If nothing else then Disney seems to be a gateway for many up and coming stars of the future. With the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and others being some of the most well-known celebrities in the world.
The young Disney stars are usually hand-picked from an early age and find themselves rise to stardom usually on one of Disney’s television and made for TV movies that usually debuts on the Disney Channel. These are usually the first steps to becoming either a film star or a musician and sometimes both.
While some of these stars can grow up and break out into a career-ruining rebellious streak, others use their Disney backgrounds to continue to be both a huge success and maintain their clean image.
Although, not all have become megastars of the screen and stage many have grown into being some of the most beautiful people in the world. Despite seeming like it was only yesterday that these stars were kids themselves, it’s hard to deny that they have grown up to be some of the most jaw-dropping celebrities in the world as adults, here are 25 of them for you take a look at on TheGamer.
30 Ariel Winter - Disney Voice Actress
Ariel Winter is best known for her recurring role as Alex Dunphy in ABC’s sitcom Modern Family. Prior to this, she was a voice actress for Disney in several children’s productions, such as Princess Sofia and her evil twin in Sofia the First, Gretchen the Fireside Girl and Wendy Stinglehopper in Phineas and Ferb, Marina the mermaid in Jake and Never Land Pirates, and Thumper’s sisters in Bambi II.
Gamers may recognize her voice work in the Square-Enix and Disney collaboration Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep as a young Kairi. In addition, Ariel has become a bit of a social media sensation for sharing risqué images of herself on Instagram and Twitter.
29 Alyson Michalka - Phil Of The Future
Aly Michalka is better known for being the star of the CW series Hellcats, a series regular on iZombie and one half of the pop music duo Aly & AJ with her sister Amanda Michalka. She got her big break on Disney Channel’s Phil of the Future.
She gained fame for her role as Keely Teslow the best friend and eventual girlfriend of the main character in Phil of the Future, she also became the crush of many kids growing up in the 90s. Nowadays, in addition to her television work on an upcoming TV show called The Lears, she has made guest appearances with her sister on the sitcom Two and a Half Men. She’s also not opposed to posing in racy shoots for Maxim magazine and others despite being a devout Christian.
28 Ashley Tisdale - The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody
Ashley Tisdale gained fame as a young actress in the late 1990s and 2000s with starring roles in the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody as Maddie Fitzpatrick and Sharpay Evans in High School Musical. In addition, she voiced Candace Flynn in Phineas and Ferb from 2007 to 2015.
In adulthood, Ashley has appeared in several films and TV shows such as Hellcats alongside another former Disney actress Aly Michalka. She has also appeared in Scary Movie 5 for a parody of the movie Black Swan and has also made appearances in Sons of Anarchy. It's been quite the career for the young starlet.
27 Brenda Song - The Suite Life of Cody
After starting out as a child model Brenda Song starred as the lead in Disney’s Ultimate Christmas Challenge in 2000. Afterwards, she signed a contract with the Disney Channel and starred in the likes of Get a Clue, Stuck in the Suburbs, That’s So Raven, and One on One.
She eventually gained recognition for her recurring roles in Phil of the Future, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and The Suite Life on Deck. More recently, she has starred in Hollywood productions such as Boogie Town and The Social Network. In addition, Brenda Song has made a success on television with the TV shows Scandal, Dads, and a main starring role in Pure Genius.
26 Bridgit Mendler - Good Luck Charlie
Bridgit Mendler had a starring role and rose to fame as Teddy Duncan the lead character in the Disney Channel sitcom Good Luck Charlie. Prior to this, however, she had her first recurring role on Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place as Juliet Van Heusen.
Bridgit maintains a squeaky-clean image and has continued to work on Disney projects such as Disney’s Prankstars, Muppets Most Wanted, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. In addition, Mendler put her musical talents to good use and appeared in Nashville, and she also had a main role on NBC’s Undateable. Having appeared in so many movies so early, it's not hard to imagine fans having a favourite feature of her already.
25 Debby Ryan - Jessie
Debby Ryan was discovered by Disney after appearing in Barney: Let’s Go to the Firehouse and eventually landed a recurring role on in The Suite Life on Deck as Bailey Pickett in 2010 for the Disney Channel. She went on to appear in the Disney film 16 Wishes before becoming the lead as the titular nanny in Disney’s Jessie from 2011 to 2015.
Debby continued to appear in Disney productions such as Muppets Most Wanted and Girl Meets World, but she also works as a musician with her band and The Never Ending. Additionally, she has launched her own line of fashion clothing.
