From the fresh-from-rehab Lindsay Lohan to the less-troubled Miley Cyrus, it’s easy to focus on the child stars who try to go bad to escape their former Disney image. With Demi Lovato turning 21 this week, here’s a look at former Disney stars making a smoother transition from childhood fame to adult success:
1. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has had a string of success with the Disney Channel, most notably from her role in the “Camp Rock” movie franchise and starring in “Sonny with a Chance.” Along with her bestie Selena, Demi released her debut album “Don’t Forget” in 2008, hitting #2 on the Billboard 200. Yet in 2010, Lovato checked herself into rehabilitation center for severe depression, anorexia and self-harm, later revealing that she had been dealing with these issues since a young child. After rehab, she returned to music while using her platform to discuss her personal issues. The singer found success with her 2013 single, “Heart Attack,” which she is following up by releasing another single called “Made in the USA,” returning for season 3 of “The X Factor” and landing a recurring gig on “Glee.”
2. Selena Gomez
Though Selena Gomez had her first starring role as wizard-in-training Alex Russo on “Wizards of Waverly Place” (2007-2012), she was first seen in 2001 on the children's show “Barney & Friends” with her real-life best friend Demi Lovato, also starring alongside her in the Disney TV movie “Princess Protection Program” in 2009. Gomez starting her singing career in 2008, recording singles for Disney movie soundtracks. That same year, she was signed by Hollywood Records and starting working on her debut album “Kiss & Tell.” From being the girlfriend of pop sensation Justin Bieber to her latest hit, “Slow Down,” today Selena is one of Hollywood’s most talked-about stars.
3. Shia Labeouf
Shia Labeouf, star of the “Transformers” film saga, started out on the Disney Channel at the age of 14. Labeouf burst onto the scene as class clown Louis Stevens on “Even Stevens” (2000-2003), earning a Daytime Emmy for ‘Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series’ in 2003 for his work on the show. The year the series ended, he starred in the popular movie “Holes” alongside Jon Voight and Sigourney Weaver. He continued his career, landing supporting roles in films like “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “I, Robot.” Labeouf went on to star in two box office hits that year with the thriller “Disturbia” and Michael Bay’s “Transformers” mega-franchise, though Mark Wahlberg is filling in for the fourth film in the series while Shia takes a step back from blockbuster hits to try his hand at independent film work.
4. Zac Efron
Zac Efron’s first big TV role was on The WB’s Lori Loughlin-starring “Summerland” in 2004. When that series ended the following year, Zac scored the role of a lifetime as Troy Bolton in Disney’s “High School Musical.” Along with the sequel, the young actor starred in two of the most successful made-for-TV films of all time before hitting the big screen in “High School Musical 3” and “Hairspray.” From there, Zac transitioned into leading man territory with “17 Again,” “Charlie St. Cloud” and Nicholas Sparks adaptation “The Lucky One.” Though he showed off his series side last year in “The Paperboy” and “At Any Price,” Zac seems to be itching to return to comedy and will star with Seth Rogen in next year’s frat house comedy “Townies.”
5. The Jonas Brothers
Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas received instant attention when they began their singing careers, which actually led to their foray into acting. After starring with Demi Lovato in both “Camp Rock” films, the JoBros starred in their own Disney original series, “Jonas L.A.” for two years. In 2008, the Jonas Brothers became the youngest band to appear on the cover of “Rolling Stone.” The group went on a touring frenzy and released a new album each year from 2007-2009 before taking a three-year hiatus. After taking time to work on solo projects, the brothers regrouped to focus on their new album, which is due out this fall. That effort was captured on Kevin Jonas’s E! reality series, “Married to Jonas,” in which he stars with his wife Danielle.