EXCLUSIVE: Bella Thorne is being unapologetically herself.
The actress first rose to fame as a Disney Channel star working alongside Zendaya in the tween comedy “Shake It Up.” Since then, the 23-year-old has transformed herself into a model, singer, director and New York Times bestselling author with over 43 million followers across social media.
Most recently, Thorne released a new single titled “Shake It,” where she proudly celebrates her pansexuality. Thorne insisted it’s only the beginning and she’s eager to create more music.
Thorne spoke to Fox News about breaking the Disney child star curse to become a successful adult media mogul, the challenges she faces today, as well as taking on her next role – that of cannabis entrepreneur.
Fox News: Looking back, how did you break the Disney child star curse?
Bella Thorne: 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.
Fox News: What’s one thing you wished you could have done differently during your time at Disney?
Thorne: I wish I would have been true to myself. 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.
Fox News: How frustrating has it been for you to still be recognized as a former Disney child star, especially when you’ve been determined to break out on your own as an adult?
Thorne: I never wanted to be a Disney star in the first place.
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. 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.
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.
Fox News: What’s one key piece of advice you would give to your younger self and why?
Thorne: I wish I could have told myself to be true to who you are and not to be afraid to be unapologetically yourself, even if it rubs people the wrong way. You can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. Rather than having my Disney Channel career define me and be placed in a realm of a child television star, I pushed boundaries that allowed me to expand my career in different directions.
Fox News: You have a massive following. How do you cope with trolls on social media?
Thorne: It’s definitely hard to deal with trolls on social media. 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.
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.
Fox News: What’s a misconception you feel the public still has about you and what’s the reality?
Thorne: Oh, people think that I am a stuck-up person when in reality I am down to earth and enjoy the simple things in life. People think I am perfect because I am from Disney, but in reality, I am human just like everyone else. I live, I make mistakes, I learn. People [also] think I am a party girl, but they miss the fact that I have a makeup line, published books, direct, and own a record label.
Fox News: How important has it been for you to be candid about your past?
Thorne: I think it is really important for me to open up about my past, especially on my social media platforms, so I can help someone else facing similar battles.
I was bullied for having dyslexia. I grew up with a lot of insecurities because of it and I want people to know it’s OK and that their disabilities don’t define them. I want people to be able to see who I really am. I have a platform where I can be open and honest, and I believe that was given to me for a reason.
Fox News: You’re also a cannabis entrepreneur. And it sounds like you’ve wanted to get into the industry for a while now.
Thorne: I am a big cannabis supporter; I think that there are a lot of health benefits that come from cannabis. I noticed a lot of benefits of using cannabis myself so that is why I got involved in the industry. Personally, I don’t like to smoke weed that is grown indoors and that why Glass House made the perfect partner because they grow their weed in a literal glasshouse.
Fox News: How has cannabis helped you face any personal health battles?
Thorne: When I was a teenager, I developed really bad anxiety, sleeping issues and stomach cramps. I had been to multiple doctors and no one [figured] it out. They would recommend taking pills, but I don’t believe in pharmaceutical drugs. I like approaching things naturally. So my brother recommended that I try cannabis. Smoking was actually the first thing that helped me feel normal and control all my issues.
Fox News: Tell us about your new single, “Shake It.” Where did the inspiration come from?
Thorne: My inspiration for the song is just to help people have some fun and let loose. 2020 was a hard year and I want everyone who hears this song to just let that go for the moment and dance.
Fox News: How difficult was it for you to get creative during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
Thorne: It’s never difficult for me to get creative or inspired because I am constantly doing things from acting, singing, dancing, writing, and producing. I am always ready to do the next thing wherever that takes me… This time gave me the opportunity to really stop and hone in on my craft.
Fox News: What makes your single different from anything else you’ve accomplished so far?
Thorne: This single tells the truth about [my] sexuality. It gave me another opportunity to be honest with myself and to my fans. It is different because I had… to truly understand myself and my sexuality to write the song.
Fox News: For you, what does it mean to be pansexual?
Thorne: I’m pansexual and that means that I like beings. I like personality. It could be a girl or a guy, a he or a she or a they or this. It’s literally your personality so I am attracted to all gender identities.
Fox News: Can we expect a new album?
Thorne: I definitely plan to create more music. I feel like my music career is just starting. When it came to starting fresh, I had to build a name for myself apart from Disney. I had to break down the mold of being young and innocent and show people my edginess and loud spirit. It was a lot of hard work, but I would say it has paid off.
Fox News: What do you hope audiences, both longtime fans, and curious listeners alike, will get from “Shake It”?
Thorne: I hope the audiences listening to the song have the confidence to feel sexy in their own skin and do whatever the f—k they want. But most importantly, I want listeners of my music to be able to listen to a song know that they are not alone.