Bella Thorne: From Humble Beginnings To Hollywood Fame
Bella Thorne is an actress and singer. She started modeling when she was six months old, and has been a working actress her whole life. She rose to fame on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up: Unwilling to adhere to the Disney machine, she left after a year and a half and ventured into movies. In 2015, she played Madison in The DUFF, Amanda in Perfect High and Hazel in Big Sky. Thorne currently stars as Paige on the Freeform series, Famous in Love.
We sat down and talked about her social media empire, the personal and professional struggles she’s faced along the way and the #MeToo movement. Bella is an amazing, inspiring young woman who's using her massive social following to spread a positive message.
Tom Ward: Bella, you’re a monster on social media and I think part of it is you being real. You show your acne. You don’t show yourself in these super glam photos, like a lot of people do. Is that why you think you’re so successful?
Bella Thorne: I think one of the reasons that people follow me is because I think they’re like, “That’s what my best friend does. That’s what I do. I wear the same shit as her. I struggle with acne, just as she does.” Or, I like to show myself going to the bathroom. Some people think that that’s really weird. I think it’s fucking hilarious. I’m sorry if you’re offended. Unfollow me. Laughs. Some people like to click on my shit because they never know what they’re going to see. Whether I’m glam, or doing nothing. Or chilling. Or on set.
Ward: I read somewhere, and it was funny to me, that Jessica Chastain and Snoop Dogg gave you the same advice, which was, “Be yourself. Don’t listen to all the people out there who are trying to put you in a box.” How authentic do you feel?
Thorne: I feel very authentic. If you go on my socials, it’s me writing it. I don’t have any social media management, whatsoever. So, yeah it’s all me. I came from The Channel (Disney) and I was told to be a very different person than I am.
Ward: A story I found interesting is that, when you were 14, you were wearing skimpy bikini and someone at Disney was like, “Whoa. That’s not cool.”
Thorne: Yeah. Someone took a picture of me in a bathing suit and they said, “You’re lucky that Bella has such a fan base that we can’t afford to fire her at this moment in time. But if she does one more thing we will.”
Ward: Isn’t that a scary thing? Because your father passed away when you were nine. And you were working at a young age. Was that scary? Like, “This is a real job; a good paying gig. I don’t want to get fired.”
Thorne: The reason that we took Shake It Up, in the first place, was because we were about to be living on the streets. So, it really wasn’t a choice, although I did get off The Channel (Disney) at fifteen and a half years old. So it wasn’t even really that long that I was on it. But before that, I’d only done drama. I was on HBO. I was on Big Love. And then coming off the Disney channel, there were a lot of casting directors who said, “I’m not going to read her.” So I was like, “What the fuck? Just because I was on the Disney Channel?” So there were quite a few auditions where I showed up, at fifteen and a half, and was like, “You have to read me. I’m here. Please let me do the first scene and I’ll show you that it’s worth seeing the second scene.”
Ward: You had that hustle at a young age. Do you think that came out of necessity because you came from humble beginnings? It’s like, “I’ve got to figure this out. I’ve got to make this happen.”
Thorne: When nothing is handed to you, you’re always scraping for it.
Ward: You’re got some serious projects coming up. You’ve got that Natalie Portman movie coming out. Who else is in that?
Thorne: Jessica Chastain, Kathy Bates, Kit Harrington, and Jacob Tremblay.
Ward: Forget him. Laughs.
Thorne: I love Jacob. Laughs.
Ward: No knock to Jacob. Laughs. But that’s a lot of girl power. Was that empowering?
Thorne: Yes. I was like, “Thanks for thinking of me for this movie. Give me two lines. I will be her every day!” Laughs. “Don’t pay me anything. I will be here!”
Ward: What about the #MeToo movement? The #TimesUp and all that? I mean you’ve been modeling since you were a little kid, and you’ve been a working actress your whole life. Have you run into any of that or have you been pretty safe?
Thorne: I mean, I’ve had flirtatious things. I’ve had people flirt with me. But I’ve never had anyone take me to a place where I was like, “That was super uncomfortable. Get out of my room.” I’ve luckily never been put in those situations. But maybe I’ve been put in those situations my whole life. Being sexually advanced, for such a portion of your life.
Ward: What do you mean by that?
Thorne: Being sexually molested is basically what I’m saying. So, when someone hits on me or does something that should make me feel uncomfortable; it doesn’t make me feel as uncomfortable as the average bear.
Ward: That’s really sad when you say that. It makes me sad.
Thorne: It doesn’t get me as deep as it does for a lot of people because that was the world that I was raised in.
Ward: Do you regret saying that (being sexually molested) on social media? I saw that you talked about it on Instagram and on Twitter. And the coverage and the questions that it got. “Who is it? What happened?” Do you wish you censored yourself sometimes?
Thorne: I’ve been thinking about saying it for a really long time. I was just sad. Someone said this stupid comment that said, “Was it Disney or were you just molested?” I was like, “No it wasn’t Disney. And yes I was.” I was just so angry that I just tweeted it out.
And then I was like, “Oh fuck! Do I delete it?” And I was like, “No.” And then the second one that I did, which was being more blatant about it, I was like, “Fuck!” And I called my manager, Thor, and I told him, “Look at my tweet. Is it bad?” And he said, “No Bella. There’s nothing bad about this. This is good. You are no less of a person because this has happened to you.”
Bella tears up.
And that was like one of the first times someone actually said that to me, since it happened, and it really meant the world to me.
Ward: What advice do you have for your younger fans out there? They’re going to be watching. What do you want to say to them?
Thorne: Go out of your way to be nice, even when you don’t want to be. Even when you’re tired. Even when you don’t feel like asking someone how their day is because you’ve got 8,000 other things on your mind. That’s one of the first things that you’ve got to think about in the morning, is how to be nice. We really live that hippie positive life and it really makes a fucking difference.
Ward: I think that everyone I met here gave me a hug! Laughs. What are you promoting? What do you have coming up?
Thorne: The movie Midnight Sun is coming out March 23rd. I’ve got some music coming out. I’ve got a record label coming out this month: Filthy Fangs, FF Records. The show airs in April. And then I’ve got another movie coming out after that. And just music and tours and such.
Ward: And make sure everyone’s follows you on Twitter and Instagram.
Thorne: Or don’t. Laughs.
Bella then had a meeting with her attorney, but before that she took turns riding electric bikes around the house with her boyfriend.
If you don’t like it, she doesn’t care. Unfollow her.