Disney star Dove Cameron reveals struggles of growing up in the public eye: 'I'm not quite the girl next door'

Descendants 3 star Dove Cameron has revealed the biggest challenges she’s felt growing up as a Disney channel star, and the biggest pressures she’s faced haven’t come from where you might expect.

Speaking to Yahoo Movies UK ahead of the release of Disney TV movie threequel Descendants 3, which tells the story of the children of classic Disney animated villains, said, “Disney is the most lovely, understanding, most supportive [company]. The reason I've been with the same company for so long is because I have a great relationship with them; they're so good to me.”

Cameron, now 23, played both title roles in the Disney channel TV series Liv and Maddie from 2013 to 2017, and has starred in the Descendants Disney film series since 2015, as well as appearing in Disney channel series The Lodge and voices Ghost Spider in the Disney XD series, Marvel Rising.

DESCENDANTS 3 - Disney Channel's "Descendants 3" stars Dove Cameron as Mal. (Disney Channel/Ed Herrera)

“They give me lots of opportunities. Both Descendants and Liv and Maddie were things that they'd been waiting to do for ages - the twin concept, with one girl playing two [characters], and in Descendants itself, opening up the world of the heritage characters. And so I feel very lucky that they trusted me with those two things. They've always given me lots of freedom. I've never been contracted only to them.”

Read more: Dove Cameron bids goodbye to Descendants

“I was really scared going into it… [but] it was the loveliest thing. I've never had a day where I didn't love being a part of Disney.”

Cameron revealed to Yahoo that the biggest obstacles she has faced growing up as a Disney star have actually come from elsewhere: “What I've realised is that the challenge comes from the outside. The challenge comes from everybody's perception of who you should be if you fall into a couple of categories typically related to Disney or related to what people perceive as the ‘girl next door’, or like someone who looks very sweet.”

Dove Cameron stars as Mal, daughter of 'Sleeping Beauty' villain Maleficent in Disney's 'Descendants 3' (Disney)

“And then they go, ‘you should be like this’. And Disney's never forced that on me never ever even once. I really feel that pressure from the public. Which was quite shocking to me. And I've only felt that recently, because I've only recently been like, ‘Oh, I want to dye my hair,’” explains Cameron, “By the way, I've always had tattoos. Like, I got my first tattoo when I was 14. But everybody has this perception [when I get one] that I've lost my mind!”

Read more: Dove Cameron wants to be MCU’s Gwen Stacy

Cameron faced a sexist backlash online when she posted a simple selfie to her 30-million-follower-strong Instagram account this year. Her apparent crime? Not wearing a bra under her top.

She fired back at comments from fans who were seemingly unable to cope with the actress now being an adult with inspirational confidence, captioning the photo: “Women HAVE a history that has been systematically suppressed. Our collective spirituality has largely been tainted to fit the needs of men and those in power… Our girls deserve better. The time to introduce feminism and woman-centred spirituality to ALL children is now.”

DESCENDANTS 3 - Disney Channel's "Descendants 3" stars Dove Cameron as Mal. (Disney Channel/Ed Herrera)

Speaking to Yahoo, she continued, “I've always been somebody who was not quite the girl next door. I never saw myself in a girl like that. And so the second I started to feel like I wanted to stop reining in my impulses, people get very queasy about it. So I would say that that's been a bit of a challenge for me.”

“But a lot people have also been super supportive in knowing that people can be multi dimensional and also not be bad people,” she added.

Dove Cameron stars as ‘Mal’ in Disney Channel’s Descendants 3. The threequel of the hugely popular movie franchise will premiere on Disney Channel UK on Friday 11 October at 5.30pm.