Before they were known as Disney Channel stars, celebs like Selena Gomez, Dove Cameron, Debby Ryan and Bridgit Mendler, among others, had other acting roles under their belts. While some did get their start on the network before their own starring roles, others appeared in various TV shows and movies.

Sofia Carson, for one, made her debut in Austin & Ally ahead of her Descendants fame. The songstress nabbed her first-ever acting role while attending the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I moved to Los Angeles to go to UCLA. Education has always been a huge part of my life and for my parents. It was always the deal that they supported me unconditionally, however, I had to go to school and pursue my education. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to even go to college,” she gushed to Teen Vogue in February 2020. “I moved to L.A. myself and I was auditioning while I was in school. After class, I would run and audition once or twice a day. Or since I would often miss class, I would email my professor and be like, ‘I have this big audition. I’ll make up all my studies,’ et cetera. But they were always really understanding. I went on about 200 auditions before I got my first job. It was a small guest-starring role on a Disney Channel series called Austin & Ally. I remember when I got the email saying that I got the job, at the very bottom it said like, ‘And this is what you’re going to be paid,’ and I was like, ‘Ah, I get paid to do this?'”

From that point on, Sofia had been bitten by the acting bug and kept doing what she loved. She’s since appeared in multiple Disney Channel Original Movies, and even made a career for herself beyond the network.

Of course, Dylan and Cole Sprouse have also moved on from Disney Channel. But, the siblings had major Hollywood resumes before making their Disney Channel debut, the twins took a break from the spotlight after The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck ended.

“I got a call from my manager, who begged me to come back and audition for pilot season,” Cole told ELLE in April 2017 about his return to Hollywood. “And I gave her my word that if I did book something, I’d see it through. I booked Riverdale, and it ended up tugging me back.”

Scroll through our gallery to uncover your favorite Disney Channel stars’ first-ever acting roles. 

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