Former Disney celebrities rise to stardom after their start


Photo courtesy of @netflix on Instagram

Netflix released their newest series “Wednesday” starring Disney Channel star, Jenna Ortega, on Nov. 23. “Wednesday” follows the Addams Family daughter as she navigates mysteries at her new school.

By Jordan Pashkoff, Editor-in-Chief

Disney Channel has been a large part of many children’s lives since its start in 1983. Stars from all eras of Disney have launched into more general stardom since then. Whether fans grew up watching “Lizzie McGuire,” “The Suite Life on Deck,” or “Jessie,” Disney Channel is a pivotal part of childhood for kids and the stars. Disney shows are how a lot of stars gained their beginning fame and established their acting careers. Here are a few celebrities who were launched into mainstream media success after their Disney Channel fame:

Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus:

The beginning of Disney Channel mega success started in the 2000s with celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus. Both of these women rose to fame in their respective shows, “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Hannah Montana,” and are known for a wider range of achievements. Gomez started her own beauty line, Rare Beauty in 2020 and can be seen on Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” Cyrus spent 2022 touring and performing at music festivals, as well as releasing her third live album “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE.”  


Zendaya might be one of the most influential actresses today, let alone out of the Disney Channel bunch. She debuted on Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up” as the practical and ever-so-sweet dancer Rocky Blue alongside her on screen BFF Cece Jones (Bella Thorne). Fans got to watch their friendship for three seasons from 2010 to 2013. Having already established herself as one of TV’s most loved children’s actors, Zendaya booked another Disney show. “K.C. Undercover” also ran for three seasons (2015-2018) and follows a family of spies and their countless adventures. 

Once she decided to step away from Disney Channel, Zendaya succeeded in creating a name for herself in big blockbuster films and mainstream media. She can be seen in almost every genre of movie or show: sci-fi, action, adventure, musical, romance and drama. Her most recent projects include playing Rue in HBO’s “Euphoria,” Chani in “Dune” alongside Timothée Chalamet, and MJ in Marvel’s Spider-man movies. 

If her whole collection of movies was not enough to emphasize her talent and how multifaceted her talent is, Zendaya is the youngest two-time Emmy winner in the history of the award. Her first Emmy was won in 2020 for lead actress in a drama series for “Euphoria” and she won the award again in 2022. 

Even though Disney Channel has changed since one of it’s most popular eras, shows of the later 2010s also produced some stars that are taking over our screens and Spotify.

Jenna Ortega:

Jenna Ortega has taken over the screens of many as she moves away from her Disney career. With roles in “You,” “Scream,” and “The Fallout,” Ortega has proved her talents numerous times over the past few years while successfully proving herself as one of this generation’s upcoming actresses. 

Ortega is known in the Disney realm as Harley Diaz, the inventive middle child of a family of seven from “Stuck in the Middle.” Her most recent project has proven the media once again of her versatility. “Wednesday” is TV’s newest spin on the classic gothic family, The Addams, with a more central focus on the Addam’s eldest daughter and her life at Nevermore Academy. The first season of “Wednesday” released on Nov. 23, 2022 on Netflix and featured eight episodes. 

Ortega had everyone talking about her astonishing performance as Wednesday Addams as videos of her iconic dancing scene and throwing piranhas into the pool circulated through social media platforms like Tik Tok. If her social media success was not enough to convince of Ortega’s rising popularity, she was also just nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy” for the 2023 Golden Globe Awards. 

Olivia Rodrigo:

Olivia Rodrigo is one of the most anticipated names in the music industry. Rodrigo was thrown into the limelight for her 2021 album “SOUR.” Before the release of her album, Rodrigo’s acting career started with her leading role in “An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success,” but her rise to Disney fame came in 2016 in the children’s comedy show “Bizaardvark” (2016-2019). While Bizaardvark ran for three seasons, Rodrigo is most known for her role as Nini in the Disney Plus show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (HSMTMTS). The show was released in 2019 and featured multiple songs written by Rodrigo, which not only showcased her songwriting talent, but also created buzz for her music career. Rodrigo took a step down from season regular to special guest and then left the show at the end of season three, ending her Disney reign to focus more on her music. 

After her seven Grammy nominations and three wins for “SOUR,” Disney+ documentary, and most recent performance at the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony, fans are now eagerly awaiting for Rodrigo to drop new music.

Sabrina Carpenter:

Known for her role as Maya Hart in Disney’s 2014 to 2017 “Boy Meets World” spin-off, “Girl Meets World,” Sabrina Carpenter has expanded her fame outside of her Disney Channel days. After the end of Disney career, Carpenter has had featured roles in “Clouds,” “Tall Girl,” “Work It.” and more. 

Disney Channel also helped to launch Carpenter’s music career. Starting in 2014 with her first EP “Can’t Blame a Girl for Trying” that premiered on Radio Disney. Since then, Carpenter has released multiple albums and most recently dropped her fifth studio album “Emails I Can’t Send” in July 2022. This 13-track album has gained immense popularity and reintroduced Carpenter to the widespread public and helped many view her as a legitimate singer/songwriter and not as a Disney actor turned popstar. It’s incredible success has also resulted in two legs of a North America tour. The original North America tour featured 12 dates between September and October, the closest one being Oct. 7 at The Lincoln Theater, a smaller venue in Washington D.C. Due to incredible fan support, she released 36 more tour dates starting in March 2023 and ending in late May. The upcoming Washington D.C. date is May 14, 2023 at The Anthem. 

It is incredibly nostalgic to see some of the most famous Disney stars on the big screen. Viewers get to grow up with the celebrities and as they both get older, they watch them take on more challenging movie roles, release some new music and get recognized on a world level.