans are starting to see a disconnect in the messages she’s relaying and what she actually is in person.
Former star of Wizards of Waverly Place must’ve used her magic wand to end up where she is now. Once a humble actress of a Disney show, Gomez now commands the stage with her music. She’s often criticized for her inability to sing good live, but there’s no doubt that Selena Gomez is a hit maker. Ever since she started dating the one and only Justin Bieber, Gomez’s status catapulted to the top. People just naturally took notice even more. After their breakup, she took the reins in her own hands and just kept going. Some of her hit singles include Come & Get It, Love You Like A Love Song, Hands to Myself, and Wolves. She’s also kept up with her acting a little bit with movies such as Getaway and The Fundamentals In Caring. Gomez was under scrutiny a few years back for being in and out of rehab. It turns out that the young actress had been diagnosed with lupus.
Probably the favorite among Disney starlets in the early 2000s, Hilary Duff was the star of one of the most successful Disney TV series back then, Lizzie McGuire. Hilary Duff’s character was well loved by many from that generation; it gave Duff a solid footing to branch out her career. Duff starred in a few movies after the series ended in 2004. She starred in A Cinderella Story, Raise Your Voice, and the Cheaper By The Dozen movies. Since then, Duff has been featured in various TV series. Duff had a brief music stint that produced a few good singles, but she soon abandoned that to focus more on her acting. She’s currently filming her first film in a while, a horror movie set to be released this year, The Haunting of Sharon Tate.
It’s hard to believe that Britney released her hit single Baby One More Time in 1999. That was already 19 years ago. Today, Britney is still actively making and performing music, and she has definitely cleaned up her act. From the time when she released her first album to now, Britney has hit many highs and lows, but that’s to be expected of many young stars that grow up in the spotlight. Before any of the Britney craze ever happened, the starlet made her first debut on screen as a cast member from 1992’s The Mickey Mouse Club. That show was canceled in 1996, and by 1997, she was already in talks with an agency about starting her music career. She signed with Jive Records that year, and that was the beginning of it all.
Here’s to another Mickey Mouse Club member who made it out successfully. Justin Timberlake, or JT as he’s commonly known today, has transitioned from Disney show cast to larger than life boy band member. As one fifth of the successful NSYNC group, JT became a musical sensation from the mid 90s to the early 2000s. Following the band’s breakup, he took it as an opportunity to break into a solo career. Since then, JT has become one of the best selling solo performers of all time. He embraced the R&B circuit and has given us hits such as Cry Me A River, Suit And Tie, and Mirrors among many others. He’s also a part-time actor having starred in a few good films. Some of his best films to date include The Social Network, Friends With Benefits, and the animated film Trolls.
She’s got one of the most memorable voices in the history of pop. Christina Aguilera has never actually had any formal vocal lessons, but when she starts to sing, nobody could ever tell. Christina was another member of The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Timberlake, Spears, and a couple of others. After The Mickey Mouse Club, Aguilera recorded Reflections for the 1998 Disney film Mulan. By 1999, she released her first album that gave us Genie In A Bottle and What A Girl Wants. From then to now, she’s released a total of 7 albums with her last one released in 2012. She’s known as one of the judges of the hit TV show, The Voice. She’s also appeared in other shows such as Nashville and the Neflix series The Get Down. She’s often compared to Spears and is often pitted against each other as competition, but Aguilera has carved her own space in the industry.
The next Mickey Mouse Club member concentrated on his acting career; although we realized that he does have some singing chops as well from his last movie, the musical success La La Land. After he left The Mickey Mouse Club in 1995, Ryan Gosling starred in a number of projects, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he found true success. Gosling has been breaking hearts since he appeared in The Notebook, but it was just the beginning to his impressive career. Two years after The Notebook. He starred in a film called Half Nelson for which he became the very first person born in the 80s to be nominated for an Oscar. Some of his other successful film projects include Blue Valentine; Crazy, Stupid, Love; The Place Beyond The Pines; and Blade Runner 2049. He also happens to be married to the wonderful Eva Mendes.
The final Mickey Mouse Club member to make this list is Felicity herself, Keri Russell. She left the show in 1994, but while she was in it, she also starred in other shows such as Boy Meets World and Married…With Children. She was also in the 1992 film Honey, I Blew Up The Kid. She starred in Felicity from 1998 to 2002; she won a Golden Globe for her role. She was famous for having crazy curly locks, but when she drastically changed her hairstyle, the ratings for Felicity went down. After the show ended, Russell focused on a movie career. Some of her films included Mission: Impossible III, The Upside of Anger, Extraordinary Measures, August Rush, and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Russell has been starring in the show The Americans since 2013 alongside current partner Matthew Rhys.
She may no longer be Disney’s Hannah Montana, but Miley Cyrus will always be remembered when she was. That’s how she rose to stardom after all. She’s been selling stadiums and arenas since she was just a teenager. While she was selling out her concerts, she also maintained a minor acting career on the side. She was a voice actress for the movie Bolt, and she starred in Hannah Montana: The Movie and The Last Song. Everything was going so fast for Cyrus, and by 2012, she was ready for a change. She released her comeback single, We Won’t Stop, in 2013 and she’s been nonstop again since—but with a completely different look. Gone is the wholesome Cyrus loved by preteens and moms everywhere. Miley Cyrus became the quintessential Disney star that’s grown up. People have since embraced her new image, seeing that Cyrus has embraced it completely as well.
