The Disney Channel has spawned careers for dozens of child stars, but following their career-defining roles, many of them opt to abstain from the spotlight. On the other hand, a handful of former child stars use the Disney Channel as a jumping-off point to build lasting careers in Hollywood. Take Cole and Dylan Sprouse of "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," for example! In honor of their 24th birthday on Aug. 4, 2017, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at how the twins and more Disney stars who are making a comeback have reinvented themselves over the years…
The CW's Archie-comics based series "Riverdale" features Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones. He joined the show in 2016 following a break from the spotlight to study at New York University. Dylan, who also attended NYU, has been taking an acting hiatus since "The Suite Life on Deck" finale in 2011 — but not for much longer! He's hard at work on the indie film "Carte Blanche."
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Miley Cyrus burst on the Disney scene with a bang as binary character Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana, a school girl by day and a famous singer by night. She starred in the career-defining role from 2006 to 2011.
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Miley has never stepped away from the spotlight for long, and she's got a myriad of reinventions to her name to prove it. Following "Hannah Montana," she signed a big recording contract with RCA and released 2013's "Bangerz" along with a brand new — and somewhat controversial — image. She collaborated with psychedelic Flaming Lips front-man Wayne Coyne on her 2015 album "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz," which included a lot of glitter and synth. In 2016, she starred on Woody Allen's Amazon Studios series, "Crisis in Six Scenes." In 2017, the singer-actress emerged yet again with a much more clean-cut and generally happy vibe — brought on by her re-engagement to long-time on-again, off-again love Liam Hemsworth. She released the soft pop song "Malibu" as the lead single off her forthcoming album.
Demi Lovato was a big face on Disney during the early aughts. She starred alongside the Jonas Brothers on the Disney Channel original movie "Camp Rock" as Mitchie Torres, a girl who aspires to be a singer. She also recorded three songs for the film's soundtrack.
After acting on the Disney Channel's "Camp Rock 2" and "Sonny With a Chance," Demi Lovato put her acting career on hiatus and continued to focus on music. In 2010, she underwent rehab after years-long battles with drug and alcohol addiction, bipolar disorder and an eating disorder. She's since become something of an advocate for bipolar disorder and mental health issues. From 2012 to 2013, Demi served as a judge on "The X-Factor" and also acted on "Glee." In 2015, the singer-actress brought the flavor with her summer banger "Cool for the Summer." As of 2017, Demi has rebranded herself as an edgy pop singer, recently making a bang with her new single "Sorry Not Sorry." She had a high-profile relationship with actor Wilmer Valderrama that began in 2010 and ended in 2016.
Vanessa Hudgens portrayed nerdy beauty Gabriella Montez on Disney's successful franchise "High School Musical," which kicked off in 2006.
Vanessa Hudgens took a break from singing to focus on acting following her time on "High School Musical." She famously dated Zac Efron, her Disney Channel co-star, but they split in 2010 after five years together. She's since acted in edgy films like "Spring Breakers," "Machete Kills" and "Sucker Punch," and in 2016, she played Rizzo on "Grease: Live." Vanessa was also one of the leads on the short-lived 2017 superhero sitcom "Powerless." She's been in a relationship with actor Austin Butler since 2011.
Teen star Ashley Tisdale played drama queen Sharpay Evans on "High School Musical" in 2006.
Ashley Tisdale continued to work with Disney after the end of "High School Musical." She voiced Candace Flynn on "Phineas and Ferb" until 2015 and reprised her role as Sharpay Evans on "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure" in 2011. She also produced the Disney Channel film "Cloud 9" and the ABC Family series "Young & Hungry." In 2014, Ashley married the lead singer of Annie Automatic, Christopher French. In 2016, she voiced a character on the series "Skylanders Academy." In 2017, she will voice Cinderella in Disney's "Charming."
Jake T. Austin starred as Max Russo, the youngest of three wizards, on the Disney Channel series "Wizards of Waverly Place" from 2007 to 2012.
After reprising the role of Max on the TV Movie "The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex," Jake T. Austin took on another television series role on "The Fosters" from 2013 to 2015. This year, he voice a character in "The Emoji Movie." He's also set to star in the drama "The Valley." As far as a potential future "Wizards" reunion is concerned, Alex said in July 2017 that it's up to key cast member Selena Gomez.
Brenda Song starred on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" as London Tipton from 2005 to 2008 and reprised her role on "The Suite Life on Deck" for three years before calling it quits in 2011.
Since her days on the Disney Channel, Brenda Song has sought to exude her edgier side. She's had recurring roles on shows such as "Scandal," "New Girl," "Dads" and "Pure Genius." In July 2017, she was seen out and about with rumored boyfriend and fellow former child star Macaulay Culkin. Seems like these two might have a lot in common!
Raven-Symone played a quirky teen protagonist with paranormal tendencies named Raven Baxter on "That's So Raven" from 2002 to 2007.
Following the series finale of "That's So Raven," Raven-Symone continued to appear on TV movies until 2011 when she starred on her first TV show after four years: ABC Family's short-lived "State of Georgia," which was cancelled the same year it debuted. The singer-actress, who made her Broadway debut in 2012 in a production of "Sister Act," has also kept up her music career by releasing tracks to stream online. Raven was named a co-host of "The View" in 2015 but announced her exit in 2016 citing a new exciting project. She will star and act as executive producer on the 2017 Disney Channel revival of "That's So Raven." She came out as bisexual in 2014 and had a longterm relationship with model AzMarie Livingston that ended in 2015.
Jared Padalecki portrayed Zachary Gray in Disney's "A Ring of Endless Light" in 2002.
Jared Padalecki continued to act in films such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's "New York Minute" and 2005's "House of Wax." That same year, he landed the role of Sam Winchester on "Supernatural," which will enter its 13th season later this year. He's been married to Genevieve Cortese since 2010. They share three children.
Selena Gomez starred as Alex Russo on "Wizards of Waverly Place" from 2007 to 2012.
Selena Gomez has rebranded herself as a saucy solo pop queen. In 2013, she released the hip-hop infused single "Come and Get It" and "Birthday" and then in 2015 debuted her hit "Hands to Myself." She famously dated Justin Bieber off-and on from 2010 to 2016. In 2017, Selena dropped the song "Fetish" with Gucci Mane and the banger "Bad Liar." She's been dating R&B singer The Weeknd since January 2017.