24 Demi Lovato - Sonny With A Chance
Demi Lovato is a singer and an actress that made a screen debut on the children’s TV series Barney & Friends and made her Disney debut as the lead character Charlotte Adams in As the Bell Rings. She also starred in Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Judgement, and as Sonny in Sonny with a Chance from 2009 to 2011.
Demi has made appearances on TV shows like From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Grey’s Anatomy, and Glee. In addition to acting, she is a hugely successful and award-winning pop star with MTV, ALMA, and five People’s Choice Awards.
23 Vanessa Hudgens - Suite Life Of Zack And Cody
Although Vanessa Hudgens gained her fame as Gabriella Montez in Disney’s High School Musical she made her first film appearance in the controversial Thirteen. She continued her career with Disney as Corrie in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
Hudgens later starred with Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers, she also starred in The Frozen Ground with John Cusack. However, she played the lead in the action comedy series Powerless for NBC but it as canceled before it finished airing. She does have two films that in production and due for release in 2018. From humble beginnings, she's going to continue her trek through the screen.
22 Hilary Duff - Lizzie McGuire
Hilary Duff is an actress and a successful singer-songwriter that has sold an estimated 15 million records since her musical debut in 2002. She is often referred to as the inspiration for likes of other former Disney stars and current musical artist Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, who claim to have emulated her career in the music industry.
Prior to her massive success with her music career, she gained fame as the titular character in Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire from 2001 to 2004. She has also made appearances in other movie productions such as Cheaper By The Dozen, Most Wanted, and Agent Cody Banks.
21 Jewel Staite - Flash Forward
Before gaining fame with Sci-fi fans for her roles as Kaylee Frye in the cult hit Firefly, and as Dr. Jennifer Keller in Stargate Atlantis, she became known for her role as Becca Fisher in Disney Channel’s Flash Forward. She also had a recurring role in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show and provided voice work for Disney’s Sabrina: The Animated Series.
Recently, she had roles in ABC’s The Killing, Legends of Tomorrow, Blindspot, Supernatural and The L.A. Complex. As a result of her roles in big sci-fi franchises like Stargate, Firefly and Warehouse 13 Jewel is a regular guest at comic conventions all over the world.
20 Emily Osment - Hannah Montana
Emily Osment is an actress and a singer-songwriter that originally found fame in Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series before co-starring with Miley Cyrus in Disney’s Hanna Montana series and movie.
Emily is currently the lead star in ABC’s family sitcom Young & Hungry which is due to begin its fifth season in 2018. She also appeared as one of the leads in Cleaners an action series from Crackle about two female assassins.
Additionally, Emily is an established musician, and a Global Ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying, which is the top anti-bullying organization in the U.S. for children and teenagers.
19 Ryan Gosling - Mickey Mouse Club
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling is one of the most recognizable actors of today, with a number of huge hits to his resume, such as the musical La La Land and the excellent sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049 showing his versatility in Hollywood roles.
Before all this, Gosling got his start as a Mouseketeer in Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club from 1993 to 1995 appearing with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. Surprisingly, the multi-award winning actor had less screen time than his co-stars because the producers thought he was the least talented of the group.
18 Hayden Panettiere - Remember The Titans
Before Hayden Panettiere gained fame and recognition play Claire Bennet the Cheerleader in the superhero show Heroes, and the lead role in Nashville she was one of the go-to voice actresses for several Disney productions. Hayden has voiced Dot in A Bug’s Life, Suri in Dinosaur as well as having a role in Remember the Titans.
Those familiar with the Kingdom Hearts series will know her as the voice of Kairi, a role she reprised in the sequel Kingdom Hearts 2 and its spin-off title Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and as the voice of Xion in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. In addition, her voice and likeness was motion captured for the horror game Until Dawn on the PlayStation 4.
17 Justin Timberlake - The Mickey Mouse Club
Justin Timberlake is one of the world’s most well known and most successful Grammy Award-winning R&B musicians in the world. He has even proved himself on the big screen with solid performances in Alpha Dog, The Social Network, Runner Runner, and Black Snake Moan.
Timberlake began his musical career as part of the boyband group NSYNC, before going solo with his debut album Justified. Prior to his superstardom, he appeared on Star Search before becoming a member of The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. Timberlake continues to act with several more upcoming movie roles and perform on musical stage.
16 Madison Pettis - Cory In The House
Madison Pettis first appeared on the Barney & Friends children’s TV show before she was picked up by the Disney Channel to play the part of Sophie Martinez on Cory in the House and Hanna Montona. She also appeared in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Madison landed her first big role in The Game Plan as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s daughter.
