5 Disney Channel Child Stars Who Actually Made It Big

Throughout the history of filmmaking, we have learned that television and movie sets are not child-friendly environments to grow up in. It is a fact that a handful of child stars have a rocky upbringing within this industry and can’t manage to overcome the pressure and expectations of being in the spotlight for so long.

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Only a few of these child prodigies have managed to make it through to their adult years and shine brighter than ever. This seems to be especially true when looking at the child stars to come out of Disney Channel. Some of these child stars accomplished the most challenging task: rise above all obstacles and consistently showcase their talent on the big screen.

Shia LaBeouf

In his teenage days, Shia LeBeouf was known as Louis Stevens, the hilarious weirdo from the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. It is said that a few years after the series ended, he started to develop troublesome and erratic behavior within the industry.

Later on in his career, Shia went on to land major roles and delivered outstanding performances, such as playing his own dad in the film Honeyboy. He wrote and starred in this movie and went on to get nominated and won various awards for this performance. More than that, in this movie, Shia was brave. He purposely decided to expose his rough childhood to a worldwide audience. After watching this movie and having a closer look into his life, it is visible to the viewer where his problematic behaviors came from. His talent and hard work are also evident, noticeable in all his performances.


Zac Efron

Starting his career at 11 years old, Zac Efron rose to fame for starring in the Disney Channel original film High School Musical. He consequently won the Teen Choice Awards, and the film broke numerous records. Not quite as dramatic as LeBeouf’s acting career, Efron had a more linear rise to stardom.

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Right after his evident success as the star of High School Musical, Efron immediately ventured into Hollywood and worked alongside phenomenal directors and actors. His first debut out of the Disney scenario was the movie Me and Orson Wells, directed by the brilliant Richard Linklater. However, this movie was only a look into Efron’s bright future. Later, he went on to land a variety of significant roles, such as playing Link Larkin in the film based on the musical Hairspray and Matt Brody in the remake of Baywatch. Efron showcased his talent at an early age, and he continues to do so as an adult.


Many fans are unaware, but Zendaya started her acting career on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up. Like the previous examples, Zendaya was also a Disney star who used her talent and hard work to climb the ranks and reveal her talent to the world. Known for being an outspoken person, she breaks the status quo of how a former Disney star should look and behave.

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Now more than ever, you can see her in theaters, at home, on billboards, and more. She is omnipresent for a good reason. When mentioning her name, the character Rue from the HBO show Euphoria promptly comes to mind. In this show, she plays a 17-year-old, non-binary lesbian character with a drug problem who struggles to find her place in society. This role blew the audience’s mind, but it also got her an Emmy Award. Beyond the accolades, this role reveals her acting range and cements her success as a young actress. From the perspective of her fans, she has definitely surpassed all expectations.

Moises Arias

Known for his role as Rico on the Disney show Hannah Montana, Moises Arias started acting at the age of ten, and ever since, everyone’s eyes have been on him. That must’ve been a challenging obstacle to face, but Moises indeed overcame it by landing major roles as he grew older and gained more experience within the industry.

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Nowadays, Moises has broken away from the acting star child image and made a name for himself. Throughout his early adult career, Moises has been nominated for multiple awards. He has worked with A-List actors such as Jack Black, Nick Offerman, and Harrison Ford, to name a few. Also, in his early adult years, the films that Moises acted in went on to get nominated and win multiple awards. Movies such as Ender’s Game, The Kings of Summer, and The King of Staten Island made him firmly secure his name in the Hollywood spotlight.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is another Disney star prodigy, mostly known for her musical talents. Her acting abilities were first seen on the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and in some episodes of Hannah Montana. In previous interviews, Selena Gomez says that she is proud of her work with Disney.

Having sprung out of the Disney world into the “real world,” Selena Gomez has established herself as a great actress independent of her previous early teenage career. She has acted in many films and has delivered unforgettable performances. Her performances in the movies Spring Breakers, Monte Carlo, Getaway, and others highlight her talent. Selena’s transition from child star to world-renowned actress was remarkable, and she continues to impress her fans.

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