15 Gen Z Disney Channel Stars You Forgot


As kids in the ’00s, a lot of us grew up watching Disney Channel shows like Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, and That’s So Raven. The stars of those shows went on to become some of the biggest millennial celebs.

You may think the “Golden Age” of Disney Channel ended when your favorite childhood shows did, but you’d be surprised how many up-and-coming celebs you’re familiar with were once Disney Channel stars.

Here are 15 Gen Z stars who got their start on Disney Channel, then went on to have big careers:


Jenna Ortega‘s first leading role was Harley Diaz on Stuck in the Middle. She also voiced Princess Isabel on Elena of Avalor and had a guest role on Bizaardvark.

In 2022, she began playing her second leading TV role as Wednesday Addams on the hit Netflix series Wednesday.


Coco Jones was only 12 when she competed in Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing. She went on to sign with Disney’s Hollywood Records, guest star on So Random! and Good Luck Charlie, and star in Let It Shine alongside Tyler James Williams.

After several years as an independent artist, she signed a new record deal with Def Jam Recordings in 2022. She also began playing Hilary Banks on Bel-Air.


Noah Cyrus played several different small roles in Hannah Montana, which starred her older sister, Miley Cyrus. She also had a minor voice role on an episode of The Emperor’s New School. However, her biggest role was voicing the titular character in the English dub of Ponyo, which was released by Walt Disney Pictures in the US. She also recorded “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” a duet with Frankie Jonas, to promote the film.

She dropped her debut single, “Make Me (Cry),” in 2016. Since then, she’s released four EPs and an album, and she was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2021 Grammy Awards.


When Mckenna Grace was 7, she played the recurring character Jasmine on Crash & Bernstein, a DisneyXD show. She also had guest roles on K.C. Undercover, Dog with a Blog, Elena of Avalor, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, and Bizaardvark.

Now, she’s widely known for playing the younger versions of older blonde actors (for example, Margot Robbie in I, Tonya and Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). In 2021, she started her music career with the single “Haunted House,” which made it onto the Ghostbusters: Afterlife soundtrack. The same year, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale.


Sabrina Carpenter’s breakout role was Maya Hart on Girl Meets World, which she also sang the theme song for. She also starred in the DCOM Adventures in Babysitting and voiced a main character on Milo Murphy’s Law.

After her Disney days, she moved on to key roles in movies like The Hate U Give and Tall Girl. She also signed with Island Records and released Emails I Can’t Send, her fifth album but her label debut, in 2022. Her subsequent headlining tour sold out in less than a day.


Olivia Rodrigo starred in two Disney series — Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

She, of course, went on to release her smash hit debut single, “Drivers License,” in 2021 after signing with Interscope Records. Then, she won three Grammys for her debut album Sour.


The first major part Josie Totah played was Stuart, Zuri’s frenemy, on Jessie. She also had a guest role on Liv and Maddie: Cali Style and appeared in the Disney+ movie Magic Camp.

She starred as Lexi Haddad-DeFabrizio on the 2020 Saved by the Bell revival. Next, she’s set to lead the upcoming Apple TV+ period drama The Buccaneers.


Natalia Dyer’s very first role was Clarissa Granger in Hannah Montana: The Movie.

Now, she’s known for playing Nancy Wheeler on Stranger Things.


Rowan Blanchard starred as Riley Matthews on Girl Meets World. She also played the lead in the DCOM Invisible Sister.

After recurring roles on The Goldbergs and Splitting Up Together, she went on to play Alexandra Cavill in the TV series Snowpiercer. Most recently, she starred in the Hulu rom-com Crush.


Austin North starred on the series I Didn’t Do It. He also guest-starred on Jessie and A.N.T. Farm.

Now, he’s known for playing Topper on Netflix’s Outer Banks.


After rising to prominence in the ABC series American Housewife, Meg Donnelly played the lead in the Disney Channel musical trilogy Zombies. She also guest starred on the series Bunk’d and HSMTMTS.

In 2022, she began starring as Mary Campbell on the Supernatural prequel series The Winchesters.


Olivia Holt starred in the Disney Channel series I Didn’t Do It, the Disney XD series Kickin’ It, and the DCOM Girl vs. Monster. She also guest-starred on Dog with a Blog and Shake It Up.

She went on to star in two Freeform series — Cloak & Dagger and Cruel Summer.


Bailee Madison first rose to prominence in the Disney movie Bridge to Terabithia. A few years later, she played the memorable recurring character Maxine Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place.

She went on to play key roles on series like The Fosters and Good Witch. Currently, she stars as Imogen Adams on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.


Peyton List rose to prominence as Emma Ross on Jessie and the spin-off Bunk’d. She also starred in the DCOM The Swap.

Now, she stars on the Netflix series Cobra Kai as Tory Nichols.


And finally, Zendaya starred in two Disney Channel series — Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover. She also starred in the DCOMs Frenemies and Zapped.

She went on to play key roles in two big franchises — Spider-Man and Dune — and star in the HBO Max series Euphoria, which earned her two Emmy Awards. She’s also known, of course, as a fashion icon.

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