More recently, she has appeared on several TV shows such Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Parenthood, and The Real O’Neals. She still works for Disney and provides the voice for Zuru in The Lion Guard and The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar.
15 Miley Cyrus - Hannah Montana
Miley Cyrus is a triple-platinum and award-winning pop singer and actress that gained fame in her role as Miley Stewart on Disney Channel’s hit show Hannah Montana. Her first film role was a small part in Tim Burton’s Big Fish and she acted with her father Billy Ray Cyrus in the TV series Doc. She continued acting and performing under her squeaky-clean image until 2012.
Cyrus adopted a more raunchy persona in her musical performances and cut her hair short and seems to have gone out of her way to shake her Disney good girl image. However, Disney has approached Miley about reprising the Hannah Montana role in a reboot of the series and are in talks to make it happen sooner rather than later.
14 Natalie Alyn Lind - Wizards Of Waverly Place
Natalie Alyn Lind was a child actress that began her career in small roles on shows like One Tree Hill, Army Wives, Flashpoint, iCarly, and Criminal Minds. She also appeared as Marissa in Wizards of Waverly Place in 2011.
Lind then gained fame in the 1980s based sitcom The Goldbergs as Dana Caldwell until 2017. She was then seen as Silver St. Cloud in the Batman-based TV series Gotham for one season, and continued the superhero trend with a lead role in The Gifted a TV show based in the X-Men universe as Lauren Stricker on the Fox network. Needless to say, the world is her oyster — we can't wait to see what's next.
13 Selena Gomez - Wizards Of Waverly Place
Selena Gomez first appeared on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody as the character Gwen. She also appeared in several episodes of Hannah Montana with Miley Cyrus as Mikayla. Selena gained a more recurring role in the series Wizards of Waverly Place as Alex Russo.
Since gaining more fame as a singer and actress she appeared as herself in Sonny with a Chance, So Random and in The Muppets. However, in addition to becoming a massively successful pop singer she has made appearances in films like Behaving Badly, Spring Breakers, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.
Gomez has also made a name for herself a producer with the Netflix exclusive show 13 Reasons Why as a means of raising awareness of bullying.
12 Zac Efron - High School Musical
Zac Efron got his big mainstream break with Disney’s High School Musical franchise as Troy Bolton from 2006 although prior to this he appeared on Firefly, ER, The Guardian, and he appeared as a recurring character in the WB series Summerland.
He later showed that he had a talent for comedy roles starting with 17 Again with Matthew Perry, then with Neighbors, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising with Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. He continued his comedic success with Baywatch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but he will be going back to his musical roots with the upcoming The Greatest Showman. Of all the actors, this one might have the most dramatic change in personality.
11 Cassie Nelson AKA Sensi Pearl - High School Musical
Cassie Nelson made her first appearance as a “geek girl” in Disney’s Read it and Weep in 2006 and went on to appear in Disney’s High School Musical and High School Musical 2 with the likes of Zac Efron and many other rising stars in the film and music industry.
However, unlike other stars who rose to mainstream fame on the big screen, Nelson took a different route with her career in 2011 after making her debut in the adult industry under the performer name of Sensi Pearl. While she didn’t become an award-winning actress in the mainstream she did become an AVN award winner before eventually retiring in 2015.
10 Zendaya - Shake it Up
Zendaya is an actress and a pop singer that found stardom through Disney’s sitcom Shake It Up as Rocky Blue. She also appeared in Disney channel TV movies Frenemies, Zapped, and provided the voice for the animated film Pixie Hollow Games. Zendaya also played K.C. Cooper in the Disney series K.C. Undercover.
Although Shake it Up and K.C. Undercover was canceled in 2017, Zendaya appeared as MJ in Spiderman: Homecoming the same year. In addition to her acting career, she has worked with the liked of Timberland on her recent album and is appearing in a big screen adaptation of the musical The Greatest Showman alongside Hugh Jackman.
9 Christy Carlson Romano - Even Stevens
Christy Carlson Romano is best known for her leading role as Ren Stevens in Disney Channel’s Even Stevens. In addition, she starred in the Disney produced Cadet Kelly alongside Hilary Duff, Gary Cole, and Shawn Ashmore. She also voiced the character Kim in Disney Channel’s Kim Possible in its 5-year run.
Gamers may recognize her voice work as in Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children as Yuffie. Nowadays, as well as acting, Christy is writing for Disney’s literary subsidiary Hyperion, and directed her first feature film for Nickelodeon with Christmas All Over Again. It's great to see someone not only have a career on screen, but doing voice work as a bonus.
