Disney Channel officially signed off in Southeast Asia last 1 October. Before most of us became adults with hectic careers and some having families of their own, Disney Channel shows like Hannah Montana starring Miley Cyrus, Wizards Of Waverly Place with Selena Gomez, and TV movies like High School Musical starring Vanessa Hudgens and Camp Rock with Demi Lovato helped carry us through our teenage years. Just like how we grew with the channel, these Disney Channel stars also grew personally and professionally. Ever wondered how and what they’re doing now? Here’s what our fave Disney Channel stars are up to in 2021.
Anyone who’s anyone during Disney Channel’s golden era first appeared in Miley Cyrus’ hit series Hannah Montana (yes, even Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers). The show skyrocketed Miley to fame at the age of 15; this. Growing up in the limelight and changing her persona outside of the Hannah Montana character left her under the scrutiny of her then pre-pubescent fans’ parents. A couple of years after Hannah Montana concluded, she was officially pegged as a ‘bad girl’ after her controversial VMAs performance with Robin Thicke.
However, as her fans started to become adults themselves, Miley’s ownership of her sexuality, her activism for equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community as well as HIV/AIDS prevention, and her outspokenness about socio-political issues have started to be appreciated. She’s currently on her Plastic Hearts tour referencing her 2020 album and has recently released a song titled Angels Like You.
Selena Gomez started her Disney journey with a cameo role in The Suite Life Of Zack and Cody before landing a more memorable recurring role in Hannah Montana as Hannah’s popstar rival Mikayla. She later starred on her own show, Wizards Of Waverly Place, as Alex Russo, a mischievous witch-in-training who's always getting into trouble by messing with magic.
Since then, Selena has branched out into creating her own music, with hits like Love Me Like A Love Song and her latest release Rare. Rare is also the name of her own beauty line, which officially launched last year. For 2021, she’s worked on a Hulu original series titled Only Murders In The Building, a mystery-comedy show created by Steve Martin (who also stars on the show) and Primetime Emmy Awardee John Hoffman. She also has a cooking show on Hulu called Selena + Chef, which is now on its second season.
Can we really talk about Disney Channel without mentioning High School Musical? The hit 2006 TV musical was just as popular as Hannah Montana at the time. The movie even had a ‘threequel’, with the third given a theatrical release. Its leading lady, Vanessa Hudgens, immediately jumped ship into more adult roles after the series concluded, with top-billing roles in films like Sucker Punch, Beastly, and Spring Breakers. She was eventually dubbed Queen Of Coachella for her trend-inspiring outfits during the festival. In 2018, she starred in Netflix’s The Princess Switch which was picked up for two more films, the latest released during 2020’s holiday season. This year, she’s been cast in the Army Of The Dead: Lost Vegas TV series where she will play Willow. We still don’t know the full extent of her role, but we’re excited to find out.
Following the success of High School Musical, Disney Channel released Camp Rock in 2008. The movie introduced everyone to Demi Lovato and her singing prowess. The success of the TV movie led to Demi releasing her debut album Don’t Forget in the same year. Since then, Demi has delivered hit after hit, with songs like Skyscraper, Heart Attack, and more. In 2010, Demi revealed her struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Since then, she’s been on and off social media, talking about her relapses and journey towards sobriety. At present, she’s a body positivity advocate and LGBTQIA activist and hosts a podcast titled 4D, where she talks to fellow personalities about her causes, as well as other heart-driven topics. Music-wise, she released her latest song Melon Cake last August.
Zendaya started her Disney career in a sitcom called Shake It Up where she played Rocky, an aspiring dancer who ends up being cast in a tween entertainment show. Shake It Up ran from 2012 to 2013, but Zendaya took on another Disney starring role for KC Undercover which ran until 2019. Around the same year, she started branching out of her youthful Disney image, taking on more serious projects. Now, she’s best known as MJ in Marvel’s Spiderman, but she’s also taken on other memorable roles like Anne Wheeler in The Greatest Showman, Rue Bennett in HBO’s Euphoria, and Chani in Dune.
Disney Channel going off-air in Southeast Asia definitely marks the end of an era for our generation. But seeing former Disney stars turn from our tween idols to empowering queens undoubtedly proves that every ending ushers in inspiring beginnings.