Former Disney Child Star Reveals Audition Process Sent Her to Rehab

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Behind the scenes image of Disney Channel's Camp Rock, featuring (L-R): Kevin Jonas, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Meaghan Martin, Alyson Stoner, and Anna Maria Francesca Perez de Tagle

Credit: Disney

This popular Disney child star reveals the audition that eventually convinced her to go to rehab.

It’s a poorly kept secret that child stars often struggle the worst with addiction, eating disorders, mental illness, and repression while growing up in Hollywood. Especially child actors working for bigger studios like Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel.

drake and josh
Credit: Nickelodeon

At Disney, Miley Cyrus has recently come forward about the strict schedule she was forced to keep while filming Hannah Montana and how that level of control led to her later spiral. Demi Lovato said that her time filming Camp Rock (2008) and the series Sonny With a Chance eventually gave her an eating disorder and drug addiction. And the story of The All New Mickey Mouse Club alum Britney Spears is one of the most devastating stories in recent celebrity history.

For as much as the 2000s era of Nickelodeon and Disney were influential in the lives of millions of millennials, the cost of fame and stardom as a child has cost some actors almost everything. While iCarly is almost as recognizable as Drake & Josh, fans can’t think of the Miranda Cosgrove-led show without thinking of her co-star Jeanette McCurdy. McCurdy released a memoir last year, titled I’m Glad My Mom Died, detailing the horrific experience she had as a child star.

miranda cosgrove (left) and jennette mccurdy (right) selfie on icarly set
Credit: Nickelodeon

The memoir painted a devastating picture of the her experience growing up in Hollywood. McCurdy’s memoir was just one of several shocking revelations that have come from some of the biggest names in Nickelodeon and Disney Channel history. Now, yet another former Disney child star is speaking out about trying to make it big in Hollywood.

Alyson Stoner is a Hollywood child star perhaps best known for their roles in Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), the Step Up franchise, the “dancing girl” in several Missy Elliott videos, the voice behind Isabella in Phineas and Ferband Caitlyn in Camp RockThey’ve continued working pretty consistently over the years, more recently focusing on voice acting work. However, they also have a podcast and YouTube series titled “Dear Hollywood,” in which they describe what it was like to grow up working in Hollywood.

Alyson Stoner in a shirt and tie in front of a sparkly wall
Credit: Alyson Stoner/YouTube

In a recent episode, Stoner explains the audition that could have launched her into super stardom, but found her checking into rehab instead. In Episode 6, Stoner reveals that they had received an audition for Katniss, the main character from the Hunger Games series that would go on to be a pop culture pillar for decades, including the upcoming film release of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakeswhich stars live-action Snow White (2024) actress Rachel Zegler and will be released in November of this year.

Stoner says that book-Katniss was “essentially emaciated” and they “felt compelled to match the description.” This “method acting” included Stoner dying their hair black and partaking in “rigorous workouts” that consisted of tire flipping and swinging sledgehammers. They spent two weeks at the weigh-in location used by the contestants on The Biggest Loser in order to get their body fat percentage the lowest it had ever been. Keep in mind that Stoner would have been around 18 or 19 during this time.

Stoner had already been battling an eating disorder before the chance to audition for Katniss came up. They describe going to the grocery store and buying cakes, cookies, chips, and other snacks and eating everything in their car. While filming Camp Rock, they explain that they would sneak into the pantry and would binge eat, hiding wrappers and other evidence behind the bed. While many of Stoner’s costars were bulimic, they state that they had researched the effects of self-induced vomiting and didn’t want the harmful side effects.

Alyson stoner sitting in a blue shirt and a yellow beanie
Credit: Alyson Stoner Instagram

They continue by saying that their form of “purging” was extreme exercise when the “fear of gaining weight would set it.” When they were passed over for the role, Stoner says it sent them spiraling but they soon realized they needed help. Against the requests from their management, Stoner decided to check into rehab and focus on getting help and getting better.

They say that the decision to go to rehab changed the course of their life for the better, even if it felt like they were “missing their moment” during that time. Clearly, the pressures of growing up in Hollywood, even through kid and teen-based media like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, have affected dozens, if not hundreds, of child stars. While it’s unfortunate that Stoner felt the need to push their body to such extremes at the possibility of an audition, but at least it led them to seeking out the help they needed which was better for them in the long run.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story included allegations of sexual abuse and harassment that the subject has denied. We’ve removed these from the story and regret this error.

Do you think child stars like Alyson Stoner are tragic? Let us know in the comments below!

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