8 Kyla Pratt - The Proud Family
Kyla Pratt is an actress that made her start onscreen with the children’s TV show Barney & Friends before being discovered by Disney and voicing the main character Penny Proud in The Proud Family and starring One on One. In addition, Kyla also played Eddie Murphy’s daughter in the Dr. Dolittle film franchise, eventually taking over from Murphy as the lead character Maya Dolittle.
In 2016, Kyla has starred as one of the main characters in the television series Recovery Road as well as guest-starring roles in the Mentalist, The Soul Man, and Crystal Whitmore in Let’s Stay Together.
7 Bella Thorne - Shake it Up
Although Bella Thorne starred in and became known for her roles in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place and Shake it Up alongside Zendaya, she made a name for herself in several TV shows prior to this as a child actress. She made appearances in the likes of Entourage, The O.C, and Little Monk.
Recently, Bella has become a bit of a horror movie regular after making appearances in the likes of Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, Amytiville: The Awakening, Keep Watching, Scream the TV series, and the well-received comedy horror The Babysitter. It's amazing to think that she's had such a prolific career in such a short time.
6 Peyton List – Disney’s Jessie
Peyton List established a career for herself at a young age by starring as Emma Ross in Disney television’s Jessie and its spin-off show Bunk’d. In addition, she starred as Holly Hills from the popular book-to-film franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Peyton also appeared in the films The Seventh Dwarf, The Thinning, and the Outcasts with Victoria Justice. Her television appearances include a lot of cross over appearances as her Disney character Emma Ross in Austin & Ally, K.C. Undercover, and her character even appeared in animated form for the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series.
The now-19-year-old actress shares her name with another actress that starred in Mad Men and despite the ten year age gap the two are often confused, so the younger actress sometimes gets billed as Peyton R. List in her more recent and upcoming roles.
5 Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan started her career in the films Get a Clue, Life-Size, Freaky Friday and eventually Mean Girls. The roles gave her a teen idol status and she was one of the most sought-after young actresses in the world.
Her career hit an all-time low as the actress battled against drinking problems which landed her several arrests as well problems on the set of productions. However, Lohan is slowly earning back regular work with recent and recurring performances in British shows such as Sick Note for Sky Television starring the likes of Rupert Grint, Don Johnson, and Nick Frost. Now that she’s based in London, England and staying away from the LA party lifestyle that contributed to her issues, Lohan seems set for a comeback.
4 Liliana Mumy
Liliana Mumy is an Actress that has appeared with Steve Martin in the Cheaper by the Dozen films as Jessica Baker, she played Lucy Miller alongside Tim Allen in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Those who grew up with the Lilo & Stitch films and television series may also know her as the voice of Mertle.
These days, Liliana seems more focused on her talents as a voice actress with her performances in the movies Batman: Year One, Snow Buddies, Space Buddies, Space Goofs: The Movie. In addition to film appearances, she has also provided her voice to the TV shows Be Cool Scooby-Doo, The Loud House, Batman: Brave and the Bold and Bravest Warriors.
3 Laura Marano
Laura Marano achieved fame as the star of the Disney Channel television series Austin & Ally as he character Ally Dawson from 2011 to 2016. Prior to achieving worldwide fame, she was also one of the original classmates in Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? She also starred in an episode of Without a Trace and appeared several times on The Sarah Silverman Program. Fans of the series Dexter may recognize her as the young Debra.
More recently in addition to making appearances in as her Ally Dawson character in Girl Meets World, she has appeared in the films Ladybird, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Trips, with more films due to be released in 2018 with The War With Grandpa and Saving.
2 Alyson Michalka
To round out the list we're revisiting some of the most striking ladies from Disney channel shows. In addition to her infamous work on the Phil of the Future and CW's Hellcats, Alyson Michalka is also one half of the Christian pop duo Aly and Aj with sister Amanda.
In addition to releasing her music, in 2017 Alyson career continued to flourish with an appearance as Regan Lear in a modern adaptation of the William Shakespeare play King Lear. She also appeared in the rebooted Macgyver TV series and had a recurring role on the comedy action series Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Television.
1 Hilary Duff
Here she is again: this is the victory lap! Hilary Duff is one of the most recognizable former Disney stars. She rose to fame as the star of Disney TV’s Lizzie McGuire from 2001 to 2004. However, it was her success as a pop singer that has gained her the most recognition in her adult years.
Since making her musical debut in 2002 Duff has sold more than 15 million records worldwide, is cited as the inspiration for Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus who have also made successful careers transitioning from television, the big screen and performing music with ease.
In addition to her music she has starred in big-budget movies such as The Immortals with Henry Cavill, Cheaper by the Dozen, and What Goes Up.
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