The success of Anne Hathaway might seem like it was an overnight deal. One day, an unknown was being cast to play the lead in The Princess Diaries alongside the legendary Julie Andrews. She was so great in that role; the second installment was a guarantee. Hathaway also starred in Ella Enchanted before The Princess Diaries 2. She wanted to depart from the good girl image right away, and she starred in Havoc and Brokeback Mountain before hitting it big with The Devil Wears Prada opposite another legend, Meryl Streep. Since Prada, Hathaway’s projects have included the Rio movies, The Intern, Interstellar, Les Misérables, and The Dark Knight Rises. She continues to be one of the most sought after actresses of her generation, especially after her 2013 Oscar win for her Best Supporting Actress role in Les Misérables. She currently has 7 films in progress.
She was the sweet, girl next door, opposite Zac Efron. Vanessa Hudgens was the sweetest voice from Disney’s High School Musical. Hudgens starred in a few TV series before High School Musical, and she did 3 years of the musical before she had to venture out. She went through a scandal when some nude photos of her leaked, which is when Disney essentially let her go. She never looked back and fully embraced her new persona, taking on roles that are more risqué and adult. While she may not have had a blockbuster hit since Disney, she’s come out with some films that have really showcased her talents. Some of these movies include Gimme Shelter Sucker Punch, and Spring Breakers. She’s currently working and showing off her dance moves on Lin Manuel-Miranda’s latest Broadway project, In The Heights. She’ll be playing the protagonist’s love interest.
We all know that Zendaya started her career in Disney’s Shake It Up show that ran from 2010 to 2013. Zendaya had previous music experience having done Kidz Bop before. She also released a lot of promotional materials for Shake It Up that when the show first aired, 6.2 million people tuned in. Her talents were obvious from the get go, and when Shake It Off ended, Disney gave Zendaya another show called K.C. Undercover that ran from 2015 to 2018. She took some time to concentrate on her music during that time as well. She released a single called Replay, which preceded her debut album. Her first major film breakthrough came in 2017 when she played Michelle “MJ” Jones in the MCU film Spiderman: Homecoming. Focusing even more on her acting career, she acted in a musical film recently called The Greatest Showman starting fellow Disney child star Zac Efron, Hugh Jackman, and Michelle Williams.
The Jonas Brothers
Kevin, Joe, and Nick—these are the Jonas brothers. They’ve all gone their separate ways now, but the cool thing about family is that it’s forever. They may have focused on their solo careers or no music career at all, but we’ll always remember them as the trio that truly rocked. The Jonas Brothers formed in 2005 and slowly gained popularity from various music videos that were aired on the Disney Channel. Eventually, the brothers landed an acting job opposite Demi Lovato in the original movie, Camp Rock. After Camp Rock, the star status of the brothers skyrocketed. They quickly sold out concert after concert, collaborating with the likes of Miley Cyrus on stage. Camp Rock 2 came out, and soon after that, the brothers landed their own show on the Disney Channel. That may not have lasted long, but the brothers have already surpassed Disney capacity at this point. They were ready to conquer the outside world, and so they did.
The notorious Bella Thorne was also a Shake It Up alumni like Zendaya, but Thorne followed a completely different path than Zendaya did after Disney. The starlet was equally as stunning and talented as her co-star. She had minor roles in a few films before landing the Disney gig. While working on Shake It Up, Thorne released a few singles that did okay on U.S. music charts. She released a film for Disney before she ventured out on her own. After Disney, Thorne got a role playing Adam Sandler’s daughter on the movie Blended. She also starred in Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and The Duff. Everything else Thorne did after that point was mediocre to say the very least, but at least she’s still working. After being on the tabloids over and over again for different reasons, Thorne’s image is starting to weaken a bit, and it might be having an impact on her career.
Emily Osment has always been the silent but deadly type. She came into the spotlight after her brother, Haley Joel Osment, took the world by a storm with movies such as The Sixth Sense and Pay It Forward. Emily Osment started off alongside Miley Cyrus as her best friend Lilly in Disney’s Hannah Montana. She released a couple more movies for Disney before trying her hand out in music. Her debut album was released in 2010, but not a lot of people heard about it. Emily finally found her niche back on adult TV. She starred in a couple of TV movies before landing the lead role as Gabi Diamond in Young and Hungry. Young and Hungry started in 2014 and is still going strong to this day.
Some people probably didn’t know that Brie Larson existed way before her award-winning performance in Room back in 2015. She won an Oscar for that role, but she’s had a lot of practice before that. Of course, one of the first things that got her noticed was the Disney TV movie Right On Track. After that movie, Larson had back-to-back movies and TV shows each year including United States of Tara, 21 Jump Street, Trainwreck, Kong: Skull Island, The Glass Castle, and much more. Her latest project happens to involve the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Larson got hired to play the role of Carol Danvers a.k.a. Supergirl in the upcoming Captain Marvel film.