Like many childhood actors, Disney’s Jessie star Debby Ryan is trying to break away from her adolescent persona. What’s the difference between her and most other child actors-turned-crazy-trainwrecks? Ryan isn’t trying to shock people or fill another Lolita void in the industry. She’s offering what she’s already got and hoping for the best.
The actress/singer told Fusion’s Alicia Menendez there are too many child stars who look at the breakthrough process as, “Ok, there’s a Taylor Swift, there’s a Katy Perry, there’s a Rihanna, and you’re trying to find what all those people aren’t… then create that into one persona and be that person because you’re trying to fill a need, versus looking in on yourself and saying ‘Ok. This is what I have to offer the world.’”
We can guess who Ryan is referring to, but who is she not talking about?
When Menendez asked her which breakthrough star’s career she’d like to emulate, she said, “Shia Lebouf was a goofy kid on the channel and definitely was taken a little bit less seriously in his Disney prime, but then he did a movie called Tru Confessions where he got to portray a kid with Asperger’s. It was an incredible thing to see as a viewer and be like, ‘Wow! Louis from Even Stevens is an incredible actor!’ You follow his career and you follow that he’s done strange indies and Sigur Ros videos and everything in-between… and he’s been able to break out of that without doing anything kind of overtly attention grabbing, which I feel is such a generational perception of how you have to break out of the Disney thing.”
So to all the child actors out there trying to make it in the big-kids industry, take a note from Shia Lebouf and don’t try to fill a superficial need or jump at the chance to make the front page of tabloids. There are better ways to make it.