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Top 10 Celebrities who Started off in Disney

VO: Lisa Yang
They may have left the House of Mouse but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about their roots! These celebrities were some of Disney’s biggest stars. Big names like Shia Labeouf, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Hilary Duff, Raven Symone, Lindsay Lohan have all moved on, but let’s take a look a some of the projects that shot them to fame!

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Top 10 Celebrities Who Started Off In Disney

Disney gave us some of our favorite movies, and, yes, even some of our favorite stars. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for Top 10 Celebrities Who Started Off In Disney.

For this list, we’re looking at celebrities who started or at least got their major breakthrough with Disney - basically, they became famous thanks to the studio, or very shortly thereafter. However, we’re excluding those famous people and artists that were already involved in significant projects or had sizeable roles before their time with Disney, such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

#10: Shia Labeouf

Before getting caught up in the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons, Shia Labeouf played in the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” for three seasons between 2000 and 2003. The comedy followed the day-to-day lives of the Stevenses, particularly the drama between brother and sister. In 2003, Labeouf received a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance. Shia would go on to perform in the Disney co-production“Holes” and the positively reviewed “Disturbia.” Since then, he has starred a number of films such as “Transformers,” “Nymphomaniac,” and “Fury,” and has also directed some films. By his own account, Labeouf isn't “famous anymore” but brushes with controversy, and usual artist outings have kept him very much in the limelight.

#9: Miley Cyrus

At age thirteen, Cyrus was launched into stardom with her role as Miley Stewart on the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana” in 2006. The show is about a sensational pop star that keeps her true identity secret in her attempt to balance fame and teenage life, which mustn’t have been too far off from the actress’ actual life. Lasting four seasons and culminating in a movie, the show quickly made Cyrus a real life teen idol. Following the series, Miley transitioned more into the music business but when the sheen of Disney cuteness wore thin, she totally re-invented herself with racy lyrics and often sexualized, provocative live performances.

#8: Demi Lovato

Her first television appearance might have been “Barney & Friends,” but it was the Disney Channel’s television film “Camp Rock” that made her a household name. Starring alongside the Jonas Brothers, Lovato soon signed with Hollywood Records and released her debut album Don’t Forget. The multi-talented actress was then cast as the lead in Disney’s “Sonny with a Chance”. However, personal issues put her on a brief career hiatus, thus ending the show after only two seasons. She re-emerged with a new album called Unbroken in 2011 and even went on to appear on “The X Factor.” Despite growing up immersed in the spotlight, Demi has said that she was not “not meant for this business and the media”, but fans say otherwise.

#7: Selena Gomez

Like Lovato, Gomez first appeared on “Barney & Friends,” and was also given a recurring role as a pop star named Mikayla in “Hannah Montana”. But Gomez best became known through her role as Alex Russo in the Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which lasted four seasons and was also spawned a TV movie. Gomez then focused on her musical career, forming the band Selena Gomez & The Scene before venturing solo with her albums Stars Dance and Revival, which helped separate her from her Disney image. She has also found a home behind the camera, founding July Moon Productions in 2008 and is the executive producer of the Netflix series“13 Reasons Why.”

#6: Anne Hathaway

Her television debut was in the short-lived “Get Real,” but when she landed the part of Mia Thermopolis in the Disney comedy “The Princess Diaries” the world took notice. Hathaway actually auditioned for the role during a layover on her way to New Zealand and was cast based on that one audition. She then became a children’s role model by starring in films like “Ella Enchanted” and “Hoodwinked!” and has worked alongside amazing actresses such as Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”. Anne gained massive mainstream recognition when she was cast as Catwoman in the final instalment of the Dark Knight trilogy and was awarded an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award sfor her role as Fantine in Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables.” It's safe to say, she's done alright for herself.

#5: Zac Efron

The young Efron was no stranger to television work, having made appearances on a variety of series, but his breakthrough occurred with Disney’s “High School Musical,” along with his co-star Vanessa Hudgens. The movie was so successful that two more instalments were released before 2010. In 2007, he was also part of the ensemble cast of “Hairspray,” which was yet another success critically and financially. He continued to act in films with box office success, like “The Lucky One” and “Neighbors” – the latter with Seth Rogan. It hasn't been all smooth sailing for Efron, but it seems as though he's charted his way out of troubled waters.

#4: Christina Aguilera

At age thirteen, Aguilera appeared on the revival of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” a variety show created by Walt Disney. She then went on to follow a singing career after recording “Reflection” for the “Mulan” soundtrack. But Xtina's soon became more known for music, with her debut album and singles such as “Genie In A Bottle” and “What A Girl Wants, giving her recognition as a pop icon and even the title Princess of Pop. She gained much more creative control- and notoriety- over her fourth studio album Stripped, which became controversial as her music video for “Dirrty” featured far, far more sexual content than one would have expected from a former Mouseketeer.

#3: Ryan Gosling

After going to an open audition in Montreal, 12-year-old Gosling was offered a two-year contract on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in 1993. Ironically, especially considering his certified star status today, Gosling's screen time on the show was fairly limited compared to his co-stars. Post Disney, Gosling cut his teeth on shows like “Breaker High” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” and the starring role in the short-lived “Young Hercules “before he dove into serious, and often gritty film work. Ryan's breakthrough came with “The Notebook”, a role that thrust him into the spotlight and guaranteed his place in pop culture as a heartthrob.

#2: Britney Spears

One of the biggest names in pop, Brit-Brit is yet another star to get her start on the revival of “The Mickey Mouse Club”. When the show ended in the mid-‘90s, Spears had dreams to continue on in the music business. She worked hard to sign with a record label during a time when the demand for groups like the Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls was greater than for solo artists. When Jive Records eventually signed her, the world was soon hooked on her unique voice and she closed out the ‘90s as a genuine superstar thanks to “... Baby One More Time.” Spears has since had her ups and downs and more than a few tabloid moments, but no one can deny her starpower.

Before we get to number 1, here’s a look at our honourable mentions:

#1: Justin Timberlake

Before he was escaping from clingy exes with *NSYNC, Timberlake was on “The Mickey Mouse Club” with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and former band member JC Chasez. Though he became known through *NSYNC, it was during the boy band’s hiatus that Timberlake really carved his own place in pop culture. JT released his solo album Justified in 2002, which featured notable singles like “Cry Me A River” and “Rock Your Body”. He also focused on his acting career, starring in “The Social Network” and “Friends With Benefits.” But it’s because Timberlake's reach is far and wide, making him one of the most influential and beloved of today’s stars, that he lands in our number one spot.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite former Disney celebrity? For more fun Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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