Bella Thorne may have gotten her start on the Disney Channel, but her heart was not in teen comedy. "I never wanted to be a Disney star in the first place," said the singer.
Thorne, 23, who along with Zendaya, starred on the Disney Channel's Shake It Up from 2010 to 2013, told Fox News this week that playing the role of dancer CeCe Jones didn't feel natural. "I wish I would have been true to myself," she said. "When it came to filming, I would talk in a higher voice or do different things to make myself appear more innocent. It made me feel like a liar because I had to pretend to be someone I was not — even if it made me famous."
In fact, she only took the job out of necessity. "I did it for my family because we were on the brink of poverty and I was told this is what I had to do," Thorne told the outlet. "I don’t like being recognized as a former Disney child star because I was always told I had to fit into a certain mold and be this person I wasn’t. It was like being in a box."
She admitted, "It’s been hard for me to still be recognized in that light. People didn’t want to read me or see me because they only saw me as a Disney Channel star. When everyone expects you to be perfect, falling short of those impossible standards gives people the wrong impression. I basically had to start from the bottom and work my way up again after Disney."
However, Thorne kept her priorities straight. When asked how she avoided "the Disney child star curse," a wild lifestyle that can derail the careers of young celebrities, she answered, "It was definitely harder than I expected. When I was on Disney, I was 12, so my audience was younger. Now that I am 23, children aren’t my audience so I don’t cater my material to that age. I stopped worrying about what the world was thinking of me and started focusing on my true fans that loved me. After Disney, I had the opportunity to find my true self and that is reflected in all my work from acting, producing, directing, and writing. I have more artistic freedom to continue to express myself."
Thorne, a cannabis entrepreneur and a New York Times bestselling author (in 2014, she published a young adult fiction book called Autumn Falls), also gave her best advice on handling social media trolls. According to People, the February music video for her single "Shake It" starring Thorne and adult film star Abella Danger was temporarily removed by YouTube for "explicit content." And last year, Thorne's $2M payout on the subscription platform Only Fans, led to claims that Thorne forced the service to delay member payouts with her frenzied windfall.
"It’s definitely hard to deal with trolls on social media," Thorne told Fox. "At the end of the day, I am still a person and I have feelings and emotions. I have no problem with coming back at trolls when they are spreading false information and bashing someone’s appearance."
She added, "Social media today has become so fake and edited with apps like Facetune that we are giving girls unrealistic expectations of what they should look like and do. We are actually doing more harm to them. That’s why I post without makeup and show my acne, so younger girls know there are still real people out there."
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: