Disney alum, Raven-Symoné got candid on all that she went through to move past her time as a child star. The actress got her first movie role as a toddler in a Bill Cosby film and starred in a succession of shows, including “Dr. Doolittle” and “The Fresh Prince.”
Symoné bagged one of her most famous roles in 2001, as Raven Baxter in the Disney show “That’s So Raven.” The show was widely successful and shot the actress into mainstream fame. In a recent interview, Symoné shed light on the struggles she faced being in the spotlight so early and how she managed to grow out of it.
Since “That’s So Raven” aired its 100th episode in 2006, the actress has continued her on-screen appearances. She co-hosted “The View” for a time, starred in “Black-ish,” and reprised her role as Raven in the “That’s So Raven” spinoff series, “Raven’s Home.”
Read on to learn more.
Raven-Symoné Says She Had To Mentally Grow Up From Her Child Star Years
Symoné joined a recent interview with Insider and admitted that she had to undergo a “mental grow-up” from her time as a child star. She explained that she had significantly more control over her public appearance now compared to a few years ago.
“Up until my late twenties, there were people telling me how I should look — it was just easier to be told what to do,” the actress said. “But now that I’m feeling empowered by the new generation of just being yourself on camera, and my own self really marinating in my own juices and understanding who I am and who I feel comfortable being, I’m able to present how I feel as Raven-Symoné, the entertainer.”
Symoné started in the entertainment industry as a toddler when her parents signed her to several modeling agencies. Prior to her movie roles, the actress appeared in commercials for brands like Ritz crackers and Cool Whip.
Raven-Symoné Faced Challenges As A Child Star
Symoné looked back on the first time she watched “The Cosby Show” and how she was convinced she had the potential to “do what Rudy does.” She went on to audition for a role in “Ghost Dad,” and although she wasn’t picked because of her age, Cosby was impressed with her performance.
The actress was cast for a new role that suited her age and started what became a lengthy acting career. Symoné’s mega popularity came with its fair share of lows, including highs. Like several other child stars, the actress handled a lot of pressure due to her public image, which was created at a young age.
She revealed that having that much pressure from the media and public felt strenuous. “When you’re in the industry and in front of millions of people whose livelihoods depend on your work and engagement, things can get a little strenuous,” the actress said.
She Says The Entertainment Industry Had Little Diversity
One of Symoné’s more popular shows, “That’s So Raven,” was released in the early 2000s and was one of the few live-action programs to have a female teen lead who was black. The actress revealed that most series during that period cast black characters as the “Black best friend,” so actors had to wait for a Mark Curry or Bill Cosby production for a lead role.
Symoné referred to the barely present diversity in the industry as a “form of racism.” She said per Insider, “I remember my dad saying, ‘I sent you out on auditions for ‘young white boy,’ ‘young white girl.’ I sent you out on everything just so you could be seen because there were no roles for ‘young Black girl.'”
The “Raven’s Home” actress admitted that while there was more representative on tv now, entertainers still faced a lot of discrimination. Symoné mentioned “Stranger Things” Caleb McLaughlin and how the actor previously talked about how much the fans were racist towards him.
Raven-Symoné On Coming Out As Gay
Symoné came out as gay in 2013, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled to expand laws concerning same-sex marriage. The actress revealed that she blamed the entire social climate for making her feel so uncomfortable she couldn’t come out for years.
She admitted that she found out she was gay at just 12 years and kept it to herself because of how successful her career was. Symoné previously said that she felt like it wasn’t “sellable,” neither did it go with the “Raven-Symoné brand.”
“Back then, I didn’t have great role models of lesbians coming out with a positive response. People were fired, people were ostracized,” the actress said to Insider. “In my head, it was: You stay in your shell until you leave the industry when you’re 45, 60 years old.”