Actor-activist Cameron Boyce on diversity in Hollywood and growing up on set

Get to know the Disney-star turned Hollywood humanitarian.

Although just 19 years of age, Cameron Boyce is already a show business veteran: starring in Disney’s smash hit Descendants  at just 15, the burgeoning talent has since had tremendous success on the small and silver screens. Set to star in the third follow up to the hit film, Cameron is also heading into a more indie direction as Cal of William Coakley’s upcoming thriller Runt. Stepping out of the spotlight into the real world, Cameron has looked to improve the world in his own way, working with charities and on campaigns to find ways to help. For his last birthday in fact. the young actor launched a campaign with Thirst Project to build two wells of clean water in Swaziland, raising more than $27,000. We met the rising star to find out how he balances his work, how he found transitioning from a child star and where he’s off to next…

What are your earliest memories of falling in love with film and TV?

Saturday and Sunday mornings watching Sponge Bob. Controversial coming from a Disney kid but ask anyone my age about the most legendary cartoon when they were little. My money is on Sponge Bob.

You started acting early on in your life, did you have a cinematic or cultural upbringing?

More so cultural than cinematic. Growing up bi-racial, in a city full of opportunity, I was exposed to more than most are. Open mindedness and acceptance were concepts I didn’t realize weren’t universal until I started familiarizing myself with a world outside of my own.

How did it feel to grow up on screen?

I thought of it less as growing up on screen and more so growing up on set. I didn’t watch a lot of the episodes I filmed. I never harped on the fact that I was on people’s screens. Most actors will tell you they don’t like watching themselves. What affected me more than anything was being pulled from school and developing around adults. A child can suffer from that, and certain aspects of my childhood were sacrificed. But in a lot of ways it was more of a natural environment for me. Looking back, I think of it as my own AP course, or my chosen elective. I was good at performing and I was doing it in an environment that challenged and nurtured me at the same time. The most important thing is the people who support you. Family and crew members are crucial in how a kid sees the industry and the rest of their lives.

You’ve spoken about diversity in Hollywood, does it feel like a positive time to be in the public eye?

Any time is a good time to try to create change. Now more than ever people in our town care about getting it right. At the same time though, our industry is predicated on experience and results. Therefore, a lot of the same people have been around for 30 or 40 years. A lot has changed in 30 or 40 years and it’s interesting to be a part of a new wave who has a differing perspective.

What do you think still needs to change?

A lot of things, but at the end of the day, people at the top want to make money. What I notice is big wigs struggle in deciding between what worked for them in the past, and what the market is demanding now. It’s a clash of values. The market is more progressive and that has started to shift their thinking. Representation for all people will hopefully continue to be a point of emphasis. The transparency people want is where people with things to hide get uncomfortable. Long overdue.

What has your philanthropic work taught you about your life and career?

That there are only so many things that ACTUALLY matter. Being able to help other people puts all of the problems you thought you had into perspective. Love is so beautiful and making an impact as much as possible is the life goal that we should all strive for.

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?

Kenny Ortega empowered me in a way that no one else ever has. He has a way of instilling confidence in his actors and that confidence carried past Descendants.

Who is your cinematic icon?

Underrated, the Nicholas Brothers danced in a ton of films back when black talent was absolutely NOT being utilized. My favourite dancers ever. Absolutely worth the YouTube search.

What five films have shaped you the most?

The films that shaped me would be a different list than my current favourites. All legendary in VERY different ways… Pulp Fiction, Space Jam, High School Musical, Elf, The Breakfast Club

What’s next for you?

Passion projects. Did a couple in the past year and planning on a lot more soon. I’m also on a new HBO series called “Mrs. Fletcher,” so keep an eye out for that one!

Follow Cameron Boyce on Instagram here.

11 April 2019