The Disney Channel is often criticized for the way it seemingly churns out young, triple threat stars, who shoot to fame only to flame out on the way down.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gary Marsh, the president of Disney Channels Worldwide addressed the criticisms and the pressures of what it means for a teen actor to be branded a "Disney Star."
"For most of people who act, getting a television [show] is the end product. It's the destination. For [Disney], it's the launch pad," he told THR. "In my mind it's: 'You’ve landed a TV show, now what’s the consumer products opportunity? The film opportunities? The Disney channel movie? The crossover episode? The book you’re going to write?' So they become Disney stars because they intersect with Disney in many ways, and that’s by design. Occasionally there are downsides to that: when we get overly identified with somebody and they go off the rails."
By off the rails, Marsh is referring to any number of unfortunate incidents -- Miley Cyrus' leaked salvia smoking video, Shia LaBeoufs' DUI, Vanessa Hudgens' naked photos, or Demi Lovato's battle with bulimia and drug abuse.
But for every apology the network has issued because of the behaviors of one of its actors, Marsh admits he knows it's "incredibly demanding" to be a teenager living in the public eye and he knows with how much is asked of them. "It's nearly impossible to carry the weight of [their] fans on [their] shoulders," Marsh told THR.
And they are or were regular teenagers, plucked out of the millions of other hopefuls because they possess a "quality of transparency" and ability to connect, Marsh says of its young talent like LaBeouf, Lovato or Selena Gomez, who have "a confidence and a certain kind of charisma."
It's this natural charisma that enables the Disney Channel to create mega-stars with multimillion dollar franchises, but according to Marsh, the network isn't just simply thrusting young actors out there without any safety net -- despite the multiple trip ups they may have had.
"We're really clear on where our role begins and ends. We have things like a one-day seminar called Talent 101, where we bring in security experts, psychologists, showrunners and life coaches. It's usually after the pilot but before the series launches," he told THR, adding that at the end of the day, it's all really up to the parents.
"We give them all of the tools they might need, but the network is not responsible for raising their children," he said.
For more, click over to The Hollywood Reporter.
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