Generations of major celebrities have had their big break as
child actors and performers alongside Mickey Mouse. Our screens and speakers are filled with former Disney starlets—some who we may remember well from their hit Disney Channel TV shows and movies, and some who are almost unrecognizable from their family-friendly childhood roles.
These 12 stars have made it far since their Disney days, releasing
chart topping songs, earning nominations for major awards, becoming the faces of Hollywood, and making headlines for celebrity friendships and fallouts. But you can’t forget where you came from.
Known for her kick-butt action movies and starring in the
Resident Evil franchise, model and actress Milla Jovovich actually got her start in a Disney Channel movie. The Night Train to Kathmandu follows a young girl played by Jovovich as she travels with her family through Nepal and falls in love with a prince.
Before becoming an Oscar-nominated leading man in movies like
Drive, The Notebook, The Place Beyond the Pines, La La Land, and many more, Ryan Gosling was a young Mouseketeer, acting and dancing on Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club.
Hayden Panettiere may now be known for her roles in the shows
Heroes and Nashville, but she was once a Disney star, voicing the characters of Dot in the 1998 film A Bug’s Life and Suri in Dinosaur in 2000. The actress also had some popular on-screen Disney moments, playing leading roles in the movies Remember the Titans and Tiger Cruise.
Ryan Gosling wasn’t the only Mouseketeer that made it big. Before she became a
pop icon in the 2000s for hits like “…Baby One More Time” and “Toxic,” as well as a target for public scrutiny and controversy, singing sensation Britney Spears got her start on The Mickey Mouse Club.
The star gained fame leading Showtime’s
for nine seasons, but originally broke onto the scene with her role as the love interest in Disney Channel’s Original 1999 movie Shameless Genius.
It’s hard to think about
Lindsay Lohan without recalling her notorious run-ins with the law, her tumultuous friendship and feud with Paris Hilton, or her highly publicized family conflicts. But Lohan was a talented and successful child actor, rising to stardom in her leading role in Disney’s 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. After that, she went on to take over the 2000s in movies like Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and more.
Before rising to fame as the star of the popular
and becoming an acclaimed actress Twilight Saga set to portray Princess Diana, Kristen Stewart was a successful child actor, starring alongside legends like Jodi Foster. Her first role, however, was a little less known: she was cast an uncredited, nonspeaking part in the Disney Channel movie The Thirteenth Year in 2002.
Mischa Barton is best-known for her role as Marissa Cooper on hit TV show
., but one of her first roles was in the 2002 Disney movie The O.C A Ring of Endless Light, where she acted alongside and Gilmore Girls Supernatural star Jared Padalecki.
Okay, it may be impossible to forget Zac Efron’s breakout role as
High School Musical teen heartthrob Troy (even if Efron desperately wants us to). Since his Disney origins, Efron has ditched his floppy hairstyle and become a major Hollywood star, known for his roles in movies like Neighbors, Bay Watch, The Greatest Showman, and more. He even has his own Neflix show.
Before she was
Fergalicious in The Black-Eyed Peas and her own solo music, Fergie was a young actress and singer in the cast of Kids Incorperated, a Disney show in the ‘80s.
In a time before
celebrity relationship scandals, hit songs, and makeup lines, Selena Gomez was a Disney starlet in shows like Hannah Montana, Sonny with a Chance, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. But it was her role as Alex Russo in Disney Channel’s hit show Wizards of Waverly Place that solidified her place in the spotlight.
Although only 24 years old,
Zendaya’s debut on Disney Channel happened over a decade ago on Shake It Up, which aired from 2010 to 2013. Starring with Bella Thorne (who you also probably forgot started on Disney Channel), Zendaya played Rocky Blue, a teen girl trying to make it as a professional dancer. Now, her Oscar-winning performance on and exciptement for the upcoming movie Euphoria have overshadowed her Disney days. Malcom & Marie
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