Former Disney Channel star Alyson Stoner speaks out about her 'harrowing' experience as a child actor: 'My childhood is officially gone'

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Former Disney Channel star Alyson Stoner speaks out about her 'harrowing' experience as a child actor: 'My childhood is officially gone'
Alyson Stoner.Gary Gershoff/Getty Images
  • Alyson Stoner is speaking out about the devastating effects of child stardom in a People op-ed.
  • She says she faced sexual harassment and child labor law violations, and developed eating disorders.
  • The former Disney Channel star is advocating for changes in the industry to protect child actors.

In the early 2000s, Alyson Stoner became known as an actor, singer, and dancer. She landed roles in movies like "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Step Up," as well as Disney Channel's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "Camp Rock." She also performed as a background dancer for artists such as Missy Elliott, Will Smith, and Eminem.

In a new video essay and op-ed for People magazine, she's sharing her side of the story for the first time - one that includes facing sexual harassment, severe eating disorders, child labor law violations, and other "harrowing" experiences.

Stoner details auditioning for scenes depicting sexual violence one minute and princess toy commercials the next, and the emotional toll it took on her six-year-old self. At 12, she says she became malnourished and chronically stressed due to "inappropriate and hazardous" set conditions that violated child labor laws. At 17, she says she checked herself into rehab against the advice of her team, who told her she would risk "losing momentum" and continued to send her to auditions while she was on bedrest.

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Former Disney Channel star Alyson Stoner speaks out about her 'harrowing' experience as a child actor: 'My childhood is officially gone'
Alyson Stoner in 2005.Harrison/Getty Images

"While traversing extreme peaks and valleys of global fame, hidden medical hospitalizations, artistic milestones, rapid adultification, and multi-layered abuse I wish on no one, I narrowly survived the toddler-to-trainwreck pipeline," Stoner wrote in her op-ed. "In fact, nothing was designed for me to end up normal. Stable. Alive."

Stoner is now using her platform to advocate for changes in the industry to protect young actors such as mental health professionals on every set and mandatory media literacy courses for guardians.

"Something I have learned is that as long as we are enchanted or complacent, we're also vulnerable," she said. "This applies to families in Hollywood as well as consumers at home. Together, we can change the narrative.

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