Bella Thorne has been steadily making a name for herself in Hollywood, landing prominent roles in films like The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and Assassination Nation, as well as starring in the new Freeform series Famous in Love. One glance at her IMDb page will tell you all you need to know about the 19-year-old: She likes to keep herself busy. But it wasn’t always easy for the former Disney Channel star to find work.
After Shake It Up! wrapped in 2013, Thorne had a hard time convincing Hollywood casting directors that she was more than a manufactured Disney girl.
“It was really hard to get a job after the show. People didn’t want to read me. They didn’t want to see me because they were like, ‘She’s a Disney actress,'” Thorne told MTV’s Josh Horowitz on this week’s episode of the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. “So for me, it was like starting back at the bottom and working my way up all the way again.”
Before landing Shake It Up!, Thorne had a recurring role on HBO’s Big Love, but circumstances at home forced her to reluctantly audition for the Disney Channel gig.
“Do you think that I wanted to be a Disney girl? Did you think I wanted to do that? We were about to live physically on the street if I didn’t have that role,” she said. “We were living off Stouffer’s coupons, and that’s all we had to eat every day. That may not sound like a big deal to everybody, but when you’re a single mom raising four kids with debt and you have nothing to your name, it’s fucking shitty.”
“I didn’t want to audition for Shake It Up!” she added. “I literally said in my audition, ‘I don’t sing. I don’t dance. I’m basically tone deaf, and I’m not funny. So I don’t know why I’m here.’ And everybody just started laughing. They all thought it was a joke.”
With the House of Mouse experience behind her, Thorne is just happy to finally be her “crazy” self again — and she’s not shy about sharing that side of herself with her fans (and the rest of the world) on social media, either. In fact, the teen says social media work is her main source of income these days.
“I started out 18 with literally not a cent to my name,” she said. “[I had] $200 in my bank account when I turned 18. Nothing else. I bought a house this year from social media work, only from social media work. My social media to me is how I pay my bills.”