Bella Thorne might be known for her carefree, DGAF attitude today, but when she was on the Disney Channel, five-something years ago, she was kept under strict rules that prevented her from doing something as ordinary as wearing a swimsuit.
The 20-year-old actress—who starred on Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up” for three years—recently opened up about how she was almost fired by the network for wearing a “sexy” bikini when she was 14. In an interview with “Under the Influence,” a YouTube interview series, Thorne revealed that Disney Channel threatened to fire her from “Shake It Up” for a picture that was taken of her wearing a black, lace-lined bikini.
“I almost got fired,” Thorne said. “Someone took a photo of me in a bathing suit. Yeah, it was a sexy bathing suit. It’s black. It’s got a little bit of fun little lace underneath. My mom picked it out. It was cute.”
Thorne revealed that what kept her on “Shake It Up” was her devoted fanbase, which Disney Channel couldn’t afford to lose. Though she received a pass, the actress also claimed that the network threatened to end her career for real if she made another mistake.
“They said, ‘You’re lucky that Bella has such a fanbase that we can’t afford to fire her at this moment in time. But if she does one more other thing, we will,'” she said.
Thorne is far from the first Disney Channel star to speak out against the network. In an interview with W magazine, “Girl Meets World” star Rowan Blanchard suggested that Disney Channel tried to silence her and stifle her creativity. Though Blanchard didn’t call the network out by name, her story matches the timeline of how long she starred on “Girl Meets World,” which was roughly four years until the show ended in 2017.
“I worked for a corporation for four years that is known for silencing and crafting your voice, so with that I just had to very much stand my ground and separate myself, which I think I did,” Blanchard said. “It’s nice now because now people don’t really recognize me from the show, they recognize me from my activism, which has been very comforting.”
With Thorne and Blanchard’s accounts, as well as the controversy over “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens apologizing on the behalf of Disney Channel for her leaked nude photos in 2007, it doesn’t look good for the network. Though it’s important to note that none of these stories are confirmed, we hope that a network with an influence over so many young people knows better than to silence and slut-shame its actors.