“The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences,” he said in the interview, referring to his brother Dylan Sprouse who also appeared on the network as a kid. “And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience.”
Acknowledging an issue that has been making headway since the #MeToo movement, the Suite Life of Zack and Cody alum, 29, spoke out about the sexual objectification of young female stars in the entertainment industry.
He went on to note that people are quick to condemn child stars for “going nuts,” but fail to address the actual trauma that fame can bring.
Cole told The New York Times, “[I’m] violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover.”
Fellow Disney Channel alum Alyson Stoner has also been vocal about her experiences on the topic, saying she faced sexual harassment and child labor law violations, and developed eating disorders. Nickelodeon alum Jenette McCurdy, who quit acting altogether after “upsetting” experiences as a child star*, voiced similar concerns.
While Cole continues to grow his career through Riverdale and the recent HBO Max film Moonlight, he said he still sees the same “psychological effects” of child stardom playing out in peoples’ adult lives. However, he thinks “people have an easier time hiding it when they’re older